Monday, December 30, 2013

Tour de Ski!


This is one of my favorite times of year, racing in the Tour de Ski.  It is a big traveling circus of cross country skiers and staff that just set up shop, race, take down shop, travel, set up shop, race, take down shop, travel, etc for 9 days.  It's so much fun and this year we have a pretty big crew for these first 4 stages.  A lot of people will drop out after the races here, as 3 of the first 4 races were either sprints or a prologue.  Noah, Jessie, and I plan to complete the whole Tour, which is 7 stages in 9 days, finishing with the climb up Alp Cermis in Italy. So far we have completed the first 2 stages, the skate prologue which kicks things off and a skate sprint, which was supposed to be a 10k classic, but due to lack of snow in Oberhof, the format was changed.  I actually was pretty excited, as I never get to sprint, and tomorrow is another skate sprint as well, so lots of practice.  I qualified in my only ever WC sprint last year in Val Mustair, Switzerland, and yesterday I was 32nd, 2 places from qualifying, so I am really excited to get another crack at it tomorrow.

We hosted a white elephant gift exchange in our apartment on the 23rd and invited a bunch of different athletes from all different countries and it was super fun. Jessie baked about 6 different types of Christmas cookies as well, which were delicious!

Me and Noah on Christmas morning opening our cards from our second family, the Moore's.

Delicious Christmas morning gingerbread cake, courtesy of Jessie!

Stockings that santa filled, which looked suspiciously like Jessie's socks....

Jessie's new bag tag:)

The chain gang.  On our way to Oberhof from Davos it started snowing really hard and to get down the pass we needed to chain up...all 4 tires on our 2 wheel drive van.  Perhaps a new set of tires would have been a good start!

From snowy Davos to rainy, warm Oberhof, Germany where we skied in the ski tunnel as the track was closed the day before the races.  No preview was necessary, as the course was only 1500 meters long! The races were changed, as the weather in Oberhof was so bad leading up to the races that they were not able to blow snow.  Given the weather conditions, the volunteers really made these races happen. Props for sure.

Training in the tunnel.

Noah and Simi's friend from Aspen is a teacher of an 8th grade class who made us all Christmas cards and wished us all good luck in the Olympics and for the season.  These kinds of things are really special to us, so a huge thanks to the Aspen class!!

Our ice tub was already set up in our hotel in Oberhof!

And then we woke up in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, and it looked like this. YES!

Bomber tracks, perfect sun, beautiful mountains, which were made even sweeter by the fact that the last 4 days were pretty tough.

Langlaufing. (German for xc skiing)  It's the thing to do here.  And I'm PUMPED!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Holiday Time

I am in Davos, Switzerland for the Holidays this year, preparing for the Tour de Ski which starts in Oberhof, Germany on Saturday.  The Tour is 7 races in 9 days and is a very taxing but extremely fun bit of the season.  We are thoroughly enjoying the holidays together as a smaller team and I want to wish you all a very happy holiday season wherever you may be.  Here is a recap of the week.

Picture of me racing in last week's 15k skate taken by Andrew Moorehouse.  Great to have some extra help over here this week including Eli Brown, Erik Flora, and our awesome PT/Massage Therapist Fredrica "Fred" Manning. Huge shout-out to these guys for the awesome extra help this week.

And another HUGE HUGE shout-out to my awesome Rossi boot guys.  These guys are the reason I am pain free in my feet and able to train and compete at my best.  Luca and Luigi drove the long drive from Montebeluna, Italy to Davos to help me and a few other athletes out with some boot work.  Thanks a ton guys! You rock.

Noah and Jessie night 1 in our apartment here in Davos for the Christmas break.  Pad Thai. YES!
Breakfast 1: French Toast and REAL VERMONT MAPLE SYRUP!! My awesome cousin and his family gave me a lucky maple syrup from Slopestyle Syrup, the Cochran Family's sugaring business and it was delicious and sure to bring us extra energy for the upcoming Tour de Ski!

Noah, me and Jessie sporting our aprons for cooking time.

Christmas cookie time!!  My good friend, Anna Haag and I made dinner and then got our bake on the other night. We made these delicious chocolate cookie balls, fudge, chocolate covered pistachios and almonds and some gourmet Reeces!

Me and Anna having a blast in her kitchen.

The weather and the snow has been nice here and our apartment is just a short walk to the stadium and all the trails.  Jessie, Noah and I headed out on an early ski on Saturday so we be back in time to watch the sprint heats.

Jessie snagging some sun time.  Oh yeah Davos. Oh yeah.

Our Christmas Tree!!! Complete with lights and ornaments and a handmade snowflake for the top!

We fired up a game of sequence the last couple nights.  Games are awesome.

Jessie putting in some one pole work.

Yesterday Holly, Jessie and I skied together for a bit and worked on our classic technique together.  No pole and 1 pole drills may not feel "cool" but there must be something to it when you see the best skiers in the world doing tons of it. I think the only times I have seen Justyna use 2 poles this year are in the races.  That may be an exaggeration, but if you aren't ever dropping a pole or two, now is the time.

Mini coffee....

Mini Sandwich...
AND SO DELICIOUS!  Thanks for lunch Holly! (Don't worry, this was not it!)

There is a new hotel that has opened here that we call the "Golden Egg" because that is what it looks like to us.  They had an open house yesterday afternoon so a few of us went up to see what it was all about.

The flower presentation on the tables was beautiful.  

And the sun on the deck and comfy couches was hard to beat.

Florian (Robs friend from college), Holly and her husband Rob.

The view from the 10th floor bar in the Golden Egg.  It is a very crazy, overbuilt and modern hotel, but it has a bit of intrigue for me just because it looks so different than any other building I have ever seen.  I forgot to take a picture of the outside of the place but I will try and take one today and add it to this post.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


As many of you know, the World Cup revisits many of the same venues each year with a few that are every other year stops and once in a while we will go to a brand new venue.  This year, Lillehammer was the brand new venue, and it is always fun to try out some new trails.  Davos, however, has been on the circuit for many years, sometimes catching us in February for Valentines Day and sometimes right before Christmas.  Davos was where I competed in my first World Cup races ever, in 2007, when Morgan Arritola, Tazlina Mannix and I came over to join Kikkan in a 4x5k relay event, as well as a 10k skate race the day before.  It is pretty fun to go back and look at results from those two races and see how far we have come.  I was 48th place here in 2007 in the 10k skate and our relay was 11th, probably out of 12 or 13 teams.  Saturday I finished 20th in the 15k skate, which is the first race of the season that I have been in the top 30, not including the final stage of the Ruka minitour.  I have only skied faster than I did on Saturday here in Davos once before, which was last year where I finished 15th.

My only point in mentioning all of these results is that our standards as a team have changed, as well as my own.  As professional athletes who have seen some great success, especially last year, we always want more, and we always want to better our best, which is good because it makes us better.  But, we have to remember that average races will happen many times throughout our careers, and an average race still brings with it many positives to take out of it.  A top 20, no matter if you have had a win, a podium or a 5th is still a top 20.  It is still in the points and it is still no reason to be disappointed.  The season is long and it is still December.  The great race or races are in there, or at least we have all done everything we can to be prepared to have the race of our lives this year.  I am not thrilled with Saturday's 20th place, but I am happy with it and I realize that what now feels like an average race, not too long ago would have been a hugs success.

Davos has some good food, especially their breakfasts!

Day 1 training in Davos.  We ended up skiing with quite a few other teams which was really fun!  Russia, Sweden, Norway and us all just kicking and gliding in the sun together.  

We have quite the views here from the Hotel Kulm.  We have been staying here as a team since the 80's or even late 70's maybe and so coming back always feels a bit like home.

Noah and I soaking up some Vitamin D!

And perma tanned Simi getting some bronzing action too.

Sadie and Soph

This is my Christmas star that I bought in Norway.  I have always really wanted one, as in Scandinavia they are hanging in many of the windows.  I like subtle Christmas decorations, white lights, paper cutouts, so this is just what I needed to make Christmas feel close.

Our annual secret santa which includes writing a poem for your person took place on Thursday.  Here is Cory reading his.  Cory happened to be my secret santa as well and he wrote me a really heartfelt poem.

Kikkan had Cory and here is the poem she wrote him.

Ida had our PT, Fredrica "Fred" Manning and went all out! 

Noah and I went to the Bjorn Dahlie kids event after our race on Saturday.  It is an event put on by Bjorn Dahlie where 300 kids show up and get to go through a really fun obstacle course.

Noah and I jumped in and helped the kids through the course.

There was a tree section, which was really tricky with long skis!

And an uphill GS course as well as a jump and a downhill GS course.

In some cases I really had to get my sprint on to beat these kids! They were really impressive!

And here I am with Bjorn himself!  What an honor it was to meet him! (picture stolen from Noah's blog.  Thanks Noah!)

Noah and I hit the gym after to get buff. (picture stolen from Noah's blog.  Thanks Noah!)

Noah and Rosie cheering at the skate sprint yesterday.  It was a beautiful day for a race.

 We had a really solid day yesterday, qualifying 6 out of our 11 athletes, and 3 moved on to the semi finals!  Sophie Caldwell had a personal best with a 9th place!

We also had USSA's new CEO, Tiger Shaw and his wife Kristin come to watch the race!! (picture stolen from Noah's blog.  Thanks Noah!)

I will not race again until the Tour de Ski which starts on the 28th of December.  Noah, Jessie and I plan to complete the whole Tour, so we will skip the next weekend of city sprints in Asiago, Italy and move into an apartment here in Davos where we will spend Christmas together.