Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy New Year!

The past year has been a whirlwind of greatness, excitement, firsts, disappointment, learning and much, much more. When I think back to everything that has happened in one year's time, I realize how lucky I am to do what I get to do. Six months of the year, I pack up all my belongings in a 50 pound bag and I travel from place to place and country to country. Not only do I get to see the world, but I get to meet many amazing people along the way. Aside from racing my heart out, seeing the world, and traveling all around, I also get to go to school. APU has such an incredible set up with their distance education program. This will be my second year now that I am training full time, racing full time, and also going to school full time! So most importantly, thanks to APU for providing an awesome ski program, and an awesome education program!!

So a little review of the past year and some of its highlights.

January- I won my first National Championships in Rumford Maine, and podium in two other events, making my best National Champs ever, and also qualifying me for my first World Championship team.

February- Aside from other races this month, I raced at U23 World Championships in Estonia, where I will be competing in a World Cup almost exactly a year later (coming up here in a couple weeks). Here I am, blowing kisses to the crowd on TV.

March- I join 100,000 screaming norwegian fans for the World Championships in Oslo, Norway. By far the most exciting races I have ever taken part of. This will probably be my motivation for the following 10 years! Here I am giving out some of my first autographs to some of my first fans.

April- I join back with the APU crew to attend distance nationals in Sun Valley, Idaho. Here I finish the season nice and tired, going to the point of collapsing on the final day of racing up the alpine hill. Fitz took the award for the day pushing herself so hard she passed out at the finish line.

May- I discover the backcountry spring skiing in Alaska. On nordic skis and on the fat skis. My boyfriend, Jo, finally gets me on what he calls "the real" skis, and I discover a whole new world!!!

June- Glacier Camp number one of the summer. Eat, sleep, train... and repeat for seven days. Put in my largest week of my life with 23hrs... all on snow!

July- North American Woman's Training Camp. Top Canadian and US ladies gather together for a week of dryland training in Anchorage, and then a week of skiing on the glacier. Lots of good girl energy, and lots of great training!

August- Fourth glacier camp of the summer followed by a little five day break in Washington.

September- Season starts changing in Anchorage. September is also the only month of the year that I am not skiing on snow at all. Makes for a good time for lots of hiking and lots of hard training!

October- Final US Ski Team Camp down in Park City. Here we have a huge Fast and Female Event where a variety of winter athletes, and olympic medalists gather to inspire the younglins. Here I am talking about nordic skiing to the kids, sporting my pink pride!

November- I have my first period one of World Cup racing. Lots of good and lots of learning from weekend to weekend. I come six seconds from scoring points in Kuusamo, in a distance skate race.
Flyingpoint photo

December- Kikkan and I get second in the team sprint at the Dusseldorf World Cup, making me the second american to ever win a world cup medal!!!!! I do a lot of smiling, a lot of screaming, and a we both do a little dance on the podium in honor of all our teammates back home!

The final week of the year- I get some family time back home in the Methow. Between putting on a kids camp and visiting my grandparents in Seattle, there is little time to just sit and relax. But lets face it... thats rarely possible!!

So after reviewing a year of lots of joy and excitement, I just want to say thanks to all the people that have helped me throughout the 2011 year, and the many more to come. Happy New Year, and here is to a new year filled with resolutions, goals, good health, and lots of speedy skiing!

I am currently laying in bed in Rumford Maine, trying to get healthy. I have been plastered with a series of cold's for the past three weeks. With the tough travel back from Europe, and then the travel to see family, followed by the travel all the way back to Maine (cancelled flight means 48 hours with about 2hrs of sleep), I can't get rid of the cold that just keeps giving. Sometimes its hard to admit you are sick, but I have learned that having a long successful season means keeping your body healthy!

The weather here in Maine has been crazy as usual, so after a night filled with warm rain, the races have been postponed until they can doctor the snow up enough to ski on. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise, as I may have more time than expected to get healthy. If not, hopefully I will be back by the end of the week!

For now it's rest and good, positive vibes.

On a side note, the Tour de Ski is going on right now over on the World Cup circuit, and it has been amazing to follow. The North Americans have been showing a strong force. With the time change only 7 hours from the east coast to Europe, we get to wake up to live ski racing every morning. And since it is 10 days of racing, that literally means every morning!! Kikkan has been proving that she is going to be in position for the podium!!! The others have all been impressive as well, especially since its a first tour for many of these guys!!! So keep on keepin' on guys!!!

Happy New Year Everyone! Hope you all have a happy and safe holiday!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cascade Challenge Camp

Yesterday Erik and I hosted the first Cascade Challenge Camp in the Methow for all the young kids of the valley. For a while Erik and I have been talking about how many talented young kids come from this valley, so we were wanted to fuel that fire a little bit by giving back some inspiration and direction to these young children. At that age, I can remember how much it meant to me to ski just five minutes with some of the older successful members of the team; so we were hoping to give a little bit of this "fire" to the younger generation.
the younger girls teaching me a thing or two :)
It was incredible, there was nearly 50 kids that showed up for a our camp, ranging from Canada to the US. Thanks to some to the older elite athletes of the valley, Brian Gregg, Kelsey Dickinson, Casey Kutz, Casey Smith, Erik and I were able to lead such a large group.

The camp included kids ages 7-13, so we had quite the range in ability level, interest, and knowledge. Luckily every kid that showed up yesterday was fired up to ski and have fun, so we had no problem keeping the energy rolling. We started the day out talking about US skiing, and some of the best athletes that are competing for our country. We then moved on to teaching them the different levels of racing, and what each level means. With so many different races, and different types of races, we educated the kids on the various disciplines that all of us older athletes are participating in. I was surprised to learn that many of these children following ski racing, whether it be through the Olympics, through their parents, or even sometimes on TV.

The older athletes giving a talk at the beginning
The goal of the day was to teach these kids some of the necessary skills to become a good ski racer; but to also teach them that it was an enjoyable process. With a range of skiers from Canada and all the way in between, it was fun to see that all the kids were also making new friends and getting to know some of the skiers they would maybe race against some day. The ski began with a warm-up, then three stations. Biathlon station, drills and technique station, and then a start/finish station. I think the big hit seemed to be the start finish station, where Erik and I set up lanes, finish lines, and start lines similar to that you would see on the racing circuit. As we taught the kids that lunging is extremely important in racing; many times it can even win you a race, the kids were instantly entertained. Once they learned to start on command and race to the finish, they all had no hesitation as they put in a massive lunge/fall to the finish.

Me demonstrating to the kids what a lunge looks like
Following the ski we headed in for a few more lessons on taking care of your body and you skis- the two most important parts of skiing success. Brian gave a basic talk about the functions of basic food, and good recovery tools. With a young crew, we didn't want to go into too much detail, other than to teach them "there are good sugars vs. bad sugars", and "what does your body need immediately before and after workout". Following our nutrition talk, Erik went on to give a wax clinic where he allowed some of the kids to even try out the different steps. Hopefully they will start taking extra good care of their skis throughout the winter, waxing them more than once or twice in a year.

leading a group of younglins
The final part of our camp was giving out posters and signing autographs. In all honestly, I think this may have been many kids favorite part. There is something about a posters and autographs that have "greatness" written all over them for a kid!
mesmerized by the posters!!

It was a great day, and hopefully we were able to inspire these kids to follow in the same direction that some of the elite athletes of the Methow have achieved. They all seemed to have a great time, so hopefully they will continue to follow racing, keep developing in their training, and one day be teaching their "younger generation" to love the process.
skiing with Cooper Klein

Erik and I were hoping to make this an annual thing, so look for it to be coming again next year!

Thanks to Mazama Community Center for letting us host, and Methow Nordic Team for helping us organize!
Casey and I demonstrating sprinting.

Thanks to Pat Leigh for all the great photos from the day!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Davos preview video

Here is a little video of life in Davos. Thanks to the boys for putting it together. A little glimpse into the life at the Kulm and the ski venue in Davos, Switzerland

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Come one, come ALL! Kids Camp!

Link to sign up

Erik and I will be putting on a camp for all the younglins while we are home, so tell everyone you know and encourage everyone to come!! It is going to be tons of fun!

Email me at if you have any questions!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Davos training and my FIRST WORLD CUP MEDAL

Last week we spent the the week training for a small altitude period before coming down to Dusseldorf for the World Cup. With this coming weekends World Cup in Davos, it worked out perfectly to try to get some training on the course, and also get used to the lack of oxygen. Unfortunately there is no snow anywhere in Europe at the  moment, so we spent the week searching for the snow.
APU ladies skiing some loops together
Holly, Kikkan and I with some beautiful BROWN hills behind :)
After spending the first couple of weeks in the Scandinavian area, I was so excited to finally make my way down to central Europe. I love everything about central europe. I love the small, homey hotels, the smelly cheese, the sound of the language, the small towns, the smell of cow poo all the time... I just feel at home here. Maybe its because I have raced here so much and spent so much time, but every time I come back, I feel like I have come home.
Holly and I looking to do some grocery shopping in the mini Coop
And this is what skiing in Europe looks like now
I have never been to Davos before, but a few years back when I was racing with the MOD team, we were  basing our travels out of a valley only about 40km from there... so the landscape was similar. Only this time, there is NO snow. One day I actually went for a hike up the nearby mountain, which I found out is an alpine resort. The first day we skid around a little man-made loop near town, which was great, but the loop was only taking 4 minutes... which made it a bit boring. The second day we drove over a mountain pass to a new ski area called Pontracina. Here we were able to find about a 4km loop, so loops were taking closer to 10 mins. That was much more exciting, plus the sun was out, and I was loving life! The final day we jumped on the sprint course, which was only 800m of trail.. so I think we maybe did 50 loops for the workout that day. I am starting to get used to this lack of snow, I think when I finally ski on natural snow, I am going to get lost or something!! The Europeans do a great job of making it work though. It's amazing they manage to make it possible even!

A little old school mixed with some new school. These babies are traveling the world with me :) The marks on them show that they have been in all the same venues I am racing in now! How cool. (Nina Kempel skis)
Getting my business law study on. Learning about torts and crimes!

The week in Davos was really nice. I spent the time out in the sun mixed between walking around the town, getting some homework done, catching up with my family since we finally have internet, and learning some swiss german. I have been struggling to get in the mood to do school work when we are constantly on the run with all the travel and skiing, but finals are coming up next week... so it's time to crack down :)

Friday afternoon we took off for Dusseldorf, arriving only the night before the race. Because Dusseldorf is a city, there is of course no skiing. In fact, I would compare it to Seattle. Warm weather, lots of rain, and a huge city!! What this means is training consists of running!
My portable closet. This is my suitcase of clothing for 5 months! What to wear...what to wear.
My roomate Ida enjoying the warmth of the city!
I stole this picture from Holly, but this is right outside our hotel lobby. Our hotel is connected to this huge stadium where there was a race car competition going on. Saturday night we went out and watched.. waiting for a huge crash. We were of course screaming for the American cars- super fun!! Something I have never seen before!
The minute I arrived here, I was beyond excited. The atmosphere of sprinting downtown in a huge city is incredible. It somehow just makes you feel like a movie star. You are skiing around on this loop of snow laid down in the middle of the streets, with so many people screaming and cheering... its just incredible! It makes warm-up and warm-down a bit different when you are switching between running shoes and ski boots constantly, and its raining out, so you are soaked to the core. All this put together makes it so fun!
A little preview of the crowd on the far corner of the course
Getting a cartoon drawn of me at one of the booths in the celebration at the venue.
The first day was an individual skate sprint. Since the course was so short, and so quick, I was determine to do well on Saturday. During warm-up I felt excellent, and was ready to go. As we hit the course for our qualifier, the course iced up a lot, so throughout my qualifier I spent the entire two minutes just trying to find my grove. I never got that comfortable strong feeling, and it was over before I knew it. I managed to finish 34th, my best world cup finish, and only three tenths of a second from qualifying for the heats. At that point I was excited, but disappointed at the same time. I knew I could do better. Knowing I would have another chance the following day, I put my disappointment behind me and watched as my teammate, Kikkan, win the race. That girl is incredible, it's so fun to watch her race. She is just so smooth, so fast, and a tactical queen!
Ida and I cheering for Kikkan from on top of the bridge. Athletes had access to some sweet cheering spots!
That night I heard word I would be starting the following days team sprint with Kikkan. At that moment, the nerves shot through my body. Having only done one team sprint before, last year at World Champs with Kikkan, I knew the format, I was confident.... but I was now starting with the previous days winner. For some reason, that made me more nervous then I have been in a while. If I didn't have enough motivation before to ski my heart out, now I would! I knew that it was possible to do well, but I also knew that would entail some miracles.

Racing out of the start
racing the boat in the background (I am the one in black with the pink headband)
As the gun went off for our semi-finals, I quickly got in the mind set for racing. It was like a war zone out there. 10 girls fighting for every corner, fighting to keep their ground, fighting for every bit... it was crazy! It was pure luck if you managed to finish the race on your feet! Luckily Kikkan and I crossed the finish in second, qualifying us on to the final round. As I waited in the wax cabin for the next hour before warming up again, I worked to calm my nerves. We were one step closer to making something happen. As I ran to the start for the finals, I looked up at the norwegian bus, which has a picture of five of their athletes yelling.. I told myself those guys are cheering for me at this very moment. After a brief introduction of each athlete, and a wave to the TV crowd, the gun went off. I took off in good position, going into the first corner... and then bam, the swedish girl fell down on my skis. I waited as I was sure I was going down with her. Somehow I managed to pull my leg out, but I watched as the pack seemed to ski away in front of me. At that moment, the feeling ran through my head "crap, I just ruined our chances". I quickly tried to race back up to the pack, but remained off the back. For the following round, Kikkan did the same. For the next round, both of us tried to conserve our energy as we inched our way back up to the group. On the third round, I gave every last bit and kept saying in my head "kikkan is counting on you". As I tagged off to Kikkan for the final race to the finish, I watched the TV screen as I jumped up and down cheering for her. From that point on, Kikkan did some amazing stuff! By the end she was crossing the finish in second place!!
Thats the Norwegian bus with all the cheering athletes! This is me out screaming Petter!
Canadian girls and us, all smiles! They too had a great day!
I screamed and jumped with joy. Second place, we just won a medal!! That really just happened... I couldn't believe it. I was all smiles, I just couldn't believe I just got my first world cup medal. What a dream come true!!!!

Hugs to the guys giving us speedy skis! Thanks Casey and the crew!!!
Kikkan and I, soooo pumped! All hugs!

The best part of that race, was somehow we came from the back, and managed to make it happen. Our skis were fast, our hearts were there, and our entire team was out there screaming their heads off. Even with the loud sound of the crowds, I could still hear every person on the team screaming for us!  At that finish line, as all the girls ran up and gave a big hug, choked up. I was so happy. It was the combined effort yesterday that made it so special! Thanks to all the service team, all the people screaming either at the TV, at the computer screen, or out on the venue! What a special day.

As we headed up onto the stage, Kikkan and I decided we were going to do a dance for our teammates back home, Jessie Diggins and Jennie Bender. As we jumped up on the podium we waved and did our dance.! What an incredible feeling. Check out the picture, I think the Norwegians are worried we are from another planet hahah.

Now I am spending the day here in Dusseldorf, trying to get some homework done before heading back to Davos tonight. From there, I will spend the week training before the World Cups this weekend. Saturday is a 15k skate, and then sunday is another skate sprint. Hopefully the snow will fly in the meantime and we won't be racing on a 1km loop!

Thanks to everyone for all the great emails and notes. I appreciate it so much. Thanks to everyone that has helped me get over here, and most of all thanks to my teammates for pushing Kikk and I on yesterday. You all are wonderful.

Thats a day I won't be forgetting for a bit!

More soon!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ruka Mini-Tour

This past week we have been staying in a little nordic village outside of Kuusamo, Finland. All I have ever heard of Kuusamo is bad things, considering normally it is right on the brisk of illegally cold racing. This year played out a little different than normal. Not only was it warm, but similar to the rest of Europe, there was no snow. Luckily all of these World Cup venues have snow making set up, so the guns were blowing from the day we arrived early on in the week. The first day there was snow only covering about 2km of trail. Each day, more and more trail was built. By race day, they had a full 5km of skiable trails.
Holly digging for her stuff. This is our ski van that gets filled with skis for the travel. Smart system!
The festive Ruka! So awesome
The unique thing that I am going to always classify Ruka skiing under now is hills. If you are not climbing straight up a hill, you are skiing down a curvy steep hill... sometimes even resembling an alpine resort.

The wall... somehow it looks flat.
The big hill into the stadium on the sprint course
One of the other unique things about Ruka is the small village. All the teams are staying within 1km of each other, mostly in small cabins distributed among a steep hill, with the top of the hill being the place where all the athletes eat meals. With everyone in one place, you get the opportunity to meet people during meals and just walking around the village. I have come to realize it really is this sort of competitive traveling family that moves from venue to venue each weekend. It's incredibly fun!

Headed into the waxroom
Races kicked off on friday with a classic sprint on a course I can only explain as hilly. You start in a stadium on the top of a hill, shoot down to the bottom, make a turn and race back up to the top. One of those courses, similar to most, that even the briefest mistake looses you 10 places. I finished the race in 47th, four seconds out of qualifying in the top 30 for the heats. After watching some of the girls ski the course, it became apparent to me where I was loosing most of my time in transitions between the climbs and the descents. After finishing my 3 minute race for the day, I then got to watch my teammate Kikkan show exactly how it is done. Qualifying 12th, she managed to make it through quarter, semi's and then advance on into the finals, where she placed 4th. It is so cool to watch her strengths play out in person among the field. Skiing with her year around, I see her ski every day, but its fun to see what it looks like in a race.
Thanks to Steve for the flyingpoint photo!
Saturdays skate race brought even more fun. A 5k course made of once again, walls and alpine hills... it seemed there was going to be no opportunity for recovery in this race, instead you just had to go from the gun. My first world cup weekend I had Martha Kristoffersen, one of the top norwegian skiers starting behind me, and I had this same thing this weekend. The first weekend, I held on to her as long as I could, but that only lasted for about 1km before she dropped me on the hill. Saturday, I decided I was just going to play, see how long I could hold off Martha, and see how long I could hold on to her once she caught me. Sure enough, Martha managed to catch me at about 3km, in the middle of a massive hill, but from that point until the end, I held on for dear life and skid my heart out to the line, loosing about 3 seconds to her at the final stretch. The coolest thing about this was that one week later, I got another opportunity to ski the speed that a top ten skier was skiing. I finished the day in 37th, my best world cup finish, and only 6 seconds out of scoring points. A fun day, and a good success.

Full waxroom full of Fischer :)
My final day of the tour wasn't nearly as positive as the rest. I have been struggling with finding klister skis yet this year, so sundays hilly course did not play in favor for a pair of skis with no kick. For 10km I tried to power myself up the huge hills with my arms, but it only lasted for so long.. eventually that wasn't enough.

Walking into the stadium
Being on the world cup is extremely rewarding, but I have realized it can be really hard at times as well. You can have the best day of your life, and the following day just barely be off, but place in the bottom 10% of the field. Where a bad day in the US wouldn't crush your heart, a bad day on the world cup can feel like you failed 100%. After only being on this circuit for 2 weeks now, I feel like I got my first experience last weekend on the roller coaster ride this business can take you on. The expectations are high, especially when you have teammates that are up on the top. Sometimes your short site allows you to forget that it took them about 5 years of what I am doing to get to what they are doing. What I have learned though, is you have to take control of your expectations, your goals and your head... because if you allow the pressure and the crowd to control your emotions.... this business will chew you up and spit you out! It's a process though, and you can only learn to do that by living it.

pure focus!!
Focus during racing :) Flyingpoint photo
So after a weekend full of greats and horribles, I am now excited for what's next! And that is a weekend full of skate sprinting in downtown Dusseldorf. The first day is an individual sprint, and the following day will be a team sprint. Lots of enjoyment to come.

Thanks so all for the cheers and support and love. It means so much to have so many people pushing us forward.

APU crew. Casey and Holly
The massive walk up the hill can only be worse when you are lugging bags up it. This is the walk that we made 3 times a day up to food. It appears much flatter than it is :)
For the next 4 days we will be living in Davos, Switzerland in the most adorable little hotel of all time training in the 50 degree weather... and sunshine. A little altitude block of training, before taking off for the city on friday.