Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Let the Races Begin!

After a long, but seamless travel day from Boston to Rovanemi, we hopped in the vans and headed to Gallivare, Sweden for a short camp before the World Cup circuit begins. I had never been to Gallivare before, so I was excited to see a new place and even more excited to be thrown into full blown winter. Gallivare didn't have much snow before we got there, but by the time we arrived the skiing was perfect. In fact, I think we had better skiing last week than we did all winter last year!
Taking off from Boston. Headed to Europe!

Snowy view out our hotel window in Gallivare

Ida and Jess heading over the bridge

Night (afternoon) skiing with Liz
First ski with Sadie and Liz

Psyched to be on snow (Andy photo)
In addition to having awesome skiing, Gallivare is also the home of our former head wax tech and wonderful person, Peter Johansson. It was fun to see Peter and his family in their home town and they even had us over for a delicious Swedish dinner one night! It's no easy feat fitting a team of 22 people in one room for dinner, but they pulled it off and it was an evening to remember.
Kikkan sent us with a barbie version of herself so we wouldn't forget about her. One of our missions was to get a picture of her with Peter. Check!
Speaking of celebrations, we had two important birthdays last week! The first birthday we celebrated was Sadie's 26th and then yesterday was Oleg's 40th birthday. Oleg is the personal wax tech for Liz and me, so we made him a special little card.
Happy Birthday Sadzarue!

And Oleg
After our first week of getting used to being back on snow, we raced in the FIS races Gallivare was hosting over the weekend. There was a classic sprint on Saturday and a skate 10k on Sunday. I only raced the classic sprint and I was happy with how it went. I won the prelim in the morning and battled it out with Jessie in the final where she took first and I took second. Andy also placed 2nd in the sprint so it was pretty neat to see USA taking half the podiums that day. The next day Jessie took the win AGAIN and Caitlin, Liz, and Rosie placed 3-5. Noah and Erik also had great races placing in the top ten. I think it was a good boost of confidence for our team and more importantly, it was a good warm up for the World Cup to get used to being on snow and remembering how to race hard.
Me and Jess battling it out in the A Final of the classic sprint (USSA photo)

Sprint podium!
After my race on Saturday, I used Sunday as a day to do some strength and easy distance. Sadie and I went for a really fun night ski under the lights in Gallivare. When I say night ski, I don't mean skiing at 7pm. We started our ski at 3, but the sun had already set. About half way through the ski there was a glitch in the lighting system and the trails turned pitch black. Neither of us had brought our headlamps because we were relying on the lighting system, but we had a great time finding our way by moonlight. It was the perfect way to end the camp. On Monday morning, we loaded up the vans and made the long drive to Kuusamo, Finland. We will be in Kuusamo for the week preparing for the opening World Cups this weekend. The World Cup kicks off with a mini tour consisting of a classic sprint, skate 5k, and classic 10k. You can watch all of our World Cup races this winter at the following NBC link http://www.nbcsports.com/olympic-sports-schedule. Let the races begin!
Kikkan barbie catching a ride with Sim

Morning ski with Rosie in Kuusamo

Skiing in Gallivare with Sadie

Taking a photo break with coach Matt

Found a little bit of USA in SWE

Posing with Jessie and Caitlin with our selfie on the cover of the Gallivare newspaper

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Calm Before the Storm

And just like that, we're heading to Europe in two days! Tidy is not a word people usually use to describe me, and as a result, packing and unpacking are two of my least favorite activities. Instead of leaving packing until the night before, this year I've tried to start organizing my life for the next three months with two days to go, so things are looking up. The past two weeks at home have flown by, but they've been the perfect balance of training, spending time with friends and family, and resting. With the World Cup season ending in Canada this year, my time away from North America will be three months instead of the usual four and I've found a lot of comfort in that. Before I begin making myself miss home when I haven't even left yet, here's a little update on what has been happening here.
Winter hasn't quite arrived in Vermont yet
At this time of year, everyone needs something a little different when it comes to prepping for the season. Luckily, between the nine SMS T2 athletes and the huge team of SMS nordies, it's usually pretty easy to find someone to train with. We've been jumping in a lot of workouts with the high school kids, which has been awesome. We did a sprint simulation on Sunday and I had a lot of fun trying to keep up with some of the SMS junior boys.
Distance double pole with the SMS T2 and SMS girls (SMS Nordic photo)

Sprint practice at BMD

Post sprint with Ben and Annie P.

Starting one of the heats with Kam and Will

Skate speeds with Annie H.
In addition to training with the big kids, I've been able to attend a couple BKL practices. Last week I went to the first practice of the season with the West River club. This is the club I grew up skiing for and it was fun to see that not much has changed. After a warm up jog, we spent the next hour and a half playing games. When you're in third grade, a competitive game of sharks and minnows is probably one of the best workouts you can have! Yesterday I headed over to Putney to attend a Putney BKL practice. My brother, Austin, is the coach for the program this year and they were doing bounding intervals yesterday. Noah Hoffman, Emily Hannah, and Zach and Amy Caldwell were also at practice, so we had a great athlete to coach ratio and by the end of the workout I was exhausted. I was really impressed by their bounding technique and how tough the workout was.
The Putney crew (Caldwell Sport photo)

Bounding up the hill with my second cousin, Gunnar (Caldwell Sport photo)

Leading the kids in a dynamic warmup (Caldwell Sport photo)

Boys bounding hard (Caldwell Sport photo)
One of the best days since being home was on Sunday when we had our annual SMS T2 send off dinner. Within the next week, we will all head to Europe for the World Cups or out west for the Super Tour races. We had a send off dinner to bring our supporters together for one last evening before we head off for racing. We had a great turnout and are extremely appreciative of all the support we receive from this community. My favorite part of the evening was when some of the devo kids we work with during the summer presented us with a going away gift. Inside our beautifully decorated bags were a pair of Darn Tough socks and a bar of Lake Champlain chocolate - the perfect gifts to remind us of Vermont!
Table settings and favors at our dinner

Gift from the kiddos!
The last couple weeks at home have been just what I needed before heading overseas. I'm excited for the season. I feel fit, happy, and healthy and I know that's where I need to be to ski the fastest I can ski. Having this time at home with friends and family will hold me over until I'm back in February. On Friday and Saturday we will fly to Gallivare, Sweden for a week and a half of on snow training and some FIS races before the World Cup season kicks off in Finland the day after Thanksgiving. Check back in for updates from Europe!
Our new kitten, Bernie, making himself at home

Chasing my sister through the woods

Hanging with Sim and Bern

Waffle breakfast with little Lo

Waffle Wednesday with the team!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Park City and New York City

Our first week of training in Park City was focused on volume, but during out second week of camp, we scaled back the volume a little in order to focus on intensity. One hard bounding session and three roller ski races later, we were tired and ready for an easy week. This was the first time we did a mini tour at our Park City camp and I think it was a really positive addition. You can't read into the roller ski races too much because 1. roller skiing is different than snow skiing, 2. each pair of rollerskis is different from every other pair, and 3. it's October and the end of a really big training camp. That said, it was good practice to put on a bib, push myself really hard, and try to remember what it felt like to race. I was happy with my race efforts and it was nice to end camp on a good note.
Happy ski in Park City with Annie

The end of a long, long ski (Simi photo)

Halfway through a long, long ski and still smiling! (Pat photo)

Heading out for a morning workout in our new L.L. Bean gear (Jessie photo)

Getting ready to head our for the running portion of our OD

2015/2016 USST (U.S. Ski Team photo)

The girls! (US. Ski Team photo)

Speedy group of girls doing the mini tour in Park City
After wrapping up Park City camp, I flew back east. Before heading home to Vermont, Simi and I went to New York City for a couple days to attend the ski ball. It's always really exciting for me to visit the city because it's so different from any other place I've lived in or traveled to. Three days in the city is the perfect amount for me. I get a little overwhelmed and am always ready to head to a quieter area, but I still love visiting. The ski ball was a beautiful event and we enjoyed spending time with other athletes and the supporters.
The athletes at the NYC Ski Ball (Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan Photo)

NYC Ski Ball (Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan photo)

Walking the runway at the ball! (Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan photo)

NYC Ski Ball (Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan photo)

NYC Ski Ball with Simi (Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan photo)
After the ski ball, I hopped on the train and headed back to Vermont for exactly two weeks before flying to Europe. Apparently Vermont hasn't gotten the memo that it's late fall because the last few days have been sunny and 65 degrees. I'm not complaining though! It's been so nice to be back home training with my SMS T2 team and spending time with my family before heading overseas. We are having an SMS T2 send off dinner on November 8th and if you would like to attend, please email scaldwell@gosms.org. We also have a 25k matching grant and to donate, please visit https://smst2.wordpress.com/matching-grant-challenge/. Happy November!
Our new kitten, Bernie, trying to fit into a box with Leroy

Happy to be home!

Running through the woods with Iz