Adventures From New Zealand

I just got back from my 3-week training camp down in New Zealand and it was awesome! This was the longest training camp I have ever been to and I loved it! As a cross-country skier from the east, my time spent skiing on snow begins late November and stretches to the end of March, and that is only if it is a good snow year. This means I only get to spend 4 months on snow (which is also the race season) and the remaining 8 months of the year I do dry land training to prepare myself for the short season. Even though I was limited by how much I could ski with two poles, the opportunity to ski on snow for 3 straight weeks in the summer (their winter) with my team was incredible.

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Fresh snow on the last day!
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Sunshine and perfect klister conditions, what more could you want?
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Motto of the camp:  “no poles, no problem”. 
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Jessie and I out on a ski. 
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Snow and skiing 🙂 

Not only was this the longest camp I have ever been to, but it was also my first time in New Zealand. I must say I absolutely love New Zealand and I can see myself living there some day. I have to admit, we got pretty lucky since we had perfect weather for our bigger adventures and for most of the training days so my perspective might be a little flawed. Here were some of my favorite adventures from camp (in no particular order)

#1: Lake Wanaka

We ran along Lake Wanaka with the mountains towering over the water in the background. The run ended with a quick (and very cold) swim to the famous tree and a big hug for another very big tree (we counted, it takes about 7 people to wrap around the tree).

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The famous tree, brrrrr. 
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A big hug for a big tree. 
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Hanging out in a tree by Lake Wanaka.

# 2: The Matukituki Run

The adventure started long before the run, with country road driving through cow and sheep herds, deep river crossings with the car, and waterfalls falling left and right. Once we parked our cars, we set out for a 4 hour run through the Matukituki valley. We made cow friends, crossed freezing glacial rivers, ran off trail to a massive waterfall, tip toed our way across suspension bridges, and explored a jungle. This run is my new #1 best run of all time.

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That was one stubborn cow, mooooove. 
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Wobble wobble, 5 person limit.
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Making the river crossing while also getting a nice ice bath at the same time. 

#3: Crust Cruise

We woke up the day after the Merino Muster race and were greeted by the perfect crust cruising conditions—frozen solid crust, sunshine, and little wind. We pointed our skis towards the ridgeline and started skating uphill for a long time. Halfway to the top, a group of us decided to send it down to a deep valley so we could swing some turns and climb up the other side to ski the whole ridge to Mount Pisa. We had views of mountains extending in all directions as we cruised along the ridge and descended back down to the snow farm. This also is my new #1 crust cruise of all time.

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The group climbing up together (PC: Matt Whitcomb)
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The point where we decided to send it down and climb all the way back up that massive wall.
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Matt captured this amazing shot of my group climbing along the ridge looking like little ants (PC: Matt Whitcomb). 
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How could this not be my #1 crust cruise?!  (PC: Jessie Diggins). 
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Ben finishing off the crust cruise the right way (PC: Jessie Diggins).

#4: “Technique” Ski

I went out for an easy afternoon ski with my teammate Sophie and my coach Matt, hoping to work on my skate technique. Very quickly we realized the visibility was almost nonexistent and the loop we went on was covered in deep snowdrifts. The technique ski turned into quite the opposite; we stomped through the deep snow by high kneeing and flopping all over the place. Each person led until they either face planted (which happened every few minutes) or lost the trail and skied off of it. This was near the end of camp so we were hit by the “tired giggles” as we like to call them so it was a very comical ski 🙂

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This pretty much sums it up 🙂 

#5 Sunset Walks

One of my favorite things to do when I am on the road is to go for sunrise and/or sunset walks/runs. It gives me a chance to move some blood while exploring the foreign place I am in. New Zealand was the perfect place to do this since we had an incredible view from the snow farm! My teammates Jessie and Ben joined me on very scenic and beautiful sunset walks/photo shoots.

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I captured this shot on a morning walk as the clouds were being illuminated by the sunrise.
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Our sunset view from the strength room was not too shabby!
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Sunset vibes. 
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Ben and Jessie up to some sunset walk shenanigans (don’t ask me what they are doing…maybe it is a new game they invented?) 
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Happy to have sunset walk buddies and my camera 🙂

After 3 weeks of good training, I was ready to head home for some rest and recovery. On my way back to the east, I made a two-day stop in San Francisco to visit my sister and tour the city for my 20th birthday. It was the perfect way to break up the long travel and get some quality sister time (even though it is always too short) before heading back to Stratton, VT. Now I am in Stratton for another week before I head west again for our U.S. Ski Team camp in Park City!

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My sister gave me a bike tour around the city and I “saw” the Golden Gate Bridge right behind me.
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Beach volleyball city style. 

-JKern

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