Rank #1: Nordic Nation: Real Life with Kelsey Phinney
Kelsey Phinney brings to the sport of cross-country skiing a big-world view as she has rolled with challenges and fine-tuned her athletic performances.
First things first: Phinney has become a voice for Parkinson’s Disease advocacy and education. She produced this great podcast episode for the Davis Phinney Foundation titled The Neuroscience of Parkinson’s — it’s part of a broader series from Phinney called The Parkinson’s Podcast.
Kelsey Phinney earlier this season in Lillehammer, Norway’s World Cup skate sprint. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)
Phinney’s father, himself a former professional cyclist who was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease in 2000, founded the Davis Phinney Foundation with his wife Connie Carpenter-Phinney.
So there is the high-quality high-impact work Kelsey Phinney has been engaged with. Then there’s the force she’s been on cross-country skis for many years. After graduating from Middlebury College, she spent two years with the SVSEF Gold Team. She then transferred to the SMS T2 group in the spring of 2018. She raced several World Cups this season with her best result a 19th in Lahti, Finland’s skate sprint. Phinney also placed third in the 2019 National Championship skate sprint in Craftsbury, Vermont.
Some skiing and some good work discussed in this episode.
Rank #2: Nordic Nation: The Steady State Episode with Kevin Bolger
“Everyday has been a new adventure,” were the words from the U.S. Ski Team’s (USST) Kevin Bolger as he summarized his first full-time season on the World Cup. At twenty-six-years-old, Bolger is a relatively new face on the team’s evolving crop of sprint skiers. He was re-nominated to the USST for a second consecutive year this past May.
Bolger’s ski path took him to Sun Valley for two seasons as a post-graduate skier. He matured physically and mentally to earn a roster spot on the University of Utah ski team and race in four NCAA skiing championships. Then he popped a classic sprint National Championship win in 2017. The following year he raced his first World Cup in Lahti, Finland — where he placed 11th overall.
Kevin Bolger the 2018 men’s classic sprint qualifier in Drammen, Norway. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)
Like any good younger brother, Bolger traveled abroad to visit older sibling Conor. The elder brother was pursuing a PhD in Trondheim, Norway. As a developing collegiate skier, the future USST athlete spent summers training with some of the fastest skiers in Norway.
Along with his current zippy speed, Bolger is the big-man of the USST as his 6’4″ frame fosters big lever power.
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Rank #3: Nordic Nation: The Proudly Alaskan Episode with Reese Hanneman
He is proudly Alaskan and has resisted the temptation over the years to migrate elsewhere. We are talking about twenty-nine-year-old Reese Hanneman who has in fact migrated from his hometown of Fairbanks to the more southern maritime climate of Anchorage, Alaska.
So the question has been, is Reese Hanneman retired? After many years on the SuperTour, winning five national titles, stints on the World Cup, and an Olympic team nomination last year, the answer to that question really is how you define retired. He’ll not be on the SuperTour — he did not contest any domestic races at that level this season — but you might find him racing in places like China.
Reese Hanneman Drammen Norway sprint, 2018. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)
If you follow Hanneman on Instagram, you’ll know his creative eye impresses. He is the founder of the creative PR agency the Ophira Group, and he is finishing his engineering degree. He still finds time to “train” but certainly, the hours are down.
We caught up with Reese Hanneman, the older of the two cross-country skiing Hanneman brothers, (Logan is 25) in mid-February after he had competed in the China Tour de Ski. (That race concluded in early January.)
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Rank #4: Nordic Nation: Estonia’s Karel Tammjärv
In this episode, we speak with Estonian athlete Karel Tammjärv. If you are unfamiliar with the latest news, Tammjärve was arrested last week in Seefeld, Austria as part of an investigation into doping.
FasterSkier first contacted Tammjärv yesterday and in a quick turn of events, Tammjärv offered us an interview this morning. Although the interview was conducted on short notice, we had no pre-conditions when it came to the types of questions we could ask.
We have run several stories about the arrests which went down last Wednesday in Seefeld.
Many FasterSkier readers became familiar with Tammjärve through Noah Hoffman’s blog. Hoffman posted a blog on Monday about his relationship with Tammjärv and the recent doping news.
Rank #5: Nordic Nation: The Wellness Episode with the U.S. Ski Team’s Zuzana Rogers
In this episode, we talk with Zuzana Rogers an Anchorage, Alaska based physical therapist who can often be found working with elite cross country skiers from APU and the U.S. Ski Team.
U.S. Ski Team physical therapist Zuzana Rogers with athlete Erik Bjornsen at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. (Courtesy photo)
We spoke with Rogers on February 19th when she was finishing up a pre-World Championships high altitude camp with the distance skiers in Davos, Switzerland. She currently is assisting U.S. skiers in Seefeld, Austria at the 2019 World Championships.
We talk about how to maintain basic wellness on the road, and what type of non-9 to 5 role she has with the U.S. Team.
You can follow Rogers on Instagram @zuzana.rogers where she has been documenting her 100 push-ups per day crusade.
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Rank #6: Nordic Nation: The Birkie Episode with Caitlin Gregg and Akeo Maifeld-Carucci
FasterSkier’s American Birkebeiner coverage is made possible through the generous support of New Moon Ski & Bike in Hayward, Wisconsin. While you are at the Birkie be sure to visit New Moon Ski & Bike for all your local expertise.
In this quick-hit Nordic Nation episode, we speak with five-time American Birkebeiner winner Caitlin Gregg from her home in Minneapolis. Lucky for some, Gregg will not be starting Saturday’s race as she, along with her husband Brian Gregg – who remains a men’s race favorite – are new parents as of Feb. 5. We get the low down on strategy and conditions from Caitlin.
Caitlin Gregg (501) winning her fifth American Birkebeiner on Saturday in Hayward, Wisconsin, while skiing alongside her husband Brian Gregg (13), who placed 22nd in the elite men’s skate race. (Photo: ABSF/James Netz)
In the second half, we chat with Craftsbury Green Racing Project’s Akeo Maifeld-Carucci. At twenty-six, Akeo – we are going with first names here – has podiumed three times this season on the SuperTour. He’ll be starting his second Birkie tomorrow. Akeo provides some insight into his own race strategy, how not to lose a water bottle, and keeping the mind clear and sensible when you break a pole.
Simi Hamilton (left) Akeo Maifeld-Carucci (right) “logging” hours on the southeast shoulder of Mt. Jefferson in Oregon.
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Rank #7: Nordic Nation: The Finding Your Voice Episode with Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson
Putting yourself in another’s shoes – or ski-boots — is an age-old tenant. But it would be truly hard to imagine being twenty-one years old and thrust into the biathlon world spotlight. At least year’s Olympics in PyeongChang, Swedish biathlete Sabastian Samuelsson literally arrived on the scene in his canary yellow race suit — he won a silver in the pursuit and gold as a member of Sweden’s men’s relay team.
During his post-race press conferences, his condor was appreciated as was his down to earth vibe. The medals, the massive media attention, the desire for his limited time were all new pathways for a young person to navigate. In this Nordic Nation podcast, we spoke with Samuelsson on February 8 to learn about his life since PyeongChang.
Sebastian Samuelsson of Sweden celebrating silver in the men’s 12.5 k pursuit at his first Olympics on Monday in PyeongChang, South Korea. It was also his first non-relay podium at the World Cup/World Championships level. (Photo: IBU/Biathlonworld)
Beyond being one of the most recognizable faces in Sweden, Samuelsson has become an outspoken critic of WADA’s Compliance Review Committee (CRC) and its Executive Committee (EX CO). This past January, after RUSADA missed the Dec. 31 deadline for handing over the Moscow Lab’s LIMS data and any underlying data, Samuelsson penned an open letter to the CRC’s head, Jonathan Taylor.
(Despite missing the deadline, the CRC recommended to the EX CO to maintain RUSADA’s compliant status. The EX CO voted not to penalize RUSADA for missing the deadline.)
Taylor and Samuelsson then began an open letter dialogue to argue and counter-argue the main issue of re-declaring RUSADA as non-compliant. (Here’s Taylor’s initial response.Here’s Samuelsson’s reply. Here’s Taylor’s second response.)
As the anti-doping movement matures in this post-Sochi era, one thing is clear: Samuelsson has found his voice.
You can follow Samuelsson on Twitter to hear his political voice, and on Instagram to catch the Samuelsson day in a life.
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Rank #8: Nordic Nation: The Calling it as He Sees it Episode with Chad Salmela
Long before the “Here comes Diggins” call by 47-year-old Chad Salmela at this season’s Olympics, he was already known throughout the ski world as an athlete and sports commentator. Let’s just say since the now famous call, Salmela’s announcing talents have become more well known. In what now may be considered his spare time, Salmela is a varsity cross country running coach and assistant track and field coach at The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn. For ten years he was the head coach of St. Scholastica’s nordic ski team. Salmela began the cross-country program before stepping down in 2016.
Back in his nordic coaching days is Chad Salmela. Now, at 47, he coaches running at The College of St. Scholastica and is the commentator for World Cup nordic skiing and IBU Biathlon at NBC Sports. (Photo: Courtesy Chad Salmela)
This winter season, Salmela will be the voice of nordic sport for NBC Sports: He’ll be calling both the cross-country World Cup and biathlon’s IBU World Cup.
As an athlete, Salmela was a member of the U.S. Biathlon team from 1990-1998. He still skis and enjoys the sweet outdoor access Duluth affords.
The selfie. Chad Salmela in his Sweden hockey jersey. He’d been rooting for Sweden while watching the IIHF worlds a few years back.
In this episode, we talk about the “Here comes Diggins” call, why he stepped away from coaching nordic skiing, and how he prepares for the grind of announcing World Cups. If you’d like to hear a solid interview of Salmela and his experience at the 2018 Winter Games by a great cast of mainstream sports writers and podcasters, you can check that out here.
And if you have no idea what we are referring to when we bring up the “Here comes Diggins” call, you should click here.
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Rank #9: Nordic Nation: The Recovery Episode with Tad Elliott
Back in January 2016, Tad Elliott emerged back onto the national championship scene with a win in the men’s 30-kilometer freestyle mass start at U.S. Nationals in Houghton, Mich. It had been some time since the skier originally from Durango, Colorado had felt unleashed from the grips of the energy-sapping Epstein-Barr virus.
Elliott went on to make the 2017 Nordic Ski World Championship team in Lahti, Finland. There, it was hard to miss his stunning effort firing up the first big climb out of the stadium as he skied the third leg of the U.S. men’s 4 x 10 k relay. Talk about lightness and upward momentum. In Lahti, he also notched a 27th in the men’s 50 k skate. He is a former member of the U.S. Ski Team and a three-time World Championship team member. (Let’s not forget this is a two-sport athlete. On two-wheels, Elliott crushed as an elite mountain biker. He won two U23 National Championship in mountain biking.)
Tad Elliott (bib 36) and Kyle Bratrud (bib 39) during the men’s 30-kilometer skiathlon at the 2017 Lahti World Championships. (Photo: Matt Whitcomb)
Known as one of the finest skate skiers of his generation, Elliott’s upward trajectory unraveled in 2013 as he began struggling with symptoms of the Epstein-Barr virus. The winner of multiple national championships, Elliott began literally walking towards a life and a career premised on rest and recovery with the occasional aerobic stimulus to gradually bring him back into form.
Tad Elliott racing the third leg of the U.S. men’s 4 x 10 k relay at the 2017 Nordic World Championships on Friday in Lahti, Finland. (Photo: John Lazenby/Lazenbyphoto.com)
In this episode of Nordic Nation, we tracked down the now thirty-year-old Elliott on October 9th, where he has begun undergraduate studies in sport physiology at the University of Northern Michigan. Elliott is also applying what he learned during his racing career as an assistant coach with the storied NMU program. He has also begun a side gig consulting athletes struggling with recovery and those wanting to develop sustainable training plans.
We have the go-ahead to post his email. You can reach out to him at email@example.com if you’ve got questions as it relates to his experience with overtraining and the rebound. And he drives an El Camino that we are informed is stored indoors somewhere back east.
(Elliott also works with Nordic Team Solutions.)
Tadd Elliott and his prized El Camino – part car/part truck. Pure class. The El Camino did not make the trip to NMU. (Photo: Tad Elliott Collection)
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Rank #10: Nordic Nation: Andy Newell in Transition
FasterSkier caught up with former, yes former U.S. Ski Team member Andy Newell on October, 8 in Park City, Utah. Newell was in Utah assisting with the latest NEG camp and training with his old cohort when time permitted. No longer a staple of the national team, the 34-year-old Newell has partially turned over a new leaf. He’s still training as a professional skier, but he’s also the owner of a cross-country skiing business called Nordic team Solutions.
Andy Newell leads the double pole train at the Lake Placid REG camp as part of his coaching related startup -Nordic Team Solutions. (Photo: Bryan Fish)
Newell plans on racing several World Cups this season, and, if the gears are clicking, he hopes to qualify for the Seefeld, Austria World Championships. If that’s not enough for this athlete in transition, Newell intends to expand his nascent business.
Newell’s business model is part web-based platform and part ski-boots on the ground business specializing in technique, training, and nutrition. We’re sure we missed something. But Newell covers it all in the podcast as he explains the niche he’s trying to fill.
Andy Newell (left) putting his Nordic Team Solutions to good use. (Photo: Bryan Fish)