Friday, December 23, 2016

Happy Holidays!

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

Or company!

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!
Leutasch, Austria



Christmas tree!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Back At It!

We're back in Europe (our home away from home) and the World Cup tour has begun! This year we decided to fly over to Europe right before the first races instead of coming early. Our time on the road is long and this was an attempt to shorten the season, even if it was only by a week. I personally was a fan of this decision because it gave me one more week at home to prepare for a season across the ocean. We arrived in Kuusamo, Finland last Sunday and had the week to get situated, adjust to the time change, and remember what it felt like to ski on snow. I had been fighting a mild cold the week before heading over, but I was happy to feel healthy again and wake up to winter once we arrived in Finland.
Reunited with the team in the airport on travel day and Tim and I had unplanned matching outfits!

Back on snow, back in Kuusamo, and back with Kiks! (Noah photo)
The first races of the season are always a little nerve racking. I think confidence is one of the most important keys to success in racing and I definitely had some confidence finding to do last week. After getting a little tired at our altitude camp in October and then battling a cold before coming over, my confidence had spent some time sitting on the back burner. Life would be pretty easy if everything went perfectly, but that's rarely how life unfolds, and even though I hadn't had the perfect month leading up to the season, there were a lot of positives I could focus on. I had the best summer of training I have ever had, I was feeling good again, and hard work and good training don't just disappear with a little rest. So in order to calm my nerves, I focused on the positives. My sprint qualifier didn't feel good, but I snuck into the rounds (really snuck in, in 30th place) and reset for the heats. I was in a tough heat, but I felt a lot better than I had in the morning and was happy with how I skied. I placed 4th in my heat and finished 20th on the day. Even though this isn't one of the best results I've ever had, it happened to be the best result I've ever had in Kuusamo and that was a step in the right direction. In the distance race I never really felt like I could get going, but it was good to get in a race effort and do my first distance race since New Zealand. There were some cobwebs to be cleaned out, and the cleaning process has officially begun!

Classic 10k in Kussamo (Simi photo)

Packer starting the classic 15k as bib #1
After the weekend of racing in Kuusamo, we flew to Lillehammer, Norway for the mini tour that starts tomorrow. I've been enjoying the endless amount of skiing Lillehammer has to offer and have been taking advantage of some easier terrain on the tourist trails. The most exciting part of my week so far has been seeing my parents. My dad is taking a sabbatical this winter and my parents will be in Europe for the next few months following the World Cup and also breaking off to do some traveling of their own. It's going to make being away from home a heck of a lot easier knowing they are over here with me and I'm so happy they get to embark on their winter of adventures. The team is looking great and we're ready for the next three days of racing in the mini tour. The tour kicks of tomorrow with a classic sprint and will be followed by a skate 5k and classic 10k the next two days!
Breck in his Thanksgiving outfit! If you're ever feeling down on the road, 10 seconds with this little dude will put a smile on your face pretty quickly. 

Skiing the tourist trails with Ides in Lillehammer

Cruising around the stadium in Lillehammer with Ida and Tim (matt photo)

Dad on travel day (photo courtesy of my mom). He's a good sleeper!

My wax tech, Oleg, put a new label on my rock skis. It's go time!!
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