Tuesday, January 22, 2013

La Vie en France

Bonjour!  The XC World Cup moved to France last week so we spent the past week in La Clusaz a small resort town in the French alps.  France was a new country for me to race in.  I also studied abroad in southern France so I was excited to return and parlez francais encore and race in a new location.

Lots of snow!
Our first morning we were greeted with a snowstorm and powdery, fluffy tracks! Most of the trails were out in the open and at times it was near white out conditions with very tricky visibility.
C'est parfait! The next day the sun came out and....WOW!
The view from our wax cabin
We were all a little jealous of the alpine skiers. There were lifts everywhere and fresh tracks hitting the new snow
Holly, Matt, and Liz during a team ski

The race course was a 3.3km clover shape loop which ran up and down through this field. When we showed up it was just a field but they quickly turned it into a World Cup venue. This really shows that it is possible to host a World Cup anywhere!
Going for a walk around town
La Clusaz is a little resort town but like every other French town there was a church in the center of town and lots of boulangeries (bakeries with great French bread), patisseries (pastry shops), and charcuteries (delis selling local cheese and sausage).
Here is one of the main streets in town on a sunny day (Noah Hoffman photo)
Lots of delicious chocolates and other treats including meringue pigs and ducks (Andy Newell photo)
We went out for coffee and crepes one afternoon and Hoff was very excited with his caramel crepe with whipped cream!
The French are very proud of their food and we were served some of the best meals yet this past week. Dinners were a long affair starting with bread and soup, then a salad or some other starter, then a main course with meat or fish, and finally this cheese platter. The last night the hotel staff wanted to serve us a special French meal so we had pate and foie gras to start which was not my favorite but the steak and sauteed mushrooms were incredible. (Liz Stephen photo)
It wasn't just our hotel serving lots of great food. In the athlete tent, you could find these giant cauldrons filled with different french specialties and lots of pitchers of wine (Jason Cork photo)

While the week of great skiing, delicious food, and speaking French was great, I was excited to race. Saturday was a 10km classic race.   I once again started towards the back of the mass start but had moved up to the back of this big pack by about 2km.  All the other US ladies were in the pack and it was exactly where I wanted to be.  Unfortunately as we crested this hill, my skis iced up and I found myself running on stilts as the rest of the pack glided down the gradual downhill in a tuck. I lost contact and spent the rest of the race trying to move up when I could while scraping my skis off at the top of every hill.  It was great practice in regaining focus and not giving up when the race doesn't play out as planned.  I managed to sneak into the points with a 29th place finish.

This picture is taken early on in the race and I'm in black at the back of this pack.  This was the fun part of the race when I was still skiing with lots of people.  The unexpected challenges in every race though are what keeps it interesting and makes you stronger!
Sunday was relay day and Sadie and I were ready to go with star knee socks, glitter, and flag capes since we weren't racing. We were very enthusiastic cheerers and a course official I think mistook me for a drunk spectator who had climbed the fence and tried to kick me off the course but I showed him my athlete bib and got to stay.
It was a tough day for our team but everyone pushed hard, didn't give up, and was still smiling after the race. The hard days make you appreciate how special the good days are!

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