Last week we spent the the week training for a small altitude period before coming down to Dusseldorf for the World Cup. With this coming weekends World Cup in Davos, it worked out perfectly to try to get some training on the course, and also get used to the lack of oxygen. Unfortunately there is no snow anywhere in Europe at the  moment, so we spent the week searching for the snow.
APU ladies skiing some loops together
Holly, Kikkan and I with some beautiful BROWN hills behind :)
After spending the first couple of weeks in the Scandinavian area, I was so excited to finally make my way down to central Europe. I love everything about central europe. I love the small, homey hotels, the smelly cheese, the sound of the language, the small towns, the smell of cow poo all the time... I just feel at home here. Maybe its because I have raced here so much and spent so much time, but every time I come back, I feel like I have come home.
Holly and I looking to do some grocery shopping in the mini Coop
And this is what skiing in Europe looks like now
I have never been to Davos before, but a few years back when I was racing with the MOD team, we were  basing our travels out of a valley only about 40km from there... so the landscape was similar. Only this time, there is NO snow. One day I actually went for a hike up the nearby mountain, which I found out is an alpine resort. The first day we skid around a little man-made loop near town, which was great, but the loop was only taking 4 minutes... which made it a bit boring. The second day we drove over a mountain pass to a new ski area called Pontracina. Here we were able to find about a 4km loop, so loops were taking closer to 10 mins. That was much more exciting, plus the sun was out, and I was loving life! The final day we jumped on the sprint course, which was only 800m of trail.. so I think we maybe did 50 loops for the workout that day. I am starting to get used to this lack of snow, I think when I finally ski on natural snow, I am going to get lost or something!! The Europeans do a great job of making it work though. It's amazing they manage to make it possible even!

A little old school mixed with some new school. These babies are traveling the world with me :) The marks on them show that they have been in all the same venues I am racing in now! How cool. (Nina Kempel skis)
Getting my business law study on. Learning about torts and crimes!

The week in Davos was really nice. I spent the time out in the sun mixed between walking around the town, getting some homework done, catching up with my family since we finally have internet, and learning some swiss german. I have been struggling to get in the mood to do school work when we are constantly on the run with all the travel and skiing, but finals are coming up next week... so it's time to crack down :)

Friday afternoon we took off for Dusseldorf, arriving only the night before the race. Because Dusseldorf is a city, there is of course no skiing. In fact, I would compare it to Seattle. Warm weather, lots of rain, and a huge city!! What this means is training consists of running!
My portable closet. This is my suitcase of clothing for 5 months! What to wear...what to wear.
My roomate Ida enjoying the warmth of the city!
I stole this picture from Holly, but this is right outside our hotel lobby. Our hotel is connected to this huge stadium where there was a race car competition going on. Saturday night we went out and watched.. waiting for a huge crash. We were of course screaming for the American cars- super fun!! Something I have never seen before!
The minute I arrived here, I was beyond excited. The atmosphere of sprinting downtown in a huge city is incredible. It somehow just makes you feel like a movie star. You are skiing around on this loop of snow laid down in the middle of the streets, with so many people screaming and cheering... its just incredible! It makes warm-up and warm-down a bit different when you are switching between running shoes and ski boots constantly, and its raining out, so you are soaked to the core. All this put together makes it so fun!
A little preview of the crowd on the far corner of the course
Getting a cartoon drawn of me at one of the booths in the celebration at the venue.
The first day was an individual skate sprint. Since the course was so short, and so quick, I was determine to do well on Saturday. During warm-up I felt excellent, and was ready to go. As we hit the course for our qualifier, the course iced up a lot, so throughout my qualifier I spent the entire two minutes just trying to find my grove. I never got that comfortable strong feeling, and it was over before I knew it. I managed to finish 34th, my best world cup finish, and only three tenths of a second from qualifying for the heats. At that point I was excited, but disappointed at the same time. I knew I could do better. Knowing I would have another chance the following day, I put my disappointment behind me and watched as my teammate, Kikkan, win the race. That girl is incredible, it's so fun to watch her race. She is just so smooth, so fast, and a tactical queen!
Ida and I cheering for Kikkan from on top of the bridge. Athletes had access to some sweet cheering spots!
That night I heard word I would be starting the following days team sprint with Kikkan. At that moment, the nerves shot through my body. Having only done one team sprint before, last year at World Champs with Kikkan, I knew the format, I was confident.... but I was now starting with the previous days winner. For some reason, that made me more nervous then I have been in a while. If I didn't have enough motivation before to ski my heart out, now I would! I knew that it was possible to do well, but I also knew that would entail some miracles.

Racing out of the start
racing the boat in the background (I am the one in black with the pink headband)
As the gun went off for our semi-finals, I quickly got in the mind set for racing. It was like a war zone out there. 10 girls fighting for every corner, fighting to keep their ground, fighting for every bit... it was crazy! It was pure luck if you managed to finish the race on your feet! Luckily Kikkan and I crossed the finish in second, qualifying us on to the final round. As I waited in the wax cabin for the next hour before warming up again, I worked to calm my nerves. We were one step closer to making something happen. As I ran to the start for the finals, I looked up at the norwegian bus, which has a picture of five of their athletes yelling.. I told myself those guys are cheering for me at this very moment. After a brief introduction of each athlete, and a wave to the TV crowd, the gun went off. I took off in good position, going into the first corner... and then bam, the swedish girl fell down on my skis. I waited as I was sure I was going down with her. Somehow I managed to pull my leg out, but I watched as the pack seemed to ski away in front of me. At that moment, the feeling ran through my head "crap, I just ruined our chances". I quickly tried to race back up to the pack, but remained off the back. For the following round, Kikkan did the same. For the next round, both of us tried to conserve our energy as we inched our way back up to the group. On the third round, I gave every last bit and kept saying in my head "kikkan is counting on you". As I tagged off to Kikkan for the final race to the finish, I watched the TV screen as I jumped up and down cheering for her. From that point on, Kikkan did some amazing stuff! By the end she was crossing the finish in second place!!
Thats the Norwegian bus with all the cheering athletes! This is me out screaming Petter!
Canadian girls and us, all smiles! They too had a great day!
I screamed and jumped with joy. Second place, we just won a medal!! That really just happened... I couldn't believe it. I was all smiles, I just couldn't believe I just got my first world cup medal. What a dream come true!!!!

Hugs to the guys giving us speedy skis! Thanks Casey and the crew!!!
Kikkan and I, soooo pumped! All hugs!

The best part of that race, was somehow we came from the back, and managed to make it happen. Our skis were fast, our hearts were there, and our entire team was out there screaming their heads off. Even with the loud sound of the crowds, I could still hear every person on the team screaming for us!  At that finish line, as all the girls ran up and gave a big hug, choked up. I was so happy. It was the combined effort yesterday that made it so special! Thanks to all the service team, all the people screaming either at the TV, at the computer screen, or out on the venue! What a special day.

As we headed up onto the stage, Kikkan and I decided we were going to do a dance for our teammates back home, Jessie Diggins and Jennie Bender. As we jumped up on the podium we waved and did our dance.! What an incredible feeling. Check out the picture, I think the Norwegians are worried we are from another planet hahah.

Now I am spending the day here in Dusseldorf, trying to get some homework done before heading back to Davos tonight. From there, I will spend the week training before the World Cups this weekend. Saturday is a 15k skate, and then sunday is another skate sprint. Hopefully the snow will fly in the meantime and we won't be racing on a 1km loop!

Thanks to everyone for all the great emails and notes. I appreciate it so much. Thanks to everyone that has helped me get over here, and most of all thanks to my teammates for pushing Kikk and I on yesterday. You all are wonderful.

Thats a day I won't be forgetting for a bit!

More soon!