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Looking Outside The Box (6/19/13)

BY TIM BURKE

I am back in Lake Placid now after a great training camp in Bend, Ore. Despite a rough start, where we had a 24-hour airline delay, Bend once again proved to be the perfect spot to start the training year. Bend is one of those special places where we get to ski in mid-winter conditions in the morning, and run in shorts and t-shirts during the afternoon. In my opinion, it does not get much better than that!

Our travel delay in getting to Bend was actually almost comical. I have traveled a lot over the last 10 years but I think this story takes the cake for the worst delay. To make a long story short, my first flight out of Albany was cancelled due to a maintenance issue. There were no other flights that day or the next out of Albany, so I ended up renting a car, driving to NYC, spending the night there and catching a flight in the morning. Unfortunately, another plane had a mechanical problem, which caused a long delay and made for some more tight connections. I barely made the last flight of the day from Portland to Redmond, Ore. I arrived in Bend tired and a little grumpy, but the sight of perfect skiing conditions the next morning quickly put me back in a good mood.

One of my favorite parts about training in Bend is that we get the chance to train alongside other Nordic teams. This year the U.S. cross-country and Paralympic Nordic teams and the Canadian national ski team were training in Bend while we were there. These teams include some of the best skiers in the world, so it's a great opportunity for me to see how others are training. As an Olympic-level athlete it is always important to be confident in your own training program, but at the same time, I feel that you need to look outside the box to find ways to improve.

While I saw lots of impressive training, by far the most interesting training I saw was from the Paralympic skiers. I was absolutely stunned by their strength. I feel like our team puts a huge emphasis on ski-specific strength. I thought that we did not have much room for improvement in this area. After watching some of the Paralympic athletes, I am definitely reconsidering this thought. Some of these athletes were training big hours, in really challenging snow conditions, while using only their upper bodies. While this was incredibly impressive to see, it also made me realize that I have huge opportunities to improve in this area.

Another benefit to our training camp in Bend was that I was able to test a lot of new equipment for next season. The biathlon racing manager for Rossignol, and some of our team ski technicians, joined us in Bend for three days of testing. We were lucky to experience different conditions every day so it gave us a great opportunity to try all of my new skis in different situations. I wish biathlon was only about who skied the fastest and who shot the straightest, but very often it also comes down to has the best equipment. So this was a great opportunity for me to dial things in for next winter.

I will be back home training in Lake Placid for the next few months. This time of year we put a big focus on training lots of hours, and I don't think there is a better place than Lake Placid for this. With so many low-traffic roads for roller skiing and cycling, and the endless miles of trails for running, Lake Placid is definitely ideal for training this time of year. Another bonus to the area is that we now have a new roller ski loop at our shooting range. It's nice to have a variety of options when I am consistently putting in four and five hours of endurance training every day.

Lake Placid is also special at this time of year for another reason – great fly-fishing! Unfortunately, training consumes most of my time and energy so I don't get out often enough. Hopefully I will get out a few times in the next weeks, and then I can provide some nice fish pictures along with my training pictures for my next post. Thanks for checking in!