February 21, 2017

Pre Worlds Prep and Inspiration from the Guppies

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!

Live Streaming and Broadcast Schedule (times EST)
Thursday, Feb. 23
10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. - Classic Sprint - LIVE STREAM
5:30 - 7:30 p.m. - Classic Sprint - TV: NBCSN
Friday, Feb. 24
3:30-4:30 a.m. - Nordic combined HS100m ski jumping - LIVE STREAM
6:30-7:30 a.m. - Nordic combined 10k - LIVE STREAM
10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. - Women's HS100m ski jumping - LIVE STREAM
1:30-2:30 p.m. - Women's HS100m ski Jumping - TV: NBCSN
2:30-4:00 p.m. - Daily broadcast coverage - TV: Universal HD
Saturday, Feb. 25
5:00-7:00 a.m. - Women's skiathlon - LIVE STREAM
7:30-9:30 a.m. - Men's skiathlon - LIVE STREAM
10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. - Men's HS100m Ski jumping - LIVE STREAM
8:00-11:00 p.m. - Daily broadcast coverage - TV: Universal HD
Sunday, Feb. 26
5:00-6:00 a.m. - Nordic combined team HS100m ski jumping - LIVE STREAM
6:30-8:30 a.m. - Team freestyle sprint - LIVE STREAM
8:30-9:30 a.m. - Nordic combined 4x5k team event - LIVE STREAM
10:30 a.m.-12:40 p.m. - Mixed gender HS100m ski jumping team event - LIVE STREAM
9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. - Daily broadcast coverage - TV: Universal HD
Tuesday, Feb. 28
6:45-8:45 a.m. - Women's 10k classic - LIVE STREAM|
5:30-7:00 p.m. - Women's 10k classic - TV: Universal HD
Wednesday, Mar. 1
5:00-6:00 a.m. - Nordic combined HS130m ski jumping - LIVE STREAM
6:45-8:45 a.m. - Men's 15k classic - LIVE STREAM
9:15-10:15 a.m. - Nordic combined 10k - LIVE STREAM
7:00-10:00 p.m. - Daily broadcast coverage - TV: Universal HD
Thursday, Mar. 2
8:00-10:00 a.m. - Women's 4x5k relay - LIVE STREAM
11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. - Men's HS130m ski jumping - LIVE STREAM
1:00-3:00 p.m - Daily broadcast coverage - TV: NBCSN
Friday, Mar. 3
6:30-8:30 a.m. - Men's 4x10k relay - LIVE STREAM
9:00-10:00 a.m. - Nordic combined HS130m ski jump - LIVE STREAM
11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. - Nordic combined 2x7.5k team sprint - LIVE STREAM
12:00-2:30 p.m. - Daily broadcast coverage - TV: NBCSN
Saturday, Mar. 4
7:30-9:30 a.m. - Women's 30k freestyle - LIVE STREAM
10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. - Men's HS130m ski jumping team event - LIVE STREAM
7:30-10:30 p.m. - Daily broadcast coverage - TV: Universal HD
Sunday, Mar. 5
7:00-9:00 a.m. - Men's 50k freestyle - LIVE STREAM
1:30-3:30 p.m. - Men's 50k freestyle - TV: Universal HD


January 19, 2017

Solo Camp

I am a full believer in teams. My college team, my club team, and the U.S. Ski Team have all played invaluable roles in my life. I also believe that the stronger and more individual each person on the team can be, the stronger and more creative the team will be as a whole. The U.S. Ski Team is unique because we spend close to every day together over the winter competition season. This, in some ways allows our team to be stronger because we are forced to learn to get along through thick and thin. In other ways, I think it threatens us because it allows us to become complacent.

I chose to travel solo after the Tour de Ski to recover and get a full break from the World Cup circus. It was a little cheaper to travel elsewhere and the place that was planned didn't have snow so my boyfriend slowly talked me into this solo adventure. I was fortunate to pick a place where winter had arrived, leaving me with hundreds of kilometers of skiing and lots of time to reflect. I very quickly realized that the team has much more influence on me than I realized. Of course, this is how I learn as well. I follow those that are better than me, try to pick up on new things my teammates are working on, etc. But, I also think at times it leaves me doing what’s easiest and not always what’s best. When every morning you wake up alone and must decide what to do that day, it makes you think of what would be best for YOU and what makes YOU happy, instead of well this is on my plan, but Jessie’s doing this and Sophie’s doing this, so maybe I should change my plan. Other days, you might feel tired and be skiing really slowly and then a coach is out there with a video camera so you speed up because you suddenly feel like you are being watched or judged. Confidence is key to success and being susceptible to that kind of thinking is no way to build confidence. It took me having a week alone to fully realize how much I had fallen into this trap. I have to imagine I am not the only one to do so either.

I now believe strongly that taking time to be alone, even if just for one session from time to time will ultimately make our team stronger. It allows time for everyone to truly do what’s best for them, to do what makes them happy, to think about what they are doing and why, to be creative and to try new things without anyone holding judgement. Then, when we come back together, we are refreshed, we have new ideas, we have confidence in what we are doing, and all of us are ready to reach higher together.

I had a fantastic week, skiing on some beautiful trails with snow falling everyday. I went on a hike through a gorge, a night time sledding adventure, and an evening backcountry ski to dinner. I even found out I had friends in the area. Traveling alone was not nearly the trauma I had once imagined and is now something I think I will incorporate into every season. 

It's back to the World Cup now! Ulricehamn, Sweden will host this weekends events and this is a new venue for the World Cup! 

The trail, right outside my door!

Hiking in the gorge

First ski after a few days of rest from the tour

When you decide to start hiking a little late and then get summit fever and have to go to the top....starting my sled down in the nearly dark without my light

Best skiing I've had in a long time
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New snow everyday
Seefeld, Austria