Sarka-weblog-aprilWinter training in Winter Park, CO

by Sarka Ruzickova, Epic Endurance Racer

Like last year we didn’t get too much snow in the beginning of winter. Our resort was already open in November and I was still riding my bike. Last rode ride was in December 1st and 2nd in Denver, I couldn’t believe how warm was it. Rode in shorts and short sleeve jersey. But that didn’t last long, I am very happy for it.

I wanted to alpine ski, XC skate ski and Alpine touring, I was ready for it. I was getting new set up for my AT, very excited!

I started to XC skate ski at DTR almost every weekend, at least 2h each day. Because my work, I have limited time during the week for my training. I decide it to go AT in the WP resort in the afternoon/evening.  Most of the time I go by myself, it is boring but I still have a great workout. One day my really good friend Meredith had an idea that we would go AT very early Saturday morning! I didn’t like it too much. I wanted to sleep.  We set the time to meet at 6.15am by Zephyr lift. I woke up around 5.30 ate a little breakfast, packed my bag and skis and I was ready to go. I was there in the morning unfortunately my friend didn’t show up! I went and skin up Hughes anyway. When I started it was dark, I had my headlamp. Going up Lower Hughes, huffing and puffing, I looked up and I saw 2 sets of eyes, I didn’t know what was it. It didn’t look big, maybe a fox or a coyote. I can not lie I was a bit scared, I was making noise with my poles and continue skinning up. The animal ran away and stop, I was still going. I look back after while and it was following me. Oh nooooooo! I didn’t know what to do. In my mind I was planning what can I do if the animal will do anything. I was just thinking if it going to bite me I don’t want any disease from it. My brain was on. I had nothing with me, no knife no spray, nothing, just my ski poles. Finally I reach the point I was under the lift and it was running. It scared it away. I was very happy it was gone and I finished my skin up the Sunspot and ski down.

Next week after this episode with the animal, I went skin by myself around 6.30pm. I had 3 snow cats around me and I was feeling safe and happy. Going up the Hughes in the middle I saw the 2 sets of eyes again. Oh not again! It hides in the trees, didn’t like the snow cats. Now I know, I have a friend on the Hughes, it is a fox and I named it Hughes fox!

In January we had SIA on snow here at the WP resort and DTR. They have an AT race every year for industry and normal people. The industry is doing short course and normal people have to do long course, only if its your first time you can do short course. This year I wanted to race. My friend Jan did the course, a week before the race I went to try it. He went with me, we skin up the Hughes than go through the trees with some steep and sharp switchbacks. Continue all the way to Sunspot, where the transition is going to be.  Took off skins, switch bindings from walk to ski mode and ski down Outhouse. I was already by myself, my friend needed to go. Ski all the way down “turtles” (bumps) and Jan was there. He had time to go with me for a bit. Second transition was on the bottom of Outhouse, switch bindings to walk mode, put skins on and headlamp. It was already dark and snowing. We continue to skin up Mary Jane trail. He had to go again and I was on my own. I didn’t feel very comfortable on MJ trail. Snow was falling more and more. Finally I made it to the top of MJ trail. I was by the Olympia lift and it was completely white out. It was my first time on my new bindings, I didn’t se anything and I was ALONE. I did the third transition, put my puffy jacket on, warmer gloves and hat. I was ready to go. I looked around and saw the lift on one-side and snow barriers on the other. I couldn’t see any signs and I forgot my clear lenses sunglasses. (Don’t have clear lenses goggles). Good think I know the resort, I knew which way I have to go back to Sunspot. I was calm and of course I was talking to myself, “don’t be a girl, you know the way.” Second voice was in my mind was telling me “this is how people get lost”. My mind was going back and forth. Finally I went on my trip back to Sunspot. Skiing very slow couldn’t see anything. All of a sudden I saw a light. Jan came back for me, I was so happy to see him. We got back to Sunspot, last transition and ski down Hughes. I definitely learn a lot from my early evening adventure!

Following weekend Sonya and I tried our first XC skate ski race in CB. It was amazing I did 21K. I had great time and I finished pretty good, 28th overall from 98, 3rd in my age group and 6th women overall.

Finally on Monday was the race. I was very tired after the weekend, race on Saturday and alpine skiing on Sunday. I still wanted to do it and I did. It was great and hard, my legs were very tired, last “turtle” (bump) run wasn’t pretty at all. I was just hopping I could finish before my legs are going to locked. I finished!!!! I wasn’t even last,  my time was 1.30h, not bad for a “Yahoo”!

Of course I am a “racer” and every time I XC ski or AT I am timing myself. With AT I am always trying to beat my best time. My friend Meredith is helping me with it, we go together and push hard. We are pushing each other.

During the President’s day weekend I XC skate ski in the morning and than went AT with Meredith. We try different round this time. Went through the trees and bike trails from outside of the resort to the backside of WP resort. Skin up Pioneer Express and ski back.  Beautiful  very long day on skis. Next day I did same training with Sonya.

I am trying to take my friends to ski as much as I can. If they want to go with me.

My teammate Kelly came to WP with his mom and her boyfriend to XC ski. I had time and meet him.  We skate ski together and I try to help him with his technique. We had great time. After I went home, change my cloth, switch skis and went to WP resort to meet Meredith. We skin up Hughes, warm and blue bird weather. Ski down, put one more layer on, puffy in the pack, skins on skis and went up the Hughes again with my friend Greg. It was his first time and he needed help. I wasn’t sure if we will make it all the way to the top, but we did. He was very happy, like a little kid. And I had great work out and time with my friends.

It is an amazing feeling when you can help others. So far I had an amazing winter, crazy adventures, very cold weather (-20F), great friends and snow!

If you live at the mountain, you have to take an advantage of it and PLAY!

s pozdravem, (kind regards)

Sarka