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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