Last week we spent the preparation days and adjusting time skiing in an indoor ski tunnel in Torsby, Sweden. After reading all the blogs and reports from some of our boy teammates who came to Europe a week before us, I was expecting the worst.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that skiing in an indoor 1km loop is not that bad, infact it is sort of exciting. Resembling skiing in a refrigerator, the 5 minute loop quickly turns into a mindless workout up the hill, down the hill, into the natural light, past Bjorn Daehlin, by your teammates. After about 10 laps you stop saying hi to your teammates as you pass them every 4 minutes in the opposite direction, and start picturing yourself skiing along the race course. Had I been there a few more days... I may have a different report, but it was nice to live the "tunnel skiing" experience.

Holly skiing through the tunnel
Loving the refrigerator 
Thursday we headed over to Lillehammer, where we are staying for the opening World Cup weekend. With the races being held up at the top of the hill (30min drive) in Sjujsoen, we get to enjoy the 91' Olympic town while skiing up high. For the past week I have been struggling with some back issues as I unfortunately lifted some heavy bags wrong the day before I left. As the races started approaching I started to wonder if I would even be able to start them, while the pain became worse. The day before the first race, I couldn't take it anymore, so I walked up to the Canadian coaches and asked for help.

Unfortunately the US Team doesn't have enough money to employ a PT for our trips, so I was left looking otherwise. The Canadians were more than happy to help, and their PT, Magic Man Shayne has been doing some work to try to loosen it up and work out the problems. I couldn't be more thankful! Unfortunately after one day of racing, I decided it would be better to rest up and give it time to heal, rather than push through the second day of racing.
First leg of the relay today

So back to race report. It has been so exciting to start the season over here in Europe with so much enthusiasm. The only thing about racing over here at the beginning of the season, is there is not much wiggle room. Every girl entering that race course is speedy! Along those same lines, with the World Cup taking place in Norway, the home team gets to enter 19 girls!! So with the intimidation aside, I started my 10k skate ready to feel the burn. Normally I spend the fall period working into race speed, as I have never been able to start my first race, and race good. Each weekend builds on the next, and by January I am finally revving up. This year I have decided to try to change that a bit... get my speed earlier.

Flying Point photo
I was lucky enough to be starting among the red group, so I got to ski a few minutes with some of the fastest skiers of the day. I even got to ski with my teammate, Kikkan, as she passed me on her final lap while I headed out for my second lap.

Some of our ladies had an extremely impressive opener. Kikkan finished 8th, one of two people finishing in the top ten that was not norwegian! Norwegians managed to dominate top 20! Liz finished 18th, and Holly 36th, just 8 seconds out of the points!!
For results go to:

Finally got to watch the magic winning monkey skate in person today!
As many of you know, there is a lack of snow in Europe at the moment... in fact the ground is bare everywhere! I have been super impressed with Sjujsoen, the little white path throughout the woods is amazing. Not even dirty, just this little magic white path along the 3.3km of snow. On TV it actually looks like there is snow, but you walk between the trails and it is full on dirt and grass, not a lick of white!! I have to say, I have never skid on man made snow like that, it's a different game.
The magic white path
the ladies getting our cheer on
Tomorrow we will stick around and ski one more day before taking off for Kuusamo Finland, where we will be competing in a min-tour weekend of classic sprint, 5k skate, and 10k classic.

Thanks to Casey for some speedy skis this weekend!
More great fun to come! Super excited to be on the circuit for a bit.
my birthday buddy, Mr. Leni
Just for some entertainment: Me and my little kiddies :)
PS- I don't know how I look so tall by these girls, but regardless it's hilarious!