Thursday, December 26, 2013

I'll be home for Christmas...... Nope not this year

Merry Christmas! Frohe Weihnachten! Joyeux Noel! Buon Natale! God Yul! We're celebrating them all this year!  This was the first Christmas which I didn't spend at home with my family and while I did wake up Christmas morning feeling quite homesick especially after hearing "I'll be home for Christmas" on the radio, it has been exciting to start new traditions and spend merry times with my winter family.

We started our Christmas celebrations a couple weeks ago with a Secret Santa poetry and gift exchange in Davos with the entire team. 
Last weekend the Christmas lights in Asiago, Italy were wonderful.
All the streets were decorated which created a holiday atmosphere for the weekend before Christmas even though it was warm and snowless.
Kikkan and I were rooming together and since this wasn't Kikkan's first Christmas on the road, she came prepared.  She has a Christmas box filled with decorations, lights, and craft supplies and so we set up this little tree between our beds.  For training the day before the first race Kik wore her reindeer antlers, I wore a Santa hat, and she put a little speaker in her drinkbelt and blasted Christmas music while we skied.
We hung stockings in case Santa decided to come a few days early.  
After the weekend in Italy, I returned to Davos where I will be staying for the next couple weeks for a mid winter training block.  Jessie, Liz, and Noah were staying in an apartment in town and they had decorated it with a real tree, ornaments, lights, candles, snowflakes and paper chains.  Their cozy home had the perfect atmosphere that cannot be recreated in a hotel room.  
One afternoon Jessie went into a baking frenzy and baked four or five different types of delicious Christmas cookies in the span of only about an hour and a half.  It was amazing!  She made cracked chocolate ones, jam drops, salted caramel chocolate chip, gingerbread, and more.  I had fun tasting the dough and cutting out the gingerbread men.  
That same evening, Noah organized a Christmas party with other World Cup skiers who are also homeless for the holidays.  Some Canadians and some Norwegians joined us for a white elephant gift exchange.  Everyone had to bring a wrapped gift of something under 25CHF and then we exchanged, opened, and traded the presents.  There were some awesome and also interesting gifts including firecrackers, a stars and stripes tank top, a finger guitar, a harmonica, chocolate, a giant bubble stick, coffee mugs, and more.  
And one of the best parts of this Christmas break is the chance to go outside and ski in such an amazing setting.  With mountains, big valley, great tracks, and sun, I feel very lucky to be spending the holidays here.   
On Christmas Eve we were invited to dinner at the home of Jurg Capol, former FIS Nordic Race Director.  Once again it was wonderful to be in a home with a very welcoming family.
Jurg's wife Michaela cooked us an amazing Christmas dinner.  Michaela is from Czech Republic and Jurg is from Switzerland so we had traditional Swiss and Czech foods as well as a turkey for us Americans.  Michaela researched what Americans eat for Thanksgiving and then YouTubed how to cook a turkey.  She did an excellent job especially for her first time and everything was delicious!
Santa comes to Switzerland on Christmas Eve so after dinner we went on a walk with their two young daughters to look for Santa.  When we returned he had already come and gone and the tree was full of presents.  It was really fun watching the excitement of a six and seven year old opening the gifts, quickly tearing through the wrapping paper.  The Capol family even had gifts for us under the tree as well so we opened chocolates and snow globes.
Then it was on to dessert including Ben & Jerry's!
Christmas day was a quieter day and I spent most of it relaxing at Hotel Kulm, my home in Davos.  Andy, Simi, and I ate Christmas dinner with the Canadian team at the hotel and Devon Kershaw told us it was his eighth Christmas in the hotel.  The best part of the holiday came in the evening when I skyped with my family at home and heard their familiar voices, separated by many time zones but still sending love and holiday cheer.  
Another holiday gift arrived today in the form of fresh powder!  Most of the team left today for Obehof, Germany and the start of the Tour de Ski.  I bid them farewell and stayed behind in Davos, opting for the chance to train and recover before the second part of the season.  I have some solo time ahead  so send stories, news, one person card games, book recommendations and anything else that will keep me from talking to myself too much in the next week or so.  
Happy Holidays!

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