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First Classic Ski and Junior Trips Update

Well, despite the beautiful fluffy snow falling outside right now, there was significantly less to work with last week. Luckily, Craftsbury came through yet again with a great 1.1k snowmaking loop that basically had it all…steep climb, moderate climb, twisting curves, and flat straightaways. We headed up there on Saturday and had our first ski on real tracks with good snow: and of course klister!

It was a small group but we had a really productive first ski, getting in some drills and laps of both no-pole and one-pole skiing. Everyone initially agreed the wax wasn’t perfect for kicking…but I held my ground and said that we needed to practice being okay with imperfect kick and striving to make the best of it as a way to learn and gain confidence. Aidan probably had it the worst as I threw him on a hardwax cover to make things as fast as I could…I think it was a good experience though!

Season off to a good start!

Pastry goodies from Sweet Simone’s on the car ride home! Photo by Aidan

With the snow on the ground and the season about to get underway for real, it’s time to announce our final schedule and signups for Race Trips and Camps! This year we’re going to have 2 mid-winter travel events with group options: a Race Trip to the first Eastern Cup in Fort Kent (December 15-17), and a Team Camp in Lake Placid (Jan 5-7).

Registration is open for these camps at 7:00pm tonight (Monday, 11/20). More information and registration for each can be found at their respective Events pages on the website calendar:

Fort Kent Race Trip

Lake Placid Team Camp

Finally…if you did not check out some of the opening FIS races this past weekend, they can all be seen in their entirety on Youtube. Both Gallivare and Beitostolen races are up. For those interested in distance racing all of the longer races are absolutely worth a watch, but for a quick fix of intense action be sure to watch both the women’s and men’s classic sprint finals from Beito. Big attacks in both races making for some good motivation 🙂


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Training in the dark + Training on snow!

Daylight savings hit us pretty hard this week when you take into account the lack of power that kept the Range in its tight grasp. The area right around the Range (read: my house) was out of power for over 6 days, and the Range fared even worse. A generator kept the lights in the Walker Building illuminated, but the lights on the trail were a no-go. That meant it was time to bust out the tiki torches we still had in the closet from last year’s Notch ski!

Luckily, we had a few more sessions during the daytime hours over the weekend, including a L4 bounding session at Honey Hollow with the St. Mikes team, and our first SKI of the year on Sunday at the Notch!

Hi-Viz bounding on the first day of hunting season

The gang atop a snowmaking pile at Smuggs

The bounding intervals were tough, and the higher up the road we went the more snow fell from the sky and graced the ground. Another good taste of burning iron and cold lungs from working hard in the chilly air! The ski we had on Sunday was also really productive as far as first-of-the-season skis on the Notch Road go. We did a bit of activation drills and then got in some specific strength V2ing up the entire Jeffersonville side of the road before having some fun practicing downhill skills and then adventuring over to the alpine trails at Smuggs to play on the snowmaking piles. Check out some footage below! Only one more week until Thanksgiving Camp and the snow guns are firing at Craftsbury!


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Faster than the Wind

After a brutal windstorm swept through at the beginning of the week and left much of the region without power, we were forced to make some adjustments on the fly. Not easy in a tough intensity week, especially having the Range shut down due to trees all over the rollerski track. We’re fortunate to have so many great options for rollerskiing though, including the bike paths around Williston.

Qualifier? Heats? Live timing? 

There’s a 1k loop that’s pretty much the same as any other rollerski loop albeit a bit less hilly. Since it is getting dark early, this was our go-to spot as the evenings went on. We were planning to do our DP test and some more intervals on Tuesday but without the Range and our usual course there had to be a change to that plan. We utilized the flatter loop in Williston and held a sprint simulation with a qualifier and heats…the very first Eastern Cup race is going to be a sprint (albeit freestyle) so this was a really good way to get in that zone. It was also windy, which means that on a flat open course we got to experiment with tactics and skiing in a group. Sprint days are always hectic for everyone involved, and this was no less so for the timing and organizing of this one!

The overall victors were Ale (SMC) and Aidan (MNC) but almost all of the heats featured good battles and close finishes. Some opted to wait in the back of the pack and make a move to the front at the end like Petter Northug, and others just went side-by-side and pushed each other hard hoping to break their opponents. Of course, the head-to-head racing also meant there were 5 broken poles at the end of the day, but no broken bones which is all we can really ask for!


Our other big day this week was Saturday, when we had a whole bunch of different things going on. To kick things off, Aidan, Ali, Kai and I went to Bolton to chase some course records. Kai fought through a muddy course and tied the record time of 14:05, which was only recently set by Timmy a few weeks earler…surpassing the record held by Baxter from last year. So, if you’re putting all that together you’ll know that MNC is looking to have a fierce and very fit U18 men’s group this year!

Not to be outdone, Aidan yet again set a personal record and joined the “14 minute club” with a 14:55. Even Coach Adam managed to sneak under 15 minutes although he was a second off his PR in 14:59. At the top Ali also confirmed that she had a great run with a personal best and the day was off to a great start. We took our now-common summit photo featuring Tyke, and headed down to keep putting in work.

Tyke, look at the camera dude!

The group of us carpooled down into South Burlington to hit up Dee PT for a strength session…we’ve been trying to fit in an extra day at the gym whenever possible and it’s really been paying off for the folks who have made it happen.

Ali working the upper body, Kai getting the balance going, and Aidan with some general leg strength maintenance

But we weren’t done with our day! It was time to jump in the car and take a trip up to Trapps to watch the NENSA Elite Rollerski Invite. Tim Cobb was selected to participate in this race, and we got to see him in action along with many of the best skiers in New England and even the World!

Full PugMobile on the way to Trapps, with a pitstop at Cabot on the way! Photo by Aidan

We were granted some extra coach bibs to help direct traffic

This coach isn’t going to put up with any sass!

It was a cool race to watch, although the course itself was not exactly on the safe side thanks to many tourists and some busy intersections. Hopefully NENSA can maybe get the whole road closed off for a repeat event? There were no major incidents luckily. Greg continued an impressive streak of rollerski races, while Conor was in the mix as well. Timmy could definitely feel the effects of some increased biathlon training lately, as his last time going hard on classic skis was our Fall Rollerski Classic race a month prior. He may not have had his best day but it’s important to remember the only people even attending this race were the best skiers in all of New England, from the US Ski Team on down!

Timmy racing hard for the Pugs at the NENSA Elite Invite (photo by Dave Priganc)

With a lot going on these past few weeks, I’ve often been more easily frustrated by little missteps here or there…lateness to practice, skiers not paying attention to directions, lack of focus on recovery of good sleep, dwindling and unpredictable number of skiers at a given workout, etc…I think I’m just really aware that the season is fast approaching with the Eastern Cup Opener about a month away. Because of that it’s hard for me not to get in that coach zone of, as Sara put it, “second-guessing every training decision.”

It also adds to the stress I carry and it can sometimes unfairly spill out at training. But what this past week showed me was that I should turn around my attitude pretty quickly because while it’s ok to be a little nervous about the season, there’s even more reason to be excited at what this group can accomplish! I think everyone, athletes, coaches, parents, and even our competitors, have been aware of what we’re capable of all year after a 2016/2017 season that was a “breakout” period for a large handful of MNC skiers. With timetrial records dropping left and right and every intensity session looking like a well-stoked fire, it’s time to accept our hard work and embrace the confidence that can help us put the last pieces of the puzzle together.



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States, East Warren, and “Real Fall”

After an extended summer of sunny skies, sleeveless shirts, and dry singletrack in every direction, we finally received our expected dose of New England fall weather this week. “Norwegian training weather” I’ve started to call it recently, a more positive spin for what a former teammate of mine from Truckee, CA used to call “East Coast BS”.

Whatever you call it, the work still has to be done!

This Thursday we were hit with the worst of it during regular training time, as wet leaves stuck to the pavement of the rollerski track while a cold rain pummeled us from above. After all of us gathered inside take stock of the various clothing choices (note: no more shorts-and-tank-top combos, please) we took a collective deep breath and made the plunge. I made a game-day decision to not do our usual partner towing workout since that left one partner immobile while being towed, and today was not a day you wanted to stop moving. Instead we opted for a rotating grind of single-stick repeats on the gradual uphill of Pit Loop before cruising the rest of the trails via double poling.

Nothing like a rainy specific strength set

A closeup showing the beautiful soggy pavement!

Luckily we are pretty confident rollerskiers, and the rain didn’t actually deter us from getting in a good workout…Aidan was happy to demonstrate his slalom skills with the nice little trails of rain his skis made behind him:

On Saturday, the weather had done a total 180 and it was sunny and beautiful for a little adventure on the other side of the mountains. Early that morning Ali and Magda met me in Richmond for a field trip to East Warren for a skate timetrial with GMVS. Since Ali and Magda were the only U16 girls racing it wasn’t necessarily a “race race” but the setting of other coaches and athletes made it so the nerves got up a bit. The best part was that both finished the day having learned a few new things and with some new goals for the next few weeks. There were also several moments before, during, and after the race that made me really proud and psyched with some big progress these two have made with their approach to racing and their confidence.

Cooling down after the race with Sugarbush in the background (even a little snow!)

Found some new sunglasses to race in this year at the Warren Store when we had lunch with the GMVS gang

Last but not least, Saturday was also the VT State Meets for XC running and by the looks of the results the race did not disappoint! Many MNC racers were crushing it in the D1 race including Quincy (2nd overall!), Camille, Marika, Sammie, Lily, Isaac (5th overall!), Baxter (8th overall!), Kai, Gavin, and Charles. Way to go gang! Below is a photo from the SMS blog that I like because it also has both Baxter (red) and Kai (blue) in the shot!

Start of the D1 men’s race…can you spot Baxter and Kai?

In addition to the HS action, it was also the Middle School XC championships this past weekend at Trapps. Congrats to Ava (who has been training with the Juniors this summer and fall) for a great 3rd place finish, and MNC up-and-comer Carly Trapeni!

HS Results at Lancer Timing

MS Results at


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Running, Bounding, Rolling

We’ve been putting together a lot of big workouts this past week, as having a volume week coincide with Thurs/Fri off from school really allows for some freedom. Things kicked into high gear on Tuesday with some skate intervals that went from L3 to L4 focusing on good skiing as a pack and patient pacing.

Aside from a tough fall by Alex during the warmup (always be careful checking your watch and losing track of the trail!) everything went well and the hammering was well done. It’s getting dark quickly now, and since there was some electrical work being done on Tuesday we had to finish things up before total darkness ensued. Big, exciting things happening at the Range these next few months!

On Friday, a huge crowd of runners took to the Range for an XC race hosted by MMU. They didn’t race on the paved paths but instead went through the woods straight down to the old alpine hill and climbed the brutal woods trail all the way back up. Luckily, the MNC skiers who were competing are pretty familiar with hills.

Baxter ran with the main pack and moved up as the climbs got tougher to end up 2nd

Lily (3rd here) at the front of a big group near the finish!

Sammie (2nd here) racing up the hills behind the rollerski loops!

These are all pretty blurry, but here you can see Kai rocking both the shades and hat to look like a true skier

Cheering squad, looking like a squad for sure

Once the weekend hit, the great weather continued and we had ourselves summer-like days for two busy workouts. The first was a bounding session with the St Mikes team up at Bolton. Instead of heading straight for the alpine hill, we utilized the World Cup trail at the Nordic center. We were pleasantly surprised to find the trail recently mowed, with a few new drainage ditches even added in. Things are looking up for Bolton under their new ownership, and hopefully the Nordic trails will begin to receive the renaissance they desperately need!

It was a sunny warm day with beautiful yellow leaves…a great session!

An excellent race trail that we hope we get to ski on this winter! Bounding this time, though

Ladies on the trail!

On Sunday, the grew dwindled to a hardcore few…Kai and Ali, namely. Ali, Kai and I put in about 2 hours of double poling down by Kingsland Bay, with Liam along to support and capture some footage. We grabbed some water and said goodbye to Ali after the 2 hour mark, and Kai and I continued on for another 3 hours…yes, you read that right!

Now, it must be said that Kai did not just go out and simply double pole 75K on a whim. Last year Kai had to sit out much of the training and racing due to back pain sustained from a fall while cliff jumping in the summer. It was a very delicate process to come back to full capacity, starting this spring with back injections to muscle groups and 15 minute easy runs around the Volunteers Green in Richmond.

I told Kai (and I mostly held to this) that the summer would entail a lot of me reminding him to take it easy and stay away from overdoing things. With double poling, we’ve increased the distance of long workouts from 30k, to 50k, and beyond. This was the “beyond” day and I have to say, it was incredibly impressive to see Kai double poling so far with strong technique and good energy.

So…75K complete! Now it’s time to rest with a recovery week and some extra off days!












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