Within my pay-grade back in November 1993 was the cost of a weekend pass to the renowned Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival. Living in Northwest, Montana at the time, the drive north and across the border and up to Banff was a streamlined affair. Beyond my means, however, a warm place to stay near Banff. Even back then, the somewhat tony Canadian town had a posh flare. So a friend and I bivied in the woods, eagerly awaiting the warmth inside the Banff Centre For Arts and Creativity each morning. This hive of mountain culture, decades before streaming adventure content was a finger-swipe away, remains a highlight.
Since then, the Banff Mountain Film Festival tour has been my annual pinprick for inspiration. The film tour arrives in town at just the right moment as available daylight wanes, the motivation withering. These films stoke my where-there-be-dragons imagination, making it easier to snag a coffee, the headlamp, and hustle for the alpenglow.
For reasons we all know, the Banff Mountain Film Festival is virtual this year. Here’s the silver lining: The 2020 festivities can come to you if you’re looking for a socially distant Covid-outlet. You can secure access to roughly 75 films through the Centre’s virtual festival website. The films are available to stream from October 31st – Nov. 8. A few films are subject to geo-restrictions.
A full festival pass costs $115.00 (150.00 CAD). These passes are all-inclusive but are not available for purchase after Nov. 3. For those unable to commit to a full pass, the Banff Centre offers “single screening” tickets running between $10 and $20 per event/showing.
Portions of the film fest catalog have a limited period for streaming. Go to the film fest’s Virtual Festival Schedule and you’ll get dialed. For example, say you’re interested in “Will Power”, a film profiling ice climber Will Gadd. That film is available for streaming between Nov. 2 – Nov. 8 only.
The price of admission also includes access to a curated series of mixed film bundles. The bundled films are organized by theme: Global Village, Send It!, Pause and Reflect, and High Altitude Dreams are a few of the offerings.
A critical piece of attending the Banff Mountain Film Festival are the myriad speakers and panels. Those conversations are sadly unavailable when you head out to your local Banff World Tour show. Within the confines of a virtual festival, however, the organizers are including on-line speakers/discussions. They run the gamut from a timely panel titled “Indigenous Dialogue – What’s in a Name” to a question and answer session conducted by journalist James Edward Mills with Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison. Nelson and Morrison skied the Lhotse Couloir in the Nepal Himalaya. Think no-fall jump-turns above 8000 meters. Not much more to say about this first descent in the throne room of the mountain gods.
Additionally, for those looking for a Banff film community, they’re hosting two “Tales & Ales” virtual discussions. Both “Tales and Ales” relate to the book side of the festival.
While reading into the mission statement for the Banff Centre For Arts and Creativity, I came across this timely quote:
“Now and again, it is necessary to seclude yourself among deep mountains and hidden valleys to restore your link to the source of life.” –Morehei Ueshiba (Founder, Aikido)
If you find yourself looking for some virtual restoration, sitting back and immersing yourself in mountain films just might be good medicine. Which brings us to the films. Each to their own — but cherry-picking from the alphabetized list of the 2020 Banff Mountain Film Competition Finalist is splitting hairs.
Like most other states, a cross section of athletes racing in the Colorado High School circuit (CHSAA) looks relatively homogenous when it comes to ethnicity. The field is largely white. However, in stark contrast to skiers hailing from affluent mountain towns like Steamboat Springs, Aspen, and Vail, a team from Denver might catch your eye for adding some color. Most of the Ridge View Academy Rams, all male, are Black or Latino, and line up amidst athletes with NCAA or even Olympic aspirations during their first ever season on snow.
“Our guys are like deer in the headlights [at the first few races],” said head coach Greg Townsend, recalling one such day at an interval start classic race in Vail in roughly 2007.
“One of our better skiers was lined up right behind a young Noah [Hoffman] — and Noah is warming up looking like a bunny rabbit: jumping up and down on his skis, and bounding, and doing all this stuff. Two or three of our kids are staring at him like, ‘Holy crap! I don’t do it that way.’”
The athlete came to Townsend feeling terrified to race against Hoffman, wondering what he should do. Townsend encouraged him to follow along with Hoffman’s routine and to remember what the goal is.
“It’s a ski race. Just do your best, go have fun with it.”
Townsend watched his athlete buck up the courage to head back to the start area. As Hoffman slapped his skis in the tracks to keep his wax from freezing, the Ridge View racer slapped his skis. As Hoffman flexed and stretched, so did the athlete from Ridge View.
“And then he got dusted — I think Noah won the race. But our kid came in with a big smile on his face and I asked how it went and he said, ‘It was fun. I think I did alright.’”
To provide further insight, Ridge View Academy, a Right of Passage (ROP) program, is an alternative education charter school that works with court-involved and at-need young men. ROP offers a holistic, strength-based approach to education, treatment and counseling, which focuses on the individual’s positive qualities and skills, and shifts focus away from past transgressions and toward overcoming adversity. Social services are also offered to help improve the lives of the youth served.
In addition to classes to support kids in earning a GED, Ridge View Academy offers skills and trade based classes, and students can elect to follow a vocational tract to learn bicycle shop skills, culinary arts, barbering, metal working, and more. Extracurricular activities and sports also play an integral role.
At the helm of the cycling, mountain biking, and nordic ski programs at Ridge View is Greg Townsend, who has worked with ROP programs since 1984. FasterSkier spoke with Townsend in June to learn more about the Ridge View Academy program and how cross-country skiing plays a role in the educational and therapeutic model.
Townsend is the type of person you could listen to for hours, and it was immediately apparent how his mentorship and support could help countless young men find their way out of difficult situations.
Townsend’s circuitous path to ROP had a waypoint in Japan. After several years of bike racing, Townsend found his way to Japan where he worked as a paramedic at a ski resort. He was looking for a way to stay fit for cycling through the winter season and was eventually introduced to the head coach of the Japanese national nordic ski team, who agreed to teach him to classic ski. He described the experience as an “eyeopener” as he found himself needing to slowly master one skill at a time to earn the respect of the coach, calling it “the Japanese way.”
“I had to double pole for like three weeks straight before they taught me the next step, which was double pole with a kick,” he laughed.
After moving back to the United States, he began working with a California-Nevada based ROP program, leading groups of young men into the mountains on winter camping and telemark ski trips alongside the head coach who was a former Marines mountain warfare instructor. He called this type of travel and skill development “Mount Everest stuff.”
To get kids on skis more regularly, he proposed starting a nordic ski program, and cobbled together enough gear to start a team. When he moved to Denver in 2001 to help start Ridge View Academy, he brought the concept of a nordic team with him. He explained that the first season, because of a lack of equipment, the team completed almost all of their training on dry land. It was not until the day of the first race that the team actually got to ski on snow.
Although most of his kids were born and raised in Colorado, very few came from families with the financial means to provide a ski experience and many had never been out of their home town or city. Consequently, it was not only their first day on nordic skis, but their first day sliding on snow in any fashion. They arrived early and rented ski equipment the morning of the race, spent two hours practicing, then the kids lined up with everyone else.
The best compliment Townsend overheard was, “They’re not very good, but they don’t quit!”
As the years progressed, Townsend helped find equipment and opportunities to support his kids. As he also teaches metalworking classes, he fabricated a fleet of skate skis and slowly collected pairs of classic. Townsend helped locate used equipment and connected with donors and sponsors to find skis, and Ridge View partnered with the YMCA of the Rockies at Snow Mountain Ranch, exchanging community service for trail time. Now ROP student-athletes are able to complete roughly half their training on snow.
Apart from developing as a skier, Townsend explains that the true value of the program is the impact of providing the young men with access to the outdoors and aerobic exercise.
As a self-described “huge believer in experiential education”, he’s led countless long-distance bike trips, including 600 mile tours from campus to the Grand Canyon or even all the way cross country. Along the way, he watches kids work through physical exhaustion and emotional anguish, pedaling under the weight of personal history of being passed through foster care, criminal records, teen pregnancies, or abuse.
Townsend explained that there is research supporting the role aerobic exercise can play in creating changes in the brain that reduce the risk of depression or psychosis, which can lead kids to make negative choices or engage in self-harming behaviors.
“Skiing has somewhat of the same effect… A lot of brain change takes place with aerobic activity, and sustained aerobic activity has more impact than short term activities,” said Townsend.“You get to see that firsthand with kids. Kids that were pretty self-destructive or using type-A behaviors — it can pretty much go away. There’s a lot of permanent change that takes place in the brain with that type of activity.”
Apart from having the cycling and skiing skills to facilitate these experiences, Townsend is able to connect with the young men and help counsel them through their journey at Ridge View. Though he spoke humbly, he acknowledged that some of his success in this realm stems from his own history within the system, which has shaped his ability to listen to and understand the challenges of others.
“Everybody has a story, every one of our kids is different. I get to make an impact everyday. I was a troubled kid when I was younger, and my brother died in the system a couple years back — he never made changes, and I made changes when I was younger. I wouldn’t call it an affinity, but I have an understanding, so I can connect and have a relationship with someone that is struggling. I can’t say better than some, but that would be something that my wife would say.”
Seeing this impact and supporting kids to become successful adults is what has kept him with Right of Passage for over 36 years.
“You have to love the kids, love what you do everyday. For me, some of my best friends were kids that I coached. They have five kids and a family and they’re doing well. They’re not dead, they’re not on the streets, they’re doing well. One of our lawyers was a kid for us… You never know when you have an impact. When you’re good, it’s a chess game sometimes, and I’ve learned how to play a good game of chess, where I’m not always the one who is going to help the kid. But if you know who your chess pieces are and you can set up success for the kid and put all the people in the right place, then that can sometimes come to success.”
He explained that the philosophy he aims to pass onto teachers he helps develop at Ridge View follows an old Chinese proverb: “When the student is ready, the teacher is going to appear.”
Townsend explained that one cannot presume when a young man enters the program whether or not he is capable of making changes. He reminds staff not to fall into the trap of becoming “pessimistic, antagonistic, and detached.”
“Keep being the teacher,” Townsend added. “You’re not going to necessarily know when the student is listening to you… A lot of these kids have had a lot of pain, have a lot of pride, and a lot of stuff they’re protecting themselves with, and they have a hard time making relationships that they trust as far as adult relationships. They may never let you know that they trusted you and they listened to you… I see our job as building the wall strong enough that it can stand on its own. When they get out there in the real world and have these negative influences again and lots of people trying to pull them down, they’re going to have to be able to stand on their own.”
He continued by explaining that not all kids “make it” in terms of making lasting changes in their lives and finding a healthy path long term, but that a large percentage are successful, and those are the ones that keep him hopeful with each new case.
In terms of his coaching philosophy, Townsend’s primary goal is for the kids to enjoy the sport.
“I stress the fun factor — that’s the hook. Once kids get some balance on their skis and have their first downhill without crashing, they tend to start having fun with it… I had a really great cycling mentor who said, ‘This is too hard not to have fun at it. If you’re not having fun, try something else.’”
From there, he encourages the young men to identify how the skills they are honing by overcoming challenges in skiing might transfer into their everyday lives.
“Apply that from the perspective of building the individual… As I tell the kids, it’s not about skiing, it’s not about cycling. It’s a fun thing, but how many of us are going to do it professionally? But we can learn a lot of lessons from it, and apply those same lessons in everything else that we do. Yeah, we need to double pole 20 times around the track, or whatever, but if you finish that workout, you’re going to get stronger and mentally you’re going to be stronger. I think the guys that don’t quit start to catch onto that and start to see the benefit, and that’s the hook.”
His metric for a successful training session on skis? Naps and positive energy on the bus ride home.
“I always know I’ve done a good job when they’re all just passed out on the way back from Snow Mountain Ranch and they wake up in a positive headspace. The only beauty of driving four hours [roundtrip] to go train is they get to talk and we get to do school work and build relationships on the way there, then they get to nap on the way back, or you have these long two-hour talks on the way back from practice. One of the beauties of being able to drive for four hours a day with kids that need a lot of talking with is the drive.”
At this point, our conversation headed toward a question I felt some trepidation about asking. I’ve never coached an athlete of color, nor have I trained alongside one. While I’ve typically had great kids, the exclusive private and public schools I’ve taught and coached for are filled with kids who have grown up with a significant amount of privilege. Heck, we race in Aspen Colorado through a neighborhood of homes that are each worth millions of dollars, [Currently, an empty lot is for sale for $3.9 million, and an estate is listed at $14.9 million.] while some of his kids’ entire multigenerational families live in an apartment the size of a one car garage.
How does this make a young man who is a person of color and has faced an incredibly challenging set of obstacles throughout his life feel? Is there bitterness? Anger? Envy?
On the contrary, Townsend explained that rather than looking around at others feeling spiteful, primarily his kids are just self-conscious that everyone else is looking at them.
“And I’m like, ‘So what?’ It’s a race, and everyone is looking at everyone else.”
He explained that the people they do encounter who may look down on the team or seem concerned about their participation typically don’t understand the variety of circumstances that have led the young man to the program. His kids might be “receivers” of broken families or hard situations that they weren’t able to process at a young age.
“Kids come from varied backgrounds and histories. We have kids where mom and dad were meth heads or sold meth, and the kids were taken out of their homes. They never did a crime in their life, but they’re part of the system. Then we have the other extreme where we may have a different level of kid that was a gang kid. To put a rubber stamp that all the kids are the same that we work with doesn’t do justice to the kids.
“People look at our kids from a couple of different lenses: a resource lens, a villain lens, and a victim lens. Some of these kids are going to be lawyers someday, or doctors, or firemen, or business owners… The way that they’re going to change is by looking at them like they’re a resource. I see these kids as a diamond in the rough. You see this dirty little rock on the ground, and if you just walk by it or kick it, you don’t realize that it’s a precious diamond — you just have to have the right cutter to expose the diamond under the dirty little rock. Our kids have the same ability, not necessarily the same choices, but they do have the same ability as anyone else, they just have to believe it themselves.”
Overall, Townsend concluded that his team has been well received and supported by other teams, and although his kids sometimes feel self-conscious about their skiing ability or how different they are from other competitors, racing in the CHSAA league has been a positive experience.
“Underdog is probably a standard. I always have a new team every year, and I enjoy the hell out of it. Once in a while, we have a phenom kid. Once we placed fourth in the state, and we had four guys in the top-10 at a race once.”
He explained that this anomaly took place on the Rams’ home course in Snow Mountain Ranch where kids felt comfortable enough to “let loose and go hard.”
That is not to say he has never coached a standout. He shared that one of his racers, Maxwell Burnell, was one of the fastest CHSSL skiers in Colorado and was able to earn a scholarship to Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy (VSSA) to further develop as an athlete. Burnell was also an accomplished Cat 1-2 cyclist.
“He was probably our biggest success story in terms of his ability to take the sport and run with it. He had a lot of fun skiing and ski racing.”
Townsend became emotional as he added that most importantly, Burnell was able to transform his life. He followed an upward trajectory to Ridge View Academy from a mental health hospital, then to VSSA, and on to compete at the top level of domestic cycling, racing shoulder-to-shoulder with men who went on to make the national team.
He concluded that each year, his goal is simply to develop whatever group of athletes join the team to become as holistically strong as possible at the end of the season.
“What are you going to take from the season? Our guys learn how not to quit. And I take pride if we get through the season and not one of my kids quits a race — they had a good season from that standpoint.”
From that objective, he added that the advantage of going out more to enjoy themselves rather than to focus on performance is that their conversations can revolve primarily around learning a new lifestyle.
“The goal is to enjoy life and learn some lessons. Teamwork is huge, getting along and building a family where these kids support each other is huge. Kids that are from opposite sides of the tracks — one’s from the south and one’s from the north and they’re in different gangs. At the end of the season, sometimes they’re best friends.”
Townsend concluded that overall, the nordic community has been welcoming and gracious toward his kids, and most importantly, have just treated them like kids. Racing hard at altitude ironically levels the playing field. His kids can leave behind their heavier suffering and just race, turning it into the hypoxic singular focus experienced by any other skier on the trails and being rewarded by the same post-race high.
“Everyone who has suffered through a Snow Mountain Stampede — the 42k that went over to Granby — that was brutal! And our kids went out and did the race. When they finished, everyone that finished has the same affinity — everyone went through the same struggle, no matter how good you are at it.”
A few weeks back, we featured an excerpt from a new book titled Nordic Warrior? A Midlife Crisis in Biathlon. Written by Ithaca, New York, based biathlete, Craig Wiggers, the book explores his love affair with biathlon which began midlife.
Wiggers’ path to biathlon is as circuitous as they come. Raised in the deep south, Wiggers attended school at Auburn University and spent a full career hopscotching around the globe as a U.S. Marine. He was deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a safe bet to assume sliding on snow was a new and eventually welcome prospect when Wiggers and his family settled in Ithaca for a position at Cornell University.
What is refreshing about Wiggers is his joy in finding a new passion and being welcomed into the biathlon community as a newbie. There’s no pretense about having learned to ski at a young age or having Olympic aspirations. His is a down to earth tale – he simply wants to improve.
You can find his book on Amazon for less than a dollar. All proceeds are donated to U.S. Biathlon.
U.S. Biathlon Team and Craftsbury Green Racing Project biathlete Kelsey Dickinson conducted this interview.
Below is an excerpt from a detailed article exploring “the problems of ski testing, measuring friction, and evaluating skis.” For first-timers, the linked article offers a glimpse into the technical side of the sport at the World Cup level. For those veteran wax-techs, it is an opportunity to agree to disagree or nod your head in agreement.
Competition preparation from the point of view of ski technicians
Competition preparation, which includes a detailed analysis of the external conditions, the preparation of the skis and subsequent testing, is an elaborate process that requires precision and is also a power-sapping operation. The technicians are required to have a sure instinct as well as knowledge of meteorology, physics and chemistry. Another difficulty is the time pressure to get a large number of skis finished to the point. Routine and teamwork are helpful, but also the understanding of the tribological processes involved.
Glide tests are carried out in close proximity to the running course or on the track. To evaluate the skis, a test runner runs down a marked out course several times without introducing measuring errors by changing his posture. At each run, the skiing time is measured and documented. Ideally, a glide test should not be performed by the technician who has waxed the skis. The shorter the gliding distance, the more evenly – in terms of posture – the tester will ski. However, if the distance is short, the time differences are also very small, which makes the evaluation more difficult. The opposite is true for long gliding distances
Ski tests are a necessary condition for success in racing. The test should be preceded by intensive analyses of the external conditions such as temperature, humidity, terrain profile and above all the properties of the snow. The analyses should be carried out at as many points on the track as possible to detect local differences. It is recommended to support the field tests with laboratory tests, because this way a large number of variants can be tested under constant conditions and a pre-selection is possible, which can reduce the number and duration of the field tests.
Link to article.
When we began this series, The Escape, we imagined it would be a slippery slope. It turns out that the slope is blue-ice slick. Cabin-lust is real.
This past spring, just as Covid-19 began making headlines in the U.S., one of the best treat makers on the planet, Zoë Roy, was chef at Talus Lodge. Roy, along with a friend who is rumored to ride bicycles in all forms, settled at the lodge for approximately two-months as the U.S. and Canada worked out their Covid-19 related border issues. Roy holds a Canadian passport, the bike rider does not. From Roy’s mom, I’d hear occasionally about Zoë’s charmed existence self-isolating in a dreamscape and relationship test tube.
Tucked way back, the lodge is perched in British Columbia’s East Kootenays and situated on Ktunaxa ʔamakʔis, the homeland of the Ktunaxa people.
Envision a snow globe fantasyland ripe with serrated summits, glades, and bowl skiing.
Let’s shoot straight. This is not the place for 40 mm underfoot nordic skis. The geography enveloping Talus Lodge spoons nicely with its 100 mm or greater width partners. This is powder country.
Before the eye roll that this has nothing to do with a cross-country ski site, hear us out. The lodge is owned and operated by Sara Renner and her husband Thomas Grandi – both accomplished skiers at the World Cup level. Renner won Olympic silver in the 2006 team sprint and a bronze at the 2005 Oberstdorf World Championships. The couple, who parent three children, are high-mountain lovers. Grandi is a certified ski guide.
But the cabin features in The Escape are more about Zen than results and resumes. Inhale. Exhale. Transport yourself to Talus Lodge.
This is the full off-the-grid plush experience, beyond skiers self-powering uphill. Mountain-style gourmet meals are catered. The lodge features a full kitchen and normally sleeps 10-12 guests. Six bedrooms populate the lodge, all double occupancy. Solar panels and a backup generator supply power. A wood stove stokes heat in winter. The wood-fired sauna rounds out your post-ski life. And since this is real-deal avalanche country, your cost for staying includes mandatory ski guides.
Stays at Talus are an opportunity to unplug. There’s no WiFi. However, guests have access to a satellite phone when necessary. Originally built in 2001, the lodge was recently renovated.
As for getting there, most take the heli in, some tour in with a guide. Otherwise, it’s simple. This is your job if heading to Talus for a winter adventure: show up with skis, gear, clothes, and plenty of endurance. They provide the rest. If the images of winter wonderland don’t suit you, the lodge is available for summer hiking too. For now, during the pandemic, only Canadians can book Talus.
The all new Redline 3.0 skis are hitting the market right now, after three years of intense research and development, testing and collaboration with the top Madshus athletes.
So, what’s the big deal with the new Madshus Redline 3.0? Let’s hear it from four-time Olympic medalist Krista Pärmäkoski. The 29-year-old Finn, who is entering her 13th season on the World Cup level, is aiming for gold again at the 2021 FIS World Championships in Oberstdorf (GER) in February.
You have tested these skis for a while now. In your opinion, what is the biggest differences between the new Redline 3.0 compared to the previous Redline 2.0 models?
“Both the new classic and skating skis have changed a lot from 2.0 to 3.0. But to start with the skate skis, the new Redline 3.0 goes extremely well in uphill terrain, and the tips of the skis feel super light because the flex profile of the ski has changed a bit. The new Redline 3.0 skate skis are also stable to ski and really easy to control. And of course, I like the new design as well!”
Curious about the features, technology and construction of the innovative new Redline models? Take a deep dive into the nuts and bolts under the hood of the all-new Redline 3.0 with Madshus Technology Director
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What kinds of advantages do the Redline 3.0 skis give you, and where do you feel the biggest difference from earlier?
“For classic skis, we have done lot of work and testing in order to find good flex profiles, and during the last season most of my racing skis already had the new profile. In developing the Redline 3.0, we were also careful to keep all the good features from the old skis and then improved them even more. As a result, the new Redline 3.0 classic skis are easier to ski, it is easier to get perfect kick and the grip is more reliable. And finally, they also feel really fast on downhill sections.”
Dryland training with Krista Pärmäkoski
Press Release from ABSF:
Birkie Week 2021 Slated for February 24–28, 2021
Hayward, WI (October 14, 2020) – After months of planning, and with the guidance of public health officials, today the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) is pleased to announce the planned format for their annual February ski races. Registration for the 2021 Slumberland American Birkebeiner, Kortelopet and Prince Haakon races opened on May 1, 2020 with the promise of hosting the events and the caveat that the races would undoubtedly look differently than in a typical year given the world’s public health crisis.
Over the past few months, the ABSF has safely hosted three in-person events – Birkie Lumberjack Run (July), Birkie Trail Run (September), and Birkie Telemark Ascent (October) – introducing a variety of innovative and enhanced safety protocols for athletes, volunteers and staff at each event. Now, with months of learning and applied safety practices in place, the 47th Annual Slumberland American Birkebeiner (Birkie), Kortelopet (Korte) and Prince Haakon races, combined, will be spread out over five-days, February 24-28, with limited and staged start waves each morning to reduce congestion and close-contact in the start, on-trail, and finish areas.
“Providing inspiring healthy, active, outdoor lifestyle experiences is at the heart of what we do at the ABSF,” said Ben Popp, ABSF Executive Director. “The safety of participants, volunteers, staff, and the greater community continues to be our No.1 priority. I am confident in our practices, in our team, and in our ability to deliver a safe and fun Birkie experience to remember for all participants.”
To accommodate specific ski techniques, Birkie skate skiers will race on Feb 24, 25, and 27, with classic skiers on February 26 and 28. Skiers will be required to drive their own vehicles to the start area at the American Birkebeiner Trailhead , Cable, WI, where they will ski a 46-kilometer looped course, returning to a separate finish area adjoining the American Birkebeiner Trailhead. Skiers will need to be more self-reliant by carrying their own on on-course energy or food and will use their vehicles as their pre- and post-race warm space. Hydration will be provided at on-course aid stations. Spectators will not be allowed at the start and finish of the races. Removing all major gathering points, congested indoor spaces, and shared busing will enable the ABSF to adhere to all public health guidelines and safety protocols while providing a great race experience on the wide, open-air ski trails.
Birkie, Korte and Prince Haakon participants will have the opportunity to choose their February race date sometime in early November. Registered skiers will receive an email allowing them to choose from available dates; once maximum capacity in each pre-qualified wave and date has been reached, that date and time will no longer be available. Any registered skier may also choose to switch to the virtual race option to be skied during the same time window as in-person races.
Bib pick-up, other Birkie week events, and greater event details will be announced at a later date. The ABSF continues to work very closely with both Bayfield and Sawyer County Public Health officials to ensure all Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local public health guidelines are in place for all upcoming events. Event plans are subject to change should public health mandates, guidelines or laws be amended.
The annual Birkie Week of events requires the collaboration of cities, towns, villages, public officials, state and county agencies, local businesses, volunteers, churches, and so many more. With a race finish in downtown Hayward removed from the race format, the ABSF has been in contact with officials and Chambers of Commerce to begin the process of formulating plans to ensure a positive Birkie week experience for all constituencies.
Registration for Birkie, Korte, and Prince Haakon 2021 remains open with many waves already filled. Skiers interested in participating in this unique Birkie week experience are encouraged to register at www.Birkie.com. All future event updates and news will be posted on Birkie.com under the Birkie Event Updates tile on the website’s home page. Additional details are available by watching this video. In addition, on Monday, October 19th, 6pm CDT, Ben Popp, Executive Director, and Kristy Maki, Event Director, will host a virtual “live” meeting to provide additional event information and answer submitted questions. Check the Birkie Event Update page at Birkie.com for additional information.
“I train because I like to race but I also train because I enjoy it, so I never took a pause,” said Kris Freeman from his New Hampshire home. That’s straight-up Freeman. Focus. Intensity. A plan. Even during COVID.
Let’s face it, enjoying the process became a necessity for many as public sporting events have been mostly cancelled since mid-March. Six feet distant, mask-wearing, hand-sanitizing have become as much a part of our daily mantra as swim-bike-run has for triathletes. Last year we chronicled Freeman’s journey as he set a goal to improve as a triathlete. That he did. With incremental gains in the swim portion and his noted bike-run prowess, Freeman was a place away from auto-qualifying for the 2019 Kona Ironman World Championships. He was fourth in his age group at the Lake Placid Ironman – one spot out.
We’ll get to COVID-protocols in a bit, but Freeman was first able to compete in triathlon head to head -that’s in person- on August 29th in New Hampshire. It can be a dizzying array of travel restrictions and safety protocol between close proximity states — as in New England. But race they did. Scrolling through the results of the half-Ironman (70.3 miles total) Live Free and Tri, the event was well represented by New Englanders and a dab from outlying states.
Taking the win in 4:16:42 hours was Freeman.
Triathlons, with their complex logistics, trend towards capping field size. With the knowledge that premier races fill-up, athletes often register nearly a year in advance.
“I was planning on racing Lake Placid Ironman again this year and I registered last September, in 2019, for it. Which seems insane to register 10 months in advance for a race but it sells out,” said Freeman. “I did that for four different races and they were all subsequently delayed at first – even Lake Placid was at first delayed before they cancelled it. In fact, all the races I signed up in advance for were all initially delayed then cancelled. As we got towards the end of the summer a couple of different race organizers came up with ways of social distancing while hosting their races. I am still very cautious about COVID social distancing but I was comfortable with the precautions that the race directors set up.”
Along with his solo time trials and Strava segment duals since the pandemic, Freeman has raced two triathlons, including his August 29 win.
Staggered starts, reduced field size, were just some of the principle race day modifications for triathlon. With an eye towards the global arena, the official Ironman stance for safety adopted World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and a five-point plan to foster safe in-person racing: “Enhanced Hygiene, Screening and Education, Density reduction, Touchpoint Minimization, Athlete self-reliance, —-these are the cornerstone of how Ironman attempts to come back on-line.”
In early September, the first official Ironman since March was held in Tallinn, Estonia. According to a New York Times piece, over 1500 participants entered with at least 50 countries represented. Although a commitment to compete in Estonia took considerable resources, small scale events could replicate the safety template stateside.
Freeman contested the Olympic distance Sunapee Triathlon on September 19. He placed second overall. But more to the point, he was able to race in a discipline in which he still feels he has room to improve. For a skier like Freeman, who was known for fastidious preparation, the many vagaries of triathlon suit his disposition. Along with his blood sugar management on race day, the three sport format offers him myriad opportunities for gear, nutrition, and training tweaks. And according to Freeman, time is on his side in the short-run.
“I am going to be 40 next month,” Freeman said. “From a triathlon standpoint, I have probably got one or more two years of getting faster before age makes me start getting slower. Part of the reason I like triathlon right now is I get faster until I am 42. If racing did not happen I still knew I was training towards something in the future. Like I was training for the next year.”
Along the way as he plans for races several years out, Freeman knows his diabetes makes him at greater risk to COVID complications.
“Having diabetes makes getting sick more difficult across the board: A cold has a profound impact on my blood sugar levels,” he said. “For one thing, exercising makes you more sensitive to insulin. And if you are sick you don’t exercise and so you become less sensitive to insulin. For sure I am a higher risk for complications than somebody who does not have diabetes. I like to think that I am one of the better-prepared people with diabetes but you never really know.”
As he continues to train and attempts, like many water sport athletes, to determine where and when to swim, he’s focused on simply maintaining a training plan, and keeping his fingers crossed that his window for speed in triathlon at a marquee Ironman event align. For those who have raced Freeman through the decades on the ski course, you’ll understand this: time seems to flow just a bit slower for Freeman.
Forever young or not, he is aging well. Freeman turns 40 today. According to the plan, two more years of getting faster.
The Madshus Redline 3.0 is no less than a small revolution three years in the making. There are huge changes under the hood on the new Redline 3.0 models headed for retailers this season. Madshus engineers explain what’s under the top coat of the all-new Redline 3.0 models.
The new Redline models are the result of intense product development, rigorous testing and an open-mindedness to question established methods and principles of ski construction and manufacturing, all in close communication with our top athletes and proven on the World Cup. Their feedback and experiences, requests and demands are carefully collected and thoroughly analyzed in order to develop the fastest, most reliable skis on the market.
What’s the difference between Redline 2.0 and Redline 3.0?
“There are three major factors determining the properties of a ski. The geometry of the ski, that is the thickness of the various sections of the ski, is one. The other is the flex and camber, and the third factor is the materials from which the skis are made. The geometry is the only factor we haven’t changed in the Redline 3.0 compared to the Redline 2.0. The flex and camber and the composition of the materials,” explains Bjørn Ivar Austrem, Technical Director (CTO) at Madshus and in charge of innovation and product development at the factory in Biri, Norway.
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The all new groove
While there are huge changes to the inside of the ski in the new Redline 3.0, the design of the groove on the base of the ski is one of the most visible differences from previous models. The groove is shorter on all the new Redline 3.0, but different on all models depending on which conditions they are engineered for. On some models the groove is entirely eliminated on parts of the ski.
“The groove provides stability to the ski, but because our skis are very stable to start with, we are able to adjust the length of the groove depending on what kinds of conditions the ski is intended for. That allows us to engineer a ski with the optimal combination of liveliness and stability,” Austrem says.
He explains that the technology behind the groove design is based on principles of physics, but applied somewhat differently on skate skis and classic skis.
Classic skis for cold and dry snow, typically hard wax conditions, come with a groove only on the tail part of the ski. Classic skis for warmer and wetter conditions have grooves from tip to tail.
“The cold conditions models are designed with a short groove in order to increase the contact surface on cold, sharp snow crystals, and provide a better feel for the snow. At the same time, this construction also increases the surface area of the kickwax zone and provides better grip,” says Austrem, and continues:
“The warm conditions skis are engineered with a full groove in order to improve the glide in wet snow.”
There are two versions of the Redline 3.0 skate skis: The F2 for hard, fast conditions with a long groove, and the F3 for softer, slower snow with a short groove.
“A long groove on skate skis provide more stability as needed in hard, fast conditions, while a short groove provides optimal flow and allows the skier to adjust the direction of the ski more easily in softer, slower conditions,” Austrem says.
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New flex profiles and more carbon
Moving on to the composition of materials in the new Redline 3.0, the biggest difference is that the new Redline 3.0 have significantly more carbon than previous models.
“We are always striving to find new and better materials that combined with solid geometries and correct flex and camber provide optimal glide and skiing experience, and for classic skis, reliable kick without compromising glide. On the Redline 3.0 models, we have added more carbon and developed a different layup of the carbon, resulting in both skate and classic skis that are livelier and more dynamic,” Austrem says.
The flex profiles are also reengineered, for both the skate and classic models. The skate skis come in two versions: one model with a stiffer flex for hard, fast conditons, and one with a softer flex for softer, slower conditions.
“With two different flex profiles, we can position the pressure points of the ski more accurately, which improves the properties of the ski. A ski with stiffer flex with a taller camber is more responsive and dynamic, but in softer conditions a ski with softer flex and a lower camber delivers more consistent response,” Austrem explains.
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For the Redline 3.0 Classic skis, the flex and camber is adjusted to allow the ski to close more easily, depending on snow conditions. This provides a better use of the area in the kickwax zone, providing better grip without sacrificing glide. The flex and cambers on the classic skis are also engineered and adjusted for different snow conditions, and the Redline 3.0 classic come in two versions: One for cold conditions and one for warm conditions.
Redline 3.0 Cold has a slightly lower camber, less splay and medium long pressure points. Additionally, the Redline 3.0 Cold comes with a groove only on the tail end of the ski.
The Redline 3.0 Warm has a taller camber in order to make room for klister and soft waxes. The Redline 3.0 Warm also has more splay and the pressure points are somewhat shorter than on the Redline 3.0 Cold. The groove looks more traditional, runs through the kickwax zone and most of the length of the ski, although it is shorter than what has been conventional for classic skis.
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Additionally, the classic ski is also available as a skin ski: The Redline 3.0 IntelliGrip. This ski comes with the same construction as the Redline 3.0 Classic Warm.
The double-pole classic ski Redline 3.0 DP is based on the construction from Redline 3.0 skate skis, with flex and properties specifically developed for long-haul double-poling in the classic tracks.
For junior skiers, Madshus features two Redline 3.0 models: One for skating and one for classic. These skis are based on the same technology and materials used in the World Cup models, but the Redline 3.0 junior skis are carefully modified and adjusted to fit the movement patterns and body size of younger athletes.
Isn’t it really expensive to develop skis in this way?
“Yes. But cost and budgets are no issue in the Redline engineering process. That’s the whole concept of the Redline models: We spare no effort or resources, not in the engineering process and product development, nor in the production,” Austrem concludes.