Thursday, December 3, 2015

And the World Cup begins!

The 2015-16 race season season has begun!  The World Cup circuit opened last weekend with a mini-tour of races in Ruka, Finland.  I've raced in Ruka many times before and love the steep uphills and fast downhills on the course.  I was pretty nervous though before this year and wasn't sure what to expect after having gotten sick in Gallivare.  My cold lingered for quite awhile and I didn't feel any improvements until the day before the first race.  Even then, I skied around the courses and tried to do some easy intensity to warm up my body but just felt flat and slow.  Simply skiing up the hills slowly felt extremely tiring and I won't even try to explain what skiing faster felt like.  I tried to tell myself that I was at least very well rested but it was difficult when basically every skier on the World Cup zoomed by me as if I was in slow motion.  The warmup for the race wasn't that much better but with each new warmup interval, qualifier, or heat, I gave myself a fresh start and a new focus.  I barely squeaked into the top 30 in 30th but then felt better and better with each heat and I had so much fun racing head to head again with the best women in the world.  It's a very inspiring feeling to fight for every inch the entire length of the course.  I ultimately just missed the final, finishing just tenths of a second back in third place in my semifinal which put me in 7th place overall.  Last year I finished fifth in this race but I felt stronger and faster this year, a reminder that the results list doesn't show everything.  The rest of the weekend included more fast and hard racing up the steep hills of Ruka with some solid results all around for the team.

Classic sprinting!
(Noah Hoffman photo from
My favorite Finnish meal of mashed potatoes, sauteed reindeer and lingonberry jam.  The picture doesn't really do it justice but it's super delicious and was the perfect way to refuel in the middle of the mini-Tour
The day before the races started, I gathered with my fellow competitors from many different countries to show support for the UN Climate Conference which is taking place this week in France. The effects of climate change are very visible to a winter sport athlete.  While we are all responsible for making responsible and sustainable decisions I hope that change will occur at COP21 that will reduce the harmful effects of climate change.  For more information check out this article

Athletes uniting in the stadium

From Ruka we travelled to Lillehammer, Norway via two bus rides and two flights.  After a couple weeks of darkness, we finally found the sun!  Lillehammer is still quite far north relative to home but compared to Gallivare and Ruka there is so much light!  There is only a short man made loop in Lillehammer for the races which is extremely challenging with literally no flat outside of the stadium.  It's a great place to do intervals but for longer distance workouts we've been skiing in Sjusjoen and Nordsetter where the terrain is a little easier and the conditions have been wonderful!  I forgot my camera the first day but I went for an awesome ski with Noah Hoffman and Brayton Osgood in Sjusjoen who were both more prepared (Brayt even brought chocolate) and took the following photos.

Blue sky! (Brayton Osgood photo)
And SUN!
So much happiness!
Exploring a windblown plateau
Happy December!  Yesterday afternoon we walked around town and checked out the Christmas decorations!  Jessie and I are rooming together this week and have found our holiday spirit blasting the Christmas carols.  This weekend the races are 15/30km Skiathlon and a 4x5km relay.
A Lillehammer store transformed into a gingerbread house

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