Tuesday, January 27, 2015

College Continues

Winter is in full swing and I am roughly half way through a very busy Eastern Carnival race season and my second semester at UNH. The fall of 2014 brought many new challenges and experiences for me including my first set of final exams, Thanksgiving training camp in Craftsbury, VT and my US National XC Championships. Each of these experiences and the ones between were new and exciting. These events were enhanced by having my teammates and the UNH community as a whole at hand to encourage, support and engage me.

Dimond Library at UNH 
This fall I did struggle a bit to balance academics and skiing. Energy management and staying healthy were my biggest challenges. Despite these setbacks I had an acceptable conclusion to my training year and was able to be successful in the classroom.

First EISA Bib 

Despite the lack of snow in New England my family and I had an excellent Christmas and I found great training at the Jackson XC Ski Center. Jackson must be good for me because my efforts there lead me to a 15th place in the 15km Freestyle and a 28th place in the 30k classic at the US Nationals in Houghton, Michigan. More notably, two of my teammates, Gavin Hess and Peter Holmes qualified for World Junior Championships in Nordic skiing. Additionally Kamran Husain, a former MWSC (now with SMS) athlete had an awesome week and will be racing in Europe for the USA as well.

Things where pretty frosty in Michigan 

My first Carnival races where challenging, but most importantly super fun. The comradery and high level of competition on the EISA circuit make for an outstanding atmosphere. I placed well in the first two weekends and I am looking forward to the rest of the season.

Striding it out my my teammate Eirik  

To follow my racing check out www.barttiming.com for results and www.eisaskiing.blogspot.com for recaps and rankings. In addition, UNH Skiing posts often regarding goings on within the team on Facebook, Instragram and Twitter.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Into Wildcat Country

The transition from summer to fall has begun in New England. Temperatures are dropping and things are starting to fall from the sky. As a native Midwesterner the extent to which “Fall” describes the phenomenon’s of the season did not hit home until I went for a run my first September in Maine and had numerous bits of decaying flora fall on my head.
This fall signaled a new change in my life besides the normal seasonal and training shifts. I have begun my college career at the University of New Hampshire. I am a full time student and a member of the ski team. Over the past weeks I have moved into a new house, explored the campus, (mostly) figured out my classes and begun to learn the ins and outs of UNH Skiing.
So far I have truly enjoyed the switch to a large motivated training group, engaging academics and an outstanding sense of community across both the academic and athletic circles I am a part of here. Highlights of my time so far include fun evenings with teammates, challenging interval sessions and insightful lectures in my new favorite class, Language and Social Interaction.
I am very glad to say that my adjustment to life as a student athlete has been quite seamless so far. I know I have a lot to learn about most aspects of this lifestyle, but I feel that I have a good start already. 

To keep track of my goings on and those of UNH Skiing follow us on Twitter (@unhskiing) and on Facebook.

I will do my best to continue to update my blog as time allows. For now I am looking forward to a productive fall in New Hampshire.

Monday, July 7, 2014

How Do You Know? Summertime Musings

Summer is in full swing in Southern Maine bringing with it hot weather, long hours and summer employment.
This summer is much different from summers past because I am working part time at LL Bean. I am grateful for the employment, since college expenses loom and it affords me a foothold in one of the most employee friendly corporations in the word.

On hot days it pays to be coastal 
My job has made it necessary for me to adjust how and when I train. I am working on balancing available training time with recovery needs and my job schedule. This experience will be very handy when I join my teammates at UNH this fall for training and studying. Despite this change I have trained more hours this season then I did at this time last season. Not having to spend time on the range also contributed to the increase in physical training hours. As the previous sentence implies, my biathlon sabbatical has entered its 4th month. I have taken this time to focus on my skiing, clear my head and examine my priorities.
Working on that classic technique 

During a recent rollerski training session I was doing just that... Thinking through where I had been, what I had done, where I was and where it is I want to go. As these thoughts mixed with exercise induced chemicals, fatigue and mild dehydration I looked to my left and saw a woman I had passed 2 hours earlier on the first portion of my ski. She shouted as I passed, “How do you know where you are going? How do you know where you have been?” I was taken aback for a moment and replied something along the lines of “I go out and back!”  As I continued back to my car, I began to consider ever broadening interpretations of her question.

Once a field now a forest  
After returning to my car and re-gaining normal thought process I re-visited her odd query. I decided that no matter where I have been or what lies ahead I will endeavor to, as my coach Bill Meyer puts it “Enjoy the Journey”  
Mamma Snapper in the sand during a plyo session 

The journey continues this month with additional hours, a dash high intensity work and of course a few summer fun days as well.   

Monday, May 26, 2014

Cross Country Skier Things

May is nearly at a close along with the first full month of preparation for winter 2014-2015. I am still unsure of exactly what this coming season (Sooner than you think!) will bring, but I am training hard for it none the less. Since the bulk of my racing will be with of the University of New Hampshire on the college carnival circuit, I have had to alter my training from previous seasons to accommodate racing in the classic style and taking classes full time.
Rolling through the countryside 

This means lots of training hours over the summer to keep my yearly hours progressing. I am also able to add more variation to my training, adding workouts like classic style bounding, classic rollerski intervals and more speeds for cross country sprint racing. I am taking a break from my rifle right now as a means of clearing my head and making a fresh start. I must admit that it is nice to not be tied to a biathlon range for interval and easy combination training. Bottom line: cross country skiing is waayy simpler than Biathlon.  

I am excited to be joining a very strong team this fall and I am doing all I can to be prepared to do my best for my teammates this winter.      

Sunday, April 27, 2014

4 Years Gone: Opportunity, Growth and Training in Maine

"We are proud to announce that 98% of Esko High School's graduating class will be attending a post secondary institution or entering into military service" I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, then smiled to myself, realizing I was the student throwing off the principle's otherwise flawless summary of Esko High School's 2010 graduating seniors. My ticket to Presque Isle was booked for the next morning. I was excited, nervous and I thought I knew exactly what the next few years had in store. I was wrong.

I had read every fictional or biographical account to ski racing and biathlon I could get my hands on. I had big goals, with focus and enthusiasm to match. At this point I was expecting the upcoming years to be the easy part. Sure, it would be hard work. Yes, there will be days it will be a grind, but I'm ready. I was prepared for the training, but at that time I could not have guessed how my time with the Maine Winter Sports Center would shape other aspects of my life.
Training with Ben Greenwald in 2010. Fort Kent. 
2010-2011 MWSC Biathlon Team
Laser rifle instruction in Freeport, Maine Summer 2012 

I feel that these experiences are summed up best by MWSC's slogan: "Where can skiing take you?" Skiing has taken me places that I would have never expected, such as discussing a US primary election in Finland, at the top of a dead end mountain road in Italy or watching the SuperBowl in New Brunswick.

MWSC has also given me the opportunity to develop as a person. The experience I have gained in the areas of professional communication, interpersonal skills and business relationships will be invaluable going forward.

I have also been fortunate to see the impact that MWSC has had in the communities of Aroostook County and feel an immense send of pride knowing that I have been a part of those positive changes.

Just as communities have benefited from MWSC's efforts, all MWSC athletes owe a debt of gratitude to the countless community members who opened their homes, volunteered their time or donated hard earned dollars to make the pursuit of our dreams possible.

I hope that MWSC's tradition of excellence and community involvement will guide it through the current funding challenge it faces.

MWSC's reinvention coincides with a transitional point in my own life. I will be taking the athletic and life skills I have developed over the past 4 years to the University of New Hampshire's academic programs and cross country ski team. This change has been promoted by a desire to take a step back from biathlon, get a college degree and focus on cross country skiing.

I will still attend biathlon camps and races and my training is more challenging than ever; however, my focus will be on the eastern carnival circuit and qualifying for the NCAA skiing championships. My sights are still firmly set on the biathlon World Cup and the 2018 Olympic Games.

I am very excited to enter a new phase of my life and I am equally encouraged by the new possibilities for a re-invigorated Maine Winter Sports Center.

I would like to offer a special thanks to the Fort Kent community for all of their support over the past 4 years. I am very grateful to everyone who assisted me in any small way, these actions had a much greater value then you can imagine. I have been very fortunate to call the St. John Valley home for the past 4 years.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Championship Season

The spring is a fun, exciting and busy time of year for high level Nordic athletes. February and March are “Championship Season” with the bulk of the most important races of the season occurring during this period. I had the opportunity to take in the championship season from a variety of viewpoints this season.
US Youth Women following excellent racing 
My championship season began through the lens of a service (wax) man for the Czech Biathlon team at Youth and Junior World Championships. This event was brilliantly hosted by the Nordic Heritage Sport Club in Presque Isle, Maine. My days where filled with testing different combinations of waxes, powders and base structures. I also did some basic ski prep and helped the team logistically; however, my favorite part of my job was supporting the athletes on the course with extra equipment (in case of a mishap) and shouts of encouragement. I learned a lot about ski preparation and made a number of friends in the process.  My friends and teammates on the US Team put together excellent results during championships. You can read all about their accomplishments on Fasterskier.com and USBiathlon.org
I enjoyed a day off during these championships, free from training and waxing obligations. I was able to take in the competitions like a spectator. I have not had this opportunity much and I was quickly reminded, through the excitement of the competitions why biathlon is so popular the world over.  

Jalbert House Athletes 
Following this event it was time for me to step on the racing skis for my final biathlon competitions of the season. I competed at US National Championships in Jericho, Vermont. I raced well placing 3rd, 1st, and 1st in the 3 races, including a rare night race, which I really enjoyed. I was happy with my form and my shooting. It was refreshing to be satisfied with my performances, but it also left me pondering the possibilities, had I showed similar form in more important races. Finishing the season with a successful weekend for me and my team was excellent.

Mass Start 
Maine Winter Sports Podium Sweep 
I will start a 50km freestyle (skating) race next weekend to finish up my season next weekend in Sugarloaf, Maine. It will be my first Marathon and the field promises to be competitive. I am looking forward to this challenging and (hopefully!) fun test.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. Taking Away What's Important

I concluded my European tour with a race weekend in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. I competed in Nove Mesto previously as a member of the US Junior World Championship Team in 2011. I was nice to be in a familiar setting. While the town and surrounding areas where identical, the venue was significantly different due to the major upgrades put in place for the 2013 Biathlon World Championships. Nove Mesto presented much different conditions than those I encountered in Pokljuka, Slovenia. The massive snow banks of Slovenia where replaced by green grass and late spring conditions in Czech. The course was made up of a single 2.5k loop of dirty manmade snow. This is different from the normal compliment of 1.5-4k course options on offer in better conditions. These limitations forced the organizers to develop some creative courses and lap combinations to meek the 15k distance requirement for Saturday’s mass start and the 20k’s needed for Sunday’s individual competition.
The whitest the courses where all week 

The races themselves where very positive from in every respect except for the final results. I trained optimally to perform in the days ahead of the competition. Most importantly, I turned around my shooting outcomes and mental outlook in both races. The limiting factor was the gliding speed of my skis. I did not have the equipment for the warm, wet and dirty skiing of Nove Mesto. I do my best to not complain about my equipment, so I would like stress that the ski selection was completely my responsibility and has no reflection on the efforts of my coaches. It is quite frustrating to lose minutes to athletes I am normally competitive with, but again equipment is part of the game.
Coach Betsy Smith on the Range 

I am going to spend a few days in Southern Maine catching up with my family before traveling back to Aroostook Country. The highlight of the coming weeks will be the Youth and Junior World Championships in Presque Isle, Maine. I’m stoked to cheer for my MWSC teammates and the entire US Team! Since I am a senior athlete I will not be racing; however, I will be waxing skis for the team from the Czech Republic. I have never been part of a professional service team. I am looking forward to the opportunity. Following World Juniors I will compete at US Biathlon Nationals and I am contemplating an end of season 50km cross country race.