Monday, January 30, 2012


I am trying to just write a quick blog with photos as we are waiting to take off for Russia. This past week has been a week of training, powder skiing, smiling, and good times here in Ramsau, Austria. It has been nice to break the racing up and put in some good hard training efforts.

Welcome to the American Ladies condo!!
Beautiful white mountains surrounding all the awesome ski trails distributed throughout the Ramsau valley.
North American ladies post interval session... wishing we were going for a little heli-ski trip.
enjoying the powder on my nordi-gear
An awesome post-training snack with some great bread and coffee.
Waffle time, after the good long OD
North American ladies headed out to dinner in town.
Ramsau was home to World Championships several years back, so here I am by the official logo of the Championships.
Thats all for now. Today we will make our way to the airport, and then fly to Russia tomorrow. Thursday is the city sprint in Moscow, which should be amazing! I have never been to Russia, so I am looking forward to it. Following that, Saturday and Sunday will be the distance races in Rybinsk.

Take care all!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Otepaa double-classic

Last weekend, we departed from beautiful sunny Italia to the double classic weekend of World Cup racing in Otepaa, Estonia. Last year we had Junior World/U23 Championships there, so it was sweet to return to a venue I finally recognize. Unfortunately we skid an "easier version" of the world cup course last year, so little did I know how hard the Otepaa classic course was. Everyone always talks about how it's the hardest course on the World Cup... and now I understand why.

Otepaa Stadium Scene
Saturday was a classic sprint, with lots of double pole, and few hills. Many of the boys opted to go on skate gear, and double pole everything. Luckily girls never got to that level of hard core, so we got to do a few strides in the middle of the course with some kick wax. Once again I "just missed the heats" by a slight half of second, finishing 32nd... darn! One of these times I am going to remember to do an extra pole on the corner, take a shorter line, or lunge a little larger.... and make those darn heats!!! Last weekend was nice though, because with a much deeper field than the weekend before, I was still almost there.
Newell and Harvey during the heats. Newell had a sweet race, advancing onto the semi's, only to be stopped by a russian collision that managed to put a hole through his ski :(
The following day we had a 10k classic distance race on an exceptionally hard course. With three solid herring-bone hills, it sure kept your muscles working the whole time! To make things crazier, every downhill recovery seemed to be an alpine style, catching air type of downhill. Good fun!! I haven't gotten to do a distance race since nearly a month now, so I was looking forward to simply feeling the actual "pain" of racing again.

We stayed in a hotel with this sweet spa attached to the side. Hot tubs, pools, sauna's, steam rooms... everything. Unfortunately, I never got to try them out, but I can only imagine. Here is a hot tub, a medium heat tub, and then a pool that connects to outside... so a cold tub!!
Sunday was funny in that we didn't start our race until 3:30 in the evening for TV purposes. Being in Scandinavia means that daylight starts disappearing right about that time. By the end of the race I was skiing my warm down in the dark. It was new and hilarious in a way. The race set up similar to my last distance race in Davos- in that I had Kikkan starting 30 seconds behind me. Last time Kikkan must have passed me within 5 minutes of the start, so I went from the gun this time running from the big bad wolf. I was also trying to pace myself for the difficult course, but each new kilometer I covered without the sound of her breathing behind me turned into a bit of a game. I ended up having so much fun, and just enjoying the fact that I was back to healthy and able to race. Its funny how much you crave the actual pain of racing when you are sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else race!

At the end of the day I was stoked and excited! Finishing 34th was my best distance race of the year, and for the first time in a while, I got a real positive feeling in the race. As I told Fasterskier, sometimes it's hard to find the little positive achievements in your own races when your teammates are kicking butt, finishing in the top twenty. Thats when you have to step back, take a look at the big picture and remember that it's one step at a time, even though I would rather be skipping. We had three US ladies in the top 20, and then all of us in the top 40... so a solid day for US ladies for sure!! It's amazing how high the bar continues to be raised as each new race, someone new pops something great. What an exciting time!

Lucky for me, we now have a week off of racing where we will have the opportunity to get some good training in. Missing a month of training in the middle of the season is hard to come back from. You never get that good feeling when you are out there skiing. So, this means I am going to soak in every training moment and get the body ready again!!

Erik Flora has been over here with us since last weekend and will be until after Russia, which has been soo nice. It's always so much more meaningful to have your coach watch you and see where you are, rather than trying to tell them. Not to mention, when you feel like dirt the day before the race, he is there to convince you, "ah, you will feel great tomorrow, don't you worry". What a cool deal.

Erik getting his time to shine in the coaches race!!
Currently we are spending the week in Ramsau, Austria doing some powder training. The snow just keeps coming down!! We are staying in cute little apartments, cooking some of our own meals, having so much fun relaxing for a bit. Last night we took a trip down the hill a few kilometer to watch the Schladling world cup night slalom races along with 40,000 drunken austrian fans. The scene was incredible, it was sooo much fun!!

The view of the run as we drove down the hill from Ramsau. Check out all the people on the side... SOOO many!
THE SCENE!! It's so fun to be on the other side of an event like this, being the spectator. We are always on the athlete side, in our own zone, trying to avoid the chaos of spectators. When you stand on the other side, you gain so much more respect for the spectators with so much enthusiasm!! It's just incredible!
Yeah buddy!! Showing some American pride.
Today is Ida's birthday, so we dressed her up in a crown and pink suspenders and went for a ladies distance ski. It was sweet. We have Canadian superstar Chandra Crawford staying with us this week, so the seven of us ladies went out and had a sweet ski filled with perfect powder, lots of smiles and laughing, tons of tourists, and bit of sunshine. Life is real good here in Europe with a team of wonderful ladies!

Seven speedy ladies and one birthday girl!!
Next up will be Moscow city sprints not this weekend, but next, followed by some distance races in Rybinsk. In the meantime its some solid training mixed with a little fun and hopefully some sunshine soon!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Back to the World Cup

After spending a couple days in Craftsbury, Vermont- I jetted over to Milan, Italy to join back on the World Cup circuit for the next couple of months.

Last weekend was a bit of a mixed bag for several reasons. First, we arrived a day and a half before our first race- so I spent my weekend of racing jet legged out of my mind. Fortunately, my first night I slept, but spent the following three nights getting four hours of sleep if I was lucky. The cool thing about this is I learned in situations like this your body just goes into survival mode and you don't even notice you don't sleep, until you have a huge delayed crash (which I had yesterday). The second part of the weekend was that having just gotten healthy the day before flying, I hadn't done any intensity since the last race a month ago in Davos. Instead of looking at this as a disadvantage though, I managed to convince myself it was good, as I would be very rested for the races. The third part of this weekend was that we were in the massive Italian city of Milan, ski racing!!

The view just down the street from our race. City Center.
Ida Sargent and I arrived in the afternoon thursday, so we took the time to take the train down to the city and check out "the city of fashion", keeping us from falling asleep back at the hotel. As we walked out of the station, we were greeted with huge buildings, thousands and thousands of people dressed in fashionable black attire, and endless stores filled with shoes, fur jackets, skinny jeans, and underwear! Following the direction of travel, we found ourselves walking through a castle into a park where they were spreading down snow for our race. I couldn't believe it... we were literally sprinting right in the middle of this incredible city!! It was soo neat. Not to mention it was so warm, people were walking around in shorts and t-shirts. What a new experience.
Machines laying down the courses the day before.
Ida and I standing out among the fashionable people surrounding us.
Warming up on the course with the castle visible in the background.
The following two days started with first the individual sprint, and then a day of team sprinting. The first day, I managed to qualify 31st, just missing the heats by .1 seconds. It was frustrating because it was so close to making heats... like I am convinced that if I would have worn a size larger boot, I would have made it. Regardless, it was my best individual start so far this year, so it was also motivating. The second day was a team sprint, which I teamed up with Ida sargent, while Kikkan and Jessie teamed up as well. Ida and I got to ski some good rounds with the girls, going on to finish 7th in our heat, so not moving on to the finals unfortunately. In the meantime, Kikkan and Jessie were throwing down, qualifying on to the finals, and eventually placing 2nd!!! Another team sprint podium for the US ladies, it was so awesome and exciting!! Also, the canadians girls got to join them on the podium, finishing 3rd. It was a sweet day for the American crew!!! It's always a great feeling to see we can in fact compete with the Europeans.

Sprinting. Fasterskier photo. Good article of the weekend at:
North American beauties with their flowers! Congrats to some impressive racing!!
Ida and I getting our cheer on for our teammates
Aside from the excitement of the big city as well as the racing, the crowd was incredible. There were Italians out there dressed in crazy outfits, revving skill saws and blowing horns. Anything they could do to make noise and push on the skiers. It was just so incredible!! The italian men managed to finish third, which made the home crowd just go nuts!! As the Italians skid a victory lap, I watched how much it meant to the crowd to see their home team succeed, it gave me goosebumps. I just love the enthusiasm people bring to our sport over here!

After the last race, we headed for the road eventually ending high up in the mountains of Seiser Alm, Italy. Driving in the dark and jumping in a snow cat to get to our hotel made waking up the next morning the most incredible thing! There was white mountains all around me, the sun was shining and it was gorgeous!! Just so beautiful. After putting on my skis and racing down the hill, the jet leg and lack of sleep finally hit. I became so tired I had to slow to a stop. If it wasn't so beautiful out, and I wasn't doing the best classic skiing I had all year- I believe I would have sat down and started to cry. I had finally hit the wall. As I walked up the hill in exhaustion, I started to think about how lucky I am. I get to ski in the most incredible places during the year of racing! Many people from the US dream about spending time in places like this, as it seriously feels like heaven!

US ladies crew (minus Holly who is healing up her hand at the moment, but back soon)
Great views!!!
Ida and I getting snuggly in our mini European pullout bed.
Aside from getting in some good training, we have found some new sources of entertainment like sledding down the alpine hill, soaking in the sun, and checking out the spa. I am in love with Italy!!

Newell getting his sled on!!
The sledding crew after the speediest, most enjoyable sled ride ever!
Today we will head to Munich for the night and then fly to Estonia tomorrow for this weekends world cup races in Otepaa. The races will be a classic sprint the first day, and then a 10k classic race on sunday. I competed at this venue for U23's last year, so I am looking forward to going to a place I know, it should be fun.

Lets just hope they have snow, and it is a little warmer this time than last :)

Cheers all!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A week to remember

I wish I could be writing this blog about what a great week of racing I had last week at National Champs, and how wonderful it was to break up my european racing with a little racing in the US... but sometimes things just don't work out as planned. Sometimes, you fall during your warm-up at the Olympics and break a bunch of ribs. Sometimes you fall running on Christmas, break your wrist, and are forced to race the Tour de Ski with a broken hand. And sometimes, you travel home to the US for Nationals, and you spend the week standing on the sidelines, cheering on your competitors, only wishing you could join them at the line. This is what happened to me last week in Rumford, Maine.

Christmas was a tough time for me. A long travel home from Europe, then shortly after, a trip to Seattle and back, and then soon after a travel to Maine that turned into two nights of no sleep due to some unfortunate plane cancellation. With so much travel, mixed with the excitement of being around my family, and taking care of a lot of stuff during the short two weeks a year I am home in the Methow- my health was what suffered. I managed to catch a cold about halfway through the break, but never gave myself enough of a rest to really fight it. With a rough travel to Maine, the cold that "just kept giving" managed to strike again shortly after arriving. Spending the first part of the week resting, somewhere along the way my sinus's took the brunt. I used to suffer from a lot of sinus infection problems a few years ago, but I haven't had one since, so at the first sign of sinus issues, I knew it was time to get serious. This was not just some cold that I could ski through. Sinus's are a funny thing, where if you ignore the infection, chances are it's going to come back and get you real bad in the near future. Having made that mistake a few too many times in the past, I made the hard decision to sit out the race, and hope I would wake up feeling better the following day.

Going into the week, as I realized my health was not in the right place, I decided to take one day at a time. I wasn't going to write the whole week off from the beginning, rather I was going to make decisions daily. In the back of my mind though, I was convinced I would be skiing with a bib by the end.
APU ladies with our new Swix uniforms and E'KLAAR hats
Lucky for me, I have a coach that understands and monitors sickness very well. Having lived mistakes before during his career, Erik has made it a goal of his to keep athletes from doing similar mistakes. Right from the start, Erik listened and watched quietly, allowing me to call the decision- but overriding when it was necessary. As the wise old lady said, "patience is a virtue", and thats what I had to go by this week. Near the end of the week, I was so frustrated, I couldn't take it anymore, and told Erik I would race the final race. While doing race prep the day before, the little voice inside my head silently shouted, "what are you doing!!". By the end of my workout, after a few silent tears, I knew what the right thing to do was, even though I didn't really want to accept it. Leaving for Europe shortly after this race meant that it was even more important to be 100% when I get on the plane.

Even though this week was emotionally very hard for me, there were some great things that came out of it. First, in order to not infect my teammates with my "cold that just kept giving", I moved in with my parents. This meant that I got to spend an extra week with them, which was super awesome! Even though they didn't get to watch me race after traveling across the country, at least we got some time together. The second thing was, in order to keep my mind off of the frustration of being sick, I spent my spare time doing French lessons on Rosetta Stone. I have a short break in school at the moment, so I took the opportunity to start learning the language that my boyfriend speaks. I have always been frustrated with my inability to speak any other language well, so now I have a good reason to actually change that. Third, I got to spend some time with my home team. APU has such an awesome team filled with lots of excitement! I always love coming back to spending time with them. With lots of new faces on the team it was fun to see the new dynamics and the new energy in the group!
Doing some cheering with an Alaskan group of ladies
I also got to watch some really impressive racing. When you are in the race, you never get to see what it looks like, and how your closest competitors are skiing. But standing on the sideline, I got a great view. It was fun to cheer them on, but at the same time emotionally hard. Luckily I was getting constant blasts of positive emails from my teammates over racing in Europe as well as good support from the APU crew. With so much positive energy, its hard to be down very long. So thanks everyone, I really appreciated it!

I got to watch one of my close friends, and teammate win her first US Nationals medal. The coolest part is Kate Fitzgerald would have never dreamt of winning a silver medal in a sprint race a year ago. So stoked for you Fitz!! Big Congrats!
I also got to break up my week with an annual Fast and Female event in Bethal, Maine. This time was a bit different than usual in that Jessie Diggins and I actually ran the event. Having always been an ambassador in the past, it was fun to take a bit more responsibility and take on a larger task. There was a good turnout, with around 80 girls- so there was lots of smiles, stories and inspiration.

The group of Fast and Female ladies
I am now training in Craftsbury, Vermont before taking off for Milan, Italy tomorrow. This place is like the skiing mecca of the east. Great skiing, good food, great living conditions and awesome people. Lars Flora and I just got back from coaching a junior group. Craftsbury has a great system where you work off your living costs by volunteering for various things. What better way to make your trip affordable than to coach little kids!! They all came from Liz Stephans town, so I got to teach them all of Liz's best tricks so that they can beat her when she comes back. Thanks Craftsbury for the hospitality!!

Next up: We will race a city sprint on Saturday, and then a team sprint on Sunday, both skate in Milan, Italy. Hopefully the short turnover for time adjustment and travel will not get to the best of us. The sinus's are feeling better daily, so think it will be time to pull the bib on this weekend finally!

More updates to come from the "city of fashion" this weekend.