Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Season Recap Told Through Pictures

Being a cross country skier on the US Ski Team who gets to travel the world from November until mid March chasing World Cups, is a wonderful life.  It's full of opportunity,  challenges, good friends, incredible teammates and engulfed in a love of sport.  Here are a few pictures from the season and a few stories from the road.

Racing a World Cup in Davos, Switzerland this season.

A team picture from the road.  This was taken at the start of the Tour de Ski in Germany.

I was the sole finisher on our team in the Tour de Ski this season (a stage race not unlike the Tour de France, with 7 races in 9 days at 4 different venues in 3 different countries), due to some athletes needing to drop out due to sickness, injury and preparation for the rest of the season. So, the whole staff was working just for me for the last 2 stages! 

Me and my team of waxers at the Tour de Ski.  To put it in better perspective, my usual wax tech is sitting to my left.  All of these guys work together, but each athlete has one wax tech who is in charge of getting our skis ready.  We share two athletes to one tech.  Once I was the only athlete left racing in the Tour de Ski I had all of these guys working to get the best skis possible, not for the whole team, but for me!  It was insanely awesome.

This was one of the highlights of my year.  Our women's alpine team was staying 30 minutes away preparing for their next race, and they heard I was racing and took the time to come down and watch me.  It was so moving to realize that everyone who is on the US Ski Team is really just one big team.  We all follow one another throughout the season and even come to races on the very rare occasion it works.  I skied to one of my best results of the whole season that day and I am sure having these girls yelling their faces off at me helped hugely.

Another racing shot.

This was in Russia on the day of the first World Cup podium of my career. I was second to my very good Norwegian friend, Astrid Jacobsen (middle) and just ahead of another friend, Steffi Boehler from Germany (far right).  I have been told that your first podium changes who you are as an athlete, as it lets you believe in what you can achieve in the future in a clearer light.

Team picture.

And I don't even like pink!

We ski in some cold, but beautiful places.  This is a bit east of Lillehammer, Norway.

And some of the sunsets we see blow my mind.  This one is in Davos, Switzerland.

Me and our Development Team coach, Bryan Fish.

Lot's of road tripping from venue to venue when you are on the road for 4 months.  Three abreast in the Cargo Van.

My birthday is in January right after the Tour de Ski finishes and I celebrated my 4th birthday in Seiser Alm, Italy.  Believe me, it is not a bad place to celebrate the day you were born.

Here is one of the views.  Just saying, we are pretty lucky to be able to see the places we see.

A few pictures from the World Championships in Falun, Sweden.

My teammate Sophie Caldwell and me.

"Little Morderbacken".  The Morderbacken is the name of the biggest hill on the courses in Falun.  There is a "lilla" or "little" Morderbacken...

....and there is a big Morderbacken!

Our women's Worlds Team.

Me racing in the relay at Worlds.  The socks that you can see me sporting we only bust out on relay days and the whole team has them.  We wore them when we placed in the top 6 for the first time ever, and we have worn them ever since.  They have helped us ski to multiple podium finishes, a 4th at the last 2 World Championships and have made a debut at their first Olympics in Sochi.  We are not superstitious, but these socks create a state of mind.  If you are wearing these socks, you are racing for more than just yourself that day.  You are racing for your team.  It's a different kind of pressure you put on yourself and a feeling of greater responsibility.  It's a feeling of honor, as you were one of those chosen to represent Team USA on that day and that's something that is not to be taken lightly.

Our relay team at the Falun, World Championships this year.  From left to right: Jessie Diggins, me, Sadie Bjornsen and Rosie Brennen (from Park City!)

Our two awesome PT's who volunteer all their time for us when they travel and leave their real jobs to come work on us.  We are incredibly lucky to have such generous supporters of us.  We really could not be performing at a high enough level to compete with the best in the World without them.

One of our awesome Swedish wax techs.

After Jessie and Caitlin won their medals the hotel left this in their room!

Me, Sadie, Jessie and Kikkan.

Yum!!! My fuel for the year is largely made up of these goodies!


After a long season we are all ready for a break.  Some people jet to the beach to get warm and relax, others head for the mountains to backcountry ski or alpine ski, and others just go home to see friends and family.  I started with heading immediately into the backcountry of the Sawtooth Mountains around Sun Valley, Idaho where our final races of the season were held.  I grew up as an alpine skier so I have fallen in love with alpine touring, as you are able to get way out into the mountains where nobody is and satisfy my endurance junky desires and also make some turns on familiar feeling gear from when I was a kid.  After spending a week playing around up there, I came back to Utah to see my friends who I hadn't seen since early November when I left for the season, and I have been soaking it in.  Today was the start of the new training year, as we always officially start on the week that May 1st falls in.  So, this year that week started today, April 27th.  We have about 6 1/2 months to prepare for the 2015/16 season and I am pumped!  I busted out my rollerskis for their first training session of the year this afternoon and though it was a bit breezy, the sun was out, so couldn't have started on a better note, though I am feeling quite out of ski shape!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Photos and some words

I know you are all saying a hearty, ‘Welcome back to the blogosphere land, Liz” to me, as it has been some time since I last updated this page I used to type on every Monday.  There has been a lot going on, it turns out, and sometimes while I am in the moment, I find it hard to reflect and write about it all.  But now, I have had sufficient enough time to digest it all, so I am out of excuses and owe you all an update.  You have, after all, waited very patiently.

10k podium from Worlds: Jessie, Charlotte and Caitlin!  It was an incredible day with two US girls on the podium and 4 in the top 15, what a day!  Making history!

Soph and me after the relay.

Our 4x5k relay team: Jessie, Me, Sadie and Rosie

Falun sunset

Celebratory champagne toasts after the 10k!

Andy, Kikkan and Peter, our beloved wax tech who has been with us for 9 years and will be moving on from the ski world for a new job that will keep him closer to home and breathing far fewer wax fumes.  But, Peter, you will be incredibly missed.

Rosie and Eli Brown, one of our volunteer wax techs for the week of World Champs.

We have had an awesome crew of people with us for Worlds.  Here is one of them, Dakota Blackhorse-Von-Jess who brings an incredible amount of energy and love wherever he goes.  It's been a joy to have him on the road with us for the last month.  And of course Sadie and Ida too!

Matt Gelso is another who always has a nice word to share and a laugh to be heard.

Kyle Bratrud joined us for the week also and was so into it all. His calm presence, but psyched personality was fun to have with us.

Sim and Soph

Me, Oleg, Soph and Toque (one of our long time volunteer techs). Oleg is Soph and my tech and he is one of the more uniquely special dudes you will ever meet with a heart the size of a mountain.

Team photo from Ostersund, going back in time a bit.

Me and my Pops. 

Audi had some cars that they were giving rides to athletes on the ice track, so a bunch of us jumped in for a ride around the track.  Pretty fun.

Smiley Andy.

A dinner out of the hotel in the farmhouse Andy, Soph and my parents rented together at World Champs.

After the championships my parents and I went to Stockholm for two nights and got to check out the city on foot.  We walked a lot and my favorite part of the city was for sure the Vasa museum.  It was an old viking ship built in 1628 that sailed 1500 meters out of the Stockholm harbor and sunk.  It sat under water for 300 years until it was discovered and salvaged and now is housed in a museum in the city.

It was incredible to see such an incredible work of art that is so well intact after being underwater for so long.  It was really incredible to see and read about the story of her voyage.

My parents on the palace steps.

The last week has been spent in Lahti and a small town called Runni, Finland, where Jessie and I did a show race, which was really fun, before traveling to Oslo two days ago.  It was nice to race a non World Cup for the first time this season and it felt like a mini vacation for the two nights we were gone.

The track went around the hotel and was 1.2k long.  Double poling was the name of the game, so we competed in a 4.6k double pole race that night.  It was super fun.

Me, Jessie and Maurice Magnificat with long time skiing legend Juha Mieto.  He is a giant, and super friendly.  Really cool to meet him.

Now we are in Oslo getting ready for our last World Cup race of the season, the 30k Holmenkollen.  It turns out some of the biggest crowds all year and the weather this year looks to be spectacular spring conditions.  It's sunny and warm, and the Vitamin D is just feeling so good.  Happy times here in Norway, for sure.

Lina and John Farra met up with us for a visit.  John used to be our nordic director and Lina is his 13 year old daughter who is attending the Winter School this year in Park City, which means she will go to school in the summer and have the winters off to adventure and ski!  She is a really impressive skier, and a super self motivated and wonderful individual.  It was a joy to have them both around the last few days.

Our skiing group yesterday.  Rosie, me, Lina and Jessie.

Peter and Gus both have decided to move on to other parts of life after this season and they will be sorely missed.  Gus is off to attend BU for his MBA and Peter has a new job as a Project Manager for ABB, a multinational corporation.  Really cool opportunity, but we will miss him dearly.

Peter and I

Oslo's roller ski generation wall is always incredible to me.  I think our skis are hard to maneuver now?  Whew.  Good thing I didn't ski back then!

Me, our volunteer doc for the week, Heather Chichanowski and Sadie.

Yesterday was quite warm and so what did we do?  Yeah, we took a swim and soaked in the rays on the beach outside our hotel.

I feel like a new person.  The sun is an incredible happy drug and the cold water is such a shock.