Happy Holidays from Austria! Period one of the world cup has come to a close, and I'm enjoying a little break from racing near Seefeld, Austria with my family over Christmas. During period one, we made our way from northern Finland down to Lillehammer, Norway, then to central Europe for the last two weekends of World Cup racing in Davos, Switzerland and La Clusaz, France. In Lillehammer we had a mini tour that began with a classic sprint. As a women's team, we had a really strong qualifier with four women making the rounds, three women qualifying in the top ten, and Sadie WINNING the qualifier. I was happy to feel good and qualify in 10th, and although none of us had the quarter finals we wanted to have, it was a good step in the right direction to lay down some fast qualifiers. The highlight of the weekend came the next day when Jessie won the 5k skate. She has now won the last two 5k skates on the World Cup circuit and proven that she can compete with the best in just about every technique and discipline. It's inspirational to see.
|Big screen at the start of my quarter final (Bryan Fish photo)|
|The Bjornsen bookends! Great day for these siblings with Sadie's winning qualifier and Erik making it into the heats. |
|Post race with Dad|
|5k skate in Lillehammer (Toko US/Nordic Focus photo)|
|Cheerleading with Kiks|
|Liz and Jess all smiles after Jessie's win and Liz's first race of the season!|
After the mini tour in Lillehammer, we flew down to Davos, our home away from home in the winter. Aside from the manmade race loop in Davos, there wasn't any snow, but as always, there was plenty of sunshine that we were eager to soak up after a few weeks in the land of darkness. I raced the skate sprint in Davos and it was the highlight of my period one. Four women and Sim qualified for the heats on sprint day and Jess and I both moved onto the semis. In my semi, I unfortunately took myself out coming into the last corner before the finish, missing my chance to move on to the finals. It's always a bummer to fall, especially when you're feeling good, but that's part of ski racing. I was happy to be feeling fast and strong and maybe it could have been a great day, but making it into the semis is always a good day! Jess had another strong performance, advancing to the A final and finishing 5th.
|Soaking up some sun on a recovery day run with Sim|
|Skiing on the race course with the Davos mountains in the backdrop (Eric Packer photo)|
|Morning jaunt (Sim photo)|
|Goofing off with Jess between rounds (Noah photo)|
|DOH! (Toko US/Nordic Focus photo)|
|Davos qualifier (Toko US/Nordic Focus photo)|
After a few days of recovery in Davos, we hit the road for the last stop of period one in La Clusaz, France. This was my first time racing a World Cup in France and again, there wasn't any snow, but boy is it a beautiful country. On one of my recovery days I played tourist with my parents and walked around the city of Annecy. Unfortunately, pretty much our entire team and staff was hit with some nasty colds in the last week of racing. I was fortunate enough to be one of three or four people who dodged the cold and was able to race the relay in France. It wasn't my best race, in fact, it may have been my worst race, because about half way into my leg I had a massive explosion. I wasn't even sure I was going to make it up the last couple hills. It was not a good feeling to blow up that hard. I had one of the worst headaches I've ever had, but it was an even worse feeling to have it happen in a team event. My teammates skied strong races and made up a lot of time for our team. It was a learning experience that I wish had gone differently, but sometimes you have to push your limits to know where they really are and I sure found mine!
|Streets of Annecy with Dad|
|Not a bad view|
|Me, Oleg, and Liz. Oleg is our head wax tech and the personal tech for Liz and me. He's our smiley bear and recipe to fast skis!|
|Classic leg of the 5k relay (Marcel Hilger photo)|
Now we have a nice 12 day break until the Tour de Ski begins. The team cold hit me pretty hard as soon as I got to Austria, so I've been doing a lot of walking and sitting in the sun. I'm hoping to feel better soon, so I can take advantage of the perfect manmade loop out our door and maybe throw in a mountain trail running adventure. Being sick stinks, but I'm in a beautiful place with the people I love, so I really don't have too much to complain about. My next races will be the first two races of the Tour de Ski in Val Mustair, Switzerland. The first race is a skate sprint and the second is a classic 5k. Be sure to follow the Tour de Ski for one of the most exciting events in skiing and in the meantime, Merry Christmas!