Contributing Editor for The Master Skier
Torin of Levenworth, WA, is a member of the National Team for the USSA. World Cup. World Championship and Olympic competitor. He recently won the U.S. National Spirit Championship.
Sitting down to a quart of ziti pasta, green salad and a loaf of garlic bread, Patrick Weaver begins talk on the demands of long distance ski racing.
Pat Weaver, 2004 Marathon Champion, competes at 2002 Olympics.
Tomorrow morning the two-time Olympian will set off for the 2004 Chevy Trucks National Ski Championships fifty kilometer in search of his third national championship.
While some skiers de-emphasize the warm-up, Weaver toes to the line following a complete warm-up. ďI warm up by going out for four, five kilometers real easy. This easy skiing kick-starts the fat burning process, saving my limited glycogen stores for later.
I then begin skiing hard for a couple minutes, getting the heart rate up, all the while making sure to keep on drinking right up to the start. I never go to the start cold as even long distance races can open up hard.
The first five and last five kilometers are the most important parts of a race. Itís worth it to take it out harder than you might otherwise like to catch a ride with a pack those first few kilometers, so long as you throttle-it-back-down a couple of kmís in.Ē
ďBasically the toughest thing in fifty-kilometer races is to keep going when feeling bad. Iíve had days when I felt absolutely horrible, got through that rough patch, and thing worked out great.
With the long races you canít tell how itís going to go until you cross the finish line,Ē continues Weaver. ďYou canít tell how strong your competitors will be at the end, either. One or two will look so strong, so unbeatable. Then, with about five kilometers to go, itís amazing how fast one can fall off pace and start heading back to the chase pack.
In races I hope to never hit the wall. With true bonking - arms and legs completely giving away - thereís nothing you can do to bounce back from this.Ē
To avoid hitting the wall Weaver prefers a conservative racing style where heíll sit in, ski with a pack of skiers, then wind it up near the end. ďIf I go through thirty-five kilometers with the lead pack feeling great its time for me to do nothing other than ski efficiently.Ē
Sponging up the last bits of marinara sauce with slices of garlic bread Weaver begins talk on eating and hydration.
ďIíve never done the classic carbo load where one eats little more than protein for three days while training hard, then hyper loading up on carbohydrates.
Iíve tried the Ďeat as much as you possibly can for a couple daysí approach and the Ďeat just a little more than normal for two days.í I prefer the latter, eating more two days out than the day before. Feeling bloated has never been the best way for me to go into a race.Ē
Instead of relying on others for feeds out on the course I prefer to race with a Camelbak. I can then drink a little bit, very often.
Tomorrow, though, itíll be too cold for that. My Camelbak would freeze almost instantly (the days high for Rumford was +4F). Iíll feed once every five kilometers, taking down as much as I can each lap.
Sometimes itís easy to put down six ounces, other times in the race Iíll feel real crampy and maybe just get down a sip.
I crave sweet sports drinks. Then, in the final ten kilometers I absolutely crave Coke. I donít know if itís psychological but it helps me get through those last kilometers.Ē
An hour later, watching Patriots-Titans playoff football topping off the night with a bowl of cereal, Weaver talks about his ski breakthrough 6th and 7th placings at the 1995 World University Games.
ďI was pretty fired up for my first opportunity to race the euros in Europe.
When I went to Spain for the races I had absolutely no expectations. Because of this - going into the races free of expectations - I was able to compete the way I did.
Sometimes the results you try to achieve get in the way of performance. It took two, three years until I had another race where I had this feeling.'
ďItís been my goal to have that race at a major championship, the Olympics or World Champion-ships. At the Salt Lake Olympics I got thrown into the fifteen kilometer classic.
I was originally there to only race the fifty classic. Crossing the finish line I left everything I had to give out there on the course. On that day I pushed myself harder than ever before. I couldnít have been happier.Ē
Patrick Weaver will take his ski skills to the great marathon ski races like the American Birkebeiner, Rendezvous and Gold Rush for one more year. Weaver races for Atomic/ Alpina/Toko.
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