The last week I have been soaking up the sun like every other "normal teenage/college student" is during their spring break. Although mine has been a bit different....! My spring break was spent at 7,000 feet, covered with snow, and lots of racing.
Starting November 19th, I have been racing, racing, racing weekend after weekend. This is the first season I have been able to hold things together for so long. While I was in Oslo, which was my last racing series before Spring Series, I felt like I could float while I was racing. I finally had that peaking feeling that everything felt so good. It actually felt awesome to push so hard. Buttttt, those feeling never go on forever, so this last week was a bit of a different feeling. The altitude mixed with my body feeling pretty tired made for some fun levels of pain. In several of the races I actually felt the screws come out and the wheels fly off!!
Kikkan fueling up during a LONG week!
With the sun shinning, and the fun atmosphere, luckily my stoke level was able to stay high. I was very happy with what I have gotten to do already this season- so this week was nothing more than the icing on the cake.... so in this situation- it may look a bit messy, but it still tastes good :)
Joining up with the APU team again was awesome. I sure missed them over the middle section. There is something about this group that is unique. The way everyone works together and is so happy for everyone else- its a special thing for sure. The wax techs and coaches were amazing. Even though it was spring series- which normally represents a more laid back atmosphere- those guys were out there all day hammering away and having "waxing education". I am convinced it is their two weeks to get in really good shape so they can go home and kick their wife/girlfriends butts!!
This years spring series followed a "tour" schedule. Which means all the races were added up to have an overall tour winner. This makes for a fun atmosphere- as everyone is constantly competing for an overall winning place, so there are no slacking days. The first race was a 2.5km prologue skate race. I am not going to go into too much detail.. but lets say I went out like it was a sprint race.... and that simply lasted for about 1.4km. That is approximately when I hit the wall at 90mph and Nat Hertz managed to take a pic of my face expression. From that you can see my newly discovered level of pain!!!
Nat Hertz Photo
The second day was a 10km Classic Mass start. With how tired I was, I had the original plan to race the first 3km as hard as I could where there would be a prem for the first person to cross at 3k. 100$, and I could suffer for the remaining 7k. But as the race started, I had the feeling I might be able to compete for a good spot for the entire race... but that plan fell apart about half-way through the race when I slowed to nearly a walk and pretty much had to use my hands to manually pick up my legs to move up the rest of the hill. Once again I had that "new level of pain" feeling. By the end of the race, it was almost fun..!!
The following day we had a day off, where I managed to do little more than go for a walk and lie in the sun by the pool, sleeping, sleeping, sleeping. With two more days left I held on for dear life. The following day was the sprint race. With freezing temps over night, our qualifier consisted of a roller coaster ride around an ice skating rink. There were about two points during the race that I was actually concerned I was going to break something. It was CRAZY! Luckily the sun came out, the clothes came off, and the snow managed to turn to slush. Thats when things got exciting for me. With so much time spent classicing on the glacier last summer... this snow felt almost comforting to me, because I was so used to skiing in it... but it sure made for some tricky wax conditions. It was fun to be handed a different pair of skis between every heat which you either didn't recognize or had never really skid on before.... just hoping they would do the job. In the end everything turned out ok though. You either had good kick, or good glide- so in my case I had some good glide. Good enough that I was able to finish 4th for the day, second American. Fun, fun!
Dave Wheelock Photo
Nils Ribi Photo
Nils Ribi Photo
The final day was the ski up the alpine hill. All week I would look out our hotel window at the top of dollar mountain and get nearly sick to my stomach. Imagining racing up that thing, when I was sooo tired just made me tired thinking of it. But knowing it was the last race of the season gave me a little extra energy to find excitement in it. I got to start dead even with Chandra Crawford, who was dressed as Lady Gaga for the final race. As we switched leads back and forth for the first 3/4 of the race- during the final 6 minutes I began to really struggle. I was once again loosing the wheels- but this time, I was loosing my spare wheel too. When I finally crossed the line I dropped to the ground instantly, gasping for air. For the next ten minutes I lay there like a dead person as race officials took my skis and poles off. Little did I know I was laying next to my teammate who was going through the same feelings as me.... but much worse. Fitz was so out of it that she wasn't able to walk or hold herself up- so she was escorted down the mountain in a burrito emergency sled.
Fitz and I totally out of it. Holly managed to take this picture as we lay there with our eyes rolled back/half dead
Yes Fitz is in there!
I am just trying to imagine what all the alpine skiers were thinking as they watched these crazy people ski UP what they normally rip DOWN. Then watch us drop like flies to the ground right as we crossed the line. I am sure it is an imagine they will get a good laugh out of for a long time!
The final day in Sun Valley consisted of a Fast and Female event, this time run by Chandra Crawford AND Kikkan Randall. With the sun shining, and lots of excited little girls it was tons of fun!
Fast and Female Instructors.
Now I am back in AK where the snow is coming down and I am catching back up on "regular person life".
Thanks to everyone who supported and helped me have the best year ever. I couldn't be happier where I am, doing what I am doing! All I can say is I am one lucky girl!