Nordic

Kailtyn Patterson, Dan Yankus, and Alex Vanias Take 1st Women, 2nd and 3rd Overall, Respectively at White Pine Stampede

February 12th, 2015 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors

By Mike Davis, Team OAM Now Nordic Skier

Team OAM Now had a full attendance last weekend at the White Pine Stampede, with the exception of Jon Morgan, who is still out from a fall he had at the Noquemanon. The White Pine Stampede is a point-to-point race starting at the Mancelona High School and finishing at the Summit Center of Shanty Creek Resorts. Each Team OAM Now member competed in the 50k skate race this week, with two members finishing in the top three overall and Kaitlyn Patterson winning the women’s race.

img_4070The White Pine course was well groomed, although some fresh snow fall from the evening before left some powder over the trail. Many of the racers used different waxing combinations, some of which worked very well. Between the fresh snow and warmer than expected temperatures, it was a difficult race to figure out.

The White Pine was my first 50k skate race, so I took a fairly conservative approach. Skate skiing is my weaker of the two skiing disciplines as I have more opportunities to train classic. My main goal for this race was to come in to the finish with something left. I did not want to get to the 25k marker and have no legs left for the hills in the second half.

The start took off a little slower than normal, so I was farther up in the pack than I had planned to be. I got nearly to the 10k marker and felt like I was going harder than I wanted. After that, I paced the rest of the race much better and came to the finish with some energy left in the tank. I was able to finish  18th overall with a time of 2:35:01.

img_4176Dan Yankus was able to finish 2nd overall in 2:12:37. Alex Vanias finished 3rd overall just 6 seconds behind Dan. Kaitlyn Patterson was the first woman skier and 7th overall. Her time was 2:26:55. Rebecca Davis was able to finish 31st overall, which made her the 5th woman, although she broke about 10 inches of her pole with 22k left in the race. Her time was 2:45:26.

Also OAM’s own Julian Kuz finished 16th overall.


Team OAM Now’s Rebecca Davis Takes First in Women’s Race at Hanson Hills 12k Classic

February 7th, 2015 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors

By Mike Davis, Team OAM Now Nordic Skier

It was a very cold morning in Grayling for the Hanson Hills 12K classic. Waxing was easy for many, as the cold temperatures left no lack of kick. I didn’t want to lose any glide, so I chose to double pole this race on my skate skis. Team OAM Now performed well, with all the men finishing in the top ten and Rebecca Davis winning the women’s race.

The Hanson Hills 12k Classic Race is an interval start race with each racer starting in 15 second intervals. They put everyone into order by age group, then the order they signed up. The interval start makes it difficult to pace because you have no idea where you stand during the race. My strategy for races like this is  to go as hard as I can for as long as I can. Regardless of our differing strategies for this race, it seems like Team OAM Now was doing something right with another impressive showing.

16259413645_15673dfef8_zRebecca Davis must have had a good strategy, as she was able to win the women’s race by 56 seconds. Dan Yankus had a very strong race by finishing in third with a time of 44:10. Alex Vanias came in fourth just 31 seconds behind Dan while I finished eighth overall with a time of 47:40.

Each race is a great opportunity for different conditions and more experience which allows us to learn and develop new strategies. With each race, we’re hopeful that we keep growing and improving…of course, we’d also like to keep winning.


Two Podiums for Team OAM Now at the Forbush Freestyle 17K

February 6th, 2015 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors

By Rebecca Davis, Team OAM Now Nordic Skier

The Forbush Freestyle 17k is always one of the toughest races on my schedule. It isn’t the longest, or the biggest, but the course is incredibly technical- constant turning, and short, hard climbs. On top of that, the trail conditions usually seem to be a bit soft, which adds to the challenge. This year was no exception, and even though I have more training than I do most years, this race was still humbling for me.

16233685076_eb177d030e_zThe men and women started separate at this race; typically, in those situations, I take an early lead and hold on for as long as possible. This time, I decided to fall into the pack right away and take advantage of watching the better women skiers on the technical course. I realized that I can keep up fairly easily for about 4km, and then my legs started to tire from the constant climbing and turning, causing me to fall off the pack. I know where I need to focus my training for next year! After falling off of the leader, I was able to hang on to finish second place in the women’s race. It was one of my better standings for the year, but definitely not my strongest race.

Dan Yankus managed to hang on the lead pack for a 3rd place finish after realizing that his skis weren’t as fast as the first 2 finishers. Mike Davis had a tough fall on one of the hills near the end of the race putting him at the back of his pack, but still managed to finish 21st place.

Despite a tough race, and only a few team members competing, Team OAM Now certainly had a strong finish.


Introducing the Team OAM Now Nordic Ski Team 2015

January 26th, 2015 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors

By Daniel Yankus, Nordic Ski Team Captain

Ed Note: As the 2015 Nordic Ski season continues, we asked Team OAM Now’s Daniel Yankus to give us an overview of the team and its goals.

15637204644_0273b614b1_zThis year’s Team OAM Now Nordic Ski Team is:

Returning members:
Jon Morgan
Alex Vanias
Kaitlyn Patterson
Daniel Yankus

New Teammates:
Mike Davis
Rebecca Davis

Winning the overall for both women and men in the Michigan Cup series is always our goal and, last year, Alex and Kaitlyn  both delivered. As a personal goal, I accomplished a Top 100 at Birkie and that was the goal I set out for about 4 years ago. Of course we’re looking for similar results this year.

Mike and Rebbeca will certainly bring both talent and youth, however, their active lifestyle as a family is what first attracted my attention to them. We have found that our team operates better with that family spirit.

16072212610_a2d7ee060d_zFor us, there is an understanding that our results are important, but our interactions with the ski community are more important.  As we look to expand the sport and create interest, each member of the team has committed to a community event this season, clinics and races alike, for both adults and/or  kids.

As far as our races go, we are also looking to have great results at the North American Vasa, Noquemanon Classic Marathon, and the American Birkiebeiner. These races allow us to test ourselves against national caliber skiers.

Of course we’re looking forward to some more snow here in Michigan, but were hoping for a great 2015 season.


Three Team OAM Now Nordic Skiers finish in top 5, Overall, at Noquemanon

January 26th, 2015 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors

By Kaitlyn Patterson, Team OAM Now Multi-sport Athlete

IMG953168The Noquemanon Ski Marathon is one of Michigan’s premier cross country ski events and has been on my athletic bucket list for years. It is a challenging, point to point, race that begins in Ishpeming and finishes at the Superior Dome in Marquette, Michigan. Although there is a net descent over the 50k race, there is some serious climbing over the first half. The Noquemanon is unique in that the 50k Classic is the featured race and draws talent from across the Midwest.

Classic races add several elements of challenge because kick waxing is so crucial. This year’s weather was on the opposite end of the spectrum from last year’s “snowmageddon,” with temperatures hovering just above freezing. Waxing for the changing weather was a source of anxiety for most skiers in the classic race as everyone tried to decide what would be the trick for optimal kick and glide.

The entire Team OAM Now Nordic team took on the challenge of the 50k Classic race beginning in the Elite wave. I have not spent much time on classic skis since high school and was less than confident about racing a marathon. Although I seriously considered changing to the freestyle race, I decided to go for the classic race to just see what might happen.

IMG_0348The start of any ski race is tricky to navigate with many bodies, skis, and poles in a condensed area. Thankfully, we were off smoothly, the tracks were not as icy as expected and my skis were kicking and gliding well. Less than 5k in, I saw teammate Jon Morgan off to the side holding his hamstring after a bad fall. He unfortunately had to pull out with a torn muscle. I heeded his warning and was a bit more cautious on the tricky descents.

I felt great after the first 15k, but realized that my pacing was a bit ambitious and I had fallen behind on my calorie intake. I fell off the pack I was skiing with, but was able to regroup, drink, and ski more relaxed. I skied significantly more  smoothly and stronger the second half and was able to pull back several racers. By the final 10k, my upper body was toasted from the hours of double poling and I was thankful to see the Dome appear in the distance.

Overall, the race and the course lived up to expectations in both challenge and impressive scenery with the Lake Superior overlook, frozen lake crossings, and granite bluffs. The organizers do an amazing job with the logistics of putting on such a long point to point race.

I ended up finishing in 4th place overall and Rebecca Davis was just behind me in 5th. Dan Yankus had a strong race to finish 5th place in a strong field. Alex Vanias finished in 16th, and Mike Davis 33rd overall. Another great day for Team OAM! We’re hoping Jon has a speedy recovery!


Team OAM Now’s Alex Vanias Learns a Tough Waxing Lesson at Nationals

January 18th, 2015 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors

By Alex Vanias, Team OAM Now multi-sport athlete

The start of this ski season has been a difficult one. With nationals on January 4th in Houghton, everything looked promising when we got dumped on by snow around Thanksgiving. The snow didn’t last long, though, and we ended up in the difficult transition period for over a month where there wasn’t enough snow to ski, and the roads were too icy to roller ski. I mostly ran and rode my bike outside while doing some upper body strength workouts indoors during that period. This kept me in pretty good shape, but I didn’t have specific strength to maintain my form at high intensity on skis. Luckily, the week before nationals, the roads dried up enough to get in a couple solid roller ski workouts so I wouldn’t feel too awkward getting back on real skis when I made the trip up north.

I was only going up to nationals for the 15k freestyle race on Sunday, since I have a new job and don’t get much time off yet. Nationals actually lasts a whole week with a series of different distances in both classic and freestyle technique. I went up to Houghton with enough time to test skis and get some confidence on them before the race. The day before the race, I did a 15 mile ski of three laps on the race course. I got to try my brand new Freedom Gold ski poles for the United States Ski Pole Company and they felt amazing. Temperatures were in the mid-20’s with a firm course, so my Fischer Carbonlite H-Plus skis were absolutely flying down the hills. There was a one mile long descent with a hairpin corner at the bottom that I really wanted to practice taking at full speed. I ended up being able to by the third lap.

alex blog photoRace day came with a high temperature of 5 degrees and only got colder as the day went on. There was new snow, so it was going to be very abrasive on the ski bases. Unfortunately, I didn’t expect the snow to cool down as fast as it did and didn’t put the hardest wax I had on my skis. When I tested my skis, there was definitely a lot a drag as they were very squeaky on the cold snow. My skis were not the slowest on the warm-up/test course, but there were guys gliding by me without a squeak and I knew I wasn’t going to be competitive. I had no place to re-wax skis since all the wax rooms were reserved for the bigger teams that showed up. I just had to live with what I had on and try my best.

The race was individual start with skiers going off every 15 seconds. My starting position was 193 of roughly 200 starters since I had no points from other USSA races. To sum up the race, I felt great the entire way, but everybody else was out-gliding me. Other skiers could just get into an aero tuck down the hills and save energy, but I had to keep poling and skating to try and keep up as they pulled away. I would bring them back on the climbs and do it all over again down the next hill. There was 2000ft of climbing in the 15k race. That’s a lot!

I finished in 97th place. In the end I left with good experience. Ski selection and waxing is half the race. Most of the time I have really fast skis, but sometimes I get it wrong. It is time to think about marathon season now that there is a lot of snow at home!


Team OAM Now Strong Representation on the Podium at Frosty Freestyle and Krazy Klassic

January 14th, 2015 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors

By Dan Yankus, Team OAM NOW Nordic Skier,

The first weekend of nordic ski racing kicked off on January 10 & 11, and Team OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors  started off great, with 4 different teammates winning races. In both The Frosty Freestyle and the Krazy Klassic, Team OAM Now skiers took first place in both groups, with the women managing two spots on the podium for both races. Both days were raced on the Huron Meadow Metropark 2.5km man-made ski loop. It is, however, no ordinary man-made loop; it features a constructed hill and boasted some of the best grooming we may see this year.

16073283809_0a0b6fed22_zThe Frosty Freestyle 12km opened up the race season on Saturday with a 6 lap race and a cold windy morning to greet us. The men’s race started with a large group of 8 which, over the course of the first 5 laps, whittled down to 4. Alex Vanias created a gap in the head wind on the home stretch with 1 lap to go and, once he got that gap, he was able to maintain it for the win. Left behind and chasing was teammate Daniel Yankus, who finished a handful of seconds behind in 2nd, with the remains of the lead group right behind him. Mike Davis, on his first groomed trails of the season, came in 17th and Jon Morgan, who had a solid start came away in 11th. The woman’s race started with a lead group of 3 for the first half when Kaitlyn Patterson went in to full on race mode. She was rewarded with a great win to open the season. Rebecca Davis, also on groomed trails for the first time, rounded out the podium in 3rd. 16257761151_3097eb9152_zThe Krazy Klassic 10km on Sunday was a 4 loop race and we were greeted by some mid 20s temperatures and a lot less wind. The men’s race started completely different from the day before as Daniel Yankus pushed the pace from the gun. He was rewarded with a lonely ski and a 50 second win. Behind, Alex Vanias placed 6th and Mike Davis 8th, in a very competitive race. The top of the field really looked great. Jon Morgan matched the day before’s result in 11th with a solid ski. In the women’s race, Rebecca Davis not only pushed the pace, but was on a mission to show off her paddling skills with a 3 minute win. Kaitlyn Patterson, in her first classic race since high school, finished 2nd. Full Summary below!       16259577425_f6e1c67826_z Frosty Freestyle 1. Alex Vanias 2. Daniel Yankus 11. Jon Morgan 17. Mike Davis 1. Kaitlyn Patterson 3. Rebecca Davis Krazy Klassic 1. Daniel Yankus 6. Alex Vanias 8. Mike Davis 11. Jon Morgan 1. Rebecca Davis 2. Kaitlyn Patterson Congratulations to Team OAM Now for such a strong showing out of the gate!


Forbrush 17k Freestyle Race Report

March 24th, 2014 by Team AM OAM

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Kaitlyn Patterson crossing the finish line (photo courtesy of www.nordicskiracer.com)

Nordic skiers Kaitlyn Patterson and Ryan Harris represented Athletic Mentors well at the Forbrush Corner 17k Freestyle on February 15. With temperatures above zero, sunny skies and minimal wind, the participants received a great day for competition success. The Forbrush Corner track is filled with hills, creating a tough, always climbing or descending course. Kaitlyn dominated the race with a first place finish while Harris had an intense battle that landed him third place.

The men’s start was a little rough out of the gate given a few crashes before the first turn and during the wide climb. Skiers were ultra aggressive in getting to the front. Ryan Harris, alongside two other racers, broke away from the pack and had a clear lead, already minutes ahead of any other competitors. At the finish, Ryan was just barely beat by the two competitors; only two seconds separated first thru third place. He finished third with a time of 50:12.

The women’s top three was fairly tight as well, given the 40-second separation of the three places. Kaitlyn led the pack and performed at a fast pace, finishing first for the women and only ten minutes behind the men’s winner with a time of 60:10.

Kaitlyn credits part of her fast performance to the new, RCS Carbonlite hole skis she invested in during the middle of the season. Her new skis are ultra-light, responsive and overall give a faster feel.

“As much as I wanted to think that a strong engine can overcome sub-par equipment, I finally admitted that skis matter a lot in Nordic skiing,” she said. “Even with a warm base structure on cold races, they made a huge difference.”

Kaitlyn felt that she finally put everything together — the powerhouse she’s been creating in training felt good and coupled with her new skis, she raced very well.

Although 5 degree weather doesn’t seem warm, competitors were relieved that the conditions were far less brutal than the VASA race the previous weekend, where the temperatures reached several degrees below zero. It was enjoyed enough that according to Kaitlyn, the sun gave ample warmth for post-race food and drinks on the patio.

“Overall, another great day of racing in Northern Michigan,” Kaitlyn said.


VASA Race Report

March 23rd, 2014 by Team AM OAM
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Dan Yankus competing in a cross-country ski event.

On February 8, Team Athletic Mentors Nordic Ski racers Alex Vanias, Daniel Yankus, Ryan Halstead and Kaitlyn Patterson competed in the VASA 50k freestyle race. The race start temperature was in the negatives, far undercutting the forecasted temperature of 10 degrees and provided cold, bitter conditions.

There were 69 racers, and as usual, Athletic Mentors racers finished on top. Alex finished second in a time of 2:29:12, Dan took fourth in 2:37:50, Ryan came in 10th in 2:46:23, and Kaitlyn finished third in the women’s field (24th overall) with a time of 3:06:30. The main heat of the race was between winner Eli Brown and Alex.

Complications began the night before when Kaitlyn and Alex stayed up until midnight waxing their skis, only to realize it had been the wrong wax. After testing their skis, however, they didn’t feel too sticky on the abrasive snow. The warmer wax they had used could have been completely removed during the race, which leads to a significant speed decline.

As the race approached, the crew did a few warm-up laps and found the start line. The race began fast, as usual, and Alex stayed in a content position in the back of the lead group strategizing a time to attack and go to the front. Daniel, Ryan and Kaitlyn settled in comfortable positions among their competitors. Eli, the race favorite, kept the race aggressive; he attacked at the 5k and created a large gap between the rest of the racers, making it difficult for anyone to close in and chase him. Alex was determined, however, and did his best to catch up and challenge him for the rest of the race.

The pain set in and the mind games began. Between Eli and Alex up front, the two skiers were pretending to not be tired, keeping things dynamic and competitive. Alex said that from prior experience, he knew Eli was a strong finisher and that he must take the lead and wear him down in order to prevent him from getting any rest.

“We would event come to nearly complete stops trying to get each other to take the lead,” Alex said.

The rest of the crew was not far behind but experienced some difficulty. Dan mentioned that his skis were not gliding well, which set him in a less competitive position.

Up front, a third racer named Milan Biac joined Alex and Eli, and closed in gaps with his fast skis. After executing a planned attack on “the wall” with roughly half a lap left, Alex dropped Milan but couldn’t rid Eli. Alex kept pushing the pace in hope of cracking his competitor’s exhaustion. Unfortunately, Alex hit an obstacle that slowed him down, widening the gap between him and Eli.

“My plan backfired when I bonked on the Jack Pine section up a giant hill,” Alex said. “I just kept pushing. All I could do now was pretend to still have strength, but I knew it was over.”

With 1/2k to go, Eli muscled up a sprint far beyond Alex’s pace and earned his first place position. Alex glided in easy for second place, followed by his teammates not far behind. The whole team had solid individual performances and is already looking forward to next year’s race.


Nordic Ski Team Starts Strong Season at Cote Dame Marie

March 22nd, 2014 by Team AM OAM

Team Athletic Mentors has assembled a great roster of past, present and future skiers. With the excellent snow season this year allowing for highly competitive and sometimes brutal conditions, the 2014 Nordic Ski Team has been pushing limits, reaching season goals and topping the podium.

Five athletes represent Athletic Mentors this year and each of them took top placements in pre-season events. Alex Vanias, Kaitlyn Patterson and Ryan Harris represent the future of the sport, having combined for five individual wins and one relay win so far this year. Daniel Yankus and Jon Morgan round out the team providing leadership and experience, both finishing with great results, adding a win and multiple podium places to the team’s high success. Combined, the group has reached the podium 12 times in just five races.

The official season began Jan. 18 with the prestigious Cote Dame Marie. The men competed in the 24.5 km freestyle race and the women in the 13.3 km freestyle.

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As seen in the picture to the left, the start for the men was quick, fast and crowded, yielding 100 total competitors. Alex Vanias led the race and kept the pace up to eventually win in roughly 1 hour and 16 minutes. Behind him, teammate Daniel Yankus finished 2nd in a close sprint, marking a time just a minute and a half behind Vanias. Ryan Harris finished 6th, and Jon Morgan finished 14th. In the women’s freestyle, Kaitlyn Patterson kept the success theme of the day by winning a four-way battle to the line, making her the victor. Only four seconds separated places one through four. Who says slow twitch athletes can’t win a sprint?

For complete results from the Cote Dame Marie, click here.

Follow the “read more” link to see the summary results from the Cote Dame Marie and the other pre-season events. Stay tuned for more big results from Athletic Mentors’ Nordic ski team! Read the rest of this entry »



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