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/

Home for the Holidays

While I was in Bozeman for the 3rd and 4th Super Tour races I found myself constantly looking off into the mountains. I would think about Elk habitats, the fields full of geese to hunt, and wanted to take the team on afternoon runs along streams and rivers to check for good fishing spots. Ironically, the opposite tends to happen during the summer, when I often think about winter activities and ski racing. Don’t get me wrong- ski racing is one of my favorite things to do.

 

My focus on racing returned when I arrived home in Alaska… until I saw a grouse on the racecourse Saturday. Now I am arranging to grouse hunt when I am home in Fairbanks on an off day from training with my long time friend Nick Hajdukovich. He is a pro birder, hunting guide, and enthusiast of anything woodsy enough to demand a sweet mountain-man beard.

                 Between this beard and Nick’s skills we shouldn’t come home empty handed.

                 Between this beard and Nick’s skills we shouldn’t come home empty handed.

Super Tour races 3&4 went better for me than those in West Yellowstone. I felt a little snappier, but still not the kind of race shape I had felt a few times throughout the summer and fall. I have many ideas as to why I didn’t feel amazing, but none of those really matter. I just need to focus on the things that will help me progress through the season, such as regular nights of sleep and hitting the key training sessions rested. The sprint in Bozeman was a ton of fun; I tried to double pole my heat and was nearly strong enough to make it work, but on the main climb I stalled out just enough to loose contention with those on klister. I placed third in my heat after following TK down the main hill before he washed out on an icy corner. In the distance race I struggled to settle in with the lead group and was constantly falling off the pace, but in the last lap I really started feeling more like myself again and skied well to the finish line- placing 7th for the day.

               Quarter Final- Doubling Poling the first hill with Tyler and Thomas in my heat

               Quarter Final- Doubling Poling the first hill with Tyler and Thomas in my heat

                                                       Distance race in Bozeman

                                                       Distance race in Bozeman

                                               Rosie on the podium once again!!!

                                               Rosie on the podium once again!!!

This weekend I am in Anchorage for the Besh Cups. I raced a skate sprint and a skate distance race. These always serve to be effective tune up races for Nationals. The A Final in the sprint had two guys who have stood on the podium at Nationals (TK and Packer) plus Logan Hanneman, who has earned at least a few A Finals at US National sprints. I didn’t move onto the A Final due to a fall in the last 50 meters of the race.

                              Great to have the parents out of the races this weekend.

                              Great to have the parents out of the races this weekend.

The distance race was fast and had tons of V2. We raced on a substitute race course because the hilly course didn’t have enough snow. The substitute course turned out to be deceptively hard and I started to feel my legs on the second of three laps. I finished 3rd behind my teammates Scott P and Packer.

 

        Cooled down too long after the race… The real flower ceremony. Thanks Mom and Dad.

        Cooled down too long after the race… The real flower ceremony. Thanks Mom and Dad.

Always nice to be on the podium with these guys. Scott and Packer showing some good racing in                                                               the 15km Skate.

Always nice to be on the podium with these guys. Scott and Packer showing some good racing in                                                               the 15km Skate.

Yesterday TK put on the annual Lickety Splits fun day for the kids. Tyler gets tons of helpers from the local ski clubs and puts on a an afternoon of games and activities for about a 100 little skiers. It was a good time skiing around with all these little kids.

 

                                                            Hitting the gong!

                                                            Hitting the gong!

                                            A much anticipated lunch break with the kids!

                                            A much anticipated lunch break with the kids!

A solid weekend of playing hard and giving back! Couldn't get much better than that. Check out my PlayHardGiveBack page! http://www.playhardgiveback.com/dnorris#bio

A solid weekend of playing hard and giving back! Couldn't get much better than that. Check out my PlayHardGiveBack page! http://www.playhardgiveback.com/dnorris#bio

I'm back home for Christmas and it's awesome! Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas.

Back in Montana Week 1

It was nice returning to Montana last week. I haven’t been here since graduation last May. I nearly brought down my fishing gear as my Montana license from last spring is still good until January, but decided against it because I had been fighting a cold before leaving Alaska for the Super Tour races in West Yellowstone.

 

Arriving in West Yellowstone last week the ski trails were in good conditions and the temperatures where ideal for racing. Alaska Pacific University stayed out of town in some nice houses, which was a huge upgrade from my college days of sharing a hotel room with two or three other guys and eating continental breakfast and sandwiches everyday for lunch.

 

This was the house I shared with a few teammates.

David Norris West House

 

My sprint day started off pretty well with a 11th place qualifier on a really fast course. The times were just around 2.5 minutes and I didn’t feel like I could have gone any harder. I can work to improve my balance and transitions at that high speed, but overall everything went really well. In the heats I still felt good, which is rare because I often feel flat after warming back up from the qualifier (2 hour break between qualifier and heats).  In the heats I got out to a good start and fell into second place then at the half way point on the course I made a pass into the lead. Unfortunately as I moved into the lead my pole broke against a competitor’s knee and kind of cost me the race. It was a good try and I feel like I finished the day confident that with more opportunities to sprint I can make progress in the future. I love the heats so I was a little bummed I couldn’t advance and keep racing longer that day.

                                             Tyler and I signing posters for Rossignol

                                             Tyler and I signing posters for Rossignol

 

The distance day felt pretty good for me, but didn’t create the results I was hoping for. I placed 14th, which isn’t bad in terms of my track record for skate distance races in West, but was pretty far off from where my goals are. The season is long and I’m confidant that things will progress.

 

Racing on my new Rossignols was sweet and the wax techs did a great job so I have no complaints. Overall, I am glad that I started the season healthy and ready to move forward because last time this year I was just an observer.

                             Driving home from WestYellowstone we took the scenic route.

                             Driving home from WestYellowstone we took the scenic route.

                                         So far so good. I'm glad I made the switch.

                                         So far so good. I'm glad I made the switch.

                       Great thing about Bozeman- Granny's Donuts next to MSU campus.

                       Great thing about Bozeman- Granny's Donuts next to MSU campus.

            Great thing about teammates- Chelsea Holmes made some bomb rolls for breakfast.

            Great thing about teammates- Chelsea Holmes made some bomb rolls for breakfast.

Winter and back to fall...

The weather in Anchorage threw a bit of a twist into my training over the past two weeks- a warm front brought rain, wind, and wiped out all the snow. Since the Park City camp that ended on October 19th, I had been skiing on snow. I spent one week at home in Fairbanks followed by two weeks of awesome skiing in Anchorage and Girdwood. The skiing in Girdwood was particularly impressive; the ski club has done an incredible job building a serious 5km course. 

Moose hunt became more of a grouse hunt.

Tons of kids getting pulled behind the 4 wheeler at my nephews 4th birthday party.

Oddly, while the snow has been melting, many of the ponds around town have remained frozen. They are perfect for skating on and playing pond hockey. Lex definitely schooled Tyler and I on our last off day.


My training during the two weeks with snow included a morning workout on snow followed by a PM run. I’m glad I kept up my running because of the shift in weather that occurred. With no snow to ski on and icy roads on many of the roller skiing routes, many of my sessions have become runs.

Getting a shot with Erik's new camera for Ravn Alaska- my in-state go to airline company.

The transition in weather has been a saving grace because it has allowed my training load to decrease some. This drop in hours fell at a convenient time because I am currently finishing up a final presentation in my first Masters course at Alaska Pacific University. I’ve also been building some lockers to store gear in for the winter, as well as building a platform for my bed. Apparently my apartment has a history of mice… so I don’t want those little guys turning my sheets into a cozy home while I’m away for the winter.

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Hoping Montana has good snow next week so I can get out and test my new Rossi skis.

Extension to summer

After a productive summer of training and adventures my training season is winding down. I just finished an altitude camp in Park City, Utah with APU and USST, which was our last major training block before the season. I OD’d on some vit. D with the expectations of my return to the dark, frigid north. There was snow on the ground in town when I arrived in Anchorage Monday night. 

Jessica and I had planned to make a snow man, but the snow above town was dry powder

Jessica and I had planned to make a snow man, but the snow above town was dry powder

From here on out my training is mainly race preparation with the exception of trying to find a moose on one of my final recovery weeks before the racing season begins.

Forced double pole in Soldier Hollow

Forced double pole in Soldier Hollow


June through August I had consistent training including two great glacier camps. I was lucky to stay healthy all summer with the exception of not being able to run until September. Missing out on a summer of running OD’s and adventures was definitely disappointing considering all the ideas I had for mountains to run or terrain to scout for animals, but September through now has made up for it.

Transitioning to running- walking with my sister and niece was key

Transitioning to running- walking with my sister and niece was key

Ran to Symphony Lake with Jessica and Tyler to catch some grayling and pick blue berries

Ran to Symphony Lake with Jessica and Tyler to catch some grayling and pick blue berries

Ptarmigan Hunting outside of Anchorage with my teammates.

Ptarmigan Hunting outside of Anchorage with my teammates.

Off Day blue berry picking madness

Off Day blue berry picking madness

Later this week I am headed up to Fairbanks to see family and to hunt moose with Lex Treinen and my brother. We will be pursuing an antlerless moose in a region northwest of Fairbanks. I’m excited to get up into the interior and see what we might find. Wish us luck!

Website Up. Summer Stuff

Website is up and running. It's practically like going facebook official. This site will be used to thank my generous supporters and keep any followers up to date on what I am doing.

This summer has been great. Solid training, feeling healthy, adventuring, and visiting with family.

Training on Eagle Glacier is done for the summer, but our first two camps up there with APU were sweet. 

Camping and fishing with my sister, niece, and girl friend.

Hiking down to the beach.

Besides training I've been trying to get out fishing at least once a week. It's been so much fun this summer. I'm starting to get some places dialed.

The past two weeks I've been really into the blue berry picking. I've gathered about 6 gallons now.

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