Saturday, April 12, 2014

End of the season racing

I've started to settle in at home now and no longer awake in the middle of the night confused and trying to remind myself where in the world I'm currently sleeping.  My feet are settling into the ground and it has been wonderful to catch up with friends and family and start to share the stories from the winter.  One question that I've received frequently is, "How do you readjust to normal life after the Olympics? How long did it take to come down from cloud nine?"  Well actually that was made quite easy because within a week after the closing ceremonies we were back on the start line with three more weeks of World Cup racing left in the season followed by Super Tour Finals and Distance National Championships in Alaska.  So even after the big show, the show must go on!

Maybe not the same level of excitement as our arrival in Sochi but we quickly regrouped for fun racing in Finland
From Sochi, the US team flew to Munich for a busy day of packing and organizing and catching up on sleep after a brutally cold departure and red eye flight out of Russia and then continued on to Lahti, Finland for the next weekend of World Cups.  After such hot weather in Sochi, even the temperatures around freezing in Lahti felt nice and wintery.

From Lahti we flew to Oslo and I raced a classic city sprint in Drammen followed by a 30km classic at Holmenkollen.  Norway is the mecca of Nordic skiing so racing there is always a blast.  The fans come out regardless of the weather and cheer like crazy whether you're in first or last.  The hills are long and hard which is usually what I prefer but with some slippery skis it made the 30km even more of a challenge!

Looking down over Oslo from the trails
The famous Holmenkollen ski jump
The last weekend of racing in Europe for us was in Falun, Sweden for World Cup finals.  While that title sounds intense, World Cup Finals has probably the most relaxed atmosphere of the whole season.  Everyone stays at the same hotel and it's really fun to get to know athletes from all the other countries.  Falun is also the site of World Championships next winter so it was great to have the opportunity to preview the courses.  The trails are twisty and fast with steep climbs and technical downhills so I can't wait.

Our team cool down after the last race was our chance to celebrate being done and and take a victory lap at the end of a long season!
After over 4.5 months on the road, I was very excited to be headed home!  Unfortunately I had less than 36 hours at home before flying to Alaska for the last races but I treasured every minute of it!  I couldn't believe how much snow there was and despite being jetlagged and tired, I couldn't help but go for a long extra blue tour.  Europe was hit hard by global warming this winter so a break from short manmade slushy loops was quite the treat.  It was also the first time I wasn't skiing on klister in 2014!

Hands down the best conditions of the year.

Before I could catch my breath though I was back on a plane headed to Anchorage for SuperTour Finals.  The APU Nordic Ski Center organized a great week of racing and it was fun to race in the US for the first time of the season.  I really enjoyed spending time with my Craftsbury teammates and my brother who now lives in Anchorage.

This year was the first club relay and it was fun racing in my green suit with my Craftsbury teammates
It was an all USST sprint final and fun to hammer out the last races of the season together
One last team cheer!
The season is completely over now and spring adventuring is in full swing.  Stay tuned for more updates!

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