Monday, December 31, 2012

Home, Home on the Range

For the past ten days, I got to go home to the Methow Valley and spend some time with my family for the holidays. Skiing is challenging, because once you get to a certain level... you no longer have the time to be able to go home for the holidays... but instead you spend Christmas in some hotel in Europe waiting for the approaching Tour de Ski.

So with the Tour de Ski in my future, I am truly cherishing every Christmas I get to go home and spend some time with my family. This year, my sister was able to come home as well, so we had a full Bjornsen Family Holiday. With it snowing nearly a foot every day- Christmas was truly in the air.
My Mom and I enjoying the powder and beautiful day!
Family Time
My sister brought home her boyfriend to join the holidays too!
These ten days were also a time to squeeze a few "home activities" into the schedule. First was some meetings with the local media. Cross country skiing is a challenging circuit to follow, and between all the different races in a new country with a new technique every weekend.. then all the points, etc., it becomes challenging to follow. Some of the local media has been good at trying to follow, but we wanted to take time to sit down with a few of them to explain what exactly we are doing and how. Both the Methow Grist and the Omak Chronicle put together great articles about what we are doing, and the goals we are chasing.

Methow Grist
Thanks Karen West for putting in all the effort over the past years.

Omak Chronicle Article- I can't find it online, but this is an idea. Thanks Al for taking time as well!
The other thing we got to do was put on our annual Cascade Challenge Camp. This year was exciting with nearly 50 kids who were fired up to go skiing and learn about some of the important steps of becoming a ski racer. I was impressed with how kids were even more receptive this year than last. We tried to switch things up with new activities from the previous years. Starting out with a ski, some drills and a few games; we then came inside and learned a few key lessons. Erik started with talking about post workout nutrition, and the importance of fueling your body with good stuff. He then went on to give a wax demonstration and teach the young skiers how important it is to take care of you skis. Then I went on to explain the importance of setting goals and writing them down. Each kid got to set a personal goal, write down the steps in reaching those goals, and of course the challenges and obstacles. It was fun to see these kids come up with goals like keeping their room clean, or try not to read during class, etc. These are all important goals to have as a young child.
The majority of our group
Erik letting one of the young boys try.
Some good old Power Bars!
We finished with a little trivia about the US Team and its recent success. Erik and I have been collecting extra small items for this very purpose, so a couple kids got to leave with new racing suits, jackets, and pants from the National Team. And finally we had autograph and poster time at the end.
The Dietz girls rocking the World Cup Bibs!
I just recently got this picture in my email. Jules has been rockin this bib all day every day... even on the slopes. I love it!!!
Thanks to everyone for coming out and making it an enjoyable day. I still remember the days that Heidi Rhinehart used to ski with me for just 10 minutes, and how much it inspired me and meant to me. And now, her kids were participating in my camp... so I love how what comes around goes around. It is truly rewarding and special for Erik and I to share with the young skiers what we do, and how we got there! Soon enough, they will be doing the same thing for the next generation!!

Getting some posters!
Max and his new uniform.!! He knew the location of Erik's first World Cup race, so won this prize!
Erik giving a talk after the ski
So after a quick, packed ten days of family time- I am now at the next venue, here in Park City, Utah for the National Championships. Races start in two days, so we are starting to gear up for race time! Last year I was on the sidelines due to a Christmas bug I caught... so I am pretty stoked to feel healthy and ready to start racing!

Happy New Years to Everyone! I hope the new year brings lots of health and happiness.

Monday, December 10, 2012

World Cup #1- Quebec City

I just finished my first weekend of World Cup racing this season in Quebec City. After coming off the Supertour for the first couple weekends, it was quite the warm welcoming back! The City Sprinting atmosphere is pretty darn exciting... and having that atmosphere in the US made for one of of my favorite weekends of racing ever.
A view of the course from the top of our hotel building
Me in third, headed over the top of one of the little hills in the course. (fasterskier photo)
Talking skis with one of our techs, Mikey Matteson. So fun to have him join us for the WC's!! (Flyingpoint photo)
With all the athletes staying in one hotel, right across from the venue, things were exciting from the start. It was nice to see many of my friends that I hadn't seen since last season, and more exciting, they were in North America! Many of these skiers had never even been to North America, so I was loving watching their reaction. To be honest though, Quebec City is much different than anywhere I have been. We were racing right in front of the Parliament Building, so every day we would walk around the old city and explore the area.
The race literally started in the gate into the old city- This is me at the start of the quarterfinals. (Eric Packer photo)
I came away from the weekend very pleased with the racing. Friday was a team sprint, so I teamed up with one of my best friends on the circuit and my long time competitor, Sophie Caldwell. Sophie and I have been racing each other since we were 14 years old, and all along people can't keep our names straight. I always get called Sophie and she always gets called Sadie. So the skiing world has simply referred to us as SODIE for the past couple of years when we are together. When I heard I would be sprinting with Sophie, I was stoked for our SODIE debut. We raced very well in the Semi-finals- sat in the pack with six other teams (3 of them US teams) for the entire race, but unfortunately I got tied up with one of my other teammates in the exchange zone, causing me to fall to the ground, and loose a fair amount of time. With it being the last exchange, we didn't have enough time to try to catch up unfortunately, so we just missed advancing.  I was super pleased though, and really impressed with Sophie's first World Cup race. The day went on to becoming history though as my other teammates, Kikkan and Jessie went on to win the first ever team gold medal.
Trying to find the best path in a large group of people. (Fasterskier photo)
Lots of spectators and lots of tight skiing. This is me in the back following some Norwegians and Sophie. (Fasterskier photo)
Day two was the individual sprint around the same course. After practicing it three times in the race the day before, I was excited for the individual race. I ended up finishing 15th, my best result ever. The heats didn't go as well as planned, but I was still very excited with the day. The course was really tight, with little room to pass- so I got good practice following the girls trying to squeeze my way in every chance. Unfortunately I got a little tangled in the final straight away and finished sixth in my heat.
Racing for the finish line. As you can see, everyone fighting for the same spot. (fasterskier photo)
Just off the line- Norway vs. USA. I am number 15. (fasterskier photo) 
Look at all those awesome fans in the background!! Thanks everyone. (Flyingpoint photo)

The one thing that really stood out this past weekend was the incredible atmosphere. There were so many US fans, and so many US flags flying. As I raced around the course all I could hear was screaming and my name. In every city sprint I have ever done, there are always tons of fans- but never once have I gotten to hear my name screaming across the course. Thanks to all the college teams and fans from the east coast that came up. You guys really made it one of the best racers I have ever been part of.
Even with all the chaos surrounding you... with five minutes to go, you have to relax your mind and find your confidence. (flyingpoint photo)

I was also having a really fun time watching the enthusiasm on all the faces of my teammates that had their first World Cup races this weekend. I am just so excited for them all. A city sprint is pretty much the most motivating way to start a season. It really makes you hungry for more. Here is a quote that one of my teammates, Lauren Fritz had on her facebook that really made me smile:

"In high school my coach told me "If you want to race with the big dogs, you can't train with the puppies." 
Today I trained on the World Cup sprint course surrounded by the world's best Nordic skiers.
Wicked fun course in the city, can't wait to put on a bib Saturday."

The APU Team the night before many of their first races... plus Michael Henrich who joined us for massage this week. 
I just now arrived in Canmore, Alberta- where I will be racing thursday, saturday, and sunday for another World Cup weekend. I can't wait because my parents are finally going to watch their first world cup, which will be so exciting for them.

More news to come soon!

A great video from the team sprint day when the girls made some history.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Period 1 Racing

For the past three weeks I have been on the road with the APU team competing in my first period of racing. At the end of last season, I had a plan of racing the entire World Cup Season, but after a summer and fall plagued with injuries, I was forced to step back and find the best way to approach the season. This meant racing domestically for the first couple weeks of the season in West Yellowstone and Bozeman.

Doing nothing but aqua jogging and hiking uphill for the majority of the training season, I went into my first races having no expectations. My goal was simply to be able to race. I wanted to stand on the start line with a bib on, and have nothing but positive vibes, knowing two months ago, I was still struggling to be on my rollerskis for 30 minutes of training.

As my US Ski Team teammates left for Europe early this month, I got the same feeling I did over the summer when they took off for their Sweden Camp. I felt this pit in my stomach, “why can’t I be there”. But again, I had to convince myself I was doing what was best for the long term.
Cheering on my teammates for Relay day from afar!
Joining up with my APU teammates these past two weekends has been great. Waking up in the morning and seeing the results that my other teammates were producing on the World Cup was incredible. The buzz among our team, and the newfound determination was incredibly apparent. It’s as if this light popped on in all us, convincing us, “yes, we can do this”. We all felt the vibe, and we all challenged ourselves to step up our game one step further.

The racing for this first period got a little funny. First, there was no snow, which forced us to race up on the Plateau, around 7,500 feet… where the air is thin and the trails only seem to go uphill. Then as the races moved to Bozeman, each new race was forced to be moved further up the resort as the snow melted away much too fast. In the end, all the races were still able to happen, thanks to a huge amount of shoveling and extra effort that went into the events.
leading out a pack during the mass start- faster skier photo
I went into the first race, a 9k skate uphill with not an expectation in the world. My goal was simply to keep my head in a positive place the whole race. I knew the challenges I had this summer were not setting me up to feel like my normal self racing, so I simply had the goal of keeping the positive self talk. Somehow with the lack of air, and the “racing in the woods” atmosphere, I was able to finish in a decent place.

As one of our teammates yelled in the race, "Who really wants it"- fasterskier photo

After finishing that first race, the confidence and natural feelings came back. The thing that came trickling in was belief. Believing in myself was easily looked over as I faced all the challenges coming my way. Through this entire summer, I got countless emails and calls from my coaches and teammates reminding me that I had to believe that I could come out of this challenge, but its easier said than done. As I talked with my teammates on Skype after their historic podium in the relay, they told me about the one thing they kept reminding each other of during that race. “You have to believe you can do it”, so that’s what I have tried to focus on during this beginning part of the season. Even with the highs and lows that every season brings- it’s important to start the season remembering that I must first believe in myself, and then the door opens up.
Leading off one of the skate sprint heats- Lauren Fritz photo
Skate Sprinting- Erin Phillips photo
Leading off the start- Erin Phillips photo
And Sophie sneaks by with her special moves at the finish AGAIN!

So, back to the racing, here are a few highlights from the past few weeks.

1.     EBJ- my brother has been racing on fire! For the first couple races, somehow we kept getting the same place. We used to do this when we were younger too. Every running race we ever entered, somehow we always came out in the same place. I guess in this case its good news, since we are now both sitting as Supertour leaders, which means we both will be traveling to period 2 World Cups. I am supe excited for his World Cup Debut, it’s a whole new world for him now!

Erik dropping the pack- Fasterskier Photo
2.     My races somehow all seemed to build from the start. 4th place, 2nd place, 1st, and 1st.

A tired finish by the end of the race- Fasterskier photo
3.     Kikkan and I have somehow convinced the world that aqua jogging is the new training method. I can’t wait to see everyone try it!
4.     The APU team had a breakthrough as a whole. There will be 9 athletes attending the World Cups. Almost everyone on the team had a personal best in the past two weeks of racing!

Sweeping the podium with my teammates for the classic sprint! Erin Phillips photo
Lining up for the finals with Lauren Fritz who had a breakthrough race in the classic sprint! Yeah Lauren.
5.     APU got some new wax techs this year. The new young boys lived up to the challenge, and rocked! They were up until 1PM every evening and up at 4AM every morning. The hard work paid off though because we had rockin’ skis every race!
6.     My parents got to come watch the Bozeman races. They haven’t gotten to see me race in two years after being sick for Nationals last year, so that was pretty exciting!
7.     My injuries were able to stay in a good place for these first races, which gives me hope for full recovery! Yehoo
8.     I am currently sitting on the plane traveling to Quebec City for my first World Cups of the season. There will be a city sprint this weekend in Quebec City around the Parliament Building, team sprint and individual sprint. City sprints are by far the most exciting World Cup Racing gets. For a day you get to feel like a celebrity skiing along the man made snow laid down along the streets. As people are screaming and trying to reach out to touch you behind the fences; you somehow find one new level of motivation and determination to be the best. I couldn’t be more excited all my APU teammates get to experience this, I can only imagine this is going to lift the bar for our training group one step higher!

And... this is what we will be sprinting around!
So with that- its back to joining up with the US Ski Team, and the rest of the speedy Europeans. Lots of exciting times coming soon!

Monday, November 26, 2012

2nd Annual Cascade Challenge Camp

Erik and I will be home again this Christmas- so we are calling all J3, J4, and J5 skiers that will be in the Methow Valley on Sunday, December 23 to come and join us for some skiing. Last year we had tons of fun getting to know some of the young stars from around the region, so we have been looking forward to the Challenge Camp all year again!

We will be doing lots of fun activities including drills, skiing, a little education, and more. It is free, but we are putting a limit at 50 people this year- so be the first ones to sign up!

Click the link below, and you will be able to find the sign up sheet.
Sign Up Link

There will be waivers to sign day of, so please bring a guardian into the Mazama Community Center to quickly take care of that.

What to bring: skate skis, a lunch, warm clothes, water, and a big smile!

This year Erik and I will be doing a special trivia at the end of the day on US Skiing. There will be lots of fun prizes, so remember to study up on what has been happening in US Skiing in the past couple of years.

See the poster below for more information.

We can't wait!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Kikkan Effect

Fasterskier wrote a great article about the the direction of sport in our country. It is motivated by the Kikkan Effect. A great article to check out.

The Kikkan Effect

Monday, October 29, 2012


Since getting back from Park City Camp, Anchorage has yet to get any snow. Of course, when every skier is looking for moisture, the sun finally decides to show in AK. With no snow, the temperatures haven't hesitated to resemble the typical Alaskan weather at this time of year. As temps dropped down into the single digits, rollerskiing gets less fun! Pounding freezing cold pavement isn't exactly the nicest thing for your joints. But, with a little extra clothes, and a longer than usual warm up- we made it happen.

One day we were rollerskiing at a local park, where all the ducks have decided to reside around a half frozen pond. They also have chosen to poop all over the trail. So, aside from the trail being half frozen, our skis were also being stopped and tripped up by frozen pooo. It provided for some laughing, a little swearing, and fortunately only one fall that didn't end up too bad.

frozen poo and lots of ducks!
Last weekend was also the annual APU ski swap, where all the elite athletes pass down our great equipment to the younger generation of skiers. This is one of the neatest qualities about this elite/junior/devo team. A great pair of skis never leaves the team as someone grows out of them, it just keeps living down the chain. The ski swap is also a time that Kikkan takes the opportunity to clear out her closet and raffle off all her stuff to the young kids. This is one of the most exciting things I have ever watched. Kikkan manages to accumulate some pretty awesome gear, so the kids get called out by number, have 10 seconds to pick something on the table, and then the next person goes. It's a pretty awesome thing Kikkan does- and I am sure that 90% of those kids mark the day on the calendar, it's that exciting!!
Kikkan and the surrounding group!
Marit Flora with her awesome new hat made by one of the skiers on the Swedish Team.
Oscar Flora with psyched on his new get-up!
On that same day we had one of the young devo team boys and Rob Whitney put on a fundraiser run for Mary Robicheaux, a young devo on our team that got hit by a car while she was biking. Mary has been in the hospitals for the past two months as she is learning to walk again. She suffered a fractured skull, many broken bones in both legs, a broken spine, and a tough road to recovery. She has been amazing though as she has continued to improve from day to day with a whole lot of heart. Anyways, one of her friends, Luke Jager headed up a running race for the community. He set up a little 5k course that weaved over logs, through trees, around in circles... you name it. It was pretty fun. It was amazing to see the community come together, with around 300 participants, who managed to raise $14,000 for Mary's recovery.
Some boys with some awesome outfits and great spirit! 
Some of the APU skiers at the race.
The Skhoop Goddess, and some of my greatest supporters. Osa and John Lapkass
So, this leads to last weekend. On Wednesday last week, I headed up to Fairbanks for a little on-snow time. Since Fairbanks has about 3 inches of snow, our team was off to find it. This weekend is also the First Tracks Camp, where all the skiers of Alaska group together for the first "on-snow" camp of the season. It is pretty awesome, they all get to chase all the elite skiers around during training, and then there are a bunch of talks set up from Nutritionists, Health Specialists, NCAA skiers and coaches, and the World Cup Team. With everyone in the same place, everyone gets to take advantage of the others around them. This is the first time I have attended one of these First Tracks Camp, but it is pretty amazing. Thanks Matt  Hajdukavich and Challenge Life Alaska for an awesome time!
The First Tracks Crew with the bright colored instructors in front. Holly Brooks photo.
Dozens of 3 foot long Subway Sandwiches each day. Thanks Subway for donating them! Best after skiing lunch.
Thanks Dave Edic for letting us crash at your house!
Happy Halloween Cake!
The final day, we celebrated Halloween and dressed up in costumes for our ski. I was doing intervals this day, so it meant throwing down pretty hard in a pink onesie suit with a white cotton t-shirt on top. It provided for some entertainment though for sure. Kikkan and Holly also organized a "world-cup field" for the final day where they brought all their race suits from other countries they have accumulated, and then raffled off who got to wear them the final day. The kids also got to wear world cup bibs on top, so it was pretty hilarious to watch the "foreigners" skiing around.
Kikkan, Holly and I feeling the spirit.
Ripping out some intervals in the silly get-up.
The World Cup Field! Holly Brooks photo.
We also managed to squeeze in a Fast and Female event the final day. Thanks Becca for organizing. Here, a Fast and Female cheer!

After some fun Zumba dancing, stretching it out!

So after four days of sweet skiing, we had to head home for some good "home time" before leaving for the winter. This is also the hardest part. Trying to get your life truly organized before being gone from your home for potentially 5 months!! Yikes. In the mean time, if you see me on the side of the road dancing... I am just doing the snow dance!! C'mon snow.