I am just finishing up my week of Championships here in Val di Fiemme... looking back on all the great moments. At the same time, I am going through the process of reviewing my week and thinking about all the things that went very well, and the things to improve for next time. I must say, I didn't have quite the Championships that I was hoping for, but in other ways- things were also very positive.
|Matt giving us some pointers for the classic sprint (fasterskier photo)|
As a ski racer you can never look at anything as a failure. If you did, you wouldn't make it very far beyond one year of racing on the World Cup- because this process is not very forgiving. The difference between an average day and an overly excellent day could be .15 seconds... one size larger boot. Or the difference between putting one too many layers of kick wax on your ski, or simply the difference between finding one more gear of energy for the last climb of the course. It is all so small, yet so important. So even though my two individual start races were less than my best, there were some very encouraging parts at the same time!
|Salomon Photo- Racing through the stadium in the Pursuit|
So in honor of moving forward in a positive manner; here are a few of the things about Val di Fiemme that I won't be forgetting.
1. Fans! After having my first World Championships in Oslo, my standards of World Championships fans was set sort of high. To my surprise though, these Italian fans lived up to the challenge. Maybe 70% of them traveled all the way from Norway... but regardless they were out there in full force. It was also special to have so many US fans as well. World Masters took place somewhere near here, so there was an extra bunch of familiar voices and faces out there that made it special!
|One of the stands full of spectators! (Fasterskier photo)|
2. Hills- Holy hills! This venue knows how to test your fitness, test your mental strength, and test your hill climbing. I remember many of my teammates warning me of this after they raced the final stages of the tour here last year... but I didn't experience the full feeling of it until racing. It was fun to test my hill climbing skills though.
|UP we go- USSA photo|
|And more UP- USSA photo|
3. Wax Crew- This week has been one of the most challenging weeks for waxing yet. With temperatures hanging around zero, and constantly changing... things get tricky and tough. The techs have been incredible at working hard and moving forward. The important thing to remember is just like an athlete, tech teams have tough days as well. Even if they are putting 100%, there will always be challenging days. So thanks techs for working your butts off and always staying positive.
|Group Effort!!- USSA photo|
4. Records- While the week started off with much less than our best, the following days were filled with records, bests, firsts and everything else. Kikkan and Jessie set the mood with winning the team sprint for US Nordics FIRST World Championship Gold. That was one of my more emotional moments of being a ski racer. As I watched the girls ski their hearts out and cross the line first, emotion struck. As tears rolled down the faces of all the US group… I may have spotted a tear rolling down the Norwegian coaches face too. Finally, US is a force to recon with. Over the years as Kikkan has set an example of believing that we can compete, the rest of our team has started following along!
|A team celebration after Jess and Kikk win the first ever World Champs Gold!! (Fasterskier photo)|
|Making records and having fun! USSA photo|
5. Sunshine- It is hard to not absolutely love every second of the day when you are out ski racing hard in the sun. Black suits sometimes make that experience a little more miserable than it should… but for the most part, the sunshine always brings out the best in us! If there is one thing you can count on in Italia, that is sun!
|soaking in the sun! USSA photo|
6. Team Spirit- The team “spirit” has been great throughout the week. The success of the team just spreads through our group. I think this is one of the things that is bringing us to a higher level as a team. Because one person’s success is contagious, it helps us all believe!
|Jessie- you did it!!!|
|Matt, the ladies, and the medals!|
7. Relay- Yesterday I got to participate in my first World Cup 4x5 relay. Since being a young girl, relay racing has always been my favorite. There is something about the different pressure, and your collective effort… it just gets me in a new level of energy… as with all the US ladies. Aside from being fun, the US Team managed to finish our best result ever in history. Although we were just off the podium, we were extremely stoked with a 4th place finish. This was a huge improvement from our last World Championship finish in 9th. With our goals set on a medal of course, we came away proud and pleased that we had reached 4th place! Everyone skied their hearts out, and our goal is certainly attainable in the near Olympic future!
|Using the relay socks for the first time ever- Fasterskier photo|
All of these things have made this Championship week incredible and memorable. With two more races to go, the 30 and 50k, we will be back on World Cup soon. Next weekend we will be racing a 10k Classic and Team Sprint, so some more exciting racing in the near future!
|Salomon photo- Classic Sprinting|
Here is a funny photo from the local paper. I have been hoping all week to get in there just once, but I wasn’t quite expecting this one. This is what google translate says:
What the Photo Symbol of the World
Let's say that the scene was the most beautiful and the American athlete of the relay this morning (yesterday, ed), shooting as he undressed. Sadie Bjørnsen has affected all of us photographers, the femininity and grace of gesture, of usual when it comes to the masculinity of athletes.
Thanks everyone for the cheers and nice emails this week. I really appreciate it!! A few more days here, and then off to Scandinavia!