Sunday, January 24, 2016

An inspiring start to 2016!

Late January and early February is an easy point in the winter to get bogged down and feel a mid- winter lull.  The excitement of the beginning of the season has worn off and you can't even get jazzed up listening to Christmas music anymore.  The sunny anticipation of springtime hasn't hit yet either brining it's own excitement. For those of us living out of duffel bags in Europe, it's that time when you get really sick of all the tshirts you have and you would give anything to be able to put your entire bag into a big washing machine rather than doing anymore sink launday. This is normally the time when I feel the homesick vibes or mid winter blues.  But luckily, this is not the case this year! I'm feeling more energized and fired up than ever before.  Maybe it's just because I spent the day spent watching my teammates finish second in a 4x5km relay, followed by an OD ski getting lost on the hundreds of kilometers of trails in Sjusjoen, Norway finishing it with a hearty dinner of salmon and potatoes.  But it's not just today that has left me feeling inspired!  2016 has taken off to a great start and I feel so grateful to be working hard chasing my goals and surrounded by many of favorite people!

Here's a brief catch up of the past month.  January began with the Tour de Ski, 8 races at 4 venues in 3 countries!  I only raced the first five races of the Tour but it was an exhausting and fun series for me including two top 20 finishes, one broken ski, about 35km of racing, and watching two of my teammates win World Cups!  Sophie and Jessie are following in Kikkan's footsteps and proving to us all that with hard work and belief our goals are achievable!

Fog rising at the start of the Tour de Ski in Lenzerheide

Classic sprinting in Toblach

Sophie wins a World Cup!
And Jessie does it a few days later!
Finishing my Tour with a broken ski and a creative javelin ski handoff from Jason Cork.

After I finished racing in the Tour, I stayed in Toblach, Italy for about a week with the other sprinters.  The Dolomites are an amazing area to explore!  There wasn't much natural snow but a local marathon coincided with our stay and the organizers laid out about 50km of manmade snow for the event so we had plenty of trails to ski!

Post Tour recovery in Toblach with Pat
European sightseeing on our drive to Slovenia! It was fun to take the time to explore away from the ski trails and I'm grateful for all the travel that I get to do for my job!
From Toblach we travelled to Planica, Slovenia for a sprint weekend including an individual sprint and team sprint.  I did not pace the course well in the individual sprint and was disappointed with my race after fading in the final meters.  But luckily I got another chance the next day in the team sprint. I was motivated by my racing the day before and planned my attacks to move up in each round on Sunday in the same area where I had struggled on Saturday.  I was excited to race with Sophie and to have another opportunity to ski my heart out on a challenging but fun course!  An added bonus of the Slovenia weekend was having Eben, Natalie, and Pat there cheering!  I feel so lucky to have such supportive friends and family!
The Julian Alps in Slovenia
Training the day before the race with Erika, Sophie, and Chelsea.  Planica was one of the most beautiful venues I have ever skied in surrounded by the sharp peaks.  The trails were also very fun and challenging to race!
Soph and I jumping for joy after our 5th place team sprint finish!
Visits and cheers from Eben and Natalie!
Despite a low snow year in Slovenia they still skied this couloir shown to the left of the peak on the day after the races!  I can go fast on skinny skis but I think he's the best skier in the family.
From Slovenia, I headed to Sjusjoen, Norway for some a training block before the Period 3 World Cups.  With so much racing, we don't always get the opportunity to just go out and ski.  But the past week I've skied A LOT, taking advantage of the endless kilometers and perfect tracks here for some long ski tours and really productive training.  I'm looking forward to more racing again soon but right now I couldn't be happier to be outside skiing and following my passion!

Cabins, snow and perfect tracks in Sjusjoen!

Life is good!

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