I’m writing this on the Megabus between Boston and Montpelier, VT, the very last leg of my journey back from the Southern Hemisphere to my home in Craftsbury. It seems a little unreal to me that just a few days ago I was skiing on real snow, in full-on winter, and now I’m watching the leaves change on the side of Highway 89! Not only is my internal clock completely messed up from the 16 hour time change and the travel, but my sense of temperature is thrown off as well- yesterday I was in a full body sweat walking around Boston on a nice fall day. Welcome back to humidity, thanks a lot, East Coast.
Looking back on the trip, I can say without a doubt that it was one of my favorite ski trips ever. I think I’m a little in love with New Zealand as a country. I expected the Lord of the Rings-esque scenery, and the pastures of sheep. After all, there are 6 sheep for every 1 person in the country! What I didn’t expect was the friendliness and openness of the people and their laid-back yet adventurous attitude. Overall, New Zealanders were some of the nicest people I’d ever met. I’d seen pictures of the Snow Farm before, but little did I know that it was surrounded by stunning, panoramic mountain scenery, and that every morning and night, the sky would put on a sunrise or sunset show for us. With 30 kilometers of groomed trails out the door, skiing twice a day was a treat. On top of that, we had great food, I drank way too many flat whites (the New Zealand version of a latte, but better), and I was in absolute skier heaven.
|Good morning Snow Farm trails! Jet lag meant waking up |
early, but it also meant I got to say hello to the sun in the
morning from the breakfast room.
of our first days on snow, remembering |
how to stride and glide with Caitlin
A moody day to venture out to some of the farther
trails (Photo Caitlin Patterson)
I love the snake-like profile of the trails here. A disclaimer- Kait
was sick the first week and I skied a ton with Caitlin. She takes
lovely photographs, but that's why so many of these are
solo shots of me (Photo Caitlin Patterson)
Wanaka, a town 40 minutes away, has one of the most |
photographed trees in the world, and it's for good reason!
terraced Merino Glen, where the most sheltered trails are. |
This is useful on a high wind day (Photo Caitlin Patterson)
Part of the reason we traveled down to New Zealand was to compete in the New Zealand Winter Games, a three race series held at the Snow Farm. Racing on snow at the end of the summer was a new experience for me, and while the races went fairly well, I can’t say they were spectacular. It was more about reacquainting myself with the feelings of racing, and at the same time recognizing that race sharpness is still a few months away. I was actually most satisfied with my distance skate race. After a slow start, I was caught by my teammate Caitlin, and I had the opportunity to ski with her for the rest of the race. I always learn the most by following others, and I was happy to hang with her, because I consider her an awesome distance skater. I’ve been working so hard on my skate technique this summer and a few things are finally starting to click, which has been rewarding overall. We also raced a classic sprint, and I was happy to make the semifinal and finish 5th overall, and a 10k classic, where I experienced the “tireds” in a real way, but still pushed through in 7th place.
|Thanks to Brian Gregg for the snap from my 5k skate race!|
|Hanging onto Caitlin while coach Pepa shouts encouragement|
My semifinal with Caitlin and Ida. I learned from this race and
the 10k the next day that herringbone is one of my weaknesses,
and I’ve added it to the list of things I need to work on!
It was really great to have a huge group of Americans at the Snow Farm, including skiers from Stratton T2, Sun Valley, the US Ski Team, and Team Gregg. While training in a big group is fun, by the last week everyone packed up, and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. It was a good time to put our heads down, ramp up the volume, and truly focus on technique. We got to head down to town on our off day, and then again two days later to explore a really cool river valley on a run. In terms of the skiing, it was a total mixed bag. One day, it was 40 mph winds, driving rain/sleet/hail, and ungroomed trails. The next day, it was perfectly sunny, everything was groomed, and the crust skiing was unbelievably good. Luckily that was our final day of skiing, so the team left on a high note. Then we headed down the Queenstown, where we got to explore the town, hike Queenstown Hill, and eat some of the best burgers I’ve ever tasted. It was the perfect way to cap off a pretty spectacular camp.
Lake Wanaka on our off day in town. Not pictured- the |
thigh-width freshwater eels swimming just a few feet below me
|Sunrise was great, but sunset over the Southern New Zealand Alps was|
the Fern Burn trail on a “tramping” excursion |
(that’s what they call it in New Zealand, no joke).
|Sheeeeepies!! Why are ewe running away? Come baaaaaack!|
Burn hut down below. One day, I’m planning to come back to New |
Zealand and hike hut to hut. This place is amazing in its scope and scenery
|Danger! Interval day!|
Nick for lying on your belly in the snow to take cool |
photos of us interval-ling
|Following speedster Ben for a few seconds before settling back |
into L3 pace
|Happily crust-cruising above the Kurtle Burn hut up to Mt. Pisa|
|Glad that the Caitlin/Kaitlynn crew is always up for an adventure|
a windy ridgeline!
two during our last week
Snapped by Ben, a sneaky corner shot of an absolutely perfect day
|Look Mom! We caught a hobbit!|
A Pepa specialty- the whole team selfie
One last sunset over the Snow Farm
|Queenstown Hill hike in the fog and mist|
|Magnolias blooming down in Queenstown|
|A perfect encapsulation of the NZ attitude|
After spending a few days in Boston recouping from the travel and catching up with one of my best college friends, I’m headed to Craftsbury for a short while. I’ll be recovering then finding my speed (hopefully!) before heading out West to join the US Ski Team for a camp in Park City. I love fall in Vermont, and I hear the apples are amazing this year, so I have ten days to soak up all the autumn vibes, and then I’m out West, where I can’t wait to see my family and train in the mountains.
Big thanks to our coaches/techs Pepa and Nick for coming with us to New Zealand to support us, wax our skis, and make sure that everything went as smoothly as possible. Also huge thanks to the Craftsbury Outdoor Center for funding the trip to New Zealand. Getting on snow in the summer is a huge advantage for our training, and this camp was the most productive summer camp I’ve ever attended. Finally, thanks to my sponsors Fischer, Swix, Salomon, and Toko, for keeping me in ski gear while I train and race, and to team sponsors Craft, Julbo, Skida, and Polar for outfitting the team!
I’ll update next from Utah, thanks for reading!!
*if you survived that onslaught of photos and want more, I also posted a recap from the first two weeks of our trip on the Green Racing Project blog, and you can find that HERE.