December 17, 2012

World Cup Week!

I just finished a solid week on the World Cup. It is really nice to get introduced to the World Cup  in Canada. While they do use funny money and that silly metric system, they speak English, have the same food, same stores, and are of course friendly people. This takes a lot of the stress of out traveling and being on the World Cup. Canmore is also one of the most beautiful places I have raced. the mountains and big, there was plenty of snow and the sun was shining making for a great week.
Awesome panorama of the venue taken by my teammate Lauren Fritz

Sunrise from our hotel! Lauren Fritz Photo
I stared out my week with a 10km classic mass start on one of the hardest courses I have ever skied. It was just a 3.3km loop so we had to do it 3 times and it featured a beast of climb that tested everyone, no matter how good they were feeling. Mass starts on the World Cup are intense! People start fast and only speed up from there, its really chaotic in the back of pack. I struggled getting going with aggressive pace so I found myself unable to hang on to the group I would have liked to ski in, but as the race continued, my legs worked with me and kept me going strong. I didn't have quite enough to get into that pack ahead of me so I spent the second two laps dangling off the back by myself, never an ideal place. It is always easier to ski in a pack getting the benefit of a draft and someone else's pace making. However, I held strong and I managed to finish 35th, which I was satisfied with for my first distance World Cup. I learned a lot in the race, figured out where my greatest weaknesses are and figured out some things to work on leading into the next race. We had some great results as a team though. Kikkan 6th, Sadie 25th, Holly 30th, Ida 31st, Kris Freeman 14th, Noah Hoffman 22nd, Erik Bjornsen 36th.
Mass Start up the steepest of climbs. Rob Whitney Photo

The front of the pack cresting the hill. Rob Whitney Photo

Cruising on up the hill. Rob Whitney Photo

Boys skiing fast. Rob Whitney Photo

As you can see, girls don't mess around with cat and mouse games, they just push push push making the pack get really strung out just 1 km into the race. 

Saturday was sprint day. I was originally not scheduled to race the sprint since I didn't qualify in sprinting, but illness hit the team pretty hard this week and people were coming down with colds right and left so the afternoon before I got the nod to test out my sprinting skills. I haven't been able to find that fast twitch in me this year so I did my best, but didn't have the speed to make the rounds, finishing the day in 39th. But once again, my teammates did great. Kikkan 2nd, Ida 10th, Sadie 22nd, Sophie 23rd, Andy Newell 5th, Skyler Davis 24th.
Trying hard to get the sprint speed...

The last day called for a pursuit, which means we switch from classic to skate half way through the race. This is stressful for everyone! Racers have to test classic and skate skis, then make sure all their skate equipment is in the box in the stadium and all the classic equipment is with you for the start then in the middle of the race you have to not get too frantic switching gear and make sure you grab all the right stuff. This is also stressful for the wax techs because they have twice as many skis to prepare. All this adds to the nerves so needless to say I was  a little nervous and checked to be sure I had all the right equipment at least five times before the start. In the U.S. we never race this format so I have only done a few pursuit in my life and none have gone that well.

I got a much better start and did my best to hang tough in the classic portion climbing that massive hill 2 more times. I had a good transition and felt remarkably good on my skate skis. I have really put a lot of effort into working on my skate technique and it seems to finally be paying off. I held really strong in the skate, but skied with a lot of trepidation and ended up in a big pack at the end, finishing 38th. Another strong day for the U.S. Kikkan 8th, Ida 14th, Holly 28th, Noah 8th, Kris 10th, Tad 28th!

Classic Leg. Rob Whitney Photo

Noah Hoffman crushing it. Rob Whitney Photo

And the mouth open race face......working on my turning technique and downhills. Rob Whitney Photo
It is challenging to ski with confidence on the World Cup, you are skiing the world's best and not only are they fast, they have all the best equipment available. It takes a great deal of confidence to push the limits and attempt to make a move on people you know are fast. I suffered this fate immensely, skiing with the fear that I couldn't successfully put a move on the pack I was skiing with and instead settled in only to loose the sprint finish. This takes years of World Cup racing to develop this confidence and the skill to know when to make a move. I am hopeful to get more chances to race the World Cup this year, working on my confidence as a racer and always working on my skills.

As for now, it's homeward bound for the Holidays! I am thankful to get to be home for a whole month! U.S. National Championships are taking place at Soldier Hollow so I hope to have a good cheering squad! Here is the schedule so everyone can pencil it in to their day planners now!

Jan. 2nd Classic Sprint
Jan. 4th 10km Freestyle
Jan. 6th 20km Classic Mass Start
Jan. 8th Freestyle Sprint

Thanks for following!