December 19, 2013


Just like that, 4 weeks of racing in Europe is over...

Arriving in Switzerland was spectacular. We were greeted by oversized chocolate bars in duty free, big mountains, plentiful sunshine, and a few more hours in the daylight!
My dream come true!

Looking up valley from the wax area towards our hotel, which was up on the pass.
Looking up a different valley, this is Fluela Pass, where the race course went. 

Nice views in every direction

Looking across the race trail from the wax area towards the stadium

Soaking up that D
Davos is your quintessential Swiss town and has been the home of a World Cup for many, many years. The U.S. Ski Team has used Davos as a training base for just about as long, not only that, but they have stayed in the same hotel all those years. Heinz is the owner of the Hotel Kulm and he knows all of us by name as well as all the former U.S. Ski Team members that have stayed there over the years. He has quite the memory. It makes it feel a bit more homey and welcoming and for that, we are all thankful.

Another great part of the Davos World Cup was that they had a coaches sprint relay after our race on Saturday. We put together a team with my coach, Erik Flora, as the anchor. As the coaches and wax techs lined up to start the announcer casually mentioned the numerous Olympic medals, World Champions, and the like. Although they might not be as fit as they once were, they still had quite a bit of fight in them, making for quite the spectacle.

Lining up

Leg 1

Erik chasing down Kazakhstan 

Erik coming in to the finish behind Germany and Russia
 This was also the last World Cup we would all be together before Christmas so we had a Secret Santa party. We all drew names out of a hat and we had to find a gift for that person as well as write them a poem. The gifts had to be edible, disposable, or usable close to every day since there is always a lack of space on the road. I conveniently, had a final paper due the same night as Secret Santa. I also thought that paper was due 2 days later and didn't find out otherwise until the day before it was due. As a result, I have to admit my Secret Santa gift and poem was not the most clever or creative thing, but I got it all down and even got an A on my paper. Everyone reads the poem that is for them, opens the gift, and then guesses who it came from. I was Sadie's Secret Santa and because she knows me all too well, she wrote a variation of the song "Really Rosie" so I had to sing for everyone. If you've ever heard my voice, or lack thereof, you know not only how embarrassing this was, but also how horrible it was. Needless to say, we all had a great time!
The team with all their gifts!
Now, on to the races. Davos is at moderate altitude and has long, long, gradual climbing and also gradual descending. I thought at least the uphill would suit my strengths so I was excited for the weekend. During the race, I felt average, but could never get myself into the next gear that I needed for the World Cup. Whether it was the altitude, my lack of skills on the downhill, tired legs, or some combination of it all, I left quite disappointed and looking for more. The second day of racing brought a skate sprint. This is my worst event so I didn't have too many expectations. Everything went as smoothly as I could have asked for, I just wasn't quite quick enough to make the heats. The silver lining was that I was only 10 seconds out of the lead, which I believe is the closest I have been to winning a World Cup race. I also got to watch the heats, which turned out to be pretty exciting as the U.S. had a stellar day, with 4 girls making the heats and 3 of those girls finishing in the top 12 as well as two boys making the heats.
Here is Simi as the top of the hill

Girls Final

Me racing in the 15k Skate

 As I mentioned earlier, all the girls on the U.S. Ski Team travel with furry friends to keep us company and remind us of home. We decided to take a Christmas picture with all our friends.

Merry Christmas!!!!!!

December 9, 2013


We made our way back to Norway, this time to Lillehammer for the 2nd weekend of World Cup racing. Norwegians are very proud of their home and are fond of telling us that everything is better in Norway. While we love to make fun of this, there is some truth in it, despite the astronomical cost of anything.

The travel day landed on my 25th birthday this year and needless to say, I wasn't super excited to be traveling on my birthday, but it turned out to be not so bad of a day.
Jessie made me brownies and delivered them on the plane. The plane sang to me and I even got a card from the pilot!

The great thing about flying this time of year is that we get up above the clouds and get to experience some extreme sunlight for the duration of the flight. I just put my head right up against the window and took a nap in the warm sunlight!
When we got to the hotel, I couldn't believe my eyes. The buffet was incredible, shrimp, mussels, 3 types of fish, 2 tables full of dessert options, anything you can dream of and more. Despite all the dessert options, the kitchen made me a special piece of chocolate cake that was just my kind of chocolately delight!
 When we arrived there was no snow! They had a man made loop on the race trail, but it didn't look much like winter or Christmas time around the town.

The manmade loop (hoff Photo)

Downtown Lillehammer
The race trails are quite challenging so in order to avoid exhausting ourselves, we traveled up to Sjusjoen, a town on top of the hill with some natural snow, to get some more skiing in. The conditions weren't ideal, but it sure was pretty!
Skiing at Sjusjoen (hoff photo)
 We were welcomed by a big storm later in the week. It was one of those magical storms that turns an otherwise dull gray town into a picturesque scene from any Christmas movie you can think of.

 We also got the opportunity to visit the Swix factory that is in Lillehammer. It is the factory for all Swix waxes, some plastic parts, the distribution center for all Norway, and the factory for many Toko waxes as well. I had never seen a wax factory so I was quite fascinated by the whole process.
Missing some lids to your kick wax?
The kick wax machine

Grips for the poles 
The warehouse, so much wax!

We got to see the klister being processed. 

The empty tubes roll down

And get filled with the sticky stuff and pinched shut. 

There was a cool display of wax through the ages. 

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 Now to the racing. We raced a 10km classic race on Saturday. This is one of my favorites so I was pretty excited. The course was very challenging, there was only about 300 meters that was flat, most of which was in the stadium. I started off strong, but struggled a little the 2nd half and finished the day in 54th. It was not exactly what I was hoping for, but I did feel better than last weekend so maybe things are coming along slowly. Sadie had another amazing race finishing the day in 7th. When I crossed the line, there she was still in the leaders chair wrapped in some fur until some faster ladies came in moments later.

Another storm came just in time for the relay day. It made for some challenging conditions... the U.S. ladies got to start two teams for the first time ever, which was pretty cool. And the first team crushed it, skiing strong through the slop to a 3rd place! My team finished 12th, some of us had great legs, others didn't ski as well as they were hoping. I was one of the later, feeling my legs from the previous days race and struggling with the soft snow made for not my best day. It was pretty neat to get to be part of a relay on the World Cup and I am certainly inspired by the other girls' performances!

Start of the men's relay in the blizzard.
I am rather impatiently waiting for everything to come together for me so I too can have a great World Cup race and I am hoping that the mountains and sunshine of Switzerland can do just that for me.

December 3, 2013

Finally, Racing!

I started my season this past weekend at the Ruka Triple World Cup outside on Kuusamo, Finland at a resort village called Ruka. It is very close to the Arctic circle and also very close to the Russian border. The Ruka Triple is a mini tour which consists of 3 races: a sprint, a 5k classic individual start, and lastly a pursuit start 10k skate. The pursuit start means that you start based off of your combined time back from the previous 2 races so the first person across the line is the overall tour winner.

The weekend was far from what I was hoping for, I placed between 67-77 in all three races. However, the good news is that each race felt a little better. I believe that my preparations for coming over here were less than ideal and that I am just now starting to be in the place I wanted to be in 2 weeks ago. Of course, it never helps to think retroactively and regret the things I did, but it is also important to acknowledge them and move forward, so here I go, forward!

There were some great results from the rest of the team however, my Anchorage roomie, Sadie, had her best weekend ever, getting some top 10s and hanging tough with the big guns. Kikkan got her best ever classic sprint result, Noah had the fastest time of the day in the skate pursuit, and the other girls scored some top 10s in the skate. Go USA!

I enjoyed Ruka a lot. It was very wintery, snowy, and had lots of skiing. It is unique in that we stay in little condos by the race course so we have our own space with a mini kitchen, personal sauna, and wood stove. It was a World Cup so we do get a meal plan so we didn't use our kitchens other than to fix the occasional snack, instead we climbed up a big hill to the dinning hall with all the other teams. Despite the fact that it is a large hill, I enjoyed getting out and walking 3x a day; it helps to not get cabin fever. Ruka is also know for being very cold and while I will say it was cold, we lucked out and it never got below zero and I don't even think we raced in below 10F temps.

We did some team disco bowling, it's a good thing we are skiers, not bowlers...
Mikey, looking fine. 
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Wintery, dark Ruka. The sun rose about 10AM and set about 2PM and I thought Anchorage was dark. 

We celebrated Hanukkah. Noah made us latkes and they were delicious!

Our personal saunas, so nice after a cold race.

We celebrated Andy Newell's 30th birthday party with homemade bolle from our wax tech Peter's wife.
Some of the Norwegian girls team came to sing to Andy and deliver some gifts!

Ida gave me an advent calendar with a chocolate for everyday! I am excited to countdown til home, family, and xmas!

Back in Europe, where the weekend consists of watching skiing on TV instead of Football...Love it!

We have moved on to Lillehammer, Norway, where snow is scarce, but the sun is shinning a little more and the food is superb.

November 26, 2013

Beitostolen, Norway

After a full day of traveling, I was greeted in Norway by some pesky little virus, which is to say, every Nordic skier's worst nightmare. So, I was put into isolation with little internet. As a result, I got bored very quickly. I would read until I could feel my eyes shutting, trying my best to adapt to the time change, I wasn't allowing myself to nap. Fortunately, I was still able to get out and ski a little bit. Unfortunately, I had to make the tough decision to sit out the races over the weekend. The good news is that those races weren't World Cups, but some tune up races to prepare for the World Cup. The bad news is that now my first race of the season will be a World Cup sprint, which is not a place to get your feet under you, it is a place to ski perfectly and really quickly. While this was really less than ideal, I learned a good lesson about traveling. You can't expect good things to happen when you are stressed to the max, not sleeping much and then travel for 24hrs and try to adapt to a 10 hour time change. Something had to give. I know now, I cannot handle this and will have to rethink my plans the next time I am trying to fly to Europe.

Out for a morning jog in the crisp, clear air. 

Enjoying a late sunrise. 

The town of Beitostolen is a small resort like town with lots of Nordic trails and a small alpine hill. It is filled with sports shops, hotel and lots of these little cabins. They all have sod roofs and are very cute! There is a big lake nearby so I imagine it is a popular place in the summer as well.  
Lighted ski trails everywhere!

Looking at the mountains off yonder

It was Sadie's 24th birthday and we got her 24 presents that she received throughout the day.

XC skiing is a BIG deal in Norway, the stars of the national team are National  Heros and are found in pictures everywhere. Promoting cereal, sports juice, gloves, you name it. At the check-out in the grocery store, next to the candy lies ski wax and supplies. Most people in the U.S. couldn't even tell you what Swix is, let alone what extra blue hard wax is. 

I did manage to get out and ski. Here Sadie and I pause on the big uphill with the lake in the background. 
Now, we are off to Ruka, Finland, another resort village very close to the Arctic circle. The sun rose about 10AM today and is setting as I write, 2PM. I don't know how the elves in the North Pole can work when its so dark all the time!