The VPA (Vermont Principals Association) recently revoked their previous rule prohibiting high school athletes from participating on a club team during a school team's season. This means that MUHS athletes CAN join FMN in the winter and race for both club and school!
The valley is experiencing the first frost of the year, berries are hurriedly getting picked, gardens are getting covered, windows are getting closed, fans are entering their attic hibernation, and shorts and tee shirts are getting replaced by wool pants and flannel. This is the official GAME ON time for ski training!
Over the summer we have been focusing on volume training; logging time on bikes, sneaks, and rollerskis. The intensity has been moderate, and the hours high. Now that we are shifting into fall training, the hours are dropping with the hammer! We are now starting to throw down with time trials, strength tests, dpole tests, and a few hundred intervals ;)
Yesterday we completed our (mostly) bi-weekly Double Pole Test. This test is a short 3-6min uphill rollerski up the Weybridge Elementary School hill where our athletes can ONLY double pole!! This is a great testing tool as it is not overly taxing and can be done on a consistent schedule. Through the past few months I have threatened that "one day I'm going to have you all do it twice!", a threat thats frequency made disbelievers out of all of the kids. Yesterday I made believers out of all of them! At the completion of the test I turned the Frosties around back down the hill, and instructed them to ski for 15 minutes for their cooldown. At the end of the 15 minutes I brought them back to the start of the test and lined them up again. The athletes are all huge troopers, when I told them that they would be doing the test again they didn't complain, they didn't groan, they just did what they had to do, which was put on the game face and get mentally ready for round two!
The really nice thing about this test is that it shows the athletes that they are ALL getting better! Take a look at the times in the column to the left and the corresponding graphs on the right, and you'll see the TREND IS DOWN!!! Great work to all of the Frosties, you are all doing a FANTASTIC job, keep up the good work and reap the rewards once the snow falls! YIP YIP YIP!!
Well we came, we saw, and we conquered! Get waist deep in mud? CHECK. Get airborne on rollerskis? CHECK. Eat so many blueberries that your face is smurf blue? CHECK. Wear 20 pounds of vegetation on your head? CHECK. Make a campfire-cooked M&M filled banana? CHECK.
The checklist goes on, and on. and on. At the end of every camp I find myself astounded by the energy capacity of these kids, and I always call up my parents and emphatically thank them for raising me. We started each day with a 7am jog and stretch, had breakfast, did a morning workout, ate lunch, played games, went for an afternoon workout, ate dinner, played more games, and then retired. While Abby Weissman and myself instantly counted sheep and groggily arose to a mandatory cappuccino, the campers were revved up and started each day chipper and enthusiastic.
The camp started with the transformation of an empty parking lot into a tent city. The campers all chose to "rough it", and assemble their "sleeping tents", where they slept (obvi), and their "garage tents", where they stored their gear (hilarious since we had a full ski center at our disposal. But I guess if the campers had to rough it, their rollerskis did too!). The desire to sleep in the tents was easy for some, and ambitious for others. One tent was shared by an arachnophobe (spiders) and a ophidiophobe (snakes), and as luck would have it, this was the tent where we found a garter snake and 6 daddy long legs....
I will break down each day of the camp in the blog here, but for full photos of the entire camp check out our FACEBOOK page!
DAY 1 continued after the construction of tent city, and the campers took off for a jog and SPENST (ski-specific jumping/plyometrics). We worked on basic body position, having a solid core, and went through a variety of drills. The highlight was our final drill, telemark jumps! We traditionally end our jumping workouts with these tele finishers, they are tough, and our athletes like to challenge each other to see how many they can do. Sammy Hodges bet us that he could do all of the sets while knee deep in the adjoining pond. Mad props go to him for standing by his claim and completing all 4 sets of water aerobics!
Day 1 Photos
DAY 2- started with another morning jog (double shots of caffeine for the coaches), and a hearty breakfast. We then geared up for a mountain bike ride and swim. The campers completed an hour bike ride to the nearby Goshen Reservoir, where several intrepid fish-kids popped out their pectoral fins and swam out to the not-conveniently-close island.
After returning to the Ski Center for lunch the campers adorned their most drab clothing and set off for the highly anticipated Camo Capture The Flag, or CCTF. The game takes place in the National Forest on the Blueberry Hill Ski Trails and features a perfect ecosystem divide; leafy ferns on one side of the trail, and tall deciduous trees on the other. Some of the more "spirited" campers equip themselves with homemade vegetative decorations (see below photo of Sam), and augment them with a solid 20 pounds of plucked greenery. While looking like redneck Carmen Mirandas, the campers chased after each other, laid in wait, and fortunately for the coaches, started to show sporadic signs of fatigue.
We forcibly ended the game and initiated a mandatory rest period in preparation for the afternoon's Triathlon. The event featured a 3-6 minute swim around the Blueberry Hill pond, a 2 mile bike ride, and a 2km(ish) run on the BBXC trails. Despite some directional difficulties, most campers completed the entire triathlon, and everyone got in a great workout!
DAY 3- Was another jam-packed day of relentless adventure. On this day the campers descended from the pleasantly chilly mountain paradise, down to the town of Weybridge for some classic rollerskiing. Proudly repping their new FMN rollerski shirts (for those who could wear them as shirts, not dresses) the campers worked on double poling technique, single poling specific strength, and some speeds. It was a terrific workout as we were joined by the Frost Mountain Nordic junior athletes, as well as alum Britta Clark, who is currently racing for Bates College. It was a great opportunity for the younger skiers to jump in behind some experienced veterans and nip some ankles!
The afternoon was undoubtedly the highlight of the camp for many, as it featured the Sunrise Orchard Orienteering Challenge! Sunrise recently completed construction of a 10 foot high kid fence, I mean deer fence, which was perfectly suited to preventing our campers from getting inexplicably lost. We placed 13 "clues" within the fenced in area, and gave the kids a satellite image map of the orchard with the clue locations marked (see image below). Each clue was a brightly colored sheet of paper with a descriptive sentence on it describing the final "object" that they had to identify. The logic was that each clue would help the campers identify the mystery object and upon their completion of the orienteering challenge, they would return to the homebase and draw the "object" and write what it was.
The clues could be easily described as intentionally, ridiculously, vague. In the past it would take me 2-3 hours to create the clues and hide them, and I would frustratingly watch as the campers returned within an hour with all clues collected. So this year I wanted to complicate the experience, and really challenge the campers! This was also our first year hosting the challenge at Sunrise, so it was beneficial to have rows upon rows of apple trees to hide the clues within.
I chose a mountain goat as the mystery object, as it was something that the kids would know about, but hopefully not instantly recognize by the descriptions. As it turns out, one hour and fifteen minutes into the event (which I anticipated would take 2.5 hours), the first group returned to the home base.
"We have two more clues to go, but can we guess the mystery object? We know what it is."
Sure enough they drew an accurate portrayal of the elevation adoring animal and absolutely dumbfounded me when I asked how they came to the conclusion:
They said "We knew after the first three clues; 'I live in the west', 'I like to hike', and 'I have a beard'"
I asked them how they didn't think that it was a "wandering hippy", and they looked at me like I was the crazy one. Everyone always tells the stories about the amazing deductive skills of young kids, but this definitely took me by surprise! If skiing does't pan out for these athletes I think careers as private investigators is definitely in the cards.
The clues further away from the home base gave the more detailed descriptions of "I have horns", "I eat grass", and "you don't want to head butt me", but apparently they were not necessary for these child geniuses.
The day concluded with a campfire, s'mores, M&M-filled-campfire-cooked-bananas, and several rounds of flashlight tag (made memorable by the participation of an overly "friendly" neighborhood dog).
DAY 4- Started in the best possible way ever. Since it was the last and final day of the camp, and the campers were noticeably (and justifiably) showing exhaustion, we dismissed the morning jog and instead stuffed our faces.
Our host venue, Blueberry Hill, is named that for its massive grove(?) of blueberry bushes. Several of the campers gleaned the ripest fruit from the bushes and started in on making pancake batter. This was the only morning of the camp where a wake-up call was not required, Abby and I awoke to find the boys in the kitchen, mixing the egg and flour and waiting for us to fire up the stove. After SEVERAL helpings of decadent blueberry pancakes we again descended the mountain and had a phenomenal skate rollerski workout. We worked on V2 and V1 technique, and introduced some new drills to the athletes. It was very impressive how quickly they reacted to instruction, and despite being the last day of a very packed camp, they all exuded unending energy and an insatiable yearning to learn more! These campers are definitely all going to be powerhouses in the sport and in life, as they all exemplified the FMN camp motto: WORK HARD. PLAY HARDER!
Thanks to all the campers and parents for joining in on the festivities, we can't wait to see you all this winter on the trails and at the Grand Prix! Until then may your flags avoid capture, your flashlights frequently tag, and your pancakes be berrylicious!!
Since 2006, Frost Mountain Nordic Ski Club has been dedicated to creating a healthier, more active, outdoor lifestyle for all ages and abilities in the mountains once home to Robert Frost in central Vermont. FMN has four areas of focus: HAVING FUN OUTSIDE, BUILDING COMMUNITY, EVENTS, and RACING.