January 28, 2015


"Rush-shi-ah, Rush-shi-ah, Rush-shi-ah"

That's all I could hear in my head for hours after I had finished racing so if nothing else, there are some enthusiastic fan in Russia. But in all reality, I really enjoyed my time in Russia, had great races, and got a taste for a country I would probably have never visited if I weren't ski racer. We got a police escort to our charter flight leaving Russia, we were served tongue on the plane, chicken liver was a regular choice at the dinning hall, instant coffee is the only option, there were guards that monitored our cabins all day, we met lots of enthusiastic fans who all wanted selfies with us, we had a sauna in our cabin, and we drank thousands of bottles of bottled water. Russia was neat!

It takes a long time to get to Rybinsk, Russia, even when you are only coming to Estonia. We took a bus from Otepaa to Tallinn where we hopped on a plane to Moscow and then finally on another bus to Rybinsk. It took somewhere around 7 hours to drive from Moscow to Rybinsk because the roads are essentially dirt so we could only travel about 40 mph, but that's nothing a few too many episodes of Gossip Girl couldn't fix. It was somewhere well below 0F when we arrived and that cold continued for a few days. Fortunately, it warmed just enough that we could race on Friday, which frankly gave me deja vu as the conditions were nearly identical to Houghton. I guess the windy cold and I get along as I had a fantastic race, finishing in 13th place to score my first World Cup points ever. Top 30 in every race score points and your points accumulate over the season giving you a world ranking and determining things like funding and team nominations so the more points the better! Even more exciting was that fellow American Liz Stephen nabbed her first podium, placing 2nd, which also happens to be the best finish of an American girl ever!

The following day, it snow a lot and got much warmer which was good for our lungs and brutal for our legs. I found myself in the unlucky 31st spot only .12 seconds out of 30th so I just missed getting to ski in some sprint heats. Getting that close does make you a little more motivated to get after it again so I will have to hold that in my head until the next sprint. I did get to watch 4 U.S. girls race in the heats and all finished in the top 13 while my teammate Erik scored his first World Cup sprint points.

We finished the weekend with a skiathlon. These races are exciting, but a bit stressful as you start out classic skiing for 7.5km before coming into a pit, switching to skate skis and doing a 7.5km skate all while the clock is running. There is a lot of equipment involved and a lot of mistakes that can be made. I am happy to say everything went smoothly, I skied pretty well, but certainly ran out of gas at the end, finishing the day in 20th. We again had 4 girls in the top 20!

I am incredibly excited with how well my entry to the World Cup has gone and I might be even more excited to be done racing for a few weeks. In the last 22 days, I raced 9 times in addition to a trip across the Atlantic and another one to Russia, leaving me utterly exhausted.

However, in other outrageously exciting news, all those 9 races went better than planned and I earned a spot on the 2015 World Championship Team!!! World Championships will be held in Falun, Sweden during the last 2 weeks of February. In the meantime, I have retreated to the Swiss Alps for a little R&R and preparation for the Championships.

A pano of the stadium on a really cold but beautifully clear morning (photo Sophie Caldwell)

We had to walk to meals so we would bundled up, but still be frosty by the time we reached our destination. Thankfully, it warmed up!

Sadie, Erik, and I having a toast to all making the World Championship team. Teammates that live together, race fast together!

Flying into Moscow. There were tons of smoke stacks and the air was quite polluted so I was glad we weren't racing there. 
Liz on the PODIUM!!!

The rest of the weekend was a bit more gray, but the big river that ran right past the venue was still scenic.  
Watching skiing on the local station provides intense techno music and cues for cheering. 

Sadie and I eating a nighttime meal of oatmeal to stay fueled in the cold

The cabins we stayed in

Sadie outside the cabin that Sophie, Sadie, and I shared

Leaving Rybinsk. Lots of Soviet style cement apartment buildings 
And finally, landing in Central Europe to sun and snow!

Woke up in the mountains! YES!

I was featured on KSL this week, check out the story: