I Spy

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Turning To-Do Lists into To-Done Lists

The results are in and the season has come to a close. Looking back, it has been a wonderful year. Heck, It’s been a wonderful five years! NCAA’s marked the end of my college racing and I couldn’t be more excited and surprised about everything that has happened.

Flipping back through my planner, reflecting on the season, I was surprised to count that since we first left for the West Yellowstone Ski Festival in Wyoming 18 weeks ago, 17 of those weekends our team has either been traveling to races or racing at home. (17 /18 weekends?!? Holy Crap. No wonder my friends think I’ve disappeared.) Ski season always feels like a huge whirlwind, one that leaves all of the participants extremely exhausted and ready for some warm weather and sunshine. Looking back at the all of the accomplishments during the season is super exciting, however looking around and realizing all of the things that have been put off because of ski racing is quite terrifying. This realization generally results in a daunting to-do list that typically starts with doing laundry.

First up: A look at my post-season bedroom.
My parents have always called me “Hurricane Alice” and it’s easy to see why.  Fortunately this year’s disaster zone did not require a shovel for clean up.  Here’s a quick game of I Spy:

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I Spy a ski boot, an airport luggage tag, an Easter basket, Three Textbooks, a coffee mug, sunglasses, a US ski team sticker and one slipper.

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Taking advantage of the last day on snow at Mont Ripley. Feels weird riding the lift to the top…

Four loads of laundry, a Saturday Morning of power cleaning and half a bag of Lindt Chocolates later, the hurricane region has been deemed safe for human occupancy.

One by one the items on the To-Do list have been crossed off. It feels really good to finally be able to spend the proper amount of time on homework assignments and have “free time” to go play in the sun (when it’s around).  We have had a lot of really nice days in the Keweenaw lately, although every Bluebird day seems to be followed by snowfall. It’s really nice during the day (totally Chaco weather!) and still gets below freezing at night. I can’t wait to have an open morning to go crust skiing through the trees! These temperature conditions also mark the maple sap harvesting season. After 4 years of looking out my bedroom window at one of the most beautiful Maple trees around, I have finally remembered to place a spile and collect sap. Get your pancakes ready!

 

Making sure to take the time off to do fun things is super important. Every year, after the last race of the season, the last thing I want to see are my skis, boots and poles. Races are over, I’m D.O.N.E.  During the winter, we are required to be moving forward at lightning pace. Keeping up with the training, racing, and school work is exhausting and doesn’t leave much time for anything else. The off season is important because it reminds us who we are outside of ski racing. We finally have time to spend with our friends, have hobbies, and catch up on all of the things we may have missed during the winter. It feels good.

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Maple Syrup! Fresh from the Backyard

In the past it has taken months after the last race for me to get excited about skiing again. This year, it only took a week. I’m not sure if this is because such a huge chapter of my life is coming to a close, or because this season was so much fun, or if it’s the sun, but whatever the reason maybe I’m excited to see what next year has to offer. Training for next season won’t start until May, so for now I’ll enjoy every minute of the off-season freedom and let every stride be a reminder of how much I love this sport.

Happy Spring!

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Taking Sassy for a spin! Is it biking season yet?

 

 

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#LakePlacid2015: Part 2

20150309_122847[1]One of the things I was looking forward to most, about going back to Lake Placid, was the chance torevisit the Olympic Training Center and the USA Luge offices. The last time I was in Lake Placid was 9 years ago for a USA Luge camp, this was before I even knew skiing was a sport. I was there for one of the scouting camps that the team puts on to look for potential athletes and to show young people what it’s like to be an Olympic caliber athlete. The entire week was an experience that has (and will) stick with me forever. Speeding down the track in a luge sled, eating, sleeping and breathing a single sport; this was the first experience I had of being an elite athlete. I absolutely loved it! Although I didn’t continue luge after the training camp, the attitude and passion has had a huge impact on the energy I’ve been able to put into skiing. Since we were in town, it only seemed fitting to stop by the USA Luge Office and thank them for the experience they provided. Everyone in the office was very nice and it was fun to hear how the program has done over the past few years.

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The track at Mt. VanHoevenberg

Jamacian Bobsled team members getting ready for a run

The walk down memory lane continued as we walked the track at Mt. VanHoevenberg. Luckily we arrived during Skeleton and Bobsled practice. Watching the athletes go down the track on a TV screen barely does their speed justice. Bobsleds can reach 80 mph! About halfway though our walk up the track, a truck pulled up to us and the guy inside offered us a ride the rest of the way. This guy turned out to be “The King” of Mt. VanHoevenberg. He is a retired Bobsled athlete that got into the sport because he spend a long weekend in Lake Placid (in the 70’s) and still hasn’t left. He is in charge of all of the ski trails, the track and facilities at the venue. The King gave us an awesome tour of the starting area and even introduced us to the Jamaican Bobsled team!

As it turns out The King (we never learned his real name) was given the option to coach the Jamaicans when their team was developed. Instead he chose to stay in the US and coach our development program. As our tour was ending, he wished us luck at our races and we continued on our way to the next Olympic Venue. The Herb Brooks Ice Arena.

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Home to the Miracle on Ice

Lake Placid has a huge amount of Hockey history. Part of this is due to the 1980 games when the USA Hockey team upset the Russians winning the gold medal. Walking around the arena it was fun to picture the stands filled with cheering fans as the “Miracle on Ice” became an official win for the United States.

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Outdoor Speedskating track

Just outside the Herb Brooks Arena is the outdoor Speedskating track. This immediately caught my eye and served as yet another reminder of my failed 2014 new year’s resolution. Since watching the Olympic Trials last January in Salt Lake City, I have been determined to try the sport. Unfortunately none of my potential lesson leads have worked out, so I have yet to get on a pair of skates. This year I am more motivated than ever to arrange a lesson. I can’t wait to feel the blades glide across the ice, be able to compare the skating movements to that of skiing, and to have the sensation of flying.

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Tuesday night was the NCAA banquet. The food was surprisingly good this year, although our table was one of the last ones released, so maybe we were just exceptionally hungry. The host school, St. Lawrence, welcomed us to the event and wished all of the athletes luck at our competitions. The program was well put together and short, which no one complained about.

The first event of the week was the 5k skate race. Coming off our Regional Competition, I was super excited to see how our girls performed at a National level. With my pigtails up, the proper amount of pre-race dancing and full confidence, I clipped into my skis ready to leave it all on the course. I had a plan, and executed it the best that I could. Crossing the finish line, I immediately wanted nothing more than a nap. This is always a good feeling, because when this happens I know that all my energy was used during the race. The result didn’t end up being very good compared to the other races I’ve had this season. Although this was disappointing, I know that all of the variables I could control were in their proper spot. My mind was where it needed to be, I had the training, breakfast was standard and I had completely exerted myself. One of the things that drew me to skiing, is the number of unknowns each race contains. Sometimes things go in your favor, sometimes they don’t. That’s what makes racing fun! imagejpeg_0

The next morning my head was still super foggy from the race, and the entire experience was surreal. Luckily Miss Rachel made an (almost) surprise visit with enough energy and excitement to even make Eeyore smile. Skiing, hanging out in the hotel and going on a pre-race walk with her was a sorely needed attitude boost! By race time the next day, it was time to give the best performance I could. This was it! the last race of my college career.

For our team as a whole, this day went much better. Deedra had her best finish ever at NCAAs, I improved on my place from last year, and Tom and Hakon improved on their places from Wednesday too. It was especially exciting to watch the boy’s finish as Freddie (NMU) claimed the top of the podium.

Day 3 Recap Video

The week was capped off with the Slalom races at Whiteface. Being Nordic skiers, naturally we walked up the ski hill rather than taking the lift. It was exhausting. Cross training for next year?

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Watching the Women’s Slalom was super cool. Seeing them fly around the gates, it’s kind of crazy to think that the NCAA considers Alpine and Nordic the same sport. If any of those girls had seen me going down the final hill on Friday, they would have been appalled.

 

 

Our journey back to Houghton was much smoother than the way out. Everyone had boarding passes and no one got stopped at security for too long. When we landed in Minneapolis the Chaco’s immediately came out and it was so warm all of us decided to change clothes before heading off to dinner. Winter has definitely left the Twin Cities! Spring here we come.

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Seat partner Hakon making sure I don’t get into trouble during the flight

 

All in all I could not have asked for a better collegiate racing experience. To be able to share this with my family, friends, teammates, coaches, and sometimes even strangers, has been a great adventure. It’s hard to believe that it’s really over, but I’m excited to see where the next year will hold.

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Post Race Family Picture, I’m so happy they were able to share this entire experience with me!

 

#LakePlacid2015: Part 1

Travel Day

This year my spring break started out with yet another interview. I was more nervous than normal for this one because this company was my number one choice. I needed to make sure to put my best foot forward, and unlike last week, needed to confidently answer their questions rather than stumbling around in the dark. The group of people I got to interview with were very nice and it was neat to see how passionate they are about their projects. As I left the office they all wished me good luck at NCAA’s and I returned to my parents house feeling very positive about the entire experience. I was already looking forward to hearing back from them with my fingers crossed for the best!

After completing my (hopefully) last interview, it was time to switch mental gears to 100% skiing! Let the fun part of Spring Break begin! Before meeting up with the rest of my team at the hotel my dad and I went for a quick ski at Hyland Park. Unfortunately, since all of my race skis were currently halfway through Canada, I had to scrounge through my family’s ski collection to pull together a full set of equipment. With classic skis (that still had Klister on them from last spring), boots from 6th grade, and my dad’s classic poles, we set out for the man-made snow. Almost instantly, I had a huge appreciation for every single High School skier that goes to practice every day with equipment that doesn’t fit properly. I struggled to get kick and my technique felt like I was preparing for sections in 2007 rather than NCAA’s in 2015. Needless to say, by the end of the ski I very thankful to have quality equipment waiting for me in Lake Placid.

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Photo Credit & Seat Partner: Tom Bye

The next day marked the beginning of our journey to New York. We got to the airport early, hoping to take the light rail to the Mall of America after checking our bags. As it turned out, our boarding passes had been voided and although our seats were reserved on the plane, they were not able to issue us tickets. 1.5 hours and multiple phone calls later, our bags were traveling down the conveyor belt and we were off to security.

After getting everyone through security, (complete with a full pat down of our foreigner) the day started to turn around. We boarded our flight and once in the air I began my favorite airplane pastime, napping! Two hours later, I awoke as we were landing in Albany with a sore butt and a huge kink in my neck.

 

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#Dad1 #Dad2 #Happyfamily

Our first meal in New York was at this amazing restaurant called Delmonico’s. The service was phenomenal and the meal was even better. If I could make ravioli, I would love to try and replicate the dish, but there’s no way I can do it justice.

The last leg of our journey was a beautiful starry drive through the Appalachian mountains.  During our drive I finally had the chance to call Rachel back, and that’s when she broke the news that she is coming out to watch our races! RACHEL IS GOING TO BE IN NEW YORK!  I GET TO SEE RACHEL! If I hadn’t been buckled in, I probably would have gone through the roof with excitement. To top it off my parents had also informed me that I was just named CCSA skier of the week AND I had received a phone call offering me the position I was hoping for!

Our happy family had made it to Lake Placid!

Side note: At the beginning of the trip I came to the conclusion that I really should have a twitter account (@aliceflande). I still don’t really know how to do the social media thing, but fortunately I’m rooming with a hashtag pro. Learning how everything works has already provided quite a bit of entertainment and I think it’s going to be a lot more fun than expected.

 

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Deedra and I previewing the course

Training Days

Our first full day in Lake Placid was spent checking out the venue, experiencing more amazing local cuisine and getting everything set up for the week.

Skating around the 5k loop on day one, I was super skeptical about the climbs and the profile of the course. Unlike the competition loop at Tech, the stadium is at the bottom of the mountain, meaning that the climbs happen early and the last half of the race has a lot of recovery. This isn’t a profile I’m used to and it’s going to take a lot of thinking to get my head where it needs to be before Wednesday, so I skied it two more times to try and absorb all of the information I could.

 

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Apple Turkey Brie Sandwich

For lunch we went to one of the most popular breakfast places in town. Looking at the menu, I could easily see why the restaurant has a good reputation, there are multiple dishes that sound better than what I can make for myself. Finally, I decided to try their Apple Turkey Brie sandwich with a side of Sweet Potato fries. This was quite possibly the best sandwich I have ever had. The brie was the perfect amount of melty with the crunch and slight sourness of a granny smith apple combined with a heaping amount of thin sliced turkey all on a french-toast style bread. My culinary world had just been rocked. To make it even better, the sweet potato fries came with a sauce (chipotle aioli I think… but i’m really not sure) that made me want to have 4 stomachs.

We finished out the day by hanging out at the hotel and having some much needed relaxation. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week has in store!

Live Streaming of Wednesday’s race:
http://www.ncaa.com/championship/liveplayer/player?gameId=623342&date=2015/03/11

John Oliver’s Infrastructure

In one of his recent episodes John Oliver talks about the issues we have with our country’s infrastructure. Through humor he makes a lot of good points, ones that I can especially appreciate since I’m going to be the helping to fix this problem.

This video is totally worth the 20 minutes, but if you don’t have time to watch the entire thing, at least watch the last 5 or so minutes.

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