March 29, 2013

World Cup Finals

I finished my World Cup tour off with a bang, racing 4 times in 5 days. I finally started to feel more comfortable on the circuit and skied better the last week, but I was still shy of my goals. However, I have already created a list of things to work on this summer and I have left a little hungry, which is never a bad thing. Since I have already detailed like on the World Cup, I will leave you with lots of pictures from the last week of racing. I have my teammates Holly Brooks and Noah Hoffman to thank for all the pictures!
Cross country is popular in Norway! Getting ready for the finish of the boys 50k

 Despite the fact that sprinting is not my favorite event, I think city sprints in Europe are about as sweet as cross country skiing gets. I am so glad I got the opportunity to race 2 of the biggest ones of the year. The first race of the World Cup finals was a sprint around the Royal Palace in Stockholm! We literally skied up the steps of the palace!

Stockholm is a cool city, figuratively and literally
The tracks down the steps of the palace
A nice square full of cafes just behind the finish area
Cannons loaded and guards standing watch for our sprint race!
The wax cabins were set up in the middle of the court yard!
Skiing past the guard at the top of the steps
The trail up the steps
View from the finish
The finish stretch

After the race they presented the winners of the Sprint Crystal Globe, meaning the person who accrued the most sprint points over the course of the season or the best sprinter in the world. Who just happens to be my most incredible teammate Kikkan Randall, she won it for the second year in row. Truly remarkable!

 After some epic city time in Stockholm we headed to Falun, Sweden for 3 races in a row. A 2.5km prologue, 10k mass start classic, and a freestyle pursuit start 10km. Perhaps more exciting than the race was the protest that I became a part of! As I was previewing the course, I went down the big descent into the finish, which entailed about 6 high speed turns that were of course icy and by the time I got to the bottom, I was nearly in tears. It was something else. Thankfully, I was not the only one who feared racing this new course. Most of the athletes were disappointed. It compromised our safety and made for unfair racing.  Kikkan Randall is the FIS Athlete Representative, so she quickly put together and athletes meeting. We all agreed we would not race this course and the jury would have to change the course. Well, changing the course on a World Cup is far more than just a matter of drawing a new line on a map. TV cables take days to set up before any event and the intermediate timing splits, sponsor banners, and so on all take time to move. The jury made some concessions but the athletes didn't feel it was enough. So on the night before the race, we all agreed we would not start if they didn't make further changes. I went to bed having no idea if I would be starting the next day or what decision I would make regarding starting. Fortunately, Kikkan is not only the fastest sprinter in the world but a great diplomat and she got the jury to make further changes. While we still had to ski some downhill corners at high speed, it was definitely a safter option for everyone.
Athletes getting worked up in the meeting
The media waiting for the athletes to come out
 The crazy part is that all the media outlets showed up and were just lurking all over the place trying to get a good blurb from anyone. I even made the tabloids in Norway:
Holly and I cheering the boys on 

DONE! After the last race of the World Cup!

Kikkan had an incredible last weekend and managed to secure a 3rd place overall finish in the World Cup. SO SO SO AMAZING!

There is a big party the last nigh and everyone gets really dressed up! Here are the american girls


 I had a great deal of fun the last week and am thankful for the experiences I had. Now I just have to hold myself and my back together for the last races of the season, 5 races in Truckee, CA!