Last week, I had my first ever trip to Russia for the weekend of World Cup racing. Unfortunately the mixture of frigid cold temperatures, and the quick trip made for little exploring. What I saw of the country was either from the airplane window, the bus window, the hotel, our small jogs around the hotel, or simply the ski venue.

Finding some entertaining things on our run.
The first stop was Moscow. I have met a few Russians in Alaska, as they all seem to come to school at UAA, and one of the things I have always noticed with them was: fur and high heels. Let me tell you, Moscow lived up to the generalization... and more!! Starting with the trip from the airport to our hotel all I could see was smoke stacks, beat down buildings stacked at least 20 stories high everywhere, and lots of crazy drivers in very old cars. Things were starting with a bit of a grey tint. As we got closer to the heart of the city I began to see colorful "Aladan"buildings. (The disney show with the flying red carpet). That, and groups of markets that looked like you would only want to go shopping in if you had a body guard and possibly a weapon. I have to say, I got the shivers. I felt like if you went in alone, you may not come out. Waiting in traffic for at least an hour, going only 1km confirmed that traffic in Russia is no different than that of Seattle or New York. People still want to get places!! When we finally pulled up to our hotel, I was shocked, thinking it was a joke. I actually felt like we were pulling into Vegas. Bright lights everywhere, red carpet, finely dressed people, nice restaurants, strip clubs, ponds.... you name it, they had it!! The best part is; I seriously wonder what the Russian guests thought as they saw all the skiers role in with their sport clothing, and their lack of "heels and fur".

They seem to fancy the "stacking" method.
mmm, beautiful!
The front entrance to our hotel
sticking out a bit.....
Breathing masks were essential with the cold weather!!
With the frigid temperatures outside, down below -4F most the day, our venturing outside including wrapping ourselves up with clothing and going for short jogs or heading to the venue. We were instructed to not venture too far, and never go alone, as the actual "safety level" was right on the edge.
Shopping Center
Night time view from our room
The actual venue for the Moscow City Sprints was amazing. Not only was there a nordic venue, but they were also working on putting in a slalom hill for the Alpine World Cup the following weekend. Made of thousands and thousands of pieces of scafeltine, the slope towered above our little 1km nordic track. Not only that, we were racing right at the famous or maybe "infamous" Luzhinky Stadium. It was neat, we were just surrounded by so much history. I was really hoping we were going to get a chance to walk to the Red Square, but our Moscow trip was only a short two days... which came down to all preparation and then racing.
Center of the ski venue... doesn't that air just look cold!!?
The slalom hill in the process of being built. Our races started almost right at the base of it.
The ladies testing skis and trying to stay warm!!
The actual race didn't go so well for me. The mixture of the cold temperatures, a long flat course, and my grandfathers passing away the night before didn't really put me in the right place. It was super exciting on another hand though because my teammates had some of the  most amazing racing ever. As I watched the three of them tactically control the semi-finals, I just got goosebumps and big smiles. The exciting thing is, I know we can all ski like that, it's just a matter of throwing down your best at the right time. I think there are so many more exciting times to come for our team in the near future. Cool stuff!!!

RIP Grandpa- I love you dearly.
Jessie, BIB 1!!!!
Here is a little shout-out video we made in review of our Moscow Race. Just a little fun :)

About three hours after completing our race, we hopped on a bus with team Norway, and drove eight hours through the night to our next venue. With such a short turnover, just one day between the races- it was important to move on... even through the night. That bus ride was an experience in its own. As I drifted in and out of sleep, I woke up to a variety of sketchy and beautiful things visible out the window... ohhh Russia!!
This is what many of the buses looked like, minus the skier on the side.
Once again, as we arrived in Rybinsk for the racing, temperatures were hovering down below legal limits. The difference in Rybinsk was that there was strong wind that accompanied the frigidness. Once again I froze myself in the race, and finished the 10k skate somewhere below where I would have liked to be.
Jessie and I, with the stadium in the background.
Cold, but still smiling :)
The most incredible thing about Rybinsk was the atmosphere, regardless of the cold temps. There was a true celebration going on. People were out there just loving it. This is where I learned why the Russians wear so much fur... because its FREEZING out. They are just smart enough to figure out how to survive in the climate. I almost bought myself a fur hat by the end... but I am not sure it would have a whole lot of use in the normal "tropical" conditions we have been experiencing so far this year.
Holly and I trying out the fur hats (Holly photo)
Lots of spectators.
Kikkan and Liz getting some skiing together.
The ladies squad- Notice all the clothes I have on for cheering.... brrrr! Props to the wax techs and coaches for standing out there in the cold all day- that is impressive!!
It was a fun weekend and a fun new experience. I can't say I would ever want to live in Russia, but I like visiting just for the racing part.... although I wouldn't mind if things warmed up a bit next time.

I am now in France for a short altitude block before U23's in Turkey. (Turkey will be high altitude racing). I am also getting to spend these ten days with my french boyfriend, who I haven't seen in three months, so it's super nice! A mixture between the alpine skiing, sunshine, great nordic skiing, and a little time with my mind away from racing will hopefully be the perfect set up to have some of my best races of the year in Turkey! I hope!!!
Blue skis and good tracks- YES!!!
Jo and I doing some of that alpine stuff.
I also started school this week, so I am back at the books, learning my accounting. It is exciting, I am actually in a class with my brother, Fitness for Life, where we will learning about setting goals, and spreading holistic health throughout the community. It sounds like a bit of a joke, but I think the teacher is pretty stoked on challenging us. I am excited!! But, I am back at having a solid past-time energy consumer for the rest of the winter. 

Hope you all are happy and healthy!!