Here is a blog I wrote for the National Nordic Foundation about my time at home plus a little add on:
Over the last ten years, the U.S. Women’s Cross Country team has undoubtedly found its stride. Many years ago, Kikkan Randall spearheaded an ambitious goal to not only be the best herself, but to be part of a team that is internationally competitive. She gave us belief, she shared all that she could, and taught us how to be good teammates, and gracious winners. We continue to build on this year after year with more and more girls finding success. The success in relay events might be the best measure of having a competitive team. Landing on a relay podium means having four girls that can put together a good race on the same day, showing the depth of any one team, and we now start every relay with the intention of reaching the podium.
I am unbelievably lucky to be part of this wave. When I first started cross country skiing, there were no women on the U.S. Team and that certainly made it hard to see much of a future for myself. I then watched Kikkan continue on with undying belief and confidence that she could be the best and watched her succeed. I suddenly began to see that future and moved to Alaska to train with her. While my path has been a bit circuitous, I am grateful to have had this experience and to be part of such a successful team.
I will forever be amazed by Kikkan’s belief that this was possible when there wasn’t even a women’s team, but what I admire even more is her ability to bring so many of us with her. I badly want this success to continue long after I have retired and I hope that every one of us girls on the World Cup can provide inspiration and motivation for girls around the country the same way Kikkan did and continues to do for us. I hope the belief grows stronger as more of us reach the podium. We all came from different clubs and have different backgrounds showing many ways in which success is possible, but we all share a continued belief that we can be the best and are willing to work hard to get there.
I chose to make a trip back to Utah to prepare for World Championships at altitude and to get a little break from the road. I happened to arrive back home the day World Junior and U23 Championships started. It was very special for me to cheer for these juniors on my own home course in an international event. I was able to see Katharine Ogden receive the first ever World Junior medal for the U.S. and then cheer my heart out as four junior girls with tall socks on skied their way to a 3rd place relay finish. These girls have already taken Kikkan’s message and run with it, forming a goal two years ago to land on this podium together and continuing to push on until they got there. Their success means to the world to me because it means that we have not only found success ourselves on the World Cup, but that we passed that determination, inspiration, team spirit, and work ethic on to the next successful generation of female skiers.
|KO winning the first ever World Junior medal for the USA|
|The 4 girls who were on the 3rd place relay team and myself|
Home is always a good place for me to prepare for anything. Despite some less than stellar weather, I enjoyed every minute being home and had some great training sessions. However, it is always a little nerve-racking to leave Europe as there is always some doubt in your mind as to whether or not you will be able to return to racing in the same way you left it with so much travel and time zone changes. I landed in Estonia a few days before most of the team to try to combat some jet leg and had two race starts to get back into it before heading to the World Championships. Still seeking that coveted spot in the top 30 of the sprint, I chose to race both Saturday and Sunday. The sprint was going really well, possibly qualifying speed when I got a little out of control on a downhill and didn't make the turn at the bottom. I guess that's a part of what makes ski racing exciting, crashes always happen at some point. Anyway, I regrouped for the distance race, a rainy 10k classic with some big hills. It was sloppy and slow, but I enjoy such conditions and I found a good groove out on course, skiing to 24th position, something I am satisfied. With one week to finish my preparations for World Championships, I am looking forward to strong performances from the whole team in the coming weeks.
The championships will be aired on TV so please tune in!
2017 FIS NORDIC WORLD SKI CHAMPIONSHIPS
Live Streaming and Broadcast Schedule (times EST)