Friday, April 20, 2012

Big THANKS to all my Supporters and Sponsors

Now that the season is coming to an end and I am looking back to review it and set new goals for next year- I want to take the chance to really thank and recognize the people that helped make it possible this year.

After being named to the National Team this year, about three months before the World Cup Season began, the US Team received a massive budget cut, cutting all funding available to B-team members for World Cup Skiing. Being determine to make things work, I set out on a search for supporters. With a knowledge that I would be spending 5 months racing at $150/day plus all air fair between venues, as well as overseas two times- I set out on a search to raise $30,000. I frantically applied for every grant I could find, and started asking for help.

I want to thank my many friends, family, supporters, sponsors, club teams, and everyone else for stepping up and generously offering your help via financial support, cheers, and/or pointing me in a new direction. The US faces a unique challenge in that we must fund our way to success. Many times this may seem tough, frustrating, and unrealistic- but at the same time I think it challenges us to develop new skills and create a family of supporters. When we get our moment of success or glory, we get to share that success with the thousands of people that got us there.

I am just at the beginning of my career, and I know that this year has only set a bar for my future. I look forward to continuing to set new goals and chase after these goals. With the Olympics only two years away now, and a recent jump in motivation among american skiing-the US has a presence on the World Cup now. We are excited to show up, mix it up, and be competitive among the European and Scandinavian countries. It truly is an exciting time.

With that, we are still faced with the same financial challenges going into next year as well- so the quest for support continues.

I want to take the time to recognize and thank some of the crucial people that made it work for me this year. First off, thanks to my home town for putting their forces together to get the 501c3 Elite Opportunity Fund running. The Methow Valley has a large amount of talent that has come from it, and I know that will only continue. With some of the best skiing in the world, and many enthusiastic athletes- it's hard to not grow up loving the sport. So thanks to everyone that either donated to this Fund, or helped put it together.

Second, thanks to my present team, APU for making it possible. I couldn't be happier with a group of people and coaches to work with every day and then show up at races with! I have a pretty unique opportunity where I get to attend school full time while racing as an elite athlete. This has taught me a great deal about time management, being flexible, and burring your head in the books while racing. It is a special thing going on at APU with an incredible amount of talent and enthusiasm. Thanks to Erik Flora for leading the charge, and getting it done!!
Rockin Support Crew!!

Third, I want to thank the US Ski Team. The support and structure that is set up for all of us athletes traveling on the World Cup is incredible. Every wax tech and coach is there to make it happen. If it means bending over ackwards to make sure you are comfortable, set for success, and prepared for everything- they will do it. Thanks guys!
Thats what success looks like! Kikkan with her Crystal Globe and the  US support Staff
Fourth, I want to thank the National Nordic Foundation. This is something the US cross country ski community has worked to put together in order to support a variety of talented athletes in the US. Starting at the J1 level, the NNF has tried to make it possible for the young incoming talent to be able to attend races in Europe for the first time. As they work up the chain, this organization has also helped me attend World Juniors and U23's for the past six years, along with many other young stars. Thanks to Dave Knoop for leading that charge and donating so much time towards helping athletes. Also a big thanks to the many people that have donated to this cause.

Fifth, I want to thank all my teammates. My US Team teammates, my APU teammates, my NAWTA teammates- all of them. Thanks for pushing me, supporting me, and being great friends. You guys rock!!
One Team among many different teams!
This fall I started working with Carlile Transportation for my headgear sponsor. Little did I know that I was being introduced into a new group of amazing, happy, enthusiastic people. It has been nothing but wonderful working with everyone over there- not to mention learning about the trucking industry around Alaska and the lower 48. I want to thank Harry McDonald for being such a generous supporter of the APU program!

Alaska Ski Education Foundation and United States Olympic Committee. Thanks for the support through Grants you provide to the athletes! Every bit truly helps!

Fischer, Salomon, Swix, Skhoop, Rudy Project, Hammer. Thanks for keeping me speedy with fast skis, comfortable boots, speedy poles, stylish clothing, speedy eyewear, and healthy!

And finally, thanks to all the wonderful people that sent support through various manners. Maybe even kind notes, cheers, or high fives. You are all wonderful people and help keep me going. I can't tell you how much it means to get a nice email after a good race, or a response to one of my blogs. I love to hear that people are out there cheering and watching. Like I said, being able to share these goals and this passion with others is what makes it so special.

With a benchmark year done and over- I am now looking forward to this next year. Next years highs will be World Championships in Val di Fiemme as well as the World Cup in Sochi. The Sochi races will be the test drive for the following Olympic Year. Exciting times to come!!

It's crazy, and maybe a bit hard to believe- but only 1 more weeks before training for next year begins. WOW!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fast and Female Craftsbury

Just a fun little blurb on our fast and female event in Craftsbury after spring nationals.
Article on Fast and Female

Thanks all you kiddies for coming out- we love meeting you and sharing our skills and excitement with you. Also thanks to everyone for helping put it on!

The big crew!
teaching some skiing and keeping it colorful!

Chandra sharing the secret to her speedy skills

Monday, April 2, 2012

End of the Season

In the past three weeks I have gradually been making my way closer and closer to home as I raced my body to the bottom of the fuel tank. After leaving the 30k Holmenkollen race, I headed for Dobiacco, Italy where I planned to compete in a three series OPA Finals Competition. Unfortunately I came down with the MEAN stomach bug two days out. After spending the whole night over the toilet and the following day- I decided it wouldn't be so smart to race. Sooo, instead I slept, attempted to get some food down, enjoyed the sunshine and used that loud voice of mine for some cheering. I have to say, it was pretty interesting watching some of my closest European competitors ski. Rarely do I get to see what they are skiing like- so that was sort of fun.
cheering on Erik during the races in Italy
The APU ladies team that was traveling around on OPA 

Following that I headed back to Vermont to meet up with my club team for Spring Series. Our first couple days in Vermont were more like spring vacation than anything. It was 80 degrees out and beautiful. You could literally hear the snow melt as you skid around with no shirt and shorts. It was incredible!! I even had to visit the local thrift shop for some "warm weather clothing" as my wardrobe of clothing did not exactly have "summer" in mind.
some would call this water skiing
Luckily temperatures dropped shortly afterwards, otherwise I think we would have been running our spring series races. Craftsbury has been working super hard for the entire winter farming enormous piles of man-made snow for the event, so it was hard to even tell it was summer when you were on the little magic white path through the forest.
waxing on the grass..!!

This years spring series event was made up of four races with a combined effort ending in a hill climb up the alpine hill. Following that we had our 30k skate National Championships to top off the broken body. After missing Nationals during Christmas time due to a sickness that took me down for the month- I was excited to finally get to do some domestic races. Every single race I had started this year was either a World Cup or U23 Championships.

With the certain lack of snow, all of the races throughout the week were around a 1.5k loop that managed to do a good amount of climbing. Starting with the 2.5km Prologue, I managed to finish on the podium in 3rd place. The following day was a mass start classic race, which was pretty exciting for me! Having never really excelled in mass starts, I decided to just have fun and see what happened. With two preems on the course, one at about 3k and one at 5k, I decided to sprint for the money. At the second preem I looked around realizing nobody was around me- and really went for it. Looking back I realize that was maybe a bit aggressive, but it managed to work out. At about 8km, my roommate and one of my closest friends, Rosie Brennan pulled up beside me. As she said "Sadie lets make this happen", I found a second wind and we worked together to hold off the rest of the field finishing first and second. Having never won a domestic mass start, I was pretty stoked on the race. I was even more stoked for Rosie, who had her break through race of the year!! Not only that, APU swept the podium for the day, with Holly Brooks finishing 3rd. I have to say, there is nothing more fun than sweeping the podium with your teammates- there is a unique feeling that comes with that!
APU podium sweep
Herb Swanson Photo
Jessie and I working together in Mass Start- Herb Swanson Photo
With a day off in between, the next race was a classic sprint. Qualifying 2nd, sandwiched between two of the best sprinters in the world, I was pretty stoked to finally ski some heats. Racing on World Cup all year only allowed me to ski two heats; once in Turkey and once on my last World Cup Sprint of the year. Unfortunately in my semi-finals, I got a little blocked by another skier, so went on to skiing B-finals. Still, that was about 3 more races than usual for a sprint day!
Skiing some heats alongside the dirt... don't want to get thrown off the trail on this course!!
Leading the charge w/ Kikkan

With my placing throughout the week I started the final day leading the tour, and getting chased down (rather up) by Liz, Jessie and Holly up the massive alpine slope. Having always HATED this race, I decided to just shut my brain down. Those three girls are some of the best climbers in the world, as they have proved in the final climb of the tour de ski- so as they passed me I tried to stay positive. One foot in front of the next, I managed to get myself up the hill, holding myself in 4th position for the Mini-Tour! Much better than I have ever finished in these final spring series races.

After one more rest day, it was time for the 30k skate. Having only done two 30k races  before, both classic- this was a bit of a new experience for me. With the small amount of snow left in Craftsbury, we were set to do 20 laps on the 1.5k loop. After talking with the girls, I decided that we were going to treat it like 20 victory laps in celebration of what an amazing season everyone has had this year. Right from the gun, those 20 victory laps were clearly going to hurt! Settling in with a group of 5 other strong skiers, we went around the loops hammering the big hill all 20 times, and working together to get through the deep slush. Skating has always been my weaker stroke, and especially when things start exceeding 15k. Going into the race with no huge expectations, I was pretty excited to be able to hold onto the group and finish in 9th on the day! To me, that was my own personal victory, and a great way to finish the season! With all the people out there cheering, and Craftsbury's amazing ability to keep the event possible despite the conditions- I was just so happy! Happy to be there, and happy to be done!
Working with the pack of ladies- fasterskier photo

The following day we all go dressed up in bright clothes, brought out the boom-box and stood at the top of the hill dancing and cheering for all 33 laps of the mens 50k. Another sweet finish to the season.
got to have the beats when you are cheering loud!
The cheering squad
This season has been long, but so great in so many ways. It has been amazing to be part of a team that has continuously pushed all year long. Every person on our team had an exceptional break through, and one of them even came home as the best sprinter in the world! It is an incredibly exciting time to be part of this sport as all of us are working hard to push that bar even higher! Thanks to the US Ski Team, APU and Erik Flora for steering me in the right direction and making sure we believe we can do this!
The rockin APU squad. Always kicking butt and having fun!!
This year has been a huge motivator and learning lesson for the many years ahead. With my first year on the World Cup, my first World Cup medal, my first World Cup Point, my first time to Russia and many more firsts.... this would have never been possible without the financial support of so many people that jumped in to help. The success that we all experienced this year was only possible because the people from back home jumped in and helped us work towards our goals. So thanks to everyone! You guys are all wonderful, generous people with a passion- and I am fortunate to be able to share that with you!

For now its catching up on the life that I put on hold for the past five months! Sleeping in my bed last night was amazing, but not as amazing as waking up and picking a new outfit out of my closet! Man did I miss it back here in AK.... although there seems to be about 30 times more snow here than I have seen all winter combined. I guess AK was hogging it all.

Thanks to Everyone and more updates from my spring adventures to come.