Be. A T2 Olympic Hopeful

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By Courtney DiFiore

High above the clock tower the sky stood still and dark. Scattered across the lawn lie chairs, blankets and towels filled with friends and families alike. Jeff Tuohy playing soft melodies in the back ground, the smell of BBQ and vibrant red and blue attire set the scene for a perfect 4th of July celebration. The fireworks finally took to the sky and drown out the music slowly sailing through the air. Faces lit up for only a moment show the excitement felt across the crowd. It truly was the highlight of the night.

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During the day, the same crowds that filled the lawn could be found enjoying the many free activities that lined the Village street. Caricatures, face painting, Birds of Prey and the Be. board attracted many. The main event of the day however, was definitely the T2 Demo in Lot 1. The Stratton Mountain School T2 Nordic Team is a mix of the country’s most elite racers that was founded in 2012. They entered the sport with a splash, winning the gold at World Championships – first ever for USA!

For the athletes, this demo was just another chance to train, but they didn’t short the crowd on a show by any means. It was an exciting experience the included one-on-one time with the future olympians afterwards. Check out the video highlight real and get to know the SMS T2 Team. After all, they are here all summer long working toward the 2014 games!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xd_tS-K6emo&feature=c4-overview&list=UUyfwtHcdx3e3Ia4Fuv72BQA]

A Vinaigrette that screams “Summer!”

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By Myra Foster

With four Farmer’s Markets in my path each week, there’s no challenge to meeting my daily quota of vegetables without ever cracking a V8.

Ruby lettuce. Baby turnips. Chioggia beets – they look like candy canes and roast up ever so sweet. Fava beans, elusive but so worth the hunt.

Toss it all together with Chef Alex Shinn’s Wanderlust vinaigrette, pour a glass of pinot gris and say “summer!”

Alex created this velvety vinaigrette, lively with fresh herbs, for the Wanderlust farm-to-table dinner. We all wanted the recipe. And he was happy to oblige. Thanks Alex!

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This batch serves a crowd but can be easily adapted.

WANDERLUST Vinaigrette
Blend together:
2 cups Champagne vinegar
6 cups EVOO
½ cup Dijon mustard
½ cup minced shallots
½ cup Vermont maple syrup
¼ cup each of fresh oregano, thyme and chervil
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

*Guest post by Myra Foster 

Things to do in Southern Vermont – TimberQuest

By Courtney DiFiore

It’s that time, BBQ’s are every other weekend, you’re now living off watermelon and sweet tea, the smell of sunblock is in the air, and the kids are out of school and driving you crazy. Yes, it’s summer and everyone’s looking for something fun to do. Many who spend the summer at Stratton always come asking the same question, “What is there to do around here?” In response to this popular question, it’s been decided to begin a blog series cleverly named ‘Things to do in Southern Vermont’ (original, I know).

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At first, I figured beginning the series would be tough. With so much to choose from, what activity would I share first?! Lucky for me, the decision fell into my lap after a trip to Timber Quest last week with a co-worker. Located at Magic Mountain in Londonderry, Vermont, Timber Quest is an aerial adventure amongst the treetops with over 20 zip lines, the longest being 260 feet long, and 75 challenges of varying difficulty.

Thankfully, I’ve been on a course similar, so I was prepared upon arrival but for those who’ve yet to experience the awesomeness that is Timber Quest or anything like it, make sure you don’t show up in crocs, board shorts and your favorite shirt (unless you’re favorite shirt happens to be an athletic piece of clothing). Ladies, break out the three quarter length yoga pants and gents throw on some athletic shorts. Once you have the harness hugging your waist, things can get a bit uncomfortable with too much clothing (lots of bunching!).

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Before Lauren (the co-worker) and I took to the course, we received a mini lesson in the proper way to clip in and out of the safety wires. Then it was off to play! Jim Barron, part guide, part comic relief for our aerial adventure, led the way down the blue course. There’s three levels of difficulty, green (easy), blue (medium) and black (hard). The black course is in the process of being built and finalized, but you can bet that when it’s complete, I’ll be first in line to try it out.

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From the start of the course, I could see plenty of obstacles awaiting my arrival but just when I thought I was almost done, I looked across a trail at neighboring woods to find even more challenges! And so began the first in a series of zip lines that weaved in and out of the treetops. The final zip line to the end of the course is probably the most fun. It stands at about 25 feet high (but the highest zip line pole stands at about 35 feet!) and because you have a soft, gravel landing, it allows you to have a little fun on the take-off.

The course took about one and a half hours to complete. Depending on the person, it can be a little longer or shorter. Either way, it’s a sure way to have fun with the family or solo (whichever!). Check out their website for more details at www.timberquestparks.com.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwCXoW6v2tY&list=PL_XORlQCztZkioYdb-p3qABLkV-aosW7Q]

Wanderlust Recap!

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By Courtney DiFiore

The much anticipated Wanderlust weekend has finally come and gone. More than four thousand people filled the resort for this multi-day yoga and music event. With so many eager to master the art of yoga, or if you’re like me (a newbie) explore the world of yoga, Wanderlust was able to cater to all. Classes ranged from yoga, hikes/run and meditation to hoop/slackline, lectures and dance. There was even yoga on horses! Yes. You read right. Yoga. On. Horses. That and yoga on paddleboards may have been some of the most popular classes in fact.

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Let’s not forget the music however!  Integrated everywhere, music plays a huge roll within Wanderlust. DJ Drez threw down beats on some yoga classes during the day, and by night, he was rocking ‘The Greatest Place’ tent. Additional performances included, Quixotic, Caravan Palace, Sarah NeuFeld, Femi Kuti & The Positive Force, and a long list of others.

Aside from the many classes around the mountain, the Village was also the place to be. There were so many great vendors with awesome products. There were body scrubs and oils (all organic of course), Henna, yoga swag (known by many as clothing), dairy/soy/lactose free samples (which I particularly enjoyed, being sensitive to all three) and so much more! To sit here and list them all could very well take the day because there’s so much to say about each (all good too!), but I’ll leave you with that and add one more thing. To everyone who was a part of this year’s Wanderlust at Stratton, THANK YOU! I hope everyone found their true north.

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWIrBW2Geoo]

Welcome to Wanderlust 2013 – Day 1

By Courtney DiFiore

The sun rose on Stratton, illuminating the mountain in all its glory, giving light to thousands of yogis. Greeting the sunrise, yoga enthusiasts, like camels, carry their life on their backs. Armed with water and a yoga mat (or two!), crowds form and a calming, zen energy coats the mountain. This is Wanderlust.

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Day 1: The morning began with a slew of classes: meditative hikes, mindful yoga, slack lining and hooping. Those who weren’t partaking in workshops were seen wandering the village. Lined with vendors, the cobblestone path plays host to a variety of tents, free samples of yummy (and healthy!) treats, handmade goods, water stations, henna and more. As the day progressed, more and more people showed up to join in on this celebration of music and yoga. When the sun

finally did begin to set on the first night of this four day event, the mountain was then lit by only sparklers and fire from the quixotic dancers at the opening ceremony. The pond reflected a mirror image of the crowd as it gazed upon the dancers, drummer and violinist.  The fire dimmed to a light glow and the sparklers died, signaling a change of venue to The Greatest Place (our main tent in the base area). There, the celebration continued into the late hours of the night with a concert full of spectacular music, hooping, yoga and dance.

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Wanderlust began in Squaw Valley, California back in 2009 and came to Stratton Mountain, Vermont in 2011. Additional locations that this amazing festival travels includes Copper Mountain in Colorado, North Shore in Ohio, Whistler in British Colombia, CAN, Tremblant in Quebec, CAN and Chillan, Chile. The hope is that, this festival continues to spread far and wide. There’s talk of sharing this special event with all the Kiwis and Aussies in New Zealand and Australia within the next few years.

Though 2009 marks the first Wanderlust and 2008 is credited for being the year the idea manifested, “the germ of the idea was before then,” says Wanderlust Co-founder, Sean Hoess. Jeff Krasno, another founder of Wanderlust (the ‘O’ in Co-founder you could say), has been running a music company with Hoess for the last ten years; meanwhile, his wife, Schuyler Grant has made a name for herself as a well-known yoga instructor. Grant brought Hoess and Krasno into the world of yoga and all that it entails as she took them from yoga retreat to yoga retreat.

Hoess describes his experiences within the world of yogis by saying, “This is a passionate community. People really care about their bodies and their health and living a sustainable life, but they also really have a great time. They want to go out and dance and have a good time and drink a bunch of wine, you know, like anyone else. So we (Hoess and Krasno) started to think, you know, God this could be a festival actually.”

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And so it began. Hoess and Krasno had all the skills needed to manage the music, event and PR side of things and lucky for them; Grant had an extensive history with yoga, leading this trio to create the largest multi-day music and yoga festival in the world. Day one is in the books, giving everyone a taste of Wanderlust as we look to continue enjoying the great music, fun yoga and good vibes.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1nKOjRMwzQ]

Do you Tri?

By Courtney DiFiore

If you asked me to run, I’d be happy to lace up. Tell me to get on a bike and I’ll take a scenic ride through Southern Vermont. I’m not the best swimmer, but if asked to take a few laps, I’d oblige. Now, if someone asked me to do all three, I’d say you’re crazy.

Triathletes are some of the most impressive athletes there are. An Olympic Triathlon is comprised of a .9 mile swim, 24.8 mile cycling and 6.2 mile run. This September, Stratton is holding their inaugural Grizzly Triathlon. It’s a sprint style triathlon making it perfect for those wanting to break into the tri circuit (like me!). A sprint tri is shorter in distance with a swim of 400 to 500 yards, 12 to 15 mile cycling and a 3.1 mile run. Now that we have all the facts, the next step would be to start training.

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I got the chance to meet Tom Montemagni and Nancy Aboff, two seasoned triathletes, at Stratton’s first Triathlon Training workshop. Montemagni competed at the International Triathlon Union’s 2011 World Championships in Beijing, China. Competing in grand masters division, Montemagni finished seventh in world competition in the Olympic distance race. He also took third, sixth and eighth place at the United States Triathlon Nationals and will be competing at the Nationals this year in Milwaukee and at the International Triathlon Union World Championships in London this September. After hearing all that, I was confident that I was in good hands.

Aboff works as a part-time attorney and full-time mom, but trust me when I say you wouldn’t know it unless she told you. She has so much energy! Aboff is an elite Long Island runner and World Champion 70.3 Ironman triathlete. She’s been ranked USAT all American Triathlete, teaches TRX classes, does personal training and has competed in multiple Ironman World Championships. Can you say Super Mom?!

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Once I was filled in on the background of these two coaches, I realized I could never use the excuse ‘I just don’t have the time’ anymore. If they can make time to train and compete, I can too! The morning began with swim training at the Sports Center, which ironically I could not attend even though it’s the area I need the most help in.

Bob Speck, a fellow participant of the workshop told me (when I finally did arrive), that the biggest take away from swimming for him was to “be a fish not a Labrador.”

Sounds funny, I know, but after he explained it to me, it made much more sense. Montemagni and Aboff talked about the importance of not pushing the water out of the way but gliding through it like a fish, rolling as you do, giving you the opportunity to use your whole body. Of course there’s more to swimming than that, but it’s a start which is all I was looking for.

Biking and running came next, two topics I’m more familiar with. We discussed equipment, training, nutrition and Montemagni and Aboff were able to talk us through transitions from swim to bike and bike to run. There’s so much preparation and planning that goes into a triathlon.ny, I know, but after he explained it to me, it made much more sense. Montemagni and Aboff talked about the importance of not pushing the water out of the way but gliding through it like a fish, rolling as you do, giving you the opportunity to use your whole body. Of course there’s more to swimming than that, but it’s a start which is all I was looking for.

By the end of the workshop, I had made a personal decision to enter into the Grizzly Triathlon on September, 1. Do I think I’ll complete it? Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll even make it out of the water. But I’m confident that by listening to the advice from experienced triathletes Montemagni and Aboff and attending the next triathlon training, July 12-14, I’ll be successful. Now, all I have to do is get a bike.

Spring Walk

It’s mid-spring and Vermont is just starting to turn green. Taking a daily walk is the perfect way to watch spring unfold, and one of the best ways to live a healthier life. Regular brisk walking can help you maintain a healthy weight, prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, strengthen your bones, lift your mood, and improve your balance and coordination, according to the Mayo Clinic, a not-for-profit medical practice and research group.

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Looking at the mountains right now, one can hardly believe Vermont is nicknamed the Green Mountain State, but over the next few weeks, myriad shades of green will inevitably blanket the landscape. Spring walks prime us to notice green buds magically appearing on the tips of branches, bright yellow daffodils and forsythia blooming, crocuses popping up, and Robins digging for worms.

I walk a couple of miles each morning and usually listen to music along the way. Except for this time of year, when the songbirds provide my playlist. Their music heralds all that spring offers – increased sunshine and daylight, the earth warming itself in preparation for growing season, and the onset of perfect weather for biking, hiking, running, fishing, swimming, gardening, tennis, golf, baseball, volleyball, outdoor concerts and festivals, triathlons, and treks.Research studies have shown that exercising in nature results in less fatigue, reduced anxiety, less hostility, more positive thoughts, and an overall feeling of invigoration, writes Madison Kahn in Outside Magazine, December 2012.

Whether you live in the country or the city, your health will improve, if you find some green space to walk through on a regular basis. Spring symbolizes new beginnings, so here’s your chance to do something for yourself, and observe nature’s beautiful transition from gray to green.

*Guest post by Jo Kirsch

Spring Greens

More and more, healthy eating is in the media. Even fast food restaurants are adding salads, lean choices, low carbohydrates, and calorie counts to their menus, designating healthy choices. Individuals and families are paying attention to their diet, striving to eat balanced, nutritious meals.

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“Farm-to-table” menus and restaurants are becoming popular. All of this points to a time before processed foods, when people ate what was in season. This time of year in New England, we can once again find fresh locally grown greens for salads and cooking.

Fresh spinach, mesclun mix, arugula, leafy lettuce, dandelion greens, Swiss chard, and kale, become readily available in April and May in Vermont. These dark leafy greens are rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and anti-cancer nutrients.

People often think salads aren’t satiating or simple to prepare. The key is having a combination of ingredients on hand to create a satisfying, delicious dish.

I like to use spinach, mesclun mix, leafy lettuce or arugula for the greens. And then add almonds or pumpkin seeds, cranraisins, orange sections, avocado, and goat, blue, or feta cheese. Lightly dress the salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Toss it all together, and your taste buds will be pleased every time. It takes 5 minutes to prepare – so I’d consider it fast food.

Kale, and Swiss chard too, can be prepared simply and quickly to produce savory dishes. One of our favorites is Swiss chard or kale with pasta and a pesto/red sauce combination, with sausage (if you like meat.)

Here’s how: Boil water and prepare your favorite pasta – we use a gluten free choice made from rice. While the pasta is cooking, sauté a few cloves of garlic in a tablespoon or two of olive oil; add the sausage if you are using it and cook until browned; add the chopped Swiss chard or kale to the skillet, toss it with the sausage and the olive oil; saute the greens until soft. It helps to cover the pan, to reduce the greens down, tossing often to insure they don’t burn. Once the greens are soft, add your favorite marinara sauce and some pesto. You can determine how much of each to add – I usually add about twice as much red sauce as pesto. Drain the pasta and stir it into the sauce mixture, tossing thoroughly. Serve into individual dishes and add fresh Parmesan to taste. Prep time: 20 minutes.

*Guest post by Jo Kirsch