Tuesday, February 9, 2016


After our week in Czech, we headed north for our final month in Europe. There was a weekend off from World Cup races and the majority of World Cup athletes either went home or to their respective national championships. We did our best to make a home away from home and rented some cabins in Sjusjoen, Norway for the week. It was the perfect break from living out of hotel rooms with buffet meals. Our cabins had living rooms, kitchens, saunas, AND washing machines! As nice as it was to be living in homes, the best part of Sjusjoen was the 300 kilometers of skiing it had to offer. My week consisted of a combination of distance training, some intervals, and some recovery. Emily Nishikawa of team Canada joined us for the week and on the windiest and foggiest day, we set out for a three hour ski adventure. We wanted to explore some new trails, but unfortunately, when we got to the far point of our route, the wind and fog set in and our adventure ended up being a little longer than we anticipated. Matt came to our rescue and picked us up on our way back and a chocolate bar has never tasted so good!
Snowy view out our cabin window

Sunset ski with Sim

Beautiful light and hundreds of kms

Happy skier
After our week in Sjuesjon, we drove to Oslo. There was a mid week city sprint in Drammen last week followed by the 30km and 50km Holmenkollen races over the weekend. I've had mixed feelings about the Drammen sprint in years past. It is hands down one of the coolest venues where we have raced. The track is set through the city center and loops around the beautiful Drammen church. The crowds in Drammen are wild. Norway loves skiing and it feels like the entire country comes out to watch the races. I have done the Drammen sprint the last three years and had never qualified before. In fact, I had never even been close to qualifying! It's a gradual course, which is one of my weaknesses in classic skiing and the field tends to be stacked because Norway is allowed to have more starters in these races. So while I've always loved the atmosphere in Drammen, it's been a difficult race for me to perform in. But this year was a new year, and I went into the sprint with the confidence that I've had the rest of the season, and I qualified 11th! Jessie, Sadie, Simi and I all qualified in the top 12, which are probably the best qualifier results we've ever had as a team in Drammen. Jessie, Sadie, and I all narrowly missed moving onto the semi finals, but Sim made the semis and placed 11th on the day. This wasn't the strongest day we've ever had in sprinting, but I think it says a lot about how far our team has come in a sprint that has historically been challenging for us. I was thrilled to not only qualify, but to qualify well and to be in the mix in my quarter final.
View of the Drammen church from the high point on the course

Jessie and I were psyched to qualify in Drammen for our first time!
After the sprint in Drammen, we moved up to Holmenkollen to prepare for the weekend races. I didn't race the 30k because I want to be well rested for the upcoming sprints, but I was still looking forward to enjoying the Holmenkollen atmosphere. We had pretty awful weather for the weekend, but that didn't stop the crowds from coming out in force. Fans come up to Holmenkollen for the weekend and camp out on the edge of the trails. You can count on cheering around the entire loop and are surrounded by the smell of grilled food. It's a race weekend that I look forward to coming back to as a fan some day. I had a lot of fun working at the feed stations and cheering on my teammates as they fought to some impressive results.
Welcome to the Holmenkollen!

I was able to test out our new feed hats, courtesy of L.L. Bean. The hunter orange color and headlights made for the best hats out there on a foggy day! 
In addition to training and racing, we were able to do some other pretty neat activities while in Norway. On one of the off days, Simi and I went down to explore the city of Oslo.  I've been to Holmenkollen many times, but I never actually had the time to go check out the city, so I was excited to play tourist for a day. Former Norwegian ski racer, Kristin Stormer Steira set up an event for us with the organization she now works for, Aktiv Against Cancer (Aktiv Mot Kreft in Norway). It's an incredible organization that promotes physical activity for cancer patients during and after treatment. They support research on the topic as well as set up Puste Rommets (breathing rooms) within hospitals where patients can go to receive a personal training plan and workout with instructors. We were honored to attend a spinning class with a group of patients who are training for a bike trip in Majorca this spring. It was an inspiring event and we were happy to learn that Aktiv Against Cancer is branching out to the U.S. To read more about them, visit http://www.aktivagainstcancer.org/.
Sadie, Jessie, and me getting ready for our spin class

Liz exchanging autographs with one of the little girls

Spin workout complete!

The crew after spin class
Climbing up the opera house in Oslo

View of the city from the top of the opera house

Exploring the old fortress
This afternoon we are flying to Stockholm, Sweden for another classic city sprint on Thursday. This will be the first time I've done the Stockholm sprint! After the sprint, we will drive to Falun, Sweden for a weekend of distance racing. After Sweden, we have one more weekend of European World Cup races before heading home for the week before the Canadian Tour. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a countdown on my phone telling my how many days until I get to be home, but I'm looking forward to our last 12 days (to be exact) in Europe. Thanks for following!

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