Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 1 On the Road

One week has already flown by of this 2014-2015 season on the road. You know what that means?? Time to start racing!!

We spent the past week living and skiing in Munio, Finland- approximately 300 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. That means many things.

1) It takes 30 hours of travel to get from Anchorage, Alaska to here!

2) It doesn't get light until 9:30, and it begins to get dark at 2:30PM

3) I haven't gotten to say hello to the sunshine since I got here. It is almost like a constant sunset/sunrise all day, which is actually really neat and pretty!
One of the sunrises that goes all day (Sophie photo)

4) BRRRR, it is cold here! We are staying right on the ski trails, which means we walk to training every day, and we can escape to our cabin pretty easily if we underdressed or just need a little break to warm up!
Doing some testing with my new tech, JP. Chilly times! (Reese Hanneman photo)
5) Snow! There is snow, and plenty of it! There is a great little 5 kilometer loop groomed that has provided for some awesome training and interval sessions as we prepare for the World Cup next weekend in Kuusamo, Finland.
Enjoying some snow! (Sophie photo)
6) We are surrounded by other skiers. It has been fun to have some other teams here including the Estonian's, the Polish, the Finnish, and many younger training groups from Norway, Sweden, and Finland.
Following Justyna during intervals one day.
It has made for a great week. Early on, I got to celebrate my birthday, which is always really fun on the road. My teammates are always incredible at making me feel special all day, surprising me with gifts, nice cards, and cakes! Not only that, I get a second birthday when everyone in the US wakes up 10 hours later and sends me many wishes! It is the best! Thanks everyone.

Some amazing Northern Lights (Reese Hanneman photo)
The older you get- the larger the birthday candles! 
I was so excited to have the best Norther Lights show ever the night of my birthday. It was a cold, clear night- so they were really popping! Reese caught some really awesome photos on his camera, I am not sure how, but it was pretty amazing!

We found some time to go visit the local Middle School in town to tell the kids about what we do. It was amazing how well most of them spoke English! (Caitlin photo)
Making strength a little more exciting adding the danger factor. (Sophie photo)
Today we take a 5-6 hour road trip south and towards Russia landing in Kuusamo- the venue for the opening World Cup's. Can't wait to get started!!

Monday, November 17, 2014


For one month now, I have been preparing. Preparing for racing, preparing to leaving, preparing for my graduation, and preparing to spend another five months away from home.

Sad to say goodbye to my favorite little buddies!
Preparing for racing is the fun part! This is the time of year that snow starts falling and training starts feeling fresh after letting our bodies rest from a hard summer of training. This is the time of year that I start waking up in the night with racing dreams….. "I am running for the start, only five minutes until I take off, and I have grabbed one skate and one classic pole. I spin around and run back for the cabins in fear, counting down the seconds until I start". These dreams occasionally come in the middle of the summer, but most the time they are a sign that the racing season is coming. Preparing for racing also means changing up the training. It means shorter and easier training sessions matched with some good quality shorter intervals and time trials. 

Doing some sprinting when the snow was still around
Back to roller skiing

Preparing for leaving is the "less fun" part. Preparing for leaving entails trying to find time for all my friends to say goodbye, finding a storage unit to park my car in, sending early christmas presents, organizing my room so that if I need someone to bring something I forgot, I know exactly where to find it. Most importantly though, it entails packing. I decided this year that I need to make a master packing list…. because each year I spend the month leading into my departure writing little notes in my phone, reminding myself things to bring. This is what one of my checklist notes would look like:
Parking the beauty blue.
-Hand Sanitizer (this is how we attempt to stay healthy eating at buffet's for all of our meals)
-Shampoo and Conditioner (I really don't like the Euro stuff, I much prefer US Herbal Essence)
- Peanut Butter (A staple of race morning breakfast)
- American Coffee
- American Gum
- Powerbars
- Hot mug
- Water bottle holder
- Wax for Meribel (when I go visit Jo, I am waxing on my own, so I have slowly gathered enough wax there to take care of myself)
- Head Lamp (for our first month in the dark north, north lands)
- Nook
- Triple A batteries
- Flecter patches (in case my bone spurs flare up again)
- Bjorn Daehlie shorts and T-shirt for working out in the gym
- Christmas Pajama pants- this helps when I am getting super home sick and dreaming of being home with my family
- Harddrive
- Something for the Fischer boot maker that made me four custom boots before I was totally satisfied. This guy is awesome!
- Cold Medication (if I buy it in the US, then I know it passes the US anti-doping regulations. Better safe than sorry!!)
- Earplugs (Having a roommate for five months means you have to find your own ways to take care of your sleeping needs)
- L.L. Bean rain suit (for those days that Global Warming strikes and for some reason it rains rather than snows)

Packing party with the girls team
So that is just a list of the few things that came to my mind as I was traveling, or away from home, and felt like if I didn't jot them down I was going to forget. As I said, it seems it should be time to simply create a master list. Some of these staple items like peanut butter, and gum and coffee…. you can find them all in Europe, but I have just found it makes me happier to enjoy the US products for as long as possible. The importance of this whole "spend the winter racing in Europe" is to find what makes me happy. For me, Christmas means a lot to me! So I have to take a few things that will make me feel at home and festive. Being happy means enjoying the experience, enjoying the racing, and enjoying my job!

Preparing for graduating means meeting with all of my professors, making sure they are satisfied, making sure they understand where I will be the next month, just keeping them in the loop. Next, it means checking in at the registers office, auditing my transcript and files, making sure I have all my credits to be done. Part of this preparation means setting up my senior project presentation. For all that would like to listen, I will post a link on my blog to the online portal where you can log on and listen to me give my thesis presentation. It is scheduled for December 2nd, my first day in Norway, where I will be preparing for the Lillehammer World Cup's. 

Preparing for spending another five months away from home is the final preparation. This means making my bed for when I arrive back home, this means making calls to all my closest family and friends telling them goodbye, and this means reflecting on what a fun and successful training season I have had. Now it is time to get this party started! I am really looking forward to this coming season. I will be racing the full World Cup Season for the second time now, hopefully spending more time racing this year, and less time sitting on the sidelines getting over sickness. I will also be starting the Tour de Ski for the first time after Christmas!!

Period 1 racing schedule:
November 29: Kuusamo, Finland Claassic Sprint
November 30: Kuusamo, Finland 10k Skate
December 5: Lillehammer, Norway Skate Sprint
December 6: Lillehammer, Norway 10k Skate
December 7: Lillehammer, Norway 10k Pursuit
December 13: Davos, Switzerland 15k Classic
December 14: Davos. Switzerland Skate Sprint
December 20: La Clusaz, France Skiathlon
December 21: La Clusaz, France 4x5km Relay

Huge thanks to Salthcuk for signing on with me this year and partnering with me to support my ski racing this winter! Another huge thanks to Alaska Pacific University for making an awesome training season. I am going to miss you guys! Can't wait to see how well everyone does on the domestic circuit!! I am sure I will have some more APU teammates joining me mid season!
Judy Patrick photo
APU girls enjoying some training
Becca getting some serious air time in jumps.

Now, it's off to Finland we go!!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Park City Camp

Last winter, I made a goal for myself, when I was loading onto the airplane for the 5 month World Cup Season in November. As I was taking off, I had this feeling of sadness. I wasn't ready to leave home and spend my life as a traveling suitcase. As I tried to find some solutions to this problem, I decided the following summer (the one that we have just completed) I was going to spend as much time as possible at home, at Alaska Pacific University. This way, I would be excited to leave, and it wouldn't just mean packing up and living the suitcase life again.

A train of teammates and buddies to train with.. makes this so much fun!
So… I accomplished this goal and spent maybe even enough time in Alaska this summer/fall to receive my PFD next year. From the time that I returned from World Cup last year, I have made my very best effort to spend as many days as possible tucking into my own bed, driving my own car, and regularly checking my mail. Alaska had the most amazing summer, so my goal of "being ready to leave" wasn't accomplished during any periods of the summer. By early October though…. after one straight month of 30-45 degree rain every single day… I was pretty darn well close. As I packed up my bags for Park City Camp for the final 3 week National Team Camp before the season, I was "excited to leave". I was even thrilled as I packed my bags, the "trial run" before the real 5 month packing job in mid November. 

One snowy, cold day in PC!
Starting off in one of our time trials. (Noah Hoffman photo)
As I arrived in Park City, I was taken from Alaskan weather that left me wearing multiple layers under rain jackets, to sunny Utah, where there were multiple days of shorts and sports bras! From winter back to summer- yehooo!

Sun, Smiles and Friends! (Matt Whitcomb photo)
Back to the shorts. (Matt Whitcomb photo)
Thanks to the incredible Zuzana Rodgers and Advanced Physical Therapy for taking care of us so well!
Zuzana taking care of Liz after a hard Time Trial!
The beginning of the camp consisted of lots of testing, measuring, and analyzing. I always struggle with this part, as every year I come into Park City with a different load of training, and a different feeling of rested. This year, I came into testing more tired, and more trained than I ever have been. Fighting off a virus a few weeks before getting to PC, I still wasn't feeling up to "strong par" when it came time to jump onto the rollerski treadmill. As I fought mentally to not give up, and keep pushing through some serious exhaustion, I eventually couldn't anymore, and allowed myself to go flying off the back, caught by the safety harness. 
Focus, Focus!!
The end!
Strength testing.
Nothing about that rollerskiing  treadmill test is ever pretty! In fact, I found myself choking up as I watched and cheered on my teammate, Liz Stephen complete it, pushing and digging as deep as physically possible.. Watching a race is very different then watching a treadmill test. A race requires a perfectly perfected performance of energy exertion, never to the maximum, because lying on the top of the hill having given maximum effort wouldn't be too effective. Instead, an athlete is executing different levels of effort depending on the course, the type of race, and the length. You often can see the pain in their bodies as they cross the finish line, having given every last bit of effort, just enough to get across the line. But here, for this treadmill test, you are hooked up to a breathing tube, you are balancing on your skis on a treadmill whizzing by underneath you, and you are digging as absolutely deep as possible. You are in a fight with this treadmill, trying to win against a machine! You are mentally screaming inside your head "I can do 10 more seconds. NO, I can do 15 more seconds ". It is an endless battle of how mentally tough you can be. As I watched Liz fight this treadmill, and fight this effort, I suddenly found tears coming to my eyes. It is pretty emotional to watch someone put so much effort down, they are eventually flung off the back gasping for oxygen and strength. We like to ask each other afterwards "Who won? The treadmill or you?" And to no surprise… somehow the treadmill always wins!

Liz striding and gliding!
After getting all the testing and measuring done- the fun stuff began; the training part! There were a few unfortunate events that took place at the beginning of the camp that threw a few people for a loop including Sophie tripping and falling on pavement, resulting in another broken elbow. She has been incredible, seeing it as yet another hurdle, and finding a way to keep training! That girl is going to move mountains this winter- you can see it in her eyes (and her fitness). 

Matt taking care of Soph, and getting her shoes tied before training.
Soph running up Hermodes during the time trial cheering me on!

Training in these past 2.5 weeks has been awesome. We have hammered out some great speed and interval training down in Soldier Hollow, home of the 2002 Olympics. We have had some beautiful skis up canyons with amazing fall leaves. We did some sweet recovery runs straight from the front door up in Deer Valley at 8000 feet (where the air is thin). It has been an awesome few weeks of training, and I am now leaving, feeling good and ready for a fun season ahead!

Sophie and I are doing a Training Rap for SkiTrax, where we will be alternating two weeks at a time of updating on our daily training regimes. Bookmark this site if you are interested to get a scope into our yearly training routines on and off the racing circuit. Click on the link below to check it out. My goal for this is to show all the young athletes that training doesn't have to be beautiful. Everyone trains different, everyone trains different amounts, and everyone is unique!

Some speed training. (SMS photo)
Intervals up some beauty canyons. (Matt Whitcomb photo)
(SMS photo). 
One of our first days in Park City we had a Fast and Female event, one that includes all the different US Ski Team, Freeskiing and Snowboard sports, and a few more. I had an extra amount of fun because my young cousin from Jackson Hole came and joined in. She is 14 now and just getting into competitive alpine skiing. It was so neat to see her confidence and strength, something that I found was best learned through sport! I can't even wait to have another Bjornsen join into the top level of skiing! I can see, she is going to be a little star!

Cork, and our strength coaches baby... Kikk a little jealous that Cork gets to hold the baby!
Working hard on the 2002 Olympic Courses.
Joining Soph for her first run since breaking her elbow- SODIE SMILES!
Hiking Bald Mountains with some buddies.
I am currently on the airplane from Salt Lake to Chicago for a brief trip to the city for a US Ski Team Fundraiser Ski Ball. Being a member of the A Team requires that we attend one of the fall fundraisers where we get to meet some of our team sponsors and donors. This entails getting dressed up all fancy and visiting Chicago, a city I have never been to! I am looking forward to being a tourist for a few days and walking around getting to know a new area of the US. I only wish it was a little closer so I could visit some of my midwestern family!!

From Chicago I will be heading back to Alaska for three more weeks of training and preparation before jumping on the plane for my 5 month trip back onto the World Cup Circuit. I have been seeing lots of pictures of skiing in Anchorage, so I am hoping the snow sticks around for a bit so I get to join in on the fun in a few days!

LAST, but NOT least!!

It is Drive for 25 season. What that means is that the National Nordic Foundation, a huge supporter of the Nordic Community is hosting its annual fundraiser. These funds go towards supporting young juniors on their first trips to Europe, supporting camps, supporting project for the US Ski Team that we don't have funding for, and making sure everyone is charging forward and provided with opportunities. The National Nordic Foundation has been a huge support in my career as I was growing up and attending my first National and International competitions. They recognize the importance in development, and they are there to help! The goal of Drive for 25 is to have as many people as possible to donate $25, resulting in huge involvement, and large support. Below is a link to my fundraising page.

I encourage everyone to get involved and join in on this incredible excitement and movement the US is having! Thanks to everyone in advance!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fall for fun- fun for Fall!

This fall has been following the general theme of this year, a whole heck of a lot of fun! It started on a more negative note…. 1 month straight of rain and 40 degrees. 3 weeks into it, I picked up a little virus that my household managed to catch, and I spent two weeks battling the buggy, trying to find my groove again. Unfortunately, every time I went out to train, it equaled to a cold, wet, draining experience. I took four straight days of lying in bed, and relaxing and recharging which eventually brought me back to life. After a huge summer of training, I have a feeling that virus may have just saved me; because that two weeks of rest has left me feeling rejuvenated and ready to go.

Aside from having a little crummy weather- Alaska has made up for it with two weeks of cool, clear, amazing, fun, fall days! Some of the fun adventures have included:

Clear, beautiful view from up high in the hills.

Olivia time- one of the young talented juniors from my home town, the Methow Valley, finally caved to my peer pressure of coming to check out APU. It is no longer a secret how much fun the APU team is with a great group of athletes, the best coach in the world, perfect training, glacier skiing, opportunities to go to school and ski at the highest level, Kikkan Randall… oh man, it is all so good. So Olivia finally caved to the pressure and came up for a few days. It was fun to be a tour guide for a week trying to show her just how much fun we have. 

APU women's team taking in Olivia
Training in the Rain- Sometimes you just have to embrace the crumminess of the weather. There is something that somehow makes you feel all the much more hardcore when you come home soaked to the core, covered in mud, and totally stoked!
Rosie Frankowski working hard indoors
New strength routines on the rings.
Mountain Adventuring- With some functioning feet this year, I have gotten to adventure to so many places right here in Anchorage. The foothills just here in town are incredible! There are even blueberries left to snack on at the top :)

Made it to one HUGE white rock!
Jo found himself a rainbow!
Exploring a new sport..!
Running with the moms- There are a lot of many wonderful mom's I have gotten to know since moving to Anchorage. I always have such a busy schedule, I never get to spend time with these amazing people. Many of my afternoon training sessions are on my own, so I have gotten to spend some time with these incredible ladies in the afternoons. The secret that I learned… these moms, they have mad mom power! They make me work to keep up, holy cow!! Makes sense now, why MY mom can still kick my butt- it is a secret mom power!

Hunting- Growing up vegetarian means that I didn't really have the appreciation for hunting that many others have. Guns scare me, meet grosses me out when it's not cooked… but the idea of hiking around searching for animals is more interesting. My boyfriend Jo is the king of hunting, so I finally joined him this year for "the experience". A few birds later, a campfire, and awesome sunset… and it made a heck of a dinner! I may just be hooked.

Jo, with his handmade moose caller!
Camping with some amazing sky's!
Fast and Female- This year I joined the organizing crew for the Anchorage Fast and Female. With my Senior Project for my degree relating to Feasibility Studies for this awesome organization; it has been especially neat to get more involved now that I understand the background a bit more. I was in charge of organizing the stations and ambassadors, which was super fun to get to know some of the ambassadors of the various sports here in Anchorage. We managed to get 10 different sports involved this year. Swimming, Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined, Biathlon, Alpine, Nordic, Basketball, Hockey, Soccer, Tennis, Golf.. Cool! With 250 girls, we had one heck of a great time!

F and F organizing committee, Holly, myself, Joey Caterinichio, Bonnie York and Kikkan

Our largest Fast and Female Event, 250 awesome girls!
Virtual Fast and Female Chat with the new Sandpoint Ski Team!
Cooking Dinner - One of our common Fundraising methods is to sell "Dinner cooked by the APU Women". With so many girls on different schedules, we fell behind last year, so we had a series of 4 dinners to catch up on this fall. By the end, we had our meal and timing dialed. I always love these events because we get to know some really wonderful and supportive people! We have some truly generous people in the Anchorage Community believing in our APU Team and helping us move forward! This last event we did before leaving was at the new Special Olympics Gym that was built in town. It is the only Special Olympics Facility in the world! It is amazing, and we are hoping to get together with some of the Special Olympic Athletes and spend some time training with them in their incredible new facility!

Cooking crew and Women's APU Team
Special Olympics Fundraiser
Best Chef on Skinny Skis- One of our annual team fundraisers is the "Best Cheff on Skinny Skis"- a reality TV show that we are formed. See the video here for a little peak into what it is about. Lots of fun!

Fun Sponsor Activity- The fall is always a great time to get involved with our incredible sponsors. Photo shoots and organization events. It is always rewarding to spread our love for active and healthy lifestyles with the company; trying to give back to the incredible support we receive! I have just recently started working with Saltchuk which is a holding company for many transportation companies of Alaska. Aside from working with the amazing Carlile company that has been supporting me for the past three years, I have also gotten to get to know and work with some of the other companies of Saltchuk such as Northern Air Cargo, Tote, Foss and Cook Inlet Tug and Barge. 

Getting Active with Carlile Employees
Showing the Carlile Families a great view from nearby.
Photo Shoot with Tyler Kornfield and Northern Air Cargo
That about wraps up this amazingly fun fall. I am headed to Park City right now for the final National Team Training Camp before I hopefully return to three weeks of snow in AK, and then off to EUROPE for RACING TIME!!!!

Let the fun continue!