Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Last Block in Europe

February flew by and here I am, in Norway, getting ready for my final Word Cup race in Europe, the city sprint in Drammen tomorrow. On Thursday I'll be boarding a plane and heading HOME! This year, heading home doesn't mean the season is over. World Cup finals have been moved to Quebec City, so we will be racing our final three World Cup races in front of the home crowd in North America. It should be an exciting next two weeks. But first, the last month or so.
Team USA

Ida, me, Kiks, and Liz sporting our Fast and Female buffs

After our two weekends of racing in Sweden, some of us flew to South Korea for the Olympic test event. Not many racers went to South Korea because of the travel and the timing, but those of us who went found it very valuable to check out the Olympic race courses and put in some hard efforts. It was for sure a weaker field, but it was still a World Cup and the U.S. Team took advantage of the opportunity and came away with some really strong results. I won my first ever qualifier, but was bummed to get knocked out in the semi finals of the sprint. Ida had an awesome day and got her first World Cup podium in 3rd! The next day Liz skied a strong race and was 2nd in the skiathlon and the final day Ida and I teamed up to take 3rd in the team sprint. After a long travel back to central Europe, I was looking forward to a weekend away from the World Cup and was able to spend some time in Valadalen, Sweden with some of my teammates and my parents. It was the perfect setting for a little pre World Champs training camp. The sleeping was comfortable, the skiing was the best we've had all year, and the food was delicious. It was easy to find our happy place and unwind a little before ramping back up for the last stretch of World Cups and World Champs.
Pyeongchang girls!

Skiing in Valadalen with my dad

And momma!

Waffles everyday in Sweden

Welcome to Valadalen

Hanging with Breck and Kiks
After Valadalen, we went to Estonia for the final World Cup weekend before World Champs. Our team had a great day in the skate sprint, qualifying five women and two men and having four of us make the semis. I was happy with my race feelings and qualified in 4th and ended the day in 10th. After the races we took a quick flight to Finland to prepare for World Champs. It was a quick turnaround because the skate sprint was the first race of World Champs and it was on Thursday. The sprint day at World Champs was arguably the best day of racing our women's team has ever had. We had all of our women qualify for the heats along with Simi and Andy for men. The day continued to go well when three of us advanced to the semis and before we knew it, Jessie, Kikkan, and I were standing on the start line for the A final at World Champs. It was a pretty incredible feeling to put our hands in with Matt and Grover and do a little "USA" cheer before heading to the line. To make it even better, Jessie and Kikkan reached the podium in 2nd and 3rd, and I finished the day in 6th. That's right, two US women on the podium, and three in the A final. We were the strongest team in the world that day and it's something I will always be proud of. Our championship continued to be the strongest one we've ever had with Sadie and Jessie teaming up for 3rd in the team sprint, Erika and Simi placing 5th in the team sprint, the women's relay team placing 4th, and Jessie getting 5th in the 30k skate. I only raced the sprint at World Champs, but I enjoyed watching my teammates crush it in the rest of the races and was able to get in some good training and spectating the last couple weeks. We have the city sprint in Drammen tomorrow and some of us will head home Thursday, while the rest of the team will stay for the long distance races over the weekend. We're looking forward to finishing the season on a high note and carrying our success at World Champs through the next couple weeks. Thanks for following and we hope to see you in Canada!!
Trailside cheering with my parents

Hugs from mom after the sprint (Liz Arky photo)

Ready to cheer Sim on in the team sprint (Liz Arky photo)

Podium girls!

Yeah!! (John Lazenby photo)

My good friend from high school, Helen, came to watch the races in Estonia!

Jess and me sporting our gifts Erika sent from home :)

Pre race in Lahti (Matt Whitcomb photo)

Sprint quali in Lahti (Getty Images)

Sue and Howie Wemyss came to watch in Lahti!

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