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!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Park City Update

Park City camp has come to a close for most of my teammates, but I'm sticking around for another week to do some more dryland and hammer the physical therapy while I have access to the US Team support. Most of the team headed north to Canmore to do some skiing at Frozen Thunder. The skiing looks good and the skiers look fast, so be sure to follow their updates! In the last two weeks, my training has consisted of hiking and a little leg and core strength training. I'm pretty lucky to have coaches that hop on the treadmill next to me to do hiking intervals. Matt did my first hiking intervals with me and Gus did my second day of intervals with me, all while making it look pretty easy.
I also have a set of wonderful teammates who showed up to my treadmill intervals as cheerleaders

Matt helping me sweat it out on the treadmill 
While the team was still here, I was able to go cheer them on during a couple of their time trials at Soldier Hollow. I planted my self on Hermode's Hill because that is by far the most brutal part of the race and did a few speed walks up next to them to make sure they made it over the top.
All smiles (except for Ben) after the time trial
Helping push Sadie up the hill (figuratively) 

Me, Jessie, and Sades

Canadian Thanksgiving! The SMS T2 team celebrates Canadian Thanksgiving each year we are in Park City and this year's meal didn't disappoint. Pat cooked up a delicious turkey that was supplemented with gravy, stuffing, brussel sprouts, salad, homemade bread, and every kind of pie. 
Sadie, Kikkan, Grover, and Rosie are in town until tomorrow, so I've had some nordorks to play with the past couple days. I've also met up with some old friends who live here, which has been really fun because they can show me around the town they're much more familiar with.

Morgan Smyth took me on an adventure and we bagged some new peaks I had never been on

Morgan and her dog Sam way above Park City

Sadie, Rosie, and me on top of Bald Mountain. It looks like it's snowy for some reason. It is not. We did have a three minute hail storm yesterday, but that quickly passed and we woke up to blue skies again this morning. 

A pile of buddies
I had a followup doctor's appointment with my surgeon today and he said everything looks great. I even got a new cast that I got to pick the colors for. I can take it off to shower and stretch and it's a little smaller, so I might be able to stuff it into a few of my shirts. He also cleared me to run and do some one pole rollerskiing, so I'm looking forward to switching training up from here on out.
Blue and beautiful!

I head back east a week from today and go to NYC for a few days to attend the US Ski Team Ski Ball before heading back to Vermont. In other exciting news, my club team, SMS T2, just received a challenge grant. If we can raise $25K, we will get a matching donation! This means our program can continue running for another year. For more information and a link to donate, please visit HERE.
SMS T2 at summer training
I miss being with my teammates in Canada, but I will see them soon and am looking forward to spending another week in the Park City mountains and sunshine.