Summer recap in pics

 Jess leading the ride in Southern Utah

Jess leading the ride in Southern Utah

This summer was great. I enjoyed every minute of it, and I don’t believe this opinion is inflated as a result of writing this blog retrospectively from Finland. Over the summer I accomplished a lot of the things I wanted to- mountain bike more, train a lot, go fishing, go on my first sheep hunt, race Mt. Marathon again, and start a business.

david norris glacier

I went to Eagle Glacier for two training camps this summer. Training with the boys up there was fantastic - with the exception of Forrest trying to hit me with snow balls.

The snow conditions and weather on the glacier were phenomenal in June and July. Because of these conditions, I skied more during those two camps than in previous years. During June camp, I tried to torch myself- knowing that I just had to race Bird Ridge after the camp before a week long break of set net fishing for salmon. On the other hand, July camp was basically the opposite. I came into that camp fairly rested due to my post Mt Marathon legs, which left me immobile for a few days. After Mt Marathon, my legs were so swollen and sore that I actually avoided walking up and downs stairs. This led me to spend some extra time recovering after the race, and eventually I healed with no long-term aches and pains. I was also able to use my fresh legs to put in the most productive glacier camp of my life in July.

david norris mt marathon
david norris jessica yeaton

Mt Marathon is guaranteed fun, but sharing the win with Jessica was a huge bonus. Luke also threw down in his first adult category race. Getting to know more folks in the Alaska mountain running circuit has been super fun, and I am really grateful for this community.

david norris hunting

I did quite a bit of hunting (for me) this fall, but unfortunately came home empty handed. I learned a ton on my sheep hunt and I cannot wait for a second try next August. On a different hunt I ventured into some amazing goat country and saw lots of sign- so I am optimistic for next year.

jessica yeaton fish

Jessica continues to land larger fish than I. Take note: check out the water dripping off that hog. Her etiquette is on point #keepemwet

david norris park city

To wrap up an awesome summer. Park City training camp in October also went really well. This camp always signifies the end summer- although this fall PC was snowy and rarely offered that last boost of Vit D I generally count on. I would post more training pictures, but I rarely take pictures during workouts. Summer training is a huge a focus for me and equally as enjoyable as my other activities. So do not let the lack of photographic evidence confuse you :)

Alaska Pacific University Fall Mailer

This fall I was asked to contribute to the APU fall newsletter. I hope you enjoy the read- this past season really showed me the importance of community and team. I couldn't be racing now if it weren't for the community, my teammates, and family. 

 

 David Norris winning the 2016 American Birkebeiner

Cross-country skiing isn’t just about the racing. As professional skiers, competition is our livelihood- the main reason we spend hundreds of hours training each year. But it isn’t the only reason. Regardless of wins or losses, this sport offers a community that provides endless support on multiple levels. As a member of APUNSC, I am provided with the resources to pursue my goals of Olympic success while simultaneously earning an MBA. APUNSC also serves as a platform to give back to the community- in appreciation for all the support it gives me. This relationship fuels me to pursue my goals. When racing across the country and in Europe, I not only feel the support of my teammates, but also of APUNSC and the Alaskan community as a whole. Each year, this support becomes more and more apparent; above all the successes and shortcomings last season, it was what stood out to me the most. 

Since joining APUNSC in the spring of 2014, I have been incredibly optimistic towards my results for each upcoming season. Being a part of such an incredible team, it seems reasonable to set the bar high. Training amongst a group of phenomenal athletes while under the guidance of one of the country’s most respected coaches, progress is constant- if not exponential at times. The gains I make each summer always give me confidence leading into the next season. Yet I have learned that the mental trajectory you create is not always the one you follow. 

When last season kicked off in West Yellowstone, I was disappointed in my results. I made a quick mental rebound and shifted my focus to the following weekend’s races in Sun Valley. Again, I was disappointed in my results. This cycle continued through US Nationals. I had no excuses- I was well prepared, healthy, and my coaches gave me fast skis each weekend; I simply performed below my expectations. 

Thanks to the tremendous support from my teammates, coaches, and the Alaskan ski community, I remained optimistic. I found motivation in my teammates’ successes- an attitude we all shared. My teammates were always excited for each other; they never let personal disappointments take away from the success of the team. Because of this, each podium result my teammates achieved last season was a catalyst for another. We built each other up, and were stronger as a team than as a group of individuals. 

After US Nationals, I came back to Anchorage to refocus and prepare for the second half of the racing season. The tiny manmade loop at Kincaid became the epicenter of the Nordic community; because of the lack of snow, I was fortunate to run into several of you who are reading this letter. I skied with many individuals that I would not have normally encountered on the usual trails. It was encouraging to visit with so many local skiers, and I was humbled by their support. I saw just how many people were cheering for APUNSC from afar- a realization that helped inspire and rejuvenate me for the rest of the season. 

After my training block in Anchorage I headed to Lake Placid to start the second half of the SuperTour series. The first day of racing started with a bang; not only did I reach my first SuperTour A Final, but I won the race. The next day I followed my first ever SuperTour win with another in the distance race. That weekend, nearly four months after the start of the season, everything turned around for me. Weeks after, I won the American Birkie by out-sprinting seven Europeans at the line ahead of a strong field of American athletes. The season concluded with the US National distance championships, where I achieved a 3rd place podium finish after a grueling, sun-scorching, and sloppy 50 kilometers. 

It is easy to finish a season only thinking about your most recent results. While I am excited about the way I concluded last season, I keep recollecting the first half of my season. My thoughts circle back to what “team” is all about, and how it has come to influence me as an athlete. Great results encourage me to push harder, train smarter, and continue pursuing my goals. More importantly, however, are disappointing results, which ultimately lead to growth. These results force me to ask myself why I am so passionate about skiing, why I am doing everything I can to reach my goals, and what I can do better in the future. Through both the successes and disappointments of last season, the one thing that remained constant was the incredible support from my peers, coaches, and the APUNSC family. Team. 

Despite being frustrated with my racing in the fall, making a Thanksgiving feast on the road with my teammates remains one of the highlight evenings of my season. After winning both the Birkie and Mount Marathon this year, I was rushed at the finish line by my enthusiastic teammates. Within seconds of crossing the line at the Birkie, Lex- disappointed with his own result -lifted me off the ground with one of the biggest hugs I have ever received. Pursuing excellence and performing well is only so rewarding because of the individuals I share these experiences with. With APUNSC, we are a cohesive unit. It is the entire team- from juniors to masters- that makes being on the elite team such a valuable and rewarding position. 

Again, I am optimistic going into this 2016/17 season. Without the support from the entire APUNSC family, it wouldn’t be possible for so many athletes to pursue their dreams. To all of you who follow and cheer on APUNSC athletes racing across the country and in Europe, graciously donate to our team’s racing expenses, and encourage us to keep putting it on all on the line- THANK YOU! - David Norris APU Elite team member

Pre Nationals

The winter has kicked off to a slow start. With only 6 races under my belt and 2 of which were local town races amongst teammates it almost doesn't feel like it is the ski season yet. I am envious of the World Cup athletes that have already raced a ton and race so much each year. Something to aspire to at least. Next week is US Nationals in Utah with 4 races in a week so I am looking forward to the opportunity to race hard there.

                     Great Skiing in Silver Star, BC...           Ophira Group snapping this pics

                    Great Skiing in Silver Star, BC...           Ophira Group snapping this pics

 Striding it out on the town trails in Bozeman. Got to love Linley Park

Striding it out on the town trails in Bozeman. Got to love Linley Park

 Oakley sending their love. These monsters came in the night before leaving town hence the Mooses Tooth take out. 

Oakley sending their love. These monsters came in the night before leaving town hence the Mooses Tooth take out. 

After Utah the team and I will make the drive to Tahoe for a few more races as part of the Super Tour circuit. From that point on my season calendar is not set in stone. If I race well I might get opportunities to race in Europe... If I underperform I will probably be heading back home to AK and putting in some training before jumping back onto the Super Tour for the spring races. Either way I'm looking forward to the racing, travel, and hanging out with my friends and teammates at all the races. 

Summer Pictures

 Wednesday, APUNSC did our fall time trial up Gas Line. I had a pretty good effort considering the training load I felt coming into the race. I'm stoked!

Wednesday, APUNSC did our fall time trial up Gas Line. I had a pretty good effort considering the training load I felt coming into the race. I'm stoked!

 I met the Mount Marathon age group champion at the AK Sports Hall of Fame event! So impressive because she goes up and down through the most technical portion of the mountain.

I met the Mount Marathon age group champion at the AK Sports Hall of Fame event! So impressive because she goes up and down through the most technical portion of the mountain.

                         Coming off Mount Marathon- July 4th         Credit: Peakthree 

                        Coming off Mount Marathon- July 4th         Credit: Peakthree 

 Hottest glacier camp to date... I came home with a sun rash under my biceps!  Credit: Dre Foto

Hottest glacier camp to date... I came home with a sun rash under my biceps!  Credit: Dre Foto

Mt. Marathon

 Starting my downhill. Photo Credit: Rob Whitney

Starting my downhill. Photo Credit: Rob Whitney

First time racing Mt Marathon was quite the experience. I earned a start spot into this crazy race through winning one of the uphill only mountain races in Girdwood, AK last August. I have done several mountain races in Alaska, but Mt Marathon on July 4th is in its own category. 

 Approaching the final drop before hitting the road into town. Photo Credit: Peak3 Media

Approaching the final drop before hitting the road into town. Photo Credit: Peak3 Media

I had so much fun racing this weekend thanks to the epic course, strong competitors, and amazing crowds in Seward. I can't explain how amazing it was to run into town with crowds of people lining the street screaming me home to the finish. 30 minutes of climbing a mountain at near max effort and immediately descending 3,000 ft in ten minutes made for a punishing race, but as soon as I hit the bottom of the cliffs and I saw the crowd waiting for me the pain in my legs disappeared! 

Truly epic and now I know why so many runners are hooked on this race! 

1st Spring Adventure

When the avalanche danger was to high on the slopes we changed our plans and took to the valleys and flat land on skinny skis. Originally, we had planned to do the Eklutna traverse and ski as many peaks as possible along the way weather permitting. That trip would have been about three nights. With the avi reports recommending that we don’t do any serious down hilling we figured we could do a quick lightweight overnight trip on our Nordic skis. After discussing several different options and looking at the forecasts we decided to hit up a route that Scott had backpacked/pack rafted a few summers ago.

            Our route sent us into the mountains off of the Glen Highway about an hour from Anchorage. We used some common snow machine trails to access the mountains. The further we got from the highway the less snow machine tracks we saw! While we hoped and planned to ski on good crust once we got off the snow machine trails the crust wasn’t great yet. Thankfully, we were able to combine the marginal crust with old snow machine tracks to give us just enough of a base to travel our 50 mile route with decent ease- most of the time... 

 Getting up the valley on day 1

Getting up the valley on day 1

 Digging a hole for home!

Digging a hole for home!

 After digging through 3ft of sugar the tents have a solid foundation. Sleeping bag time!

After digging through 3ft of sugar the tents have a solid foundation. Sleeping bag time!

When we didn’t travel with ease:

Attempting to ski down a gully that turned into what would have been a chain of waterfalls in the summer. Down climbing frozen waterfalls without any climbing gear and Nordic boots was a fun twist.

Post-holing with and without skis on our feet.

Skiing up steep climbs on narrow snow machine trails- had to double pole or hike. We initially attempted to be purest using the double pole technique, but soon the hiking became a judge free option.

 Down climbing a snow covered waterfall!... Safely I assure you Mom :)

Down climbing a snow covered waterfall!... Safely I assure you Mom :)

 Scott side stepping with the shovel acting as his ice axe.

Scott side stepping with the shovel acting as his ice axe.

Minor hardships of the trip:

My pad had a huge leak. I woke up with no air meaning no insulation against the snow. That being said I had a cold butt and back until I blew my pad up for the remaining hours until morning.

David Norris
 Skiing or sliding down a creek.

Skiing or sliding down a creek.

Best parts of the trip:

Awesome views, jumped hundreds of ptarmigan from their hiding places in the snow, slept from 8pm to 7:30am, and eating an entire party pack of cola gummy bears about 8 hours into the second day of skiing.

 Thanks boys for a fun ski

Thanks boys for a fun ski

 55 miles or so

55 miles or so

Birkie Hug

 So pumped!

So pumped!

I am so lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing people! This weekends win at the Birkie was a huge accomplishment and a level of result that I have been working towards.  Crossing the line Saturday was the first time in my life where I threw up my hands and screamed in excitement! Taking the win, having the confidence to lead the last 800 meters of the race, and to pull it all off was an incredible feeling.

 Lex T and myself- I am way happier than I look.

Lex T and myself- I am way happier than I look.

To top off all of my excitement at the line was seeing Lex Trienens and Tyler Kornfields faces light up when they realized I had taken the win. Lex was last years top American and by no means would his 17th place finish this year be satisfying to him. BUT within seconds of him crossing the line he had his skis off and ran over to give me the biggest hug of my life! Tyler soon followed to share the same kind of excitement.  In addition, it was awesome to share the podium with fellow American, Caitlin Gregg- making it a double American Win!

 Fun night at Trivia with Tyler Kornfield

Fun night at Trivia with Tyler Kornfield

All day I received this kind of sincere congratulations. Kikkan Randall who is used to winning World Cups saw that I was getting cold doing my interviews minutes after my race. She brought me my dry clothes bag without anyone asking. The Birkie represents the great ski community we have and why cross-country skiing is one of the best sports out there!

The Race!

The pace went out steady during the first 5km, which decreased the lead pack to just 20 men. The course is very rolling and I just skied as efficiently as possible throughout the race. There were a few accelerations between 10km-45km, but none of them stuck and our lead group would regather as the pace would slow back down. Around the 43km-45km marker the pace got challenging as a Frenchmen took charge and broke the mens pack.

After a steady climb skiing in maybe 6th or 7th with the Frenchmen about a 100 meters ahead and gaining I decided I needed to close that gap. I moved into second and started the chase. I caught the leader over the next few minutes and I had hoped he would continue his effort all the way to the lake. As expected he slowed down and I wasn’t interested in leading at that point because five others skiers were right on our heels. We regrouped and skied last 5km of the race as a pack of seven.

 Dropping into Main Street. One last glance to check out where the competitors are.

Dropping into Main Street. One last glance to check out where the competitors are.

As we neared the 1km until the finish mark I started to move towards the front. As I got to the front I held as relaxed of a pace as I could, but still while maintaining my position at the front. As we came off the lake with 700 meters to the finish I started my kick and gave it everything I had until the line. Main Street was so loud! Sprinting down Main Street was pure muscle memory and adrenaline cause my body felt numb with the excitement produced by the amazing spectators in Hayward.

A cool video of the race highlights can be found here: https://vimeo.com/156182805

David Norris Birkie Award

A lot went into this weeks win. I had excellent skis provided to me by Rossignol. The Rossignol reps where out testing skis with a headlamp on the morning of the race after only getting a couple hours sleep Friday night. A huge thanks to Rossignol, Exel Poles, Bliz Eyewear, Toko Gloves, and the APU Nordic Ski Center. It was also blast getting to meet the Louis family and all their friends while they hosted me for the week in Wisconsin- thanks for your support!

 

 

West Yellowstone

Happy Thanksgiving all!

 After the races I'm looking forward to Jessica making me more of these in Anchorage!

After the races I'm looking forward to Jessica making me more of these in Anchorage!

I’m getting excited about racing, snow, stuffing, cranberry sauce, Montana, and all things festive that I am blogging again. [round of applause] Getting to West was once again stressful as I procrastinated on most everything until the day before leaving. Had to base prep all my new skis and freshly ground pairs in addition to zeroing out the fleet. I might have thrown out my back and shoulder in the process, but it was worth it I tell you- the bases are looking nice!

 Crushing base prep work thanks to Toko

Crushing base prep work thanks to Toko

 Jessica and I rocking our new APU patches on our Sauce headbands. Thanks Sauce!!

Jessica and I rocking our new APU patches on our Sauce headbands. Thanks Sauce!!

Here in West things are going great. Awesome ski conditions and perfect grooming. Outside of training the ladies of the team are blasting Christmas music against the will of most every dude except for Packer. He has fully embraced the holiday spirit. I personally don’t mind a Frank Sinatra Christmas song, but Mariah Carrey is not my first choice of holiday jam. The lesson here is that it is all about compromise. I will endure the Christmas music now because I know when those beats are a rockin’, the girls are probably baking cookies or cinnamon rolls- the pleasure to the taste buds is worth the damage to the ears.

 Found time to try tricking some fish on the Madison before the races start with Jordan Beutow.

Found time to try tricking some fish on the Madison before the races start with Jordan Beutow.


Racing starts tomorrow! 

Livin in Livigno

I’m in Livigno, Italy with five other APU athletes. We are two days into a pre camp before joining the USST for the Europa Cup races taking place over the next four weeks. We are living in a comfy hostel with our own kitchen and within walking distance of skiing and downtown. Packer found this place and it has to be one of the best set ups I’ve experienced while in Europe.

 

The skiing here is incredible. There is one large loop going the length of the valley with pretty easy training terrain and then two shorter loops that have the terrain for a typical race course. We planned to adjust to the time change and altitude here because of the awesome skiing and affordable prices in this valley. Everything here is tax-free so six days here is equal to the cost of living in Switzerland for two days.

 So much sun, but some snowy days are ahead in the forecast.

So much sun, but some snowy days are ahead in the forecast.

 

The team has done a great job researching the best ways to make this trip as affordable as possible while still making it conducive to racing and training well. We have also started an athlete driven crowd funding platform. Please check it out and support our crew! This trip and the races we will do here is part of the development needed to reach our goals of international and Olympic success.


Thanks for your support and reading!

First half of US Nationals

 15km Skate                             Credit: Christopher Schmidt

15km Skate                             Credit: Christopher Schmidt

Getting to Senior Nationals and kicking off the first race four days ago occurred without any hang-ups. Traveling from Alaska to Michigan went smoothly, although it did take awhile. I flew to Anchorage and spent the night before heading to Minneapolis (on a direct flight, score!). The team then spent the night in Minneapolis before driving to Houghton in snowy conditions, which took almost another eight hours.

 Parked right on Main Street. Felt like Montana.

Parked right on Main Street. Felt like Montana.

 15km Skate

15km Skate

 

The first race of the week was on Sunday (the 4th)- a 15k skate. The conditions here have been fairly cold, windy, humid and snowy.  I’m used to the cold part, but certainly not the other three conditions. During the 15km I dressed super warm and was comfortable racing- except that my cheeks got really cold and have been feeling tender ever since. Logan and Reese Hannamen’s parents were cheering on course and on the first lap yelled at me ‘to cover my cheeks’. The next time I saw them they told me that my ‘cheeks look better’ along with their other, more standard words of encouragement. It was funny to hear cheering that consisted with reports on how my skin was looking.

 Afternoon walk to stretch the legs led to some exploring.

Afternoon walk to stretch the legs led to some exploring.

 Gray every day so far.

Gray every day so far.

 

Along with getting cold cheeks I felt pretty strong racing and finished 7th overall, which matches my best US National skate distance result. I really enjoy the courses here and like how they flow, but Tuesday I really struggled to stay focused throughout the race. I had a strong last 3km and that’s something I’ve had issues with in the past- so I was glad to end the race on a positive note.

 

In the Classic sprint yesterday my coach and I decided to have me sit out from the race to allow my lungs and immune system to completely recover before the 30km race coming up. In previous years I have never sat out races, but this fall I have been having a trend of racing then getting a chest cold and cough two days following the hard effort. We figured it was a better idea to play it conservative, as there are still lots of races left in the season.

 

All week the Alaska Pacific University women have been strong with three in the top five during the 10km skate and Rosie and Becca taking 1st and 2nd in the classic sprint yesterday. I’m hoping the APU men and myself can get at their level later this week.

 

On a different note- before leaving for Nationals I fit in a single morning of bird hunting, which I had been looking forward to all fall. It was a crazy good day. We found a flock of about 20 sharp tail grouse, then later came across another group of ten. The grouse were sitting under the wind blown snow below the surface until we nearly stepped on them- then they would come flying out from underneath the snow. It was exciting, but I definitely missed a lot of birds. Next summer I am forcing myself to shoot some clay pigeons so I don’t embarrass myself next fall.

 Lucy tried to reserve a seat for the hunt, but couldn't come this time.

Lucy tried to reserve a seat for the hunt, but couldn't come this time.

  Sharp Tail Grouse

 Sharp Tail Grouse

 Beautiful up here above tree line.

Beautiful up here above tree line.


Next race: 30km Classic Mass Start! Thursday. You can watch live results here:

http://www.superiortiming.com/