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Training Log: Lake Placid New Year's Ski Trip
By:  Matthias Purdon   (2009/01/20)


To start the year off right this year I did a ski trip to Lake Placid with my uncle and aunt’s family. Most of XC Ottawa had since traveled over to Canmore for world junior trials, while it was too bad I couldn’t race out west this year, it did give me the opportunity to go on a vacation to ski in a totally new environment in an area that had always interested me.

Lake Placid is in the centre of the Appalachian Mountains in New York State, a seven hour drive from my home town of Owen Sound. Departure was at the crack of dawn on New Year’s morning, an experience that if you haven’t done, I do not recommend. Needless to say I slept pretty much the entire way there, except for at the boarder where my lack of a valid passport or birth certificate made the crossing a bit of a luck of the draw affair. Lucky for me I made it over the boarder just fine and we even got in a short ski at Lake Placid Olympic ski centre before closing.

It was apparent right away that these were Olympic level trails (the Olympics were held there in 1980), our first half hour ski there ended up being about one half climbing one half descent, the common ratio I have found for most courses designed for big races. This ratio also made the skiing pretty hard, the climbs were of the long steady variety, while the down hills where fast and curving, fun but not perfect for recovery. This short ski introduced me to some pretty long climbs to stretch out the legs, but my and my cousin Erin’s, curiosity about the outside “Mt. Porter” loop was not satisfied.

The next day we all went down hill skiing at White Face which was super fun. The snow wasn’t perfect but getting out on downhill skis every once in a while is one of my favorite things to do. The third and final day in Lake Placid my cousin Erin and I decided to put a big day of training in and check out the black diamond “Mt. Porter” loop that was beckoning us. We got off to a leisurely eleven thirty start (we were on dwindling vacation time after all) and skate skied the Mt. Porter loop, which is about a 14km long, right away. The loop turned out to be amazing; the trails flowed well from one hill to the next among some truly stunning scenery of the Appalachians. We skied pretty hard the first time around and when I was hurting on some of the longer climbs I thought of those poor Olympians back in 1980s skiing at the highest level over these seemingly endless grades. Later we skied the women’s 5km loop which was impressive with a great mix of long climbs and high speed technical descents. We followed that loop up with an interval session before lunch which consisted of one minute zone 4 intervals with 3 minutes rest 8 times on a shorter climb and flat section on the women’s 5km course.

In the afternoon we did one more Mt. Porter loop to finish things off and with the sun getting low it was even more spectacular. The amount of climbing did start to affect Erin and I near the end of the ski. Erin, who had been pushing the pace a bit the first time around, stopped at the bottom of the last climb before the decent into the stadium and said half jokingly that he couldn’t do any more climbing. I convinced him to do the last piece but the early cut off to the bottom had defiantly caught my eye as well.

After triumphantly completing the final decent we decided to do some sprints in the Olympic stadium. For these I designed a course that started at the start-finish line did a u-turn around a water belt at one end and came back through to finish. It was fun trying to be fast after skiing so much in a day, and racing Erin is always a good time. The day ended up being about 3 and a half hours of training long, by far my biggest day so far this winter, and couldn’t have been better.

Big thanks to the Purdon-Mclean family for taking me with them on the trip, I had great time. Thanks to Erin for the photos and being my training partner once again.

The Stadium area at Lake Placid, one of the few flats.



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