A ski course snaking though a city which is only three hours from my house, familiar faces lining the course, American flags draped over the boards and flying high by eager faces that have climbed onto the fort walls, English cheers, and so much excitement in the air; the Quebec City World Cup last weekend was an unreal experience and possibly the most fun races I have ever skied. The cheering and American support at the races made it truly incredible as a participant. I think there was even a stronger American presence than Canadian, or at least it felt that way as I heard all the voices around the course of friends, family, and teammates from Vermont, New England, and around the US. I constantly ran into one person after the next who I knew as it seemed like every Nordic skiing enthusiast from New England made the trip. It just further demonstrated the momentum and enthusiasm which is driving our ski community.
The racing was fast, technical, and fun! The course started underneath the gate surrounding the walled Old City and then wound through Parliament Park before finishing up the Grand-Alleé of Quebec City. During Thursday’s official training the course was fast and hard but temperatures warmed up for the race days and with all the athletes, coaches, and techs skiing around and around the 800m loop, the conditions quickly deteriorated to shin deep sugary mush. Like most other city sprints, it was a flat course but with a bridge, lots of corners and even a little drop-off jump, it definitely wasn’t boring. The track was also super narrow so a fast start was important as passing was really tricky. The spectators were treated to an exciting display of many crashes and collisions. I set a new personal record of most crashes in one race with an impressive three on the team sprint day but the crowd made it easy to get back up and keep hammering. Then on Saturday I drew bib #1 for the individual sprint and the roar of the crowd chanting my name as I started was indescribable.
As racers we rode the wave of this energy and US support to a lot of great races. Kikkan and Jessie won the first ever relay by a US women’s team. Holly and I also made the team sprint final and were in the mix until my crashes and this was the first time the US had two teams in the final. On Saturday, we got to hear the national anthem for the second time when Kikkan won again. Andy made the final, finishing 5 and Sophie, Becca, Sadie, and Jessie were all in the points! It was exciting and another proud day to be an American!
Thank you so much to all came to Quebec City. It made a huge difference and we really appreciated the cheers!