Davos, Switzerland often feels like our home away from home in Europe. It's the first World Cup venue we go to after starting the season in dark Scandinavia. The mountains, sunshine and snow is something we dream about through November. This year I was planning to be here for 12 days but after a poor snow year in Europe plans were changed and I'm spending 24 days in Davos, first for races and then for the holiday break before the Tour de Ski. But since there isn't a Christmas song with lyrics for 24 days, I'll stick to the 12 days of Davos.
On the first day of Davos, Switzerland gave to me....
1 leaning gingerbread house- Even on the road and away from home we've had no problem being festive and finding Christmas spirit. We've made cookies, opened stockings, decorated with lights and candles, and yesterday afternoon we had a blast building and decorating a gingerbread house. It's not quite straight and has LOTS of sugary frosting holding it together but we built it totally from scratch and it's still standing!
|I think we are all expecting it to topple at any moment but it's still standing!|
|The finished product!|
2 Skate Sprints: After the World Cups in La Clusaz, France were canceled, Davos took on the challenge for a second weekend of racing. This meant we had back to back skate sprints on the exact same course! A uncommon opportunity to try something one weekend and then improve on it the next weekend.The first weekend, I qualified in 19th which was one of my strongest skate qualifiers ever. I finished third in my quarterfinal just missing out on a lucky loser spot into the semifinals to finish 16th on the day. The following weekend, I almost crashed on an icy corner in the qualifier and in such a tight field I figured my day was over. But luckily I just sneaked into the heats with a 29th place finish. In the heats I actually crashed, face planting a couple hundred meters from the finish when Norwegian Heidi Weng and I clicked skis. So I didn't find the improvement I was looking for on the second try but each sprint heat is such a learning opportunity and the experience of aggressive head to head racing gave me some new things to focus on in my next sprint.
|Racing the qualifier with an American flag in the background. USSA CEO Tiger Shaw, board member Liz Arky, and team supporter Levi Hensel came for the weekend and it was great to have their cheers on course! (Marcel Hilger photo)|
3 Meters of Snow! Just kidding it's more like 3 inches or maybe 3 centimeters but it is enough to cover the ground so we can count it as a white Christmas.
4 Skis for Waxing- I spend most of the winter traveling with over 30 pairs of Fischer skis, ready for every snow condition and race course. It takes a full time wax tech to prepare the skis and keep the fleet in good shape and I feel extremely lucky to have an awesome staff of waxers on our team. They work extremely hard to provide us with fast skis and I must say it was really fun to tuck by a Norwegian in last week's sprint. For this break we are on our own for waxing so I'm keeping it simple with just a pair of skate skis and a pair of classic skis. We've nailed the classic wax so far, even on an icy klister cover day and a day of heavy falling snow. But that said, I will be happily awaiting the return of our coaches and techs!
5 Kilometers of Skiing- There is a 5km manmade loop of skiing in Davos right now which was prepared for the World Cups and is in great condition. We spend most of our time training on this loop but last week we took out our rock skis for a crust cruise up Dischma vallley or "Sunny valley" as we like to call it. The coverage was thin in spots but it was a blast!
|Sophie, Liz, and I took a selfie while Simi prepared the timer shot|
|Crust cruising up the valley|
7 Hockey Goals- Jeff and Kikkan had connections in the Davos WC organizing committee and got the team tickets to a Davos professional hockey game. We were in the second row directly behind the goal! The play was very fast paced and exciting and Davos ended up losing 4-3 in a shoot out after regular and overtime play!
|Liz, Kikkan, and Jeff watching the game|
8 Pancakes for Breakfast- It has been a very nice change to have a kitchen and to cook for ourselves. While we can't ever complain about having meals prepared for us, cooking is fun too and it's always nice to choose what you want to eat. We immediately prepared spicy food with dinners of chicken curry and mexican. We also had an incredible pancake breakfast our first morning here with stacks of pancakes topped with yogurt, maple syrup, fruit salad, and brown cheese from Norway. And of course the delicious breakfast was accompanied by steaming mugs of Vermont Coffee Company coffee.
9 Days to Change the Race Venue- There is a new FIS rule this year that venues have to make the call nine days prior to the first competition for whether there will be enough snow to hold the races. And with very limited snow across Europe, this rule has been called into use. It was uncertain whether Davos would be able to hold any races here but slightly cooler temperatures arrived and the race organizers were able to make snow on top of a pass and truck it down to the race course! A huge thanks needs to go out for all the work that they put into making these races happen. And then nine days before the La Clusaz, France weekend, those races were cancelled and Davos stepped up to host a second weekend in a row! There were rumors that the Tour de Ski was also in jeopardy but now since we are less than nine days away, we've received official word that the Tour is on as planned!
|A huge thanks to Davos Nordic for hosting back to back World Cup weekends in this stadium (FIS Cross Country Photo)|
10 Tree Branches- Here's our Charlie Brown Christmas tree that actually reminds me of a smaller version of Christmas trees I've had at home.
11 Extended Family Members: I miss being home with my actual family for the holidays but as Christmas orphans we have been taken in for quite a few wonderful meals and the recipients of incredible Swiss hospitality. We had homemade pizza for lunch with Esther Bottomley and Valerio Leccardi after a long ski one morning. For the second year in a row we had Christmas eve dinner with the Capol family who live 45 minutes from Davos. And on the 25th the Diggins family invited us over for a delicious Christmas dinner. Thank you to all for such wonderful hospitality and making us feel at home here in Switzerland.
|Christmas Eve with the Capol family where they cooked a turkey for us so we would feel at home!|
|And a very merry Christmas with the Diggins family|
12 Days of Training: There are exactly 12 days off between the last World Cup in Davos and the start of the Tour de Ski. This is a pretty long break from racing for us so it's nice to have an opportunity to train a bit and prepare for the rest of the season. In normal race weeks we are focused on the weekend races so it's nice to have the opportunity to do what we all love and just go out and ski! Happy trails!