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.