How does your BMT story begin? It may end in a sore, tired, and (hopefully) sunburned heap on the snow, swearing off XC ski racing forever. Not to worry, this affliction will heal rapidly once you start trash talking to your friends how you will beat them in the BMT 2020…But what started your BMT career? Are you a glutton for punishment? Did you lose a bet? Maybe you are here to show everyone that an old dog can learn new tricks? I’m sure some of you got suckered in with the, “it’s all downhill” line. If so, I encourage you to strap on your 140 flex boots, lock your heels down, and head to the start line…
For those brave enough to tackle this 1,000 foot descent (lol, it’s all downhill, I promise) on XC gear, here’s six phases of the race to consider. DISCLAIMER: I was a “professional athlete” (making an NFL salary) for 15 years so spend the next three minutes of your life reading this at your own risk. I will not be held responsible for wasting your time nor giving bad advice…
1) Elbows and Ski Poles: The Start
A great marathon race starts as fast and hard as you can to build an early lead. As you’ve seen in the Tour De France, that usually works SUPER well. The start is important, but you’ve got 34 km to ‘race’; spend the start defending your poles and enjoying the gorgeous views – there’s plenty of time to make yourself tired later. At the starting line, mind the short bald man with the bullhorn, he is amusing (especially to himself) and will warn the stragglers of the men’s elite field to allow the elite women who catch them to pass with ease…These ladies have already beaten you by two minutes, let it go!
2) Do Not Color Outside The Lines: The Road Crossing
A kilometer or so into the race is a beautiful strip of pearly white to carry you across Highway 75. I will spare you the “stone grinding” jokes about what happens if you miss this white ribbon (you can’t). Note, this is a great place to knockout your competition, as a small nudge can send your competitor back to ‘go’ without collecting $200 dollars (actually, spending a lot more than $200 on a new pair of skis). In all seriousness, be light on your feet and head up and you will blast through this into Phase 3.
3) You’ll Ski At My Pace and Like It: The Infamous Hawk Hill
One could call this a big climb, but they would also call the Midwest ground zero for big mountain alpine skiing. The challenge here lies in the trail width – it doesn’t afford a three-person wide “I’m more fit than you” contest. This will help those who believe that this is their spot to make a move – trust me, it’s not. Let the trail width save you from yourself. Relax and flow up the hill, look forward to the great view from the top and the fun descent to follow.
4) Enjoy Your Next 20km: The Blowup
This overlooked bump will inform you immediately as to what kind of day you are having. A SNEAKY uphill that takes 30 seconds to ski but can put you one minute or more ahead (or behind) someone who started it with you. I have watched President Truman drop Fat Man AND Little Boy on legit racers here…However, if you are feeling good, this can be a great place to strut your stuff.
5) Fruit Of The Loom Is Not Going To Cut It: The (Sometimes) Cold Part
If you begin your clothing layers like with the same piece as Walter White in the first episode of Breaking Bad, you may regret it. “Frostbite Flats” translates directly in skier to “wear your wind briefs.” Even if it is warm on the day of the race, wind block material can’t hurt. This section of the course (from Baker Creek to the finish) contains great open skiing, where you can ski big and let your skis glide out. Don’t forget to enjoy the amazing views of the Boulders and the Big Wood River!
6) Move It Or Lose It: The Finish
I’ve been the one moving it – and also the one losing it. The end of the race is narrow, twisty, and FLAT. Think tactically, save energy, and do NOT start sprinting too early! The final drag is long, so be patient and time your ‘move’ such that you die (metaphorically only please) at the finish line, not 10 feet before it.
Remember these six phases and you might have a good race, or not, it’s really up to you. Write your own BMT phases; hopefully they involve fun racing, good weather, great snow, and amazing people. Enjoy your time on the Harriman Trail, it’s a beautiful place and you only get to race on it once a year (if you’re lucky)!
Matt Gelso is a retired professional ski racer, formerly with the SVSEF Gold Team. As a member of the University of Colorado NCAA Ski Team and the U.S. Ski Team, he raced throughout the U.S. and Europe in World Cup and World Championship competitions. He now deals commercial and residential real estate in the Wood River Valley with Paul Kenny & Matt Bogue Real Estate. He is the 2018 Boulder Mountain Tour champion.
Every year, on the first weekend in February, hundreds of enthusiastic skiers line up at Galena Lodge to race the 34 kilometers to the finish line of the Boulder Mountain Tour. For the racers, their journey is just beginning. But for the race organizers and volunteers the sound of the starting gun represents the conclusion of months of careful preparation, and sets in motion the final, masterfully planned, process of executing a world-class race.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Boulder Mountain Tour. From coordinating bib bags to managing aid stations to timing, our tight-knit community makes this race happen again and again. Most have been involved with the BMT for more than two decades and remain dedicated supporters of this iconic event.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and we thank everyone for their unflagging enthusiasm and expertise!
Head of Volunteers Ted Angle Years volunteering: 34 Hometown: Seattle, Washington Skiing start: I started skiing on the West Seattle golf course in grade school. Skiing in one form or another and playing in the snow has always been a part of my life. History with the BMT: I like to support and get involved in the things I have a strong interest in and passion for. I started out as a racer in the Tour, and evolved into a volunteer. I have held many volunteer positions over the years: aid station set-up, trail maintenance, timer, communications relay, parking assistance, and now the head of volunteers. I enjoy working with like-minded folks who want to help. What keeps you involved with the BMT? I get the satisfaction that I’m helping to support and perpetuate a sport and lifestyle that has so many benefits: camaraderie, healthy workout, a beautiful setting. This is a great XC skiing community; easy to work with and a joy to recreate with.
Bib Bags Gay Riley Years volunteering: 22 Hometown: Nevada. Wood River Valley resident for 45 years Skiing start: I cross-country ski and snowshoe in the winter – anything to play outside. History with the BMT: In 1998 the Ketchum Chamber of Commerce, under whose umbrella the BMT had previously been managed, hired Roberta Heinrich and myself to move the race forward as its own entity. We oversaw the race with the BMT board of directors from 1999 through 2002. We have stayed on the committee since then organizing our beloved bib bag volunteers! Favorite part about the BMT? The people we work with. Those devoted, tireless members of the BMT committee as well as the ever-changing roster of engaged volunteers.
Bib Bags Roberta Heinrich Years volunteering: 22 Hometown: Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota Skiing start: I began cross-country skiing in 1971 and have been an on-again, off-again skier ever since. I appreciate the physical benefits of the sport and the incredible system of trails that are available here in one of the most beautiful areas in the country History with the BMT: I began racing in the BMT in the mid 1980s. Since that time, I have been aware of the importance and potential of the race on a community level as well as its national significance in the Nordic world. From 1999 to 2002, my business partner and I were co-directors of the BMT. We grew the race to 1,000 racers, 350 volunteers and 33 committee members. What keeps you involved with the BMT? There is a true sense of community, purpose and pride in putting together a world-class race. I continue to participate because I believe it is truly a great event for our community and because of the people I have come to know and work with over the last 20 years.
Registration Jenny Busdon Years volunteering: 20-plus Hometown: Staffordshire, England Skiing start: Nordic skiing has always been my passion for many years. My husband, Nello, and I graduated from the Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors and developed a successful after-school ski program for kids in Whistler. My family competed in European Loppet races and many local races. When we moved from Canada to the USA in 1984, it was the dry snow of Sun Valley that was the big draw. To use blue wax instead of klister was a delight! History with the BMT: I have volunteered to head the BMT registration room for the past 20-plus years. I love the energy that this race brings to the community; being in the registration room you witness this first hand. It is great to see the familiar faces that come from all over the USA and Canada each year to enjoy what this race offers. What keeps you involved with the BMT? I love to give back to this community I adore and to the sport of Nordic skiing that brings me so much joy. I entered the Boulder Mountain Tour for the first time in 1985 and continued to do it until four years ago. Having participated in so many races (I won a gold medal in the Masters Worlds, racing for the USA in Canmore, Canada in 1995) the BMT is very special. I was inducted into the Sun Valley Ski Hall of Fame in 2012.
Race Secretary Mike Wolter Years volunteering: 15-plus Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota Skiing start: I was born into a family who loved skiing, and began skiing at the age of two. I ended up competing at the collegiate level and beyond, traveling and racing in many national and international events. I moved to Ketchum after a conversation with Rick Kapala convinced me to continue ski racing. Today, my two amazing kids are both continuing their ski racing in college as SVSEF alumni, and enjoying the life of skiing like I did…How lucky am I to be part of a multi-generational family of skiers? History with the BMT: I attended and raced for the Montana State University Ski Team in the mid-80s where I became good friends with Jon Engen. We decided to race the Boulder Mountain Tour together in 1989. Unfortunately, the weather turned just before the race and the roads were closed. We had to cancel our trip, but race organizers were so kind and still sent us our gift bags! What keeps you involved with the BMT? I competed most of my life and am so happy I can now return the favor! I have many great relationships from a lifetime of skiing, now I get to reconnect with many old friends who come to participate in the BMT every year. The BMT stands out from other marathon ski races thanks to the views down the course, the participants, and the people who put the event together (now and in the past!). The best thing I’ve learned about volunteering for the BMT are all the people involved…who they are, what they do, and why they appreciate this sport as much as I do.
Buses and Biffies Andy Munter Years volunteering: 40-plus Hometown: Duluth, Minnesota Skiing start: I did some cross-country skiing in college while working part time at a local ski shop, but it wasn’t until I got to Ketchum that it became much more of a lifestyle. I skied the Boulder most years and lots of other fun races around town. And then, lots of days with now 38-year-old baby Henry on my back, young Henry in a sled, and little kid Henry skiing on his own. History with the BMT: My first experience volunteering for the BMT was in the late 70s when there was a call for help building a temporary bridge across the Big Wood where the Murphy Bridge now stands for race day. I showed up and was totally entertained watching three icons in early Nordic skiing; Bob Rosso, Joe Czismazia, and Phil Puchner use ropes, winches and an old Jeep to put a bunch of logs in place for the race the following week. I was amazed at their dedication to making the race work. What keeps you involved with the BMT? The BMT’s history sets it apart from other races. It is called the Boulder Mountain Tour for a reason. Although the majority of skiers have always been skiing as fast as possible, many locals would enter the “tour” with lunch and maybe a bottle of wine in their backpack, especially for all those years that the trail was groomed only for the race. Some of that energy still exists with people that ski it every year as a community event, with less importance placed on their finish time. Working on the BMT is not just about the race, I also see the passion of the lifestyle and connection to snow and winter that the skiers embody. When I’m shuttling out-of-town skiers, I consistently hear them comment on how beautiful the Boulder Mountains are, how great the tracks are, and how friendly the community is. All reminders of the gratitude I feel for what an incredible community we live in, including our generous race sponsors and agency partners who make the BMT possible every year.
Chief of Start Rick Kapala Years volunteering: 30 Hometown: Detroit Michigan. Has lived in Wood River Valley since 1987 Skiing start: 1974 History with the BMT: I have skied a few BMT’s but mostly have helped with the start crew. I learned the “start trade” from Bill and Annie Vanderbilt way back when. In my role and that of the Sun Valley Ski Foundation Nordic Team is that the SVSEF Nordic staff and parents as well as other supportive volunteers have committed to owning the organization of the BMT start. That is where all the fun begins! What keeps you involved with the BMT? A couple things. The enthusiasm of the skiers is really amazing. Folks just love being a part of the event. And, the fellow volunteers are really motivated to deliver a great experience to all the participants and that powers all of us to stay involved and give back to the community.
Food + Start Erin Zell and Don Shepler Years volunteering: 14 Hometown: All over the place, mostly Virginia Skiing start: We started skiing by breaking trails up and down the mountains in Oregon on winter routes, we never spent much time on groomed trails until we moved to the Wood River Valley. Our first groomed experience was in the free learn-to-ski clinics at Galena during Demo Days with Bob Rosso. We immediately got skate and classic skis and never looked back! History with the BMT: We inherited our role with the BMT when we started operating Galena Lodge. Galena plays a few roles in the BMT. First off, we are the start location, everyone is dropped off at the Lodge to await the start of the race. We also provide the soup and cookies at the end of the race. Though this is not strictly a volunteer role, we provide some staff volunteers to help us with this role. We serve close to 60 gallons of soup and about 1,500 cookies and brownies that day. It takes the better part of an entire workday for one person to bake and package all the cookies and brownies (even after they are mixed). We trade off racing the event or managing the food tent at the finish line each year and they’re down at the finish setting up and heating soup before the racers even start! What have you learned volunteering at the BMT? We pretty much just love being involved with the BMT. From the racers that come up to check out the course early to the volunteers that show up at 6 a.m. the day of the race to the support staff that helps us set up and take down the food tent, it is all an incredible community day! Volunteering allows you to be involved in an event in a different way. It is rewarding, engaging and fun without the pressure of having to race. It is so important to support community events, they are the backbone of our community.
Bag Transfer Coordinator Pete Stephenson Years volunteering: 30+ Hometown: Newport Beach, California Skiing start: I was invited to join a group of skiers from the Elephant’s Perch on a tour out to Boulder City in 1974. It was my first time on skis. We were on wooden skis and klister for the 14-mile round-trip journey. Looking back, it was incredible spring corn skiing. I kept trying to telemark and would just crash and burn. A friend skied up after one of my crashes and asked, “You wonder why we do this? That’s why! You crash and burn, and get back up!” That’s all I’ve done here since. History with the BMT: In the early days of the BMT, everyone who raced helped put the race on. Many hands make light work. In the 1980s, I became a paid fireman and stopped racing, but stayed on with the race committee as bag transfer coordinator. What keeps you involved with the BMT? For me, volunteering is what you do for your community. It has always been an important part of my life. I love running into people in the grocery store who say, “See you at the BMT” and I get to wave and yell back, “Yep, you will!” My favorite part of race day is working with volunteers to meet racers just after the finish line with their bag of dry clothes. The look on those skiers’ faces and their appreciation is the most incredible moment. I’ve stayed involved with the race for moments like those and because of the other passionate, dedicated people I get to work with. It is just a whole lot of fun, and the only way to spend the first weekend in February!
First Aid Stations Tom Bowman Years volunteering: 25-plus Hometown: Salinas, California Skiing start: When I was in college, I rowed for San Diego State University and eventually made the U.S. National lightweight rowing team, so I had a solid aerobic background when we moved here. Cross-country skiing shares many of the same traits as rowing; your fitness and technique are equally important. History with the BMT: I volunteered for many years on the start set up crew and finish line. Last year, I learned the complexities of setting up the four aid stations along the course. I was recruited to the Board of Directors a few years ago when the BMT was transitioning from being run for many years by Kevin Swigert. What keeps you involved with the BMT? I continue volunteering to be able to feel that in whatever small way, I am contributing and making a difference to one of the very important pieces of our community. One of the things that makes our community so strong is the individual commitment to volunteer and non-profit organizations. The most rewarding part of volunteering is being a part of the community institution, which is the BMT.
Back Up Timing Bobby Noyes Years volunteering: 18 Hometown: Long Island, New York Skiing start: I started skiing as a way to enjoy the snow in New York. It would snow for a few hours, and I would bust out my first pair of wooden skis with three-pin bindings as a teenager and get out in my backyard. History with the BMT: I used to compete in the 1980s. The trail was only groomed a few weeks before the race happened, so it was your only chance to get out and ski the course. Eventually, the BCRD started grooming all the time and you didn’t have to race to ski the trail. I decided that if I wasn’t going to race anymore I might as well help out, and started helping with back up timing. What keeps you involved with the BMT? It isn’t about what you’re doing but the people you’re doing it with. My daughter was a competitive XC racer with the SVSEF team, and I started volunteering to help with timing at her races. I ended up timing for the BMT because of my experience helping at those races. I’ve competed in other long-distance ski races and the BMT truly stands apart. It is a really great event and its fun working with other people who are supporting it.
Photographer Nils Ribi Years volunteering: 20-plus Hometown: Bitterroot Valley, Montana Skiing start: My father was a member of the Swiss national biathlon team, each winter he brought me and my brother to Sun Valley to ski when we were young. While we skied on Baldy, he would go off and cross-country ski with Leif Odmark. There is nothing more calming for the soul than enjoying the beauty of nature while exercising on snow. History with the BMT: I began working at the BMT start area, after a few years, we created a crew to focus on setting up all the start area sponsor banners to make sure they looked excellent for the sponsors and participants. For the past thirteen years I’ve also volunteered my photography for BMT publicity. What keeps you involved with the BMT? The most rewarding part of volunteering at the BMT for me is seeing so many happy faces of friends and people you don’t know having a great time all on one day. We live in a great community filled with wonderful, giving volunteers and it is special to work with and be around them.
Finish Area Construction John Reuter Years volunteering: 8-plus Hometown: Bethel, Maine Skiing start: I began racing in the Bill Koch Youth Ski League as soon as I could shuffle on snow and be incentivized by a lollipop at the finish. I skied through middle school, high school, and most of my time at Bates College. History with the BMT: I had skied the BMT a few times and Bob Rosso approached me about serving on the board. Aside from my roles on the board (they made me Board President when I didn’t show up for a meeting one day) I’ve worked at the start line several times. The last two years I organized the race finish. It takes several days, and I’ve been blessed to have a crew of wonderful volunteers to set up and take-down everything you see at the SNRA finish. I’m grateful to Nappy and his crew for having done this work for the last century, it’s no small task! What keeps you involved with the BMT? Despite having been involved in this race for about 10 years – as a skier, volunteer, board member – it took me until 2018 to fully get it. Specifically, I remember two moments. The first, I was in Atkinsons’ Market a day or two before the race, and everywhere you looked, people were obviously here to race. You know the look – they’re fit, wearing Nordic clothes, and look confused in the aisles of an unfamiliar grocery store. The impact was obvious, our little town was filling up during an off-peak week in February! The second moment was watching local David Lloyd trying to keep up with his smiling 5-or-6 year-old son as he crossed the finish line. The impact of a local event like this is captured in moments, and it’s moments like these that make the Wood River Valley a great place to live. Volunteers make the community go round. Period.
Chief of Course Bob Rosso Years volunteering: 47 Hometown: Newport Beach, California Skiing start: We used to roll up to these old ski areas in the mountains of California and then we would make the run up to Mammoth. One year I wanted to get away from the scene, I heard about Sun Valley from some friends, packed all my belongings and the rest is history. In the 70s, the cross-country skiing was out on the golf course. It was a great crew of people. What keeps you involved with the BMT: It’s the basic stuff. All my life I have been active in sports; surfing, biking, running, skiing, swimming…The people I have met through these sports are really important to me, and the people that help are the lifeblood of our community. It really makes a difference when you step in to help, and someone steps up with you. When that happens, nothing can stop you and the energy it takes to make these events go year after year.
Writer Emily Williams grew up chasing her family as they were kayaking rivers, climbing peaks, and skiing the powder of the Wood River Valley. Her passion for the outdoors grew as she did, deepening with every new adventure. She started cross-country skiing on the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s Devo Team in third grade and never looked back. She is now the Head Coach of South Devo and Striders cross-country ski programs with SVSEF.
Fall months for cross-country skiers can be rather challenging. Weather is a major variable and sometimes motivation can be lacking with cold weather, rain/snow, and a lack of daylight making it difficult to get out the door. As challenging as it may be, it is important to stay consistent in your routine during the transition periods while also being flexible with the ever-changing weather. Even though the snow is starting to fly, we still have some time to get into ski specific shape.
First, I suggest looking at the weather for the coming week and building your training schedule around that. Plan the indoor workouts for the poor weather days and your outdoor sessions for the clear fall days. Always have your running shoes with you in the fall in case it randomly starts snowing and rollerskiing becomes too dangerous or the trails are too wet for mountain biking.
We spend all summer building lower body strength and endurance by running, hiking and biking; Fall is the time to start incorporating upper body exercise and speed into your routine. Getting into the gym for basic strength (pull-ups, push-ups, dips) will pay off once you hit the trails. If your gym has a ski erg, utilize that for your warm-up or build a session around ski erg intervals. Getting on the ski erg 1-2 times a week will quickly build strength and set you up for a great winter season!
Start regaining foot speed and explosiveness during the fall months by incorporating ski walking or bounding into your routine. Build training plans with 1-3 intensity sessions per week. One to two of the sessions should be threshold and the other session should be speed focused. If you are on a distance run, do speed bursts of 10-15 seconds every 5 minutes. Pick varying terrain to teach your body how to move fast in different types of terrain. A few of my favorite threshold interval sets are 4 x4 minutes, 4×8 minutes, and 4×12 minutes. I like to switch up how I construct the workout. Sometimes I pick a set loop for each interval. Other times I do intervals on a bigger loop and each interval is done in a different section with different terrain.
Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation is very fortunate to have a rollerski treadmill- this becomes a key training tool especially in the fall with poor weather*. We use the treadmill 12 months a year for technique work, accommodating injuries, and lactate testing. This has become a great resource because of the quality workouts that can be accomplished, regardless of weather and daylight.
There are many ways to get into ski shape in the fall, you just have to find what works best for you. The key to success in the winter is to stay consistent with exercise, in the summer and fall. Stay motivated by mixing up the workouts and being flexible with the weather conditions for that day. Call a buddy and get out there!
See you on the trails!
*The treadmill has recently been opened to the public for private rollerski, bounding, or ski walking coaching sessions. It is a great tool for cross-country skiers of all abilities to work on technique, test lactate levels, and do intervals in a safe and controlled environment. If you are interested in the treadmill contact Mary Rose at email@example.com to schedule a session!
After I retired from the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Gold Team, I went straight into coaching for Sun Valley SEF. It was time for me to move on from competitive skiing, but that doesn’t mean that I will ever move on from the sport. The transition away from being a full-time athlete was pretty smooth because I still love being active, and I always loved training, so my life didn’t really change.
Being a Nordic skier, we are privileged with how we train for skiing. It is essential that we mix up our workouts between running, biking, rollerskiing, and strength. When I was skiing competitively a lot of my training included exploring the wilderness around Sun Valley by running, biking, or skiing.
I have instilled a lifestyle that allows me to stay fit year-round. In the springtime, you will find me backcountry skiing in all the different mountain ranges surrounding Sun Valley. You will also find me squeezing in the perfect spring skiing conditions at Galena and on the Harriman Trail. I spend most of my days outside doing what I love, skiing! Backcountry skiing and cross-country skiing in the spring help me build up my endurance base. Without even considering this training, I am putting in big training hours, simply by exploring.
Once the snow is gone, I rely on my running shoes and bike to explore. There are so many places I have yet to experience around Sun Valley and that is my biggest motivator when it comes to exercise. During the weekdays, I try to get outside once a day for either a bike or run and on the weekends I try to climb one or two peaks. I no longer focus on intervals sessions or how many hours my training plan says. Instead, I focus on what will bring me the most joy. I love getting outside with good friends who share the same passion.
On rare occasions, I will jump into a running interval or two with my athletes to help them with their technique or to keep them motivated to dig deeper. Intervals are not a top priority for me. However, it is good to squeeze in a couple here and there.
While I am far from the perfect training plan for cross-country racing, I stay fit by doing what I love! The most important thing to do for Boulder Mountain Tour prep is to get outside and enjoy your time, especially in the spring and summer. Training hours will build up, and you will get fit in no time.
Born and raised in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Mary Rose is a former SVSEF Gold Team athlete. Mary represented the United States at the Under 23 World Championships as well as the Colorado Buffaloes at the NCAA Championships where she earned two team National Championships. Now that her professional racing days have come to an end, Mary has decided to call the Wood River Valley home and pass on her sport knowledge as a ski coach for the SVSEF.
The Boulder Mountain Tour is delighted to announce Zions Bank remains the event’s title sponsor for the fifth consecutive year.
Tracy Groll, Regional President of Idaho Resort Banking, remarked, “We enjoy partnering with the BMT because it supports the local community and we believe it’s extremely important to invest and participate in the communities where we have a presence.”
Bob Rosso, a longtime board member and local business owner, concurred, “We are really thrilled to have Zions back as our title sponsor. Zions has really terrific people who back us up, give us support, and share really creative ideas. It is an excellent relationship and one we are very appreciative of.”
Boulder Board President John Reuter added, “Long-term sponsorship is incredibly important for the BMT because it allows us to make educated planning decisions toward growing the event and maximizing the positive impact of the BMT on the community as a whole. Specifically, Zions’ five-year sponsorship has allowed us to increase our marketing and outreach, improve our timing and results, modernize our website, and deliver a “presentation” to visitors that highlights this amazing valley in which we live.”
Salt Lake City is the corporate headquarters for Zions Bank, which does business in 10 different western states in the U.S. In addition to Idaho and Utah, Zions and its subsidiaries have locations in Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas. There are two branches in the Wood River Valley in Ketchum and Hailey. (Tip: Check out the freshly-baked cookies offered every Friday).
Notable among Zions Bank’s BMT enthusiasts are Mark Garfield, Senior Vice President of International Banking, who participates with his whole family. This year, seven skiers related to the family were in the field, and Garfield semi-jokingly says that one of the criteria to marry into the family is being able to ski the Full Boulder.
“That is exactly the case!” Garfield exclaimed.
Of course, being a zealous cross country skier helps, and Garfield is a prime example of how Zions encourages its employees to exercise and take care of themselves and how that philosophy spreads to the greater community as well.
“As a bank organization, we are encouraged to stay active and healthy and have incentives to do so. I believe the handful who do participate (in the Boulder) recognize the superb course conditions and beautiful landscape Sun Valley has to offer,” Groll said.
Community is at the heart of the Boulder Mountain Tour, and that is readily apparent in the remarks offered by both Groll and Reuter.
“Having Zions Bank remain as our title sponsor demonstrates Zions’ long-term commitment to supporting our local community. The BMT is technically just a ski race, but it’s actually a celebration of Wood River Valley – its natural beauty, its welcoming people, its local businesses. Zions Bank understands that supporting the BMT is really supporting the place we call home,” Reuter remarked.
“I think the biggest thing I would like people to know is that we really do support our community – whether it’s a sporting event, the arts, nonprofits, or cultural – it’s important to us. We are invested,” Groll said.
The Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour is the premier cross country ski marathon in the western United States. Held annually on the first Saturday of February, the Tour’s 34k route travels from Galena Lodge on the historic Harriman Trail in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area to the finish line across from SNRA Headquarters. There is also a 15k Half Boulder that begins at Baker Creek. The event attracts upwards of 1,000 people with more than 50 percent of participants from out of town, representing 23 states and three countries. This year’s race is on Saturday, February 1, 2020. Registration opens on July 1 at www.skireg.com.
2019 Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour champs Erika Flowers and Peter Holmes know what it takes to train hard, build fitness and stay engaged over the long haul. They recently shared their training tips and methods with us and we are sure you will be as inspired (or tired!) as we were. Thank you, Erika and Peter!
Over the past 12 months, I’ve traded spandex for pointy shoes and boot bags for a black purse while making the transition from full-time athlete and racer to a more traditional work gig. Although ski training no longer dictates my day-to-day schedule, I continue to set goals and races for the summer and winter that guide my adventures outside the office. I loved ski racing professionally and even though it’s no longer my “job,” I’ve found I appreciate even more. Anytime I get out for a workout or race its 100 percent my choice and like peanut butter and granola, I’m completely addicted.
Balancing work alongside ambitious performance goals depends on consistency, quality and flexibility. They say “skiers are built in the summer” and putting in the work during the next 3-4 months sets the foundation for successful racing in the winter. My ski training today is less structured than when competing as a professional athlete but I tend to follow the same general training trends: volume and threshold in the summer, shifting to more L4 intensity and time-trials in the fall, all underlined by consistent and intentional strength training, mobility, and speedwork. I also refer to my husband and long-time ski racer Andy Newell and the Nordic Team Solutions website for workout and strength ideas specific to different times of the year.
Building a strong base for winter racing depends on getting out the door on a consistent basis. This summer I’ve mapped most of my training around The Rut, a 50km trail race in Big Sky on September 1. During the fall, that focus will shift towards more ski-specific training to prepare for SuperTour racing, the Boulder Mountain Tour and the Birkie. Regardless of focus, I like to prioritize three “key” workouts each week – typically an interval workout, a speed workout and a distance or technique session. Working full-time isn’t always conducive to a ton of training time, so if I do nothing else during the week, I try to at least complete those three “key” workouts. Tackling three quality workouts each week ensures consistent training throughout the summer and fall and is much more doable than trying to fit in the 6-10 different workouts I often completed each week while racing professionally. I also aim to get into the gym twice each week and take one day completely off, perhaps adding in a yoga session to prevent injury and work on mobility. While training for The Rut, most of those “key” sessions will be on foot, either running or hiking, however, in the fall that will shift to more roller-skiing and ski-specific intensity. In general, I start with relatively moderate volume and will build hours throughout the summer with my biggest month of training taking place in August.
Allowing some flexibility and grace has also helped me keep the fun factor alive when it comes to skiing and racing. I’ve always raced my best when I’m happy, so I make time for adventures with friends that fill up my happiness bucket – even if it means shifting some of those type-2-fun workouts around. I’ve added a few different running races to the schedule including the Jim Bridger Run and Bangtail 38km along with a number of weekend backpacks and trail adventures to explore some new routes and terrain. Mixing up training modes also keeps me injury free and excited to get out the door. Although a mediocre mountain biker at best, I aim to get out on the bike at least once a week. I also roller-ski a few times a week and will continue to add in more roller-skiing intensity and speed work as we get closer to the fall and more ski-specific training. In mapping out workouts and goals, I also like prioritize opportunities to train with others. I’ve found that the quality of a workout and the happiness it generates both seem to go increase with the addition friends and training partners!
As a full-time racer, I always pushed the limits, testing the number of hours or intensity my body could handle. Even as a junior, I was the kid who did the extra interval and wouldn’t stop moving until my watch hit the exact workout time or went a bit over. If I’ve learned anything from taking a step back from professional racing, it is that rest, recovery and adventures with friends can be just as powerful as that extra interval session when paired with a consistent, quality workouts. Looking forward to a summer of exploring new terrain and new possibilities!
Erika Flowers is a Montana native, cross-country ski racer and mountain athlete learning to mix the worlds of work, competition and play. She works for Profitable Ideas Exchange in Bozeman, Montana, and is an Editor-at-Large for Cross-Country Skier Magazine. She also writes for social impact consultancy Carol Cone ON PURPOSE. Previously, Erika raced professionally for the SMS T2 Elite team in Stratton, Vermont. Erika represented the U.S. at World Cup Finals in 2017, finished third at U.S. Nationals that same year and third in her American Birkebeiner debut in 2016. She has earned multiple U.S. SuperTour podiums over the course of her career and continues to race and compete. Erika also won the Boulder Mountain Tour in 2019 after finishing second in 2018. Erika graduated from Dartmouth College in 2012, earning three-time All-American Honors and got her skiing start with the Bridger Ski Foundation in Bozeman. When not skiing or working, Erika can be found at Wild Crumb in Bozeman downing a caramel roll or breakfast sandwich or attempting to catch fish with a fly line or waves with a surfboard.
Summer training for a professional cross-country skier is very demanding, well thought out, and can be a lot of fun. I am excited to be spending another year with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Gold Team. We have a lot of good resources and a number of great coaches who have helped me improve immensely thus far and will continue to help me get faster. It should be a summer full of good training. Let’s break it down a little.
To get into the technical details of the training plan, it is very simple to first look at it as a whole and then break it down into individual parts. First off, cross-country skiers train everything in hours. We do this because our training activities vary immensely. Unlike runners, whose primary training method is running and measurement is miles, we ski on snow, but also run, rollerski, bike, bound, hike, and use the gym. All of these modes only really have one constant measurement in common: time. The training year generally starts on the first of May. Rather than splitting the year into months, we break down the training and racing cycles into thirteen four-week periods. This way each period is the same length, and it is easy to compare month to month and year to year.
Generally, each period consists of four different types of weeks. We mostly train a medium week followed by two hard weeks and then a recovery week. The medium week includes about 16-20 hours with two to three intensity sessions. One of the hard weeks focuses more on volume, around 20-25 hours, and has only one or two intensity sessions. The other hard week shifts the focus more towards intensity. During the intensity hard week, we will train a couple hours less than volume week, but we will include three or more higher intensity sessions. After the three weeks of varying difficulty, a recovery week is used to absorb the training and bounce back stronger. Recovery weeks usually end up around 12-15 total hours and have only one or two intensity sessions. Building and tapering within each period throughout the year allows us to load the body with training and then absorb the training to become stronger and more fit. If we do not have any recovery time to absorb the training, then we would train ourselves into the ground, stop making gains, and possibly get injured.
We put in the majority of our training during the summer and fall before tapering off the volume and focusing on higher speed during the late fall and winter race season. When we are traveling and racing a lot, most of the sessions in between races are focused on making minor tweaks in technique and feeling good for the next set of races. While this is the general formula, the schedule varies a little bit depending on age, travel, and racing. It can also differ between various clubs.
This year my plan is to train 750 hours. The hours include all of the various dryland methods, on-snow training, and racing. This is a pretty common hour goal for someone my age (23) and ability give or take 50-100 hours depending on what works best for each individual. I have been working up to this since high school by adding 25-50 hours every year. As I plan training with my coach, Chris Mallory, we break down the hour goal into each period. As it is the beginning of the training year, we are focused primarily on summer training and will just look at Period 1, 2, 3, and 4 or roughly May, June, July, and August.
For the four periods of summer training I have about 290 hours planned. I will be building and increasing the hours each period during May, June, and July, eventually making July my largest period of the summer. I will then bring the hours down a little bit to absorb and recover from the training. This works out well, because we have a big training camp in August which will make the month pretty travel heavy. It is important to manage the stress of travel on the body and build flexibility into the training schedule to accommodate it.
The first period of the training year has been a good one for me, and I am excited to keep going. We started off May with a mini camp at Galena Lodge for their end of season weekend. The skiing was great and the weather was even better! We then spent a couple weeks in Ketchum with some sweet spring backcountry skiing, track intervals, and rollerski treadmill action. The period ended for the Gold Team with a week in Bend, Oregon for a training camp. It was good to get on snow early and focus on technique to really fix some bad habits that may have developed over the season and create new good habits to build on throughout the summer and fall. The U.S. Ski Team also does a camp in Bend that overlapped with ours, so we had the opportunity to take part in a number of joint sessions with a really good group of skiers.
For June and July, we will stay in Ketchum and focus on putting back a lot of quality training. This will entail the usual variety: a lot of distance, a number of intervals, twice a week in the gym, and rollerski treadmill sessions. We will also do some big days with long over-distance workouts, like running/hiking in the Pioneer, Boulder, and Sawtooth mountains. We do not have any camps planned during these months, but I will go back home to Lake Tahoe a few times to hang out with the family and enjoy the lake.
During the month of August, I will bring the hours down slightly to recover and absorb the training from the previous three periods. We are also planning a camp in Norway for a few weeks. This will be our low altitude training block for the summer and we will compete in the Toppidrettsveka Roller Ski Festival outside in Hitra, Aure, and Trondheim. This camp will be really valuable because the majority of the racing we do is at low altitude, and it really is a different style of racing than high altitude. Getting low will help us work on our fast twitch movements and our speed. I am really excited for this trip and think we will get a lot of good gains from it.
Overall, the training this summer should be really challenging with a lot of hard work, but it will also be fun. I think we have a very good group of skiers and we will train well together. Along with Kevin Bolger (U.S. Ski Team) and myself, the men’s Gold Team is getting a new member, Sam Wood, a recent Middlebury graduate and a really strong skier. I am excited to train with both of them throughout the season. This summer we also have a very large group of collegiate athletes coming to train in Sun Valley. There are some very strong skiers in this group as well that will make for a bigger group of great training partners. This summer should be really productive and fun!
Peter Holmes was born and raised is sunny Tahoe City, California. He grew up skiing with Team Unleashed Coaching while also running cross country and track, and playing soccer. He then attended the University of New Hampshire where he was a three-time NCAA Championships qualifier and the EISA Classic Leader for the 2018 season. He graduated in 2018 with a degree in Sports Studies before moving out west to ski for the SVSEF Gold Team. His 2019 season was highlighted by winning the Boulder Mountain Tour and the Classic American Birkebeiner, and representing the United States at both World Cup Finals in Quebec City and at U23 World Championships in Lahti, Finland. In his free time, Peter enjoys hot tubbing, drinking black cherry flavored seltzer, and eating other people’s Oreos.
It is said that roots don’t lie. You can take that a couple different ways.
In the case of Svea Grover, who was born and raised in Alaska, her roots in cross country skiing run as deep as the Bering Sea and as true blue as the water in it.
When she was six-years-old, her family moved from Ketchikan to Homer, Alaska, (“Where the Road Ends and the Sea Begins”), and built their first home, a 20-by-24’ one-room cabin on 40 acres, located 14 miles out of town and a mile off the main dirt road, according to Svea. When the main road is composed of dirt, you are definitely well off the beaten path, but that seemed to suit Svea and her family just fine.
Svea recalls, “With no snow plow for many years, this meant learning to cross country ski to get in and out of our property. I skied to the school bus stop from our home every morning, leaving skis by the mailbox for many years. I learned to love that cold air on my face and the snow under my skis!”
Her love of skiing continued unabated through middle school and high school, to Junior National Championships, and, eventually to college at the University of New Mexico, where she was a member of the Lobos ski team in 1985-1986. Svea was one of two Americans on the 11-person team. The roster was rounded out by Finns and Norwegians racing for longtime coach Klaus Weber, who was enshrined in the New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame in 2010.
Deciding she needed to branch out, Svea continued her education at the University of Oslo in Norway for a year, then enrolled for a year at a Norwegian business school before returning to the states to finish her bachelor of science degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management at Northern Arizona University.
Fast forward to 1994, Svea moved to Ketchum and began coaching for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s cross country team and program director Rick Kapala. By good fortune, Kapala hired one of his former racers from Anchorage in 1996, a young man by the name of Chris Grover. While matchmaker is not a word normally associated with Kapala, he definitely cast Cupid’s bow at the pair, culminating with walking Svea down the aisle when the two married in 2001.
After living in Bend, Oregon, and Park City, Utah, Svea and Chris moved back to Hailey with their very young daughters, Eva and Anja. Chris took the role as head coach of the SVSEF Gold Team, created to train elite cross country skiers and provide funding to pursue racing at the highest level possible. Grover, who began coaching with the U.S. Development Ski Team the late ‘90s returned to the organization in 2006 and has been the head coach of the U.S. cross country team since 2009, overseeing some of the team’s greatest success to date, including its first-ever Olympic gold medal for the U.S. women.
A skier, coach, wife of a coach, and mother of competitive skiers, Svea holds every possible role in relation to the sport of cross country skiing and in May of 2019 added one more; board member for the Boulder Mountain Tour. With the appointment, the board gains a knowledgeable and respected member of the cross country community and our community at-large.
Board vice president and fellow SVSEF ski coach Martha Pendl concurred, “Svea brings a unique wealth of knowledge to the BMT Board…as a competitive ski racer, a longtime SVSEF coach, parent and team volunteer, and an avid cross country World Cup and U.S. Ski Team enthusiast, she has a keen eye for a race well run. As a local business partner, Svea has been a dedicated supporter of cross country skiing and its continued growth and development in the Wood River Valley. Svea harbors many trusted relationships within our community, and I look forward to her advocacy and enthusiasm for the BMT as the newest member of the board. Welcome, Svea!”
A successful realtor with Engel & Vöelkers in Sun Valley, Svea remarked, “the BMT has a part of my life nearly each winter it seems – either volunteering as a coach at the start, skiing sweep with the coaches at the end, skiing the half Boulder with my then, little kids, TRYING to ski the full Boulder with my kids or being a sponsor of the event, it’s always been something I’ve been proud to be a part of on whatever level.”
“I’m thrilled at the honor of being invited to join the BMT board with this accomplished list of friends and colleagues from the nordic world, who have worked so hard to raise the bar each year. “I hope I can help give back to our community through this unique and important event.”
The Wood River Valley’s reputation for giving back and taking care of the people in our community is both well known and well deserved. There is no shortage of people, places and worthy causes in which we can invest our time, money and energy. And, with an estimated 215 non-profit organizations in Blaine County, there is an abundance of outlets for interests, causes and cares that align with your personal values and beliefs.
The Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour partnered with 24 nonprofit organizations this winter, having a direct financial impact on 13 organizations and working with another 10 in conjunction with staging the Boulder Mountain Tour, a cross country ski race run annually on the Harriman Trail since 1973.
Sloan Storey, a graduate of University of Utah and Wood River High School and alumna of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s cross country program, skied in the 2019 Boulder to raise funds for The Hunger Coalition. Sloane works as a program coordinator in the summer driving the Hunger Coalition’s Bloom Truck which brings both food and – in conjunction with the Ketchum Community Library – books to children in isolated neighborhoods in Blaine County. Sloane raised $8,100 to purchase healthy food for local families, and surpassing her original goal of $6k, enough money to cover the cost of lunches for Bloom.
BMT participants who signed up in December helped fund a $535 donation to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in memory of Jon Engen, an iconic member of the Nordic community who died of the disease in April 2018 and in whose honor the race was held this year.
In recognition of Taul Paul, founder of the Galena Backcountry Ski Patrol who is retiring after 32 years of service, the BMT donated $1,000 to the organization for their constant and invaluable presence in ensuring the safety of the BMT participants on race day.
The BMT’s current cause is the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s Gold Team. Founded in 2001 to aid elite athletes in their quest to be the best in the world, the Gold Team boasts several alumni who have gone on to Olympic and Paralympic glory, including snowboarders Kaitlyn Farrington (gold medalist), Chase Josey, and cross country skiers Morgan Arritola, Simi Hamilton, and Jake Adicoff.
Scaled back last year to refocus on Nordic skiing, the SVSEF Gold Team is comprised of six elite racers, including Kevin Bolger, who just completed his inaugural season with the U.S. Ski Team and was nominated to the 2019-2020 Cross Country B Team. Also on the gold squad; 2019 Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour champion Peter Holmes, Adam Luban, Katie Feldman (second in the 2019 BMT), Maddie Morgan, and Cate Brahms. The team is coached by Chris Mallory.
To help defray the costs of the Gold Team’s training camp in Bend, Oregon, at the end of May, the BMT is donating its share of proceeds from the official event poster to the squad. Hand-drawn and screen printed by local artist Jack Weekes of Type B Laboratories, the poster depicts Jon Engen charging down the Harriman Trail with the Boulder Mountains in the background. 30 out of 75 limited-edition prints remain at Independent Goods, located at 330 Walnut Avenue in Ketchum. The poster – which is $75 – is also available online at https://independentgoods.com.
The Boulder Mountain Tour salutes the following nonprofit organizations and the wonderful work you perform. We look forward to collaborating with you again next year.
2019 Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour results will be posted tonight after the awards ceremony at the Limelight Room of the Sun Valley Inn. The party will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. All participants, family and friends are invited to attend.
In a photo finish, Peter Holmes of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation got a toe over Minnesota’s Matt Liebsch to claim first. SVSEF comp team racer Johnny Hagenbuch was third.
The women had an equally exciting finish with Erika Flowers nipping SVSEF Gold Team member Katie Feldman. Anja Gruber placed third.