March 11, 2012

Rogla, Slovenia

This was my first time to Slovenia so I was pretty excited to see what its all about. Rogla is basically a giant resort on top of a mountain so I'm not sure I got the full Slovenian experience, but we were able to get into a city so I did see some of the country. Slovenia is definitely the border of Western and Eastern Europe. The scenery is much like that of Western Europe, lots of skier, pretty big mountains, old castles and the like, but the food is not anywhere near that of Western Europe. They eat lots of potatoes, meat with lots of gravy and fried everything here and it is much more affordable then most of Western Europe, much more like Eastern Europe.

We stayed up on top the mountain which was great because we got to ski right out our door and didn't have to drive up the windy road to get up here, but it definitely limit our options on things to do when we weren't skiing.

As for racing, I had a total mixed bag of a weekend. This weekend we started racing OPA cup races which are a continental cup, or the step below the World Cup, series for Central/Western Europe. With a dozen or so countries present, these races are much more competitive than the continental cup races available in the U.S., hence the reason for going on this trip.  Saturday was a 5k skate race, something I was looking forward to because sometimes its nice to just do 5k and push yourself really hard the whole way. Unfortunately, I never found myself able to push very hard. My legs were not having much of it. This had me ending the day in 18th, not at all what I was hoping for. Feeling really frustrated with my racing lately, I wasn't sure how to react or what to do to turn this trend around. I tried my best to just write it off and really not think about my racing. I made a plan for how to make this weekend's classic experience better than last weekend and just hoped for the best. I'm not sure what I did better, but Sundays race was much better for me. It was a 15k Classic mass start race, one of my favorites. I unfortunately didn't have the best start and with a little slower skis than the rest of the field I was unable to ever even see the lead pack, let alone ski in it, but I just focused on what I could do and kept pushing on behind the pack picking off all the people that got spit out of the pack and by the time I had finished, I had worked my way up to 5th! I was looking for top 10s in these races so I was very pleased with 5th.

The main building of the Rogla resort, as you can see there is not much snow left here.....By the end of the boys race today, there were many grass patches on the inside of all the corners. 

Hitting up the Alpine Coaster

Checking out the courses and testing skis with my teammates

One afternoon we headed into Celje, the 3rd biggest city in Slovenia that our cab driver also informed us is the most boring city in Slovenia. We met some real characters over the course of the afternoon. 

We headed up to a castle that was built in the late 1200s/early 1300s 
Some parts have been largely renovated and there are still many functions that occur up here in the summer. 

Boys enjoying the sunshine

View down to the city

The watch tower

My teammate Lauren has a nice camera and is a good photographer, so you can thank her for all the pictures. They ALL came from her!

Celje, Slovenia

APU Team photo, Alaska is quite exciting to people here. I was asked twice what language we speak there and what currency we use.

Aren't we just the cutest

The old city

Walking along the river

We don't have many coaches or service techs here and the girls always race first so I have no pictures of the actual races........

The other thing I have been loving about being in Europe is Eurosport, greatest TV station ever. So my days here consisted of some training in the morning followed by watching all my friends race around the world in various races. This week happened to be Championship week as well. So, I watch World Championships for Biathlon (former Dartmouth teammate was 5th), the Cross Country World Cup (roommate and friend Sadie scored her first point of the season! and Kikkan won the Sprint Overall Title!!!!), Nordic Combined World Cup (U.S. won), Alpine World Cups (Lindsay Vonn and Ted Ligety won), NCAA Championships (Dartmouth nordic just killed it, bringing me terrible nostalgia), and Junior National Championships. Its great to know that so many people, that are my friends and teammates are doing well and the U.S. in general is really stepped up its game in the skiing world. I am so thrilled to know all these people and I hope that I too can work my way up there.

Tomorrow we head to Toblach, Italy and our team size doubles so it should be some really competitive tough races. I have always loved racing in Italy so I hope this is no different!

'til next time