From: Carolyn R. Treacy
Sent: Monday, February 06, 2006 11:11 AM
I hope everyone is having a great February. We have really lucked out with great snow conditions for our pre-Torino training.
After competing in Ruhpolding, the rest of the team went to the next World Cup, in Antholz. I was exiled to the Hotel Schneeberg, in the Val Ridanna, (one valley over from Antholz), to get over a sinus infection. I must say though, this sentence was very tolerable. The Schneeberg (German for "snow bird"), is a very reasonably priced four star resort with a spa the size of the administration building at Dartmouth College. However, the best perk is that you can walk out of the hotel onto tens of miles of skiing and hiking trails, as well as a fabulous biathlon range.
Photo 1 - Typical morning conditions
During the week I was exiled, a European Cup was held at this Ridnaun venue, and I was able to be with the wonderful US Europa Cup team. The rest of the Olympic team came here from Antholz, and we are nearing the end of our two-week, pre-Olympic training camp here in Ridnaun.
It is amazing to be in an area of the world where you can walk out your door onto miles of groomed ski trails. Here, as well as in other European countries, there are ski trails and skiers of all ability levels everywhere you turn. The widespread love of skiing is uplifting, and the burgeoning sport of "Nordic Walking" (walking with ski poles) is also great to see. Last Saturday hundreds of hunters gathered to race the trails in Ridnaun. They were all dressed in their traditional hunting clothes-dark green woolen pants, shirts, socks, and hats. I was told by Sven Fischer, one of the best German biathletes, that it's much more difficult and time-consuming to get a hunting license in Europe than in the US, so seeing this many hunters that ski was quite a sight.
Photo 2 - Me with some hunters
The German, Swiss, and Slovakian men's teams are also staying here at the Schneeberg, so our daily training at the venue is always exciting. I have tried to keep up with the pace at which the German men shoot, but I just can't make it and hit my targets. This morning I was doing intervals at my max speed and could pass Sven Fischer when he was warming up, but when he started doing intervals a bit later I could barely get out of the way fast enough before he charged by. It was fun for us women to ski around many of the fastest skiers in the world, because unfortunately even the fastest woman in the world can't catch these guys. Though the Germans do have one coach per athlete, which probably makes it a bit easier to get so fast!
We have been training hard this week doing many interval sessions to develop the speed and speed-endurance that we hope to have at the Olympics. It has also been helpful to shoot at the high heart-rates produced from this type of training, as that is the stress we will be shooting under during the races. The terrain here is similar to the terrain at the Olympic venue, which is an extremely difficult course.
We also participate in some less technically specific training...such as "aquagym." Every afternoon at 4:30 the hotel's fitness trainers put on an aqua-aerobics class for the guests, a good way for us to stretch out sore muscles. The other training of choice in the valley is sledding. About a kilometer away from our hotel is a narrow winding "road" that goes up to the top of the valley and into other valleys beyond. At the bottom of said road is a shed full of sleds-real, old-fashioned sleds with runners that allow you to steer. On afternoons when we have a running on the training plan, we often run up the hill with sled in tow for a quick (though safe!) trip down.
Photo 3 - Sledding
At the top of this hill is a small hut where you can buy fabulous hot chocolate. We girls made it all the way up there a few times, but the boys could never quite run so far.
Photo 4 - Hut at the top of the sledding hill
For one of our last nights here, we saw an especially interesting show put on by a local dance troop in the lobby of the hotel. They were a lederhosen-wearing group of men that put on a Tirolian version of Riverdance. Ridnaun is in the Sud-Tirol region of Italy, and here people associate more with Austrian culture of the Tirol Alps than with Italian culture. To cheerful accordion music, these guys kept the whole hotel in rapture for almost an hour with their perfectly timed knee-slapping and foot-stomping. It was also Tim Burke's birthday (the third birthday the team has had during this training camp), so the dancers brought him down to center stage to try and teach him some moves. He failed miserably, but at least our training camp has been good and we will hopefully have wonderful experiences and results at the Games.
Photo 5 - Tim failing his dance class
I was feeling incredibly lucky to have the fall to focus on biathlon, and now to have January and February to do biathlon for the Games has been truly a gift!