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! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Power to BELIEVE

I am just closing in on a Sunday night from the most exciting weekend of being part of the World Cup so far: An individual 7thplace in the 10k classic and then a World Cup Podium in the 4x5km. I stood on the podium once before with Kikkan three long years ago, but it sure was fun to jump up there again today with three other teammates!
Taking a turn in the leaders chair after the 10k race!!
It’s funny to travel on the World Cup- you can so easily go from cloud nine, to swimming in the dirt, and then back up to cloud nine in a heart beat. With 70+ of the very best girls in the world showing up every weekend ready to win- there is little room to “falter”. This season I have been fortunate enough to start on a high, but I also have to remember all the various ups and downs that come with the game! I distinctly remember just two years ago finishing the sprint qualifier in Kuusamo around 5th to last and simply not understanding HOW I could have gone so much slower than everyone else. I truly felt like I was flying! Now, two years later, it feels like the opposite. How could I have gone that fast?? It didn’t seem possible! In those two years though, there is one thing that has really changed, and that is the power of belief!
Nordic Focus photo
NordicFocus Photo- 10k Classic in Lillehammer
Enjoying some incredible sunshine and skiing!!!!
Three weeks ago when I arrived in Europe- I felt like I had arrived in a car going 150mph and I was trying to make a tight turn ahead! I had a great season of training, I finally made some ground on my injuries, I was healthy, I was stoked to be back with my teammates…. but four days into my trip, I had the most challenging homework assignment of my life due for my Seminar in my Taxation course. As I looked down at the 6 pages of information that I needed to use in order to fill out a 1040 for a family with an un-usual amount of challenging “business” going on, a feeling of fear and overwhelming uncertainly flushed through me.
Following one of the best skiers in the world! Matt Whitcomb photo
How on earth was I even going to start this problem? My professor warned me, “This is going to take you upwards of 20 hours, and you are going to struggle- but it is 50% of your grade, so very important”. Well, yes, that was in fact true. For hours I looked at these problems- “No seriously, where do I even start”? This was an ever so familiar feeling- a feeling I felt two years ago when I saw the results sheet in Kuusamo. Overwhelming intimidation- “Where do I even start”? After hours of pondering and frustration that third day in Europe, I was ready to throw in the towel. Write to my professor and explain to him, “I am sorry- this is just too difficult. I can’t do this much school when I am doing what I am doing”. But with some unknown ability,Kikkan somehow started sensing my dwindling belief. She cornered me and explained “You can do this. If you are struggling, you have to imagine your classmates are as well. Just do what you can do now, and I am sure you are doing better than you think”. Again, some familiar advice I had heard before from her. The same advice she reminded me of in Kuusamo two years ago. “Sadie, it takes dozens of tries before it starts working out”. And like myself, others had done the same; tried and tried before they had gotten some positive feedback. I wasn’t the first and only one crossing the line in my first World Cup’s wondering “how will I ever get there”. I knew though- in order to ever get there- I was going to have to believe in it. I was going to have to accept and recognize that success never comes instantly- but it is something that is learned. So like my 1040 that I first looked at in utter fear, after hours of patience and belief, it came together! My family even walked away with a $3000 refund!
Bronze Medal!! NordicFocus photo
I have to say it is nothing but rewarding, exciting, and amazing to finish a weekend having PR’s! In the past two years, I have had many bumps. I have been so injured I was ready to give up skiing all together- but belief has incredible power. It is the power that has brought the US girls to not one, but now two podiums in the relay. It is the power that has allowed our team to walk onto the start line and fight. It is the power that made history today when we put two US woman’s teams on the line for the start of a relay! It is incredible stuff- and I am just so happy I get to be part of it. But most importantly, I am stoked to be part of a team with people like Kikkan, constantly reminding you to truly believe!

So thanks to Lillehammer for making one heck of an exciting weekend! Now we are off to Davos for a weekend of skate skiing and sunshine!
USSA photo
Wahoooo!! NordicFocus Photo
8 girls starting a relay!!! Most exciting part of this day!
for more photos and news go to

Click for an awesome compilation of the races on Sunday

Video From Relay

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ruka Triple!

WOW! A lot of exciting stuff has happened in the past two weeks since arriving in Europe! I turned 24, I finished my first 1040 for a family in my tax class, I tried 6 different kinds of Brown Cheese, I had a Thanksgiving dinner on November 22 when we had a kitchen, I met up with a lot of my World Cup buddies that I haven't seen since last spring, Newell turned 30, Noah Hoffman WON a world cup, I got my first top ten in a distance race, the christmas music has started, and I got chased by a reindeer! A solid two weeks filled with a ton of excitement!!

An awesome birthday spent with the best teammates! Noah picture
The first week overseas we spent in Beitestolen, Norway. I raced there three years ago when I was preparing for my very first World Championships, so I have always thought of Beito as a memorable special spot. It is where all this "fun madness" began! It was a great week of staying in little apartments, cooking our own meals, and adjusting to the time. It was fun to catch up with Astrid, who came and trained with us this summer. She has introduced us to the rest of the Norwegian ladies, so it has been fun to get to know them. We had a "Night Snack" party with them one evening, a popular thing for Norwegians, which was both fun and delicious. I love confirming that all the hero's I grew up looking up to are human, friendly, and awesome!
pink on pink! Enjoying some beautiful weather in Beito. Holly photo
After adjusting to the time zone for a few days, we had some practice/warm up races. 10k Classic and Skate Sprint. It was fun to get used to the nerves, the excitement, the ski selection, and all the fun business that goes along with racing. It was a fun weekend, and helped me feel a little bit better entering into my first week of World Cup racing.

Night Snack with the Norwegian girlies
Early this week we flew up North where the sun doesn't rise until nine, but then proceeds to set around 2PM! The last time I was in Kuusamo, two years ago, I left intimidated and hating the "hills" of Kuusamo. They were steeper than anything I had skid before, and I just didn't know how to move up them. I was excited to take them on again this year, but I didn't have many expectations. Aside from being stoked about a 5k classic in the World Cup schedule, I was just looking forward to a true "challenge".

Right from the start, things went better than expected. Somehow I qualified third in the sprint the first day. As I watched the video from last years sprint one of the first days I arrived in Ruka, I spent the next four days trying to envision how I was going to manage to get my limbs to move as fast as those girls were. With a massive steep climb leading back up to the stadium, I knew I was going to have to wrap my mind around "moving quick". Of course the goal is always to move quick, but these girls were moving about ten speeds faster than quick!

Serious pain face in the qualifier- NordicFocus photo
Well somehow it worked out. I went on to race in the heats, and walked away a little disappointed. Having only skid three Classic World Cup heats before, I am still learning how to ski relaxed in the pack, where to find holes, and simply how to do it. So, I got one more chance to practice, and already I am looking forward to another try!

Racing in some heats- FIS photo
The following day I had my favorite, the 5k Classic. Again, things went a little better than expected. As  I struggled to get my head into the race the first kilometer with all the darkness, and quiet, all of a sudden I heard in my head, "Gooo Sadie". I heard this loud cracking voice, the voice I love, my mom's voice coming out of the woods. It was so crazy. There was a group of kids from Northern Michigan out there cheering, and maybe it was them, but I heard my moms voice- and suddenly I was in the game. So for the next 4k I hammered out my best race ever, a 7th!

Nordic Focus photo
Today was the final day of the Ruka Triple, a pursuit style start, 10k skate. Again intimidated by the "walls" otherwise know as climbs, I went into today ready to conquer Everest. It was a challenging day, but also REALLY fun. I got an idea of how the best girls are skating, and I even was able to jump in behind them a bit. I managed to hold on to 17th until the end; which I was happy about. But more importantly, some of my other teammates had some crazy performances. First, Kikkan held on to 5th place for the tour, and then both her, Jessie, and Liz all skid top ten on the day!! But what else, NOAH HOFFMAN WON A WORLD CUP TODAY! I think our team is all still in shock, but Noah skid an incredibly smart and strong race today, skiing all the way up to 9th place and posting the fastest time of the day. I am so stoked for him. I have always believed this was coming... it was just when! So huge congrats to Hoff- I think our team is going to be running on that excitement all the way up until next weeks races in Lillehammer, Norway!

The last time I came to Kuusamo two years ago! Thanks to Randy Gibbs for all the hard work and some incredible skis these past two weeks!!

A sweet video that Marcel Hilger put together:

Aside from all the ski racing, I have been having a great time in both Finland and Norway. It has been so nice to get back over here, get in the grove of being a ski racer, and being part of the traveling circus. Both weeks we have been staying in cabins, so it has been warm and cozy- which helps a lot. On thanksgiving I was really missing both my family and West Yellowstone- but skype did a great number!
Sarah Willis taking some fun photos of the TV
Tomorrow we will travel to Lillehammer where next weekends World Cups of Relay racing and 10k Classic will take place. I have never raced in Lillehammer, so I am really looking forward to skiing in the famous Olympic Stadium! Since I was a young girl, our family has had one of Sean McCabes paintings hanging on the wall from the Olympics in Lillehammer; so in another way, it is also a special place because of that! Some more excitement to come!

A special memory! The painting from our wall!