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Greetings from Chamonix, France. Happy New Year!  Little did I know that today, january 14th, is Saint Nina day. A number of my French friends wished me ” Bonne Fete!” and I wondered what French holiday I was missing, as there are so many I can’t keep up with them. When the 3rd person wished me this I said, what ‘fete” and he said, check the calendar and drink a glass of Champagne. “AH, now I get it, Saint Nina day!” Just knowing that I share the name with a woman saint brings me strength, smiles and courage. Well, I did not have the champagne as I am “in training” but my kids do love “Champommy” the apple version.

First and foremost , a huge thank you to all of you who have made monetary contributions to my “Reach for the Stars” campaign as work towards my second World Cup Season and this year a World Championship year in Andorra. I know in this economy things are tight and the help is greatly appreciated.

The race season is off to a busy start and nothing slows down in our own house hold with two young boys under the roof:  Christmas, new years, my son’s 6th birthday and today- St. Nina day in France. Always a chance to celebrate. We have been playing hockey, cross country skiing and alpine skiing and building igloos in the yard.

I am transitioning to my own website: www.ninasilitch.com- however it is still in the beginning face.-be patient please.

I am honored to announce to have been invited to Blog for www.fasterskier.com as http://blogs.fasterskier.com/ninasilitch/  as the first Ski Mountaineering blogger to help introduce the sport and help it continue to grow in the USA.

Nina racing up Mont Saxonnex in the Somfy Series Night Race 10 jan '10, 2nd overall (1st Senior W). It was -15 C!

Nina racing up Mont Saxonnex in the Somfy Series Night Race 10 jan '10, 2nd overall (1st Senior W). It was -15 C!

My season this year started off pretty early with the first World Cup in Pila, Italy middle of December. http://www.ismf-ski.org/ At this race I was joined by my national teammate all the way from Colorado, Monique Merrill.

Mona and Nina and Pila World Cup

Mona and Nina and Pila World Cup

This was a great event for first world cup- still early for many but good training none the less. The first day was a sprint race- under 5 min which included a short flatter skin to a series of kick turns to a transition to a boot pack and then back to skins and a short down hill. A really great race for spectators to see what ski mountaineering is all about- like World Cup Nordic sprint races there were 3 heats. Day 2 was a night race- very cold -22 degrees celcius. http://vimeo.com/8748014 My extremities are still de-thawing. For me that race was about survival and staying warm. It is tough on the lungs when temperatures go that hard and you are maxing out the effort. I am learning that handwarmers are the way to go!

Cold with the mittens on!

Cold with the mittens on!

Getting back into the groove after the transition

Getting back into the groove after the transition

After this race I tried to put in some volume training and enjoy the holidays with my family.

Happy New Year! Family Ski Day!

Happy New Year! Family Ski Day!

Anders, Birki and Meg testing the tracks!

Anders, Birki and Meg testing the tracks!

I train on a similar 4 week cycle to nordic skiers, intensity, med volume and volume and recovery week. Night training is often the only time to get out.

Night workout- Michael and his Petzl Ultra

Night workout- Michael and his Petzl Ultra

Last week I finished an intensity week – a series of 4 races in 9 days. There is a great series here of night uphill races often mid week. The races are a fun ambience followed by a good pasta or raclette meal and good company. At the Barloucka race in Switzerland I was joined by Kilan Jornet and Miro Mirella 2 of the best ski mountaineering racers in the world.

Nina, Miro and Kilian- (maybe they will transfer some VO2 max energy to me!)

Nina, Miro and Kilian- (maybe they will transfer some VO2 max energy to me!)

As my friend said, the Vo2 max levels of those at that table was pretty high combined. This race was 750 meters over 5km. Some races have much more flat than uphill. Obviously the nordic background helps for the kicking and gliding sections. This past year I helped start at Ski Alpinisme club here in Chamonix www.chamonixskialpinisme.com with the Club des Sports of Chamonix www.chamonixsport.com. We travelled to some of the night races together of the www.mountainskitour.com and it reminded me of the days at Dartmouth traveling by van to races. Fun to be part of a team for sure. The first race: La Clusaz (night race) was a climb of 720 meters with a section in the beginning of +20 meters to skate or skin. I chose skating and it was to my advantage -and flied past people on the small first hill. These short uphills are pretty intense efforts- this one just under 30 minutes so your heart is working pretty hard. This one was also about -12 degrees (not warm again).

Podium- La Clusaz, 3rd Place

Podium- La Clusaz, 3rd Place

Here I placed 3rd overall behind Swiss and French national team members. La Maurrienne (saturday)- Cold again! Hand warmers really do the trick for me and my Reynoids Syndrome. This was the first team race of the season and had 2 ascents, 2 descents and a boot pack +1300 meters). I did this with my teammate Nuno from Portugal. Team races are really fun as the two are obliged to work together going up and down. Often people use elastic chords to stay close on the ascent. This helps the second person who may be a little less fast than the first. For me it helps also mentally to stick together and work in the same rhythm. For me it was fun to race with Nuno as it made me work just a bit harder on the uphill to keep up with him. We were placed in the mens category and came in top 30 in a tough field. Not bad, just 1 min behind the top womens team who are on the French National Team. Race 4. Mt Saxonnex +580 meters (sunday eve) I was not sure if I was going to do this race- It depended on how I felt and if I had a good recovery after saturday. I felt good, rested, stretched and spun on my wind trainer to get the lactic acid out of the legs. Headed out to this race. It was an interesting course. Straight up hill up a ski lift line then a downhill section with skins on in the off piste powder (remember at night- here the Petzl Ultra head lamp would have been an excellent choice- little did I know I just had my small Tikka). After the dowhhill a boot pack (carry skis) through tough deep powder. At this point my legs were quite tired. And the boot steps were huge for my short legs. The last section was a good gentle skin up to the finish!

Podium Mt Saxonnex- 1st Sr Woman, 2nd Overall

Podium Mt Saxonnex- 1st Sr Woman, 2nd Overall

Here I took 2nd place just 1 minute behind a very good uphill climber! This week is recovery with volume for me. I have two weeks leading up to my next world cup in Italy. This sunday I will head over to Italy to race. The races are always well organized and techincal and this one will give me some good endurance training as it is a climb of +1800 meters and 4 transitions. For some this year their sites are on peaking for the Olympic. For me my goals are to peak for the World Championships in Andorra beginning of March and also the famous Patrouille des Glaciers end of April. This year my father has put together a team for the mini patrouille des glaciers. www.pdg.ch

Below is a link where I am written up with my dad about the famous race from Zermatt to Verbier.http://www.boston.com/sports/other_sports/skiing/articles/2009/12/24/with_vancouver_looming_vonn_looks_golden/

If you or you may  have friends who feel compelled to support my “Reach for the Stars” campaign-see my earlier post in the blog on how to contribute. Thanks for reading and for your continued support!

What’s on the calendar next?

17th January- Italy race

Italy World Cup 23 January- http://www.ismf-ski.org/

Video

Nina’s  Rando Race gear video on Vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/8747628

Skiing in Val Ferret, Italy http://www.vimeo.com/8747939