Friday, February 25, 2011

World Champs- Day 1

Yesterday was the first day of World Champs here in Oslo, which was the skate sprint. I am still in shock from the whole series of events that took place... I think it is still sinking in.

All the events here are being run mid-afternoon, so it leaves a nice long morning to sleep in, relax, watch some Glee, and shake some nerves before heading up to the venue. Going into these events has been really nice for me, because I have had the goal of simply soaking it in. Being my first world cup last weekend, and my first World Champs this week- I am living the full experience... just feeling the water out. This leaves little pressure- allowing me to ski my own races depending on where my head is the given day. It has been soooo fun!

Lars, Jessie and I in front of the kings castle downtown Oslo

Thursday night we had opening ceremonies downtown, which was lots of fun. Oslo is a very impressive city, with all the old, beautiful buildings. In my short time downtown Oslo earlier this month... where I managed to get myself super lost, I somehow missed all the cool things. So, this time I knew what I was looking for- mainly the kings castle. As we arrived downtown there were hundreds of school children, nearly 30 for each country participating in the Championships. Our kids were super fired up about the US and they had amazing english- so we had lots of fun predicting who was going to win all the races this week! I was impressed how many people lined the streets to watch us march through.... little did I know what was coming.

Yesterday was a whole new meaning of cheering and crowds. As I arrived at the venue, I tried to stay calm and avoid the large crowds.... but when it came down to warming up- there was no more avoiding it- no more hiding. As I skid around the 1.4km course time after time- I found myself skiing faster and faster. With such a hilly course, I would normally walk the hills for the first 20 minutes... but it was IMPOSSIBLE! I felt like the thousands of people in bleachers and lining the course were sitting watching me. There wasn't more then 50 skiers on the course... so I felt like I had the telescope on me. It was simply intimidating! Not to mention, if you happened to be skiing near a norwegian- the crowd would go wild.... even when we were just warming up!!


Petter Northug getting his cheer on for the USA

When it came down to race time- I was ready to go. Having a crowd like that cheering so loud makes is awesome. It makes you feel like you can't let up- because the spectators sure as hell were not going to let up!!! The qualifier went sweet for North America. We managed to qualify 3 canadians, and 3 americans- so we were super fired up. After a short break, it was off to the heats. Having never started heats in world cup- I was more excited then nervous. I simply had no idea what to expect. All I knew was I was starting with the infamous Kowalczyk as well as the girl that had gotten second in the World Cup last weekend... so I had my work cut out for me. As they introduced each of us one at a time at the line, it all hit me. I think if I would have had a few more seconds to wait there.. I may have shed a tear. But, before I knew it the gun was fired and we were off. Having a good start, I hit the corner right in with the lead pack... stepping in right in front of Kowalczyk. (which was my claim to fame for the day-maybe even for the next year). For the next three minutes it was a blur... I just went with it. Accelerated when they did, and tucking in behind when they did. Not surprisingly, when we neared the end I wasn't quite able to hold on to the lead pack- and crossed the line in 5th.. putting me in 24th for the day. More then the result I was blown away by the experience. It was simply unbelievable to see what "Norwegian Spirit" does to a race! It turns it into the Superbowl of Nordic Skiing. Just incredible!

Looking over the stadium from the wax cabins

Nearing the end of my quarter-finals

Unfortunately Kikkan fell during the quarterfinals, wrecking her chance for the gold- but I think every person out there knows she would have been a true threat. It was incredible to watch her true sport shine through as she brushed it off and continued to say "it happens". Kikkan has never ceased to impressed me since the minute I joined APU 8 months ago! It has been incredibly fun for me to watch her win world cups first person. Not only because it is incredible to watch- but because she has proved it to me that champions are human. I have always looked at the norwegians and believed they must be from another planet.... they must be doing rocket science. But Kikkan has proved to me that its humanly possible. I train with her day in and day out- and she is not performing rocket science. She is simply working her ass off, and has been for years now. So as sad as it was to see her fall, she still is one of the fastest sprinters in the world.

Team APU

So with a strong start- the US is pumped for the many more races to come.

My next race will be Monday, which is the 10km classic. In the meantime, it is the womans pursuit race tomorrow, and the mens pursuit on sunday.

One of the camps out on the distance course

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

First World Cup weekend- Drammen, Norway

World Cup #1

Holly and I soaking it in

Last weekend I had my debut into the world of World Cup racing. Honestly I can't quite put words to what it was like. I think I may be the luckiest person alive to have my introduction into the world cup life in Norway. In a country where cross country skiing is the most important thing in every person's life... you can only imagine what would happen when a World Cup comes to town. To say it simple, 15,000 people set up tents, camps, and line the 5 kilometers of trail. I have been to one Seahawks game in my life, and I would compare the sound to that... only it is in another language- so the buzz has a different tone. It is by far the coolest thing I have experienced in my life so far though. I could get used to this lifestyle!

Watching the sprint race... along with thousands of spectators behind me.

World Cup Sprint group for the weekend- Jessie and I in our first World Cup sprints :)

The fans were incredible, but the athletes were even more incredible. I have watched hundreds of world cup races on TV and video's, and to be honest, I even considered it a chance to be able to ski with them for a bit. But when I had the chance to watch them ski in person... I was in awe. These girls are incredibly fast- they are MOVING! It is a whole nother league that I have never seen before. This is the most exciting part to me though. Now I "know what it looks like". It's super exciting to watch it, and now know what I am aiming for. The fun part about this year being my first in so many things, is I have no pressure, but I am just going out there and doing the best I can. I have to say, watching Kikkan win a world cup right in front of my eyes was so awesome! I have skid on a team with her now for a year, so I have watched her train, and watched what she does. It was awesome to watch the true "kikkanimal" at work. That girl is GOOD!

Kikkan on the big screen- showing some love for Subway

The only down part to having my first world cup experience in Norway... is the competition is about the hardest it gets on the world cup circuit. With Norway hosting the races, they get to start about 20 athletes in both the mens and womans fields. As everyone knows, Norwegians have an incredibly deep field of talent... so in most of my races- there were about 15 norwegians ahead of me. So... I learned quickly- results are not something to be studied in Drammen. The important part is I am in a good place going into World Champs... which actually starts today. They have late starts every day- so I am using my long morning to get some homework done and catch up with some things.

Soaking in some sun the day of the sprint race- awesome day!

It has been super fun to meet up with all of the nordic combiners, jumpers, and the rest of the nordic squad. We have quite the group of athletes over here! It is going to be a fun week of racing!

World Champs 2011 here we come!!!

Coach Bus taking us anywhere and everywhere we need. World Cup athletes get TAKEN CARE OF!

Team Norway Bus- I like to pretend these guys are all cheering me on :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pictures from Norway

Here are a couple pictures from our past training days in Beito. We trained here for 3 days following the race because it is a nice low key, low stress area with great skiing. Temperatures have been super cold, which has made for some amazing classic skiing!! Skating sounded like such a bad idea every day with such slow, soft snow.... so I have been sticking to the classicing :)

Tomorrow we leave for Drammen where we will be competing in World Cups Saturday and Sunday. Finally, my first world cup start!! I can't wait. Saturday is a 10k classic, Sunday is a skate sprint. The team will be picking up the APU group, (Kikkan, Holly, Lars and Erik) which I am super pumped about because it has been so long since I have seen these guys!

Soaking in some Sun with the Frosty Weather- Scott photo

Beautiful Beito View

Norwegian Nordic Love

Valentines Ski with Tadlet- frosty cold!

Tad and Jessie doing some easy skiing on course

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Beito Living

At this moment I am sitting on the couch listening to some chill tunes with my feet up, soaking in some sun in Beitostolen, Norway. I must say… don’t think life could get much better at this moment! I am a lucky person to be involved in such a sweet sport! For the past 3 months I have moved from house to house, venue to venue, and country to country racing- and I am now truly starting to appreciate it. Some of the first countries were a bit uncomfortable and extraordinary, which left me with a bit of a homesick feeling… but lately I have been getting super lucky!

I have always liked the traveling part of ski racing. I think many people struggle with switching beds so often, and living out of a suitcase- but for me, I love it! I love how many different lifestyles we get to live, all the sweet places we see, and all the cool people we meet. If we raced similar venues every weekend, and traveled to simple places… it would be boring! I like constantly switching it up every week. I have to admit though… there are a lot of times I wish I could just have a switch of clothes. Wearing the same 3 shirts and 2 sweatshirts for 3 months is a LONG time!

Jessie and I in the stadium

Last week classes started back up for me at APU. All the courses I am taking this semester are online courses...but don’t let the word “online” fool you. Class still meets at a specific time, just “online”. What this means is my 7PM-9PM classes in Alaska meet at 5:00 in the morning Norway time. Because we don’t have internet directly in our room, I set my alarm-clock for 4:45 in the morning and wake up and head down the hill for class ☺ Good fun! The good news is I only have this for 3 more weeks here twice a week… so I think I will make it. But it is nice to have schoolwork to consume my time again. I always miss that stress when I am without it!

Yummy Norwegian Food

The past two days I have been racing here in Beitostolen for some Norwegian National Cup races. Many of the national team members are here, mostly the sprinting team, but lots of speedy people! It has been super fun though to see what racing in Norway looks like. I have always had an image in my head, but it is even more impressive then I imagined. Yesterday 890 people started!! That is sooo many skiers!

Stadium full of people

So Friday was a skate sprint, which went pretty well for me. I was 4th in the qualifier, and then moved down a bit in the heats. The heats were interesting, as the course was short- and there was no room for passing- so the order at the end of the first straight away was the order coming across the finish. In my semi-finals, I didn’t have the best start, so I came to the end of the straight away in 5th, and crossed the line in fifth…. which meant I moved down to 9th place for the day. The other US girls also did very well. Jessie Diggins got a bit tripped up in her semi’s, so wasn’t able to move on, but Ida got fourth in my heat and moved on as lucky loser- to finish the day in 5th.

Leading my quarter finals heat out of the stadium- Thanks to Scott for the sprinting photos!

Yesterday was the 5k classic, which also went very well. Once again the US ladies were packed in there for the top places. I came in 4th, about 36 seconds off the leading pace, with the other US ladies close behind in 8th, 11th, 16th, and 20th I believe.

Today I opted to sit out the 15km skate race to prepare for next weekends world cups and then world champs. I heard though that the ladies kicked butt again. Think Mo and Liz were 2nd and 3rd and Jessie won the juniors race. Its fun to see everyone on their game right now- think we will be bringing a strong team to Oslo, which will make that week so much more fun!
We train here a couple more weeks and then head back towards Oslo, to Drammen where I will enter my first World Cups next weekend!! Can’t wait!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


So far my norwegian experience has been quite the adventure. Having never been to Norway before, I have failed to really use my brain, but instead run around in awe with my my eyes wide open. Nearly 60 hours into my trip now... I am just starting to loose the buzz. This country is amazing. I feel like I can't stop looking around, and being in love, and simply not getting enough of every moment. There are nordic skiers everywhere! EVERYWHERE! Not only is everyone really nice, but they are all pretty, and they speak so nice. I have always enjoyed the sound of the norwegian language- there is nothing that reminds me of speedy skiing more!

So my first day with my brain turned off turned into quite the adventure. In my two activities of the day, one skiing, and two exploring downtown- I managed to get myself extremely lost- both with Jessie Diggins (who I believe is in the same state as me at this point). The skiing consisted of me strapping on some classic skis and taking off on the "Norwegian Highway", which can simply be described as a classic trail, tracked three tracks wide, with approximately 500 skiers on it.! Thinking nothing off it, I set out on my skis, chatting away with Jessie, and loving every moment of the perfect tracks, great terrain, and beautiful skiing. About an hour into it I decided it was time to turn around.... but what I didn't really realize is that during the past hour I had taken maybe 20 turns, all of which I didn't pay attention to... and not only that- I had no idea what the place was called where I started. All norwegian words have lots of j's, k's, and i's in them so its hard to even tell them apart. After asking nearly 10 people, all of which sent me different directions, I decided to just head in one direction and hope to god it would eventually take me there.! To my surprise 30 minutes later I started recognizing some of the trails!! I had made it home.

One of the many signs that make no sense!

Thinking I had figured it all out- I laughed it off and forgot to really ask what the place was called where we were staying.... which was my first mistake when Jessie and I headed out that afternoon for Oslo on the train system. The older girls told us "go on train 3, stay until the last stop, and you will make it home". Trying to keep things exciting, Jessie and I tried to escape buying tickets, and just be sly. After being tourists, snapping lots of shots, hitting up all the souvenir shops, searching for the norwegian bjorn borg underwear, and buying some good chocolate- we set out for home. Following the signs to "3" we jumped on a train that did not look anything like what we started on. Realizing this just as the train started moving, we were stuck... and the ticket man was walking towards us. Somehow we escaped the madness and jumped off as quickly as we could at the next stop. Turns out that train was headed towards Trondheim... which is a long ways away from Oslo, and our hotel! Running around for about 30 minutes asking everyone where to go, when we didn't even know what the name of the place was called quickly became pointless. Finally, when Jessie and I became super panicked, I spotted a woman wearing ski boots. Trying to describe to her what hotel we were at... we finally figured out we were on the underground train station, and we should be on the above ground... who woulda known there was two separate things!!

OSLO! National Theatre

sooooo Jessie and I slapped hands and headed in the right direction. Let me assure you, the first thing I did when I got back was ask the name of where we were and say it in my head 20 times to assure that I knew it!! Sandsvan!

Unfortunately we left the next day though....!!

We are now in Beitestolin for the Norwegian National Cup races which start tomorrow. Skate sprint, 10k classic, and 15k skate. Competition will be stiff, as always when norwegians are involved. Word is, there are close to 800 starters... should be good fun! We are staying in this sweet hotel with all the Norwegians, so I get to sit and eat dinner across from Astrid Jacobsen! Good fun :)

More to come soon!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


For the past five days I have been in Meribel, France getting in some altitude training as well as resting the mind a bit. I have been on the road since November 19th, so for me it is important to have a small break in the middle of such a long series of races to rest my mind from the constant stress and pressure of ski racing. Living on the road is tons of fun- but when you are surrounded by a group of people doing the same thing… you are constantly thinking ski racing 24 hours a day.

So last week was special in the fact that I not only got to chill out for five days- but I got five solid days of sunshine! Whenever you are in the mountains in France- you can count on good cheese, rock hard tracks, and great sunshine!

Jo and I on top of the world- Mont Blanc in the background

Every morning I would wake up to nice solid hard tracks at the Nordic venue, which made for some great skiing! After eating some lunch and chilling out for a bit I would go out for a second time, but instead of putting nordic skis on I would strap on the heavier equipment and head up to the mountains for some backcountry skiing. It was so amazing! The people I was staying with are super good skiers, so they introduced me to the world of “off piste”…. Beacons, skins, steep slopes, and lots of speed. On one of the trips we took, we ended on the Nordic trails where we had to ski about 2km back to the village. Thinking

I could show them how it was done…. I was amazed to find out skate skiing is very different when you can’t move your ankles and you have short poles! You would have never known I was a Nordic skier based off of watching me try to skate in the alpine gear! That is HARD!

Nordic Skiing in the morning

"off piste" in the afternoon

Now its back to the racing in Norway. More updates to come.

Friday, February 4, 2011

U23 Championshipts- Otepaa, Estonia

Apologies for this taking so long to get written. World Juniors/U23s is always a super busy week, with races every single day for a week straight. This year I was lucky enough to get to enter all the races- so nice busy schedule for me in Otepaa, Estonia this last week.

The first race of the week was a 10k Skate, which I came away from not super pumped about the result. Between Nationals and U23's there was a big 3 week break, so I needed a race to start waking the body up and reminding it how to race. Temperatures dropped super low the day of our skate race. When we arrived at the venue it was -20C (-8F), which is colder than the legal limit. Between when we arrived, and 2 hours later somehow it "warmed up enough" to have a legal race- though at points during the race, I was doubting it. Ironically enough, I don't travel with long underwear. Not sure why- but I am just not used to skiing in it.... which means the night before the race I had to put the search on for some long underwear.!! Thanks to Heather Mooney for saving my legs!

Warming up and warming down in our down jackets

The sprint race was a bit better. The result may not have showed much, but I had a strong qualifier race earlier on in the morning before later entering into the heats. Unfortunately during many of my opportunities to make strong moves in the quarterfinal- I was blocked out, and didn't get to ski to my full potential. The good news is I know that it is possible to ski with these top girls, so I am pumped for the many more opportunities I have in this next month of racing in Europe.

Blowing kisses to the crowd- Jessie took this photo while she was watching me on TV at the hotel. All the races were broadcasted in Euro Sport!

The final race was the 15k pursuit race. I like this race because it takes all my strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes and mixes it into a racing stew- which could go any direction. One thing continues to hold true for every pursuit I have entered. More times than not I have a strong classic leg, skiing it like its the only section of the race- and then during the skate leg I hold on for dear life. This year, I held 14th place for the entire race before the final climb, when a train of europeans came charging from behind. Unfortunately, I just didn't have the juice left in the tank to hold onto these girls as I sprinted all the way to the finish, coming in only 2 seconds off the pack- with a final place of 17th. Finally I was pleased with one of my races- as I felt like I skid that race as well as I could that day.

skate leg

classic leg

As usual, I came away from U23's not quite reaching my expectations- but in the many years I have raced over here in Europe, I have figured something out. You can't expect to come to Europe, and enter three races, and have the best races of the year. Quality comes with quantity over here. In order to race among these girls- it is important to have persistence. Each race I enter, the more comfortable I feel, and the stronger I get. Just as my season started on the domestic circuit- the best way for me to reach my potential is to race into the races.

From here I take a week altitude training block in France before I head to Beitistolin for some FIS races, then Drammen for my first World Cup starts, and then soon after World Champs will begin. Lots more racing and lots more fun ahead of me.!

Thanks to the coaches and wax techs for making it possible to have a great week of racing. You guys rock!!

Ski Room

Ski testing on the non-race days with the coaches

Thanks to Nat Hertz for many of these skiing photos- and for keeping the US updated so well on fasterskier!!!