Monday, December 23, 2013

The Highs and Lows of Period 1


I haven’t been great about blogging from weekend to weekend through Period 1 since I have spent most of my time that I am not skiing with my nose in my school books. I have two weeks off from school now, so I am finally catching up and finding some time to reflect on this past month and a half of racing in Period 1. I will take you through a couple highs and lows to give the summary of this awesome past 6 weeks!

Starting with Beito in my first race overseas, I finished with a confident place; and started to believe in myself from there. The next two weekends were full of classic skiing. The classic sprint and 5k Classic in Kuusamo, the 10k and classic leg of the relay in Lillehammer... I was having a classic dream come true. Each weekend I was finding new confidence, new belief in myself, and I was having so much fun!
NordicFocus photo
After arriving in Davos following my exciting weekend in Lillehammer filled with my first 4x5 relay medal; I was still jazzing on so much excitement and enthusiasm. I was struggling to sleep; because I just felt so excited all the time. When Erik Flora arrived on Tuesday, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I talked to him; I was still just so happy! As we skid around the courses in Davos, we caught up, and had some technique talk- I had some great AH-HA moments. We reviewed the racing, talked about where I can improve, talked about what is going well, and even came up with some new technique ideas... one of which was shortening my poles. After debating about this with Erik since three years ago when I joined his team; I finally gave in. I went and talked to the International Swix Techs, and they laughed at me. “You are using 150cm and 160cm”!!! They couldn’t believe it. So they happily cut a pair of mine down, and instantly I was in disbelief. It felt so much better! So with my new technique ideas, my new training ideas, and some new confidence from simply spending some time talking with Erik; I looked forward to the weekend of skate racing! I have been working on my skating this summer a lot; and I have started to make some improvements; so I couldn’t wait to put it to the test.
 
Figuring out some boot issues too- my newest boot has my name on the tag... may be spelled wrong, but it is the thought that counts!
But suddenly I came screeching into a low. When I woke up Friday morning, I had a sore throat. Not just the high altitude, dry climate sore throat; but the swollen, sick sore throat. I lay in bed for an extra ten minutes; trying to convince myself this was nothing, it would disappear if I went out and did some race prep. I haven’t been sick on the road since two years ago when I spent Nationals in Rumford on the side line as I fought off a terrible sinus infection. So, I was bummed to say the least! Not only that, I was so excited for this skate race! But what I had realized was that I was just running on too high of a “jazzed” level. I had been so stoked for three weeks, I was finishing up some very stressful finals in class, and my body just decided “ok Sadie, that’s enough mon ami”!!! As I moved out of the room, hoping to keep Ida healthy, I went across the road and spent a day in bed. On a positive note, I finished my entire Accounting Final- so I had one huge stone off my chest. Next was convincing myself to not be bummed out. Missing a race happens to everyone, and it won’t effect any outcomes if you relax and accept it. So after some good encouragement from Matt, Erik, and my teammates; I slept a night in piece, and woke up feeling so much better.
Spending some time with my good friend from home, Taylor Clayton. It was so nice seeing her, reminding me to keep things in perspective! She traveled all the way from Geneva on the train to watch me race. Sadly she got to see me stand on the side lines and get healthy instead- but still meant the world to see her on the other side of the world here!
My sore throat was gone, and I was feeling like I could have the energy to race on Sunday. Saturday consisted of another day of relaxing and sleeping, preparing for Sunday.

Sunday’s sprint turned out surprisingly well. I qualified into the heats, and went on to have a strong heat, and as I rounded the final corner setting up a good sling shot for the finishing stretch; I slipped on the ice and went down all too quickly. I got up, and skid into the finish bummed.... that was so close! I took ten minutes of frustration, and then moved on; many more healthy skate sprints to come! And with excitement, I watched three of my teammates qualify into the semi’s!! Sophie even went on to get 9th, her first top ten, on a tough course with a fully stacked field; INCREDIBLE and so exciting!!
 
Bryan Fish photo
So last week I spent the week trying to get healthy. After racing Sunday, my nose started running, and the sickness set in a little more. I took some days off, tried to really rest up, and I went into this weekend feeling healthy just in the nick of time! Friday morning I woke up without the usual congestion; and I knew I was set for another weekend of classic... yes!!
Doing some race prep as a team on Friday- Austin Caldwell photo
We wish it was actually snowing!!!
Soph and I are really trying to work on our lunges. This is us listening and really trying to understand as Matt explains lunges are more simple than you imagine!
This weekends world cup’s were held in Asiago, Italy. As we drove into town at night, and the city was surrounded with Christmas lights, and Christmas spirit, I instantly felt at home. I had this breath of “familiar feelings”. The holiday spirit just got me so excited and so happy! It turned out to be a wet and warm weekend! With temperatures far above freezing, the little white path of snow along the town park quickly became brown! By the end of the weekend it was much more dirt then there was snow!

I may not have a Christmas tree this year- but Asiago had one for me! Austin Caldwell photo
 
The streets were closed in the evening for walking, shopping and celebrating!
The view from Sophie and my balcony!
Saturday was the individual sprint, which went well. I qualified in 5th; and went on to finish 16th. I was a little disappointed to not make it into the semi’s- but this period has been a good learning curve for me! Each weekend, I get a little bit better at skiing heats. I hold my own a little more, I find some holes to move through the pack a little more, and I learn where I am loosing time on everyone! The cool news is I know I have the speed; now I just have to learn to apply it in the chaos! But it is coming!
 
Franco Sella photo
Getting ready for the start. Austin photo
Who said you were allowed to smile!!!???
The perfect example of a typical 90 degree corner on this course... keep your cool... and be the first one to the corner! Salomon photo
Sunday was the exciting part, the Team Sprint. I have always loved team sprinting because of its combination of endurance and sprinting skills. It is this hybrid race that has become one of my favorite events! US put two teams on the start line, both of which were in the fight for a medal all through the semi’s and finals- which was so exciting!! We put on our relay socks, fought hard, and came away super happy with a 5th and 8th place. We know we are within striking distance, and all we needed was the hope!!
Ida and I rocking the relay socks! Austin photo
We actually spent most of the race skiing with each other!
Trying to find the fastest snow... often not in the tracks! Austin photo
Both teams racing hard and in the mix- so awesome!! Austin photo

 I wrote a little “play by play” story on the National Nordic Foundation website; so be sure to go check it out. Here is the first scene of my story- be sure to visit National Nordic Foundation to see the full story! Just click on the blue, and it should take you there!

Scene 1- Preparation

Act 1: In Asiago, it all started with a 6 AM wake up call. Races were held early in Italy because of the warm temperatures and the quickly melting snow. This meant that techs were waking up at 4:45AM to start preparing and testing in the dark!! Yikes! A 6AM race morning means that I need to start my day with a cup of American Coffee to truly wake me up for a relay day!
 
An early and dark morning in the stadium- NordicFocus photo
Act 2: Head over to the venue, gather my equipment and start testing with my tech, Randy Gibbs. Last night they decided to salt the course, which means that the tracks are a mix of icy and soaking wet in the tracks. This means that I need to pick a ski that doesn’t grab on the ice, but also kicks when I have to jump in the tracks. Randy helps me dial this down, adjusting a few things here in there; always in the same calming voice reminding me that it will work! I pick my skis, hand them off to him, and head out to finish my warm-up
Randy, keeping his cool, and helping me get the very best skis! Eli Brown photo
Act 3: I do my final hot laps around the course making sure I am fully warmed up. I try some practice exchanges with Kikkan, visualize some places to go around people, and find places on the course to make moves. I look for best line out of the stadium, find the places on the course that the snow is still icy, and dial my entrances into the 180 degree corners.

coming in hot to an exchange. Austin photo
 
So pumped and proud of my teammates!! Austin photo
I have now arrived in France, where I will be spending two weeks resting and recharging for the rest of the season. I will get to spend Christmas with my boyfriend and his family here, so my first holiday away from home will hopefully feel like home! Just like the Methow, there is not much snow here.... so it is starting familier!

Happy Holidays to everyone and thanks for following and sending so many encouraging emails this past 6 weeks! They have meant to world. I wish you the best warm wishes through the holiday! 

1 comment:

Taposy Rabeya said...

I really love your photos - you captured so many great details. i like these because these are very enjoyable, unique and easy to understand. Thanks for sharing.
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