Friday, December 12, 2014

Davos!

Our week in Lillehammer wasn't the best weekend we've had as a team, but there were some highlights that should be recognized. Sadie had a really solid weekend, placing in the points in every race. Liz and Jessie stepped it up in the skate 5k and flew around the hilly course, and Erik had a really fast time in the classic 15k where he was pretty darn close to scoring points. I did all three races and even though the results weren't pretty, I was happy to put a bib on again and begin my season. The World Cup field is a tough one to jump into if you're not feeling at the top of your game and the World Cup field in Norway is even tougher. It wasn't easy seeing my name down at the bottom of the results lists, but luckily I have an awesome support group of teammates, coaches, friends, and family to remind me that being able to race right now period is an accomplishment in itself.
Crossing the finish line in my first race of the season (Marc Rhode photo)

Sadie zipping around the course in the skate sprint (USSA photo)
We were all pretty exhausted after three consecutive days of racing. On Monday afternoon we hopped on the plane and flew to Davos, Switzerland. We don't technically have a home base in Europe, but if we did, it would be Davos. So, it's nice to be back "home". We always stay in the Hotel Kulm and we have quite the history here. The owner knows us all by name and my uncle Tim actually stayed here with the US team back when he was racing World Cups. Davos doesn't have a ton of snow right now, but the volunteers are doing a great job of putting together a race track. Davos is a beautiful place to be and we've seen a mix of flurries and sun since arriving.
An easy ski with Reese on our first day in Davos

Sun!

Simi doing some tricks in front of the sunset
A few of us drove to Livigno, Italy to switch things up yesterday. It's a pretty long drive, but we went for a nice ski on some new trails with a little more snow. After our ski, we went out to lunch at one of the local pizzerias before heading back to Davos. I enjoyed seeing a new venue and taking a day for an adventure.
It was a cold, cold, day in Livigno

Sim heading out for his ski

The pizzeria served us free champagne while we were waiting for our table. Yes please!

On our drive over, we witnessed this machine driving next to a dump truck while picking up snow from the side of the road and blowing it into the back of the dump truck

Tunnel driving!
The race weekend kicks off tomorrow with a 10k classic. I will not be racing tomorrow, but I'll be racing in the skate sprint on Sunday. We just found out that the World Cup in La Clusaz next weekend is cancelled, so we're waiting to hear if there is a backup venue and deciding what our plans will be next. Regardless of where we are next weekend, only ten days until my family comes over for Christmas!
Here is a picture my mom sent me of our cat, Leroy, hanging out with one of the Christmas elves I got from Lillehammer last year.
Evening run to strength with Ms. Liz! (Simi photo)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Kuusamo and Lillehammer

After a week of training in Muonio, we packed up our bags and drove to Kuusamo, Finland. Unfortunately, I came down with a little cold, so I didn't get to do very much skiing in Kuusamo. I was giving my elbow another week of rest before racing anyway, so it didn't change my racing schedule at all. Similar to Muonio, Kuusamo is another winter wonderland. The sun never really hits the ski trails, but every once in awhile you catch a glimpse of it and it's quite beautiful.
Travel day packed in the van!

Kuusamo ski jump

Kuusamo's favorite colors - black and white

With some distant sunshine!
We packed our bags and traveled to Lillehammer on Monday evening. I love coming to Norway to ski because EVERYONE in Norway loves cross-country skiing. You're in the minority if you don't cross-country ski or at least follow it here. We went up to Sjuesjon to train our first couple days here. They have a little more snow and the terrain isn't as difficult as the hilly courses at Lillehammer venue. Our first day was so foggy you could barely see the trail in front of you, but on our second day we were greeted with clear skies, a beautiful sunrise, and plenty of snow.
Next stop, Lillehammer!

Andy taking a ride on the baggage claim

Skiing at Sjuesjon

Liz skiing into the sunrise
Group ski (Jessie photo)


Down town Lillehammer
I'm feeling healthier each day and it's felt really good to get back on skis this week. My elbow is also doing great. I've done some speeds, some intensity, and even a little upper body strength. Our PT, Pete Dickinson, has been amazing to have on the road with us and he's been documenting my strength and recovery nicely.
Bicep curls are Gus' favorite exercise, so Pete and I took this photo for him

My first pull-up!
 Pete has cleared me to race this weekend, so I'm getting back in the race routine beginning with a skate sprint tomorrow! There are two distance races over the weekend and I'm planning on seeing how my health and elbow are feeling each day before deciding if I will do those races. I have zero expectations going into these first races because it's been a bit of a crazy summer and fall, but I'm looking forward to putting on a race bib again and am happy to be back on the trails with my team. Thanks for following!
Also psyched to announce that Jessie, Liz, and I will be skiing with Johaug gloves this winter!


Monday, November 24, 2014

Muonio Update

Before arriving in Muonio, I didn't have very high expectations. It seemed like the only two words people used to describe it here were cold and dark. It has exceeded my expectations in just about every way. I really like it here and have decided not to leave. Just kidding. I think the dark would eventually get to me, but I have really been enjoying our stay. We live in cozy little cabins, the sunrises and sunsets (which are less than four hours apart) are beautiful, the food is delicious, and we get to ski a lot!


Everything is white!

10:30 am sunrise over the ski trails
Reese Hanneman photo
View of the Northern Lights over our cabins the other night (Matt Whitcomb photo)
This morning we woke up to fresh snow and it's continued to snow all day. It's one of my favorite conditions to ski in because it's not super cold, so the snow is still fast and you can kind of just float over the fresh snow. Between the slightly greasy snow and the flakes flying by, you feel like you're cruising. It was a really enjoyable group ski that made me like this place even more.
Morning ski with my coach, Big Gus

Sadie getting creative at strength
Time in the day passes surprisingly quickly. It could have something to do with the limited daylight, but between skiing, eating, and sleeping, there really isn't a ton of time. We've celebrated a couple birthdays and the other day we went into Muonio to do a school visit. Sadie celebrated her 25th birthday on the 21st and Oleg celebrated his birthday yesterday. I'm pretty lucky to have both of them around.
Talking to some of the students during our school visit (Matt Whitcomb photo)

Back to school! (Matt Whitcomb photo)

Happy Birthday Oleg! Oleg is our head kick wax technician, as well as the personal wax tech for Liz and me. He's a great guy to have around. This is a photo of the two of us from the World Cup in Asiago last year.

Birthday girl Sadie and me with some of the kids at the school in Muonio (Caitlin Gregg photo)
In other news, I'm starting to use my second pole again! Yesterday was my first day mixing two poles in. I switched between skiing one lap with two poles and one lap with one pole. It felt surprisingly normal and was completely pain free, so I was as happy as could be. I did another easy ski with two poles today and my elbow felt fine again. I've been working with our PT, Pete Dickinson, twice a day since arriving here and he's been extremely helpful. We've made a lot of progress and I can't thank him enough for all the work he has done. We take thumbs up pictures after every couple sessions to see how straight I can get my arm and this is my most recent one. Almost there!
Getting straighter by the day (Pete Dickinson photo)

First day with two poles! (Pete Dickinson photo)
I'm looking forward to a rest day tomorrow. It will be good to give my elbow a little break after two days of skiing and my legs are starting to feel a little tired after so much one pole skiing. We will also be making the trek to Kuusamo tomorrow afternoon. My teammates will all be competing in their first World Cups of the season over the weekend. I'm excited to do some more two pole skiing and cheer them on in the races!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

First Stop Finland

We made it! Our travel day Monday was a long one. We left home at 11:30 Sunday morning and didn't pull into Muonio until about 10 Monday night. We are seven hours ahead here, so we shouldn't have been tired when we arrived last night, but after such a long travel day, we all passed out quite easily. It's dark in Muonio. Really dark. When we pulled in last night I couldn't see anything, but when I woke up this morning, it was winter! Sunrise is at about 10 am and sunset is at about 2:30 pm, so our hours of daylight are very limited, but it was a pretty clear day with some beautiful lighting for our morning ski yesterday. I'm skiing with one pole for another week, but I'm really excited to be back on snow.

Muonio sunrise

Two of my favorite things - Sadie and snow!
My final two weeks at home flew by way too fast. I enjoyed spending time with friends and family while still getting in some good training. November weather in Vermont can be hit or miss, but we were lucky to have quite a bit of sunshine, not too much rain, and even a little snow! I did a lot of running on the dirt roads near my house, enjoyed my mom's home-cooked meals, and spent time with the SMS girls who I probably won't see until Spring Series.
Back road running with my SMS T2 girls

Snowy hike up Mt. Equinox with my sister

Running intervals up Mad Tom Notch road

Hike up Bromley on my final day in VT with Iz an Sim
I'll miss you too, Leroy.

On our final evening at home, we had an SMS T2 sendoff and fundraiser party. Thank you to everyone who came. We're extremely lucky to be a part of such a supportive community and I couldn't have thought of a better way to spend our last evening home!
Thanks to Hubert for the photos!

"Look relaxed"
We are in Munio until Tuesday when we head to Kuusamo for the first World Cups of the year. I will not be racing in Kuusamo, but I will start working in my second pole when I get there and I'll be ready to get out and cheer my teammates on as they kick some butt.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

NYC and Snowy Vermont!

After my teammates left Park City, I had one final week in Utah on my own. The perfect Park City weather held up and I had a lot of fun exploring the mountains, catching up with some non-skier friends, and doing a ton of physical therapy. I think it ended up being a good idea to stay in Utah because I made a lot of progress with my elbow and it's feeling great.
I went on my first run with my new elbow before Sadie headed back to Alaska.

Hiked out to Desolation Lake with Parker and friends

A panoramic view from the top of Deer Valley

A sunset run with Parker down in SLC after she got off work
On the way home from Park City, a group of us stopped in NYC for a few days to attend the US Ski Team Ski Ball. Going to New York City is always an interesting experience for me. It's exciting to see the city, but it's also overwhelming and exhausting. I want to see everything I can possibly see in a few days and then by the time I leave, I feel like I need to recharge for a year before coming back again. The Ski Ball was successful and it was fun to get dressed up and meet so many wonderful people who support the U.S. Ski Team. It also took place in the Museum of Natural History! We were able to go for a run in Central Park, walk up on the high line, attempt to navigate the subway system, and visit with a bunch of friends who currently live in the city. It was a jam-packed trip and I'm now very happy to be back home.

I saw my friends from Stratton, the Crowleys, at the Ski Ball

Simi on a morning run in Central Park

Dinosaur room!

Ski Ball with Simi
Ben with his ladies


Thanks to Raika Studios for the hairdos!

The USST athletes

 We arrived home to Vermont on Saturday night to some cold temperatures and the first snow of the year! There wasn't much snow at my house, but a big group of us ventured up a little higher for a run on Sunday afternoon and the ground was white. I'll be in Vermont for the next two weeks before leaving for Europe. My plan is to continue focusing on running, but to begin adding in a little rollerskiing. I went for my first rollerski yesterday and it felt surprisingly good! Sadie and I are doing a Sodie Training Rap for SkiTrax where we will be switching off every two weeks to give everyone a glimpse into our daily training routine. Check out the website HERE for more details.
Austin Cobb, Emily, and Isabel out at Griffith Lake

Baker Peak

The crew on top

Cuddling cats

First rollerski!