Saturday, March 25, 2017

End in Sight

I'm currently sitting in the Chicago Airport on my way to Spring Series in Fairbanks, Alaska. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of travel and racing and I'm excited to be finishing up the season with my SMS Elite teammates in Alaska. Now back to the last few weeks...

Drammen Sprint qualifier (photo: Toko US/Nordic Focus)

After World Champs we flew to Oslo for the Drammen city sprint. The Drammen sprint is one I've really struggled with in the past. It's a very gradual classic sprint course that favors power skiers and my first few years racing it, I wasn't even close to qualifying. Last year was my first year qualifying and this year I was psyched to qualify again and make it through to the semis, ending up 9th on the day. It ended up being one of my better sprints of the year, but I know there is still some work to be done on my power striding. It's an amazing atmosphere in Drammen and I'm happy to feel like I've begun to figure this course out!
Another day, another plane
The day after Drammen, a big group of us flew back to the U.S. in order to have a few days at home before World Cup Finals in Quebec City. This is the second year in a row that we've ended the season in Quebec City and being able to spend some time at home beforehand is one of the many reasons that makes races in Quebec awesome. There wasn't a ton of snow at home, but we got a few inches and some cold weather, which left us with just enough snow to do some fun tours around home. I was mostly resting and recovering from racing and jet lag, but it was nice to get out on some of the trails I grew up skiing on. Wild Wings is the nordic center right next to my house and one of my favorite places to ski in the world, so I can always find my happy place on those trails.
Bernie doing some indoor sunbathing when it was freezing outside

Skiing at Wild Wings!

Back with the kitties! This is Leroy, the king. 
On Tuesday we drove up to Quebec City. It happened to be the day of the huge snow storm, so we got an early start in an attempt to race the storm. The first few hours of driving were a little sketchy, but by the time we got to Canada, it was clear sailing. We woke up to winter the next day in Quebec City and began to prepare for the last weekend of World Cup racing. The race schedule for the weekend was a skate sprint on Friday, classic 10km mass start on Saturday, and a skate 10k pursuit start on Sunday. I was looking forward to all of the races because I haven't done much distance racing this year, and it was a great opportunity to hop in a couple of them.  During my sprint quarterfinal, I was taken out on the final corner by a racer who moved in over my skis. It was a bummer because I felt like I was in a good position to move onto the semis. I've had a lot of falls this year and I'm not really sure why, but I'm ready to stay on my feet in sprints next year! It was really cool to see my teammate, Julia, qualify for the heats in her first ever World Cup and have Rosie qualify for her first World Cup sprint heats. Simi had an awesome day and just narrowly missed the podium, finishing 4th for the day. The following two days I felt good for the distance races and had a blast skiing with some teammates and racers from other nations. It was a really fun way to end the season. We had so many U.S. fans come up to cheer us on and make us feel like superstars as they screamed our names all around the course. Quebec City was where I raced my first World Cups back in the fall of 2012, so it's always going to be a special place for me to race. The venue is amazing and I hope we go back soon!

Pretty special to have two of my grandparents, Grandpa and Twinkle, at the races in Quebec!

World cup season out! (Gretchen Powers photo)

Racing in the skate pursuit (Skinny Skis photo)

Teammate hugs with Erika. Psyched for this girl racing her first World Cups! (photo: Dustin Satloff)

Testing skis with Matt (photo: Reese Brown)

Sodie special! These little girls, Sophie and Sadie, are some of our biggest fans and we hope they can be the future Sodie duo (photo: Gretchen Powers)
So the World Cup season has ended, and we have four more races this coming week. The schedule is a skiathlon on Monday, skate sprint on Wednesday, club relay on Friday, and 30 skate on Sunday. That's a lot of racing, but the end is in sight and I'm looking forward to hammering this week and then enjoying some April adventures. Thanks for following!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Last Block in Europe

February flew by and here I am, in Norway, getting ready for my final Word Cup race in Europe, the city sprint in Drammen tomorrow. On Thursday I'll be boarding a plane and heading HOME! This year, heading home doesn't mean the season is over. World Cup finals have been moved to Quebec City, so we will be racing our final three World Cup races in front of the home crowd in North America. It should be an exciting next two weeks. But first, the last month or so.
Team USA

Ida, me, Kiks, and Liz sporting our Fast and Female buffs

After our two weekends of racing in Sweden, some of us flew to South Korea for the Olympic test event. Not many racers went to South Korea because of the travel and the timing, but those of us who went found it very valuable to check out the Olympic race courses and put in some hard efforts. It was for sure a weaker field, but it was still a World Cup and the U.S. Team took advantage of the opportunity and came away with some really strong results. I won my first ever qualifier, but was bummed to get knocked out in the semi finals of the sprint. Ida had an awesome day and got her first World Cup podium in 3rd! The next day Liz skied a strong race and was 2nd in the skiathlon and the final day Ida and I teamed up to take 3rd in the team sprint. After a long travel back to central Europe, I was looking forward to a weekend away from the World Cup and was able to spend some time in Valadalen, Sweden with some of my teammates and my parents. It was the perfect setting for a little pre World Champs training camp. The sleeping was comfortable, the skiing was the best we've had all year, and the food was delicious. It was easy to find our happy place and unwind a little before ramping back up for the last stretch of World Cups and World Champs.
Pyeongchang girls!

Skiing in Valadalen with my dad

And momma!

Waffles everyday in Sweden

Welcome to Valadalen

Hanging with Breck and Kiks
After Valadalen, we went to Estonia for the final World Cup weekend before World Champs. Our team had a great day in the skate sprint, qualifying five women and two men and having four of us make the semis. I was happy with my race feelings and qualified in 4th and ended the day in 10th. After the races we took a quick flight to Finland to prepare for World Champs. It was a quick turnaround because the skate sprint was the first race of World Champs and it was on Thursday. The sprint day at World Champs was arguably the best day of racing our women's team has ever had. We had all of our women qualify for the heats along with Simi and Andy for men. The day continued to go well when three of us advanced to the semis and before we knew it, Jessie, Kikkan, and I were standing on the start line for the A final at World Champs. It was a pretty incredible feeling to put our hands in with Matt and Grover and do a little "USA" cheer before heading to the line. To make it even better, Jessie and Kikkan reached the podium in 2nd and 3rd, and I finished the day in 6th. That's right, two US women on the podium, and three in the A final. We were the strongest team in the world that day and it's something I will always be proud of. Our championship continued to be the strongest one we've ever had with Sadie and Jessie teaming up for 3rd in the team sprint, Erika and Simi placing 5th in the team sprint, the women's relay team placing 4th, and Jessie getting 5th in the 30k skate. I only raced the sprint at World Champs, but I enjoyed watching my teammates crush it in the rest of the races and was able to get in some good training and spectating the last couple weeks. We have the city sprint in Drammen tomorrow and some of us will head home Thursday, while the rest of the team will stay for the long distance races over the weekend. We're looking forward to finishing the season on a high note and carrying our success at World Champs through the next couple weeks. Thanks for following and we hope to see you in Canada!!
Trailside cheering with my parents

Hugs from mom after the sprint (Liz Arky photo)


Ready to cheer Sim on in the team sprint (Liz Arky photo)

Podium girls!

Yeah!! (John Lazenby photo)

My good friend from high school, Helen, came to watch the races in Estonia!

Jess and me sporting our gifts Erika sent from home :)

Pre race in Lahti (Matt Whitcomb photo)

Sprint quali in Lahti (Getty Images)

Sue and Howie Wemyss came to watch in Lahti!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

January

It appears another month has gone by where I've forgotten to blog, so I'll try to catch you up on January with a few words and a lot of pictures! I recovered from my Christmas cold just in time to start the Tour de Ski. I did the skate sprint and the classic 5k and they were both solid races. I had a great qualifier where I qualified in 5th, but just missed making it into the semis! The next day was a fun 5k classic mass start. I don't think I've done a 5k mass start since I was a junior, so it was a little hectic, but pretty fun. After Val Mustair, the sprinters packed up and headed to Toblach, where we would spend the majority of the next two weeks before the sprint World Cup weekend. We took three days the following weekend to head to Planica, Slovenia for an OPA Cup sprint and distance race. I really love that area in Slovenia. It is in the Triglav National Park, set at the base of the Julien Alps. I was psyched to take the win in the skate sprint and think I had some extra motivation that day from watching my teammates, Jessie and Sadie, get 1st and 3rd in the Tour de Ski 5k skate.
Hanging with Ides between heats at the OPA Cup

Skate sprint in Val Mustair (Nordic Focus/Toko US photo)

Cooling down with Breck in Val Mustair

Sim and I both took the wins in Planica and here we are with our head coach, Chris Grover, at the awards ceremony

Slovenia was a little chilly, so Ides and I embraced comfort over fashion in an attempt to keep ourselves warm
There wasn't much natural snow in Toblach, but the area did an incredible job of laying out man made ribbons of snow throughout all the valleys. There were probably 30kms of trails when we arrived and about 60kms of trails when we left. Unfortunately, two days after we got back from Slovenia I came down with a pretty nasty stomach bug. I'm really scared of throwing up and haven't thrown up from a stomach bug since middle school, so it caught me a little off guard and came on fast, but one hospital trip and a couple days of rest later, I was feeling okay. It took a little while to get my appetite fully back, but by the weekend I was feeling healthy enough to race. I was pleasantly surprised to have a decent qualifier in the sprint and then felt better in my quarter final and moved onto the semis. In my semi final, Kikkan rode up a little hot behind me on the first down hill and ended up tangling in my skis and we both fell. Luckily I only broke a ski and neither of us were injured. I was pretty bummed because both sprints that I've made it into the semi finals this year, I've ended up on the ground and missed a chance to move onto the finals. Every once in awhile, falling is part of ski racing, but I'm thinking I'm ready to be finished with falls for the year. Anyway, the real highlight of the day was watching Sim ski a brilliant race and get 2nd in the Toblach sprint for the second year in a row! The next day was a team sprint, where I didn't have a lot left in me, but the team sprint is always a fun event to participate in and I'm looking forward to doing another one in Korea next week.
Recovering from the flu on a field trip with my parents ;)

Skiing around TOblach with one of our techs and my friend, Andrew Morehouse

All smiles after Sim's 2nd place!

Sprint heat in Toblach

Sprint qualifier (Marcel Hilger photo)

Team sprint (Marcel Hilger photo)

Hot air balloons everywhere!
After Toblach, we traveled to Ulricehamn, Sweden. This was a new venue for the World Cup and it did not disappoint! Ulricehamn is a town of 8,000 people and they sold 50,000 tickets for the weekend of racing. The volunteers could not have been friendlier, the tracks were great, and the fans were psyched. There wasn't a sprint last weekend, so I was mostly training in Ulricehamn, but we had eight healthy girls, so we were able to start two relay teams on Sunday and I skied a skate leg on our second team. This was only the second time ever we've had enough girls to start two teams and it was made extra special because it was our supertour leader, Liz Guiney's, first weekend of World Cups! On Monday morning, we loaded a bus and drove to Falun, Sweden. This weekend I will do the skate sprint in Falun. 
Training in Ulricehamn (Simi photo)
We're over halfway through the season and the second half tends to fly by. We have a lot to look forward to in the next month and a half. After the races this weekend, a small group of us will fly to South Korea for the Olympic test event. It will be a quick trip, but I've never been to Asia before and think it will be quite the experience! After that, we head to Valadalen, Sweden for a little training camp before the World Cup in Oteppa, Estonia and World Champs in Lahti, Finland. After World Champs, I will do one more sprint in Drammen, Norway before heading back home because World Cup Finals have been moved to Quebec City!! We will  be in Quebec City racing from March 17th-19th, so if you had fun cheering at the Ski Tour Canada last year, come do it again in March. Thanks for following!
Ready for the races! (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from Austria! Period one of the world cup has come to a close, and I'm enjoying a little break from racing near Seefeld, Austria with my family over Christmas. During period one, we made our way from northern Finland down to Lillehammer, Norway, then to central Europe for the last two weekends of World Cup racing in Davos, Switzerland and La Clusaz, France. In Lillehammer we had a mini tour that began with a classic sprint. As a women's team, we had a really strong qualifier with four women making the rounds, three women qualifying in the top ten, and Sadie WINNING the qualifier. I was happy to feel good and qualify in 10th, and although none of us had the quarter finals we wanted to have, it was a good step in the right direction to lay down some fast qualifiers. The highlight of the weekend came the next day when Jessie won the 5k skate. She has now won the last two 5k skates on the World Cup circuit and proven that she can compete with the best in just about every technique and discipline. It's inspirational to see.
Big screen at the start of my quarter final (Bryan Fish photo)

The Bjornsen bookends! Great day for these siblings with Sadie's winning qualifier and Erik making it into the heats. 

Post race with Dad

5k skate in Lillehammer (Toko US/Nordic Focus photo)

Cheerleading with Kiks

Liz and Jess all smiles after Jessie's win and Liz's first race of the season!
After the mini tour in Lillehammer, we flew down to Davos, our home away from home in the winter. Aside from the manmade race loop in Davos, there wasn't any snow, but as always, there was plenty of sunshine that we were eager to soak up after a few weeks in the land of darkness. I raced the skate sprint in Davos and it was the highlight of my period one. Four women and Sim qualified for the heats on sprint day and Jess and I both moved onto the semis. In my semi, I unfortunately took myself out coming into the last corner before the finish, missing my chance to move on to the finals. It's always a bummer to fall, especially when you're feeling good, but that's part of ski racing. I was happy to be feeling fast and strong and maybe it could have been a great day, but making it into the semis is always a good day! Jess had another strong performance, advancing to the A final and finishing 5th.
Soaking up some sun on a recovery day run with Sim

Skiing on the race course with the Davos mountains in the backdrop (Eric Packer photo)

Morning jaunt (Sim photo)

Goofing off with Jess between rounds (Noah photo)


DOH! (Toko US/Nordic Focus photo)

Davos qualifier (Toko US/Nordic Focus photo)
After a few days of recovery in Davos, we hit the road for the last stop of period one in La Clusaz, France. This was my first time racing a World Cup in France and again, there wasn't any snow, but boy is it a beautiful country. On one of my recovery days I played tourist with my parents and walked around the city of Annecy. Unfortunately, pretty much our entire team and staff was hit with some nasty colds in the last week of racing. I was fortunate enough to be one of three or four people who dodged the cold and was able to race the relay in France. It wasn't my best race, in fact, it may have been my worst race, because about half way into my leg I had a massive explosion. I wasn't even sure I was going to make it up the last couple hills. It was not a good feeling to blow up that hard. I had one of the worst headaches I've ever had, but it was an even worse feeling to have it happen in a team event. My teammates skied strong races and made up a lot of time for our team. It was a learning experience that I wish had gone differently, but sometimes you have to push your limits to know where they really are and I sure found mine!
Streets of Annecy with Dad

Not a bad view

Or company!

Me, Oleg, and Liz. Oleg is our head wax tech and the personal tech for Liz and me. He's our smiley bear and recipe to fast skis!

Classic leg of the 5k relay (Marcel Hilger photo)
Now we have a nice 12 day break until the Tour de Ski begins. The team cold hit me pretty hard as soon as I got to Austria, so I've been doing a lot of walking and sitting in the sun. I'm hoping to feel better soon, so I can take advantage of the perfect manmade loop out our door and maybe throw in a mountain trail running adventure. Being sick stinks, but I'm in a beautiful place with the people I love, so I really don't have too much to complain about. My next races will be the first two races of the Tour de Ski in Val Mustair, Switzerland. The first race is a skate sprint and the second is a classic 5k. Be sure to follow the Tour de Ski for one of the most exciting events in skiing and in the meantime, Merry Christmas!
Leutasch, Austria

Family 

Innsbruck

Christmas tree!