City of Lakes Loppet

Written by Garrott on February 10th, 2011

What a weekend in Minneapolis (and Dallas for that matter!).  2011 was the 8th running of the City of Lakes Loppet and the first year I was finally in Minneapolis to participate.  The event didn’t disappoint!  I spend the day Saturday checking out the course and spectating the many events: Skijor Loppet, Kid’s Race, Ice Bike race, Sprint races, and Luminary Loppet, among others.  I’ve never seen so many skiers in the Twin Cities.  Thanks to John Munger and the entire City of Lakes Loppet Foundation for organizing and running such a cool event.  What a great way to introduce people to Nordic skiing!

The race itself was bad-ass.  The course linked about four different trail networks on Wirth Golf Course, through the Flower Garden and Bog trails, and across the lakes to Uptown.  Point-to-point citizen races are a new thing for me and I was a little overwhelmed simply by the masses of people getting ready for the race, the logistics of getting dry clothes from start to finish, and giving pre-race TV interviews.  I’ve never seen so many familiar faces at a ski race and it was tough to stay focused amidst so many friends I hadn’t seen in a while.

By the time we finally lined up at the start, I was relieved to back in my element.  The gun went off and before I knew it, the event with 9,000+ total participants felt more like a small CXC Team time trial.  Teammates Matt Liebsch, Santi Ocariz, Eric Wolcott, and former teammates like Middlebury alum Marshall Greene and US Ski Team alum Chris Cook were part of the small group at the front.


Matt was on fire from the start and taught us all an impressive lesson.

Matt Liebsch, charging! photo:

Chris Cook and I spent the next 25km trading leads and chasing Matt.

In the end, Matt put over 2 min on us by the finish.  Pretty impressive race.

I ended up getting a small gap on Chris cruising across Lake of the Isles and finished a distant second place.

Once again, thanks to everyone involved with the City of Lakes Loppet for an exciting event and eventful weekend!


Of course, it was great to see all the Packer fans out on the trail.  Hands down, this guy wins.

Super Bowl Champions!  Go Pack Go!



Written by Garrott on February 3rd, 2011

I like the UP.  Yep.  It might not be most people’s number one travel destination, but I always enjoy the time spent in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  The team traveled to Houghton last weekend for the most recent SuperTour stop.  The UP is famous for a number of things like mining, copper, and deep snow.  Here are a few other things ubiquitous with the UP. . .

First, Yooper pride.

Second: Pasties. 3 for $5 in Ironwood.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

Finally, the Kromer.  Modeled here by Wayne Fish.

Wayne is my coach, Bryan Fish’s dad, and an integral member of the Midwestern sports community.  He’s traveled with our team and given us a lot of support over the years.  Wayne’s played a big role in developing the mountain bike scene in Wisconsin, working with juniors and skiers at all levels, and he’s always an enthusiastic friend to run into on the trails full of great stories.  At the moment, Wayne is in the hospital battling a brain tumor.  My thoughts and prayers go out to Wayne, Barb, and Bryan.  You can follow Wayne’s progress here.

On the racing side of the UP, we got to compete in three races in three days at the Michigan Tech Ski Trails in Houghton: a classic sprint, 10km classic, and 15km skate.

They’ve got a great club, the Copper Country Ski Tigers, with about 50 kids involved.  The CXC Team spent our first afternoon in Houghton working with the team: Cook and Stuber led the youth team, while Gus, Eric, and I took the junior team and worked on our hop skate and drop-in speeds.  Those kids have got some great ski skills and they handled everything we could throw at them with ease.  Thanks to Mike Young for coaching the team and getting us involved with the practice.  Go Tigers!

After the workout, we got to sign autographs for the younger skiers, many of whom brought their own posters and skis to the event.

Gus Kaeding is probably the only coach on the ski circuit with autograph seekers, thanks in part to his victory over Bjorn Daehlie in the 2009 Birkie Classic race. Yeah Gus!

One of the highlights of the weekend was receiving tickets to the MTU vs. Wisconsin Badger hockey game on Saturday night.  The Tech Athletic Director, Suzanne Sanregret, hooked Mikey Sinnott and me up with some tickets to the game.  It was pretty cool that she was the one to hand out awards to all the athletes last weekend.  She even volunteered at the finish line all weekend.  Great to see a college AD support their ski program.

The game itself was a little lop-sided, as is evident in the attentiveness of the goalies:


Oh yeah, we did a little ski racing too.  CXC tool 5 of the top 6 spots in the men’s race and the top two steps of the women’s podium in the 15km Skate.

Compton and Stuber ski away from the field


Mayor’s Challenge

Written by Garrott on February 1st, 2011

If is the only place you go for ski news, you might think that I’ve been taking a lot of rest days lately.  On the contrary; I’ve been busier than ever and really enjoying some of the best skiing I can remember in the Midwest.  I say the Midwest, because I’ve spent almost equal time in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan over the past few weeks.  The USSA SuperTour has been in Minneapolis and Houghton, and I was even able to unpack my bags at home in Hayward for the first time in almost three months last week.

Ideally, I’d love to go back and write a daily commentary.  Instead, I’ll share a few of my favorite shots, starting with the Mayor’s Challenge at Wirth Park in Minneapolis where we competed in a 10km Skate and 15km Mass Start Classic.


This photo sums up the weekend.  Cold, hard, fast tracks, Salomon podium sweep, and professional  race organizers and volunteers.

Over 500 participants competed over the weekend, including Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak – hence: Mayor’s Challenge.  That’s the largest SuperTour event of the season by about 50 skiers over last weekend’s St Lawrence Carnival in Lake Placid.

The pack was basically shoulder-to-shoulder all weekend.


. . .with some serious CXC Team domination.

Post-race interview with Ahvo of Finn Sisu who keeps us fit in the summer with Marwe roller skis and keeps our skis fast in the winter with some great ski grinds.

Of course, seeing our women’s team flying was a real treat as well.

g.kuz photo

Hometown hero Caitlin Compton running away with the win. . .

L.kuz photo

. . .and the big check!  Did I mention it was cold???

It was pretty sweet to have my sister Laura on hand with her enthusiastic cheering section and awesome support (putting up with a house full of boys) all weekend.

Houghton report coming tomorrow. . .


Rest Day

Written by Garrott on January 7th, 2011

Three races in to the four race series, we’re taking a day off before tomorrow’s Skate Sprint, the final race of the championship.  Congrats to Tad Elliott on CXC’s first National Championship of the season and to Jessie Diggins, number 1 qualifier for the 2011 US World Junior Championship team.  It’s been an exciting week after warm temps and rain almost destroyed the entire race trail.  The trail’s been getting better and better everyday as cold temps allow for lots of snow production.  The course should be in pristine condition for the sprint.  Stay tuned. . .

For now, here are some shots from the 30km skate yesterday.

Tad on his way to CXC’s first National Championship of the season.  Nice work!  He edged out Lars Flora by 0.1 seconds in an interval start 30km race.  That’s about as close as it gets!

I ended the 30km with my second Top-10 finish of the week in as many attempts.  That was my first marathon distance event in a long time and it felt great to pin it for over an hour.  Looking forward to a blazing sprint tomorrow!

All photos from Ian Harvey – Toko.



Written by Garrott on January 3rd, 2011

US Nationals Day 1 is in the books.  The race trail survived a couple days of warm temps and light rain.  It looks like it will stay cold now and conditions will only improve – with a lot of snow making and shoveling – throughout the week.

The East is known for extremely variable weather conditions and yesterday’s race was no exception.  Despite the fact that the race trail was a lot more brown than white, the track was really fast, making for some fun classic sprinting.

Leading the heat - Photo: Ian Harvey - Toko

Toko’s Ian Harvey was on hand taking photos of the action.  We had 5 CXC athletes make the heats, keeping coaches Jason and Gus busy all day.  I’m pretty sure they were more exhausted than the athletes after the long day of racing.  The course finished with a long downhill and we opted to sacrifice a little kick for faster glide going into the stadium and it paid off.  Winning the B-Final was a nice consolation, but I’m looking forward to even stronger finishes in the days to come.

Cruising into the finish - Photo: Ian Harvey - Toko

No racing today.  Some of the athletes drove across state lines into New Hampshire for some skiing.  I opted to ski the 500m wax test loop for an hour or so.  There was practically no one at the race course today and the race trails were all closed.  Volunteers and race officials were out shoveling snow onto the course while snow guns blasted snow onto other parts.

Race course: Highlighted. Needs shoveling: Highlighted.

I was really impressed by how good the trail looked today.  Although it sounds like we’ll be competing on a short 3km loop, the trail should be in good shape.

View of the stadium: perfect untracked corduroy

Everything else might be bare, but the course looks like it’s in good shape.  Can’t wait to get out and race some more later this week!


US Nationals

Written by Garrott on January 1st, 2011

. . .start tomorrow!  Classic sprint at 10am.  Follow along here.

final prep before the races

Sunday, Jan 2: Classic Sprint

Tuesday, Jan 4: Classic 15km

Thursday, Jan 6: Skate 30km Mass Start

Saturday, Jan 8: Skate Sprint


Rumford: Bring Rock Skis

Written by Garrott on December 29th, 2010

After a great Christmas break in Minneapolis, I’m back on the road in Rumford, Maine getting ready for the US National Championships.  My week at home was a blast with lots of skiing at Wirth and hanging out with friends and the Kuzzy crew.  The skiing in the Cities was some of the best I can remember.  I was able to recharge my batteries and get ready for the races in Maine.  Here’s a quick update from Rumford. . .

Santa's Village

My travels to Maine were flawless. . .not what I was expecting after seeing the storm reports from the East Coast.  I arrived in Burlington right on schedule and cruised down to have a dinner of venison steaks with the Kaedings.  A home cooked meal after a day on the road really hit the spot, especially the tenderloin cooked to perfection with a Minnesota bean casserole.  Wow.

Gus and I had to make a stop at Santa’s Village to put in some belated requests (both of us were looking for new snow tires), but Santa must’ve already closed up shop for the season.

In Rumford, we were greeted by fresh snow and anticipated great conditions for skiing.

Karl waxing up his classic race skis

Unfortunately, the trail itself was far from ideal.  We had to swing back by the van and pick up skis that were more appropriate for the conditions.

"Well, at least the kick is good!"

Perhaps swim trunks would’ve been a better idea. . .

Gregg prepares for his dive as Cork stands, er sits, on guard duty.

At any rate, it’s good to have the whole team together out in Rumford getting ready for the races to come.  At least we’re getting some sun out here!



Written by Garrott on December 23rd, 2010

Back home again!  There’s so much snow here in Minneapolis that the police cars come standard with ski racks.

What do I do to kick back, relax, and get my mind off of skiing when I’m home?  Why, go skiing of course!  Got out with the Fays, Skolds, Bohns, and Kuzzys for a cruise around Baker.  The majority of the ski was spent hanging out at the barn enjoying refreshments and warm Glühwein.  That’s my kind of workout.



Silver Star

Written by Garrott on December 13th, 2010

After an eventful week in Silver Star, we are just getting settled into our newest home in Rossland, BC – just north of Spokane, Washington on the Canadian side of the border.  It’s rare that we get to a venue that is new to everyone, so I’m looking forward to checking out a new town.

Here’s a little recap with photos from our adventures in Silver Star.

In terms of skiing, it doesn’t get much better than Silver Star.  Anywhere you can ski right out your door is alright in my book and the Star has over 100km of breathtaking trails, groomed daily.  My only regret is that we couldn’t stay there longer!

Silver Star is owned by an Australian firm and, because of Commonwealth work visas, there are an inordinately high percentage of Aussies.  Their influence is so strong that Silver Star feels a lot more like it’s in Australia than Canada.

After a week of fresh snow every day, we had ideal conditions for racing.

Big congrats to our women’s team for stacking the podium in both the Sprint and 10km.  Rob Whitney (race winner Holly Brooks‘ husband) was on hand taking photos.  Here are some of Rob’s shots:

jessie, caitlin, brooke, and jennie

Brian Gregg took 3rd in the 15km Skate, putting in a blazing last lap to climb onto the podium.

cook and kuz

Cook and I skied the majority of the race together, chugging along in the CXC freight train.

kuz, gus, cook, cork, gregg, caitlin, jennie, brooke, and jessie - the cxc representation in canada

Thanks to Rob for all the photos from the weekend and to Gus and Jason for the great race support all season.

To cap off an already awesome week, we spent Sunday night playing hockey with the Sun Valley team and a bunch of Aussie workers at the Silver Star pond.

Matt Liebsch has got some serious hockey skills and was definitely our team mvp for the night.  Can’t wait to pull out the skates some more when I get home over Christmas.  Stay tuned for more from Rossland. . .


Life on the Road

Written by Garrott on December 7th, 2010

Pretty exciting.  16 hours in a van from West Yellowstone to Silver Star.  Lots of time to catch up on some well needed…

Sleep. Photo: Jessie Diggins

Curious what made us so tired?  You can catch up on our last week in West Yellowstone on the most recent Toko eBlast.