This past week I have been training and racing in Lahti, Finland- home to lots of skiing history. World Champs, World Cups, infamous doping scandals, famously tough courses, etc.

Last year before U23's and World Juniors, we spent a day training on the courses in Lahti, so I sort of had an idea of the venue. As I skid the courses throughout the beginning of the week, I was pleasantly surprised how much more manageable they felt than last year. Maybe it was the fact that I had been at altitude for the past three weeks, so Lahti had an overly excessive amount of oxygen... or maybe it's my newly non-naive knowledge of "world cup race courses". Regardless, it was a nice feeling!!

Big spectator scene in Lahti, with the finish in a large stadium.

Since Noah, Jessie and I arrived Monday evening, we had some time to burn between then and the races on Saturday. Living in downtown Lahti meant that we could walk all around the city exploring. Somehow the mall managed to pull me in pretty quickly. To make matters worse, it didn't help that our internet access was only available through a coffee shop placed right in the middle of the mall. I sort of have a weak spot for shopping anyway... so I had to cave a bit. Especially since I have been wearing the same two outfits for about four months now!! Jessie and I had a day of walking about and trying on some of the most ridiculous outfits- the outfits we would wear if our lives maybe allowed a bit more time for social events.

As the remainder of the group started arriving thursday we started focusing more on skiing and racing, preparing for the coming races. Unfortunately, because of our shortage in start rights, I only got to race once- but it was still super fun. Saturday was a 15k pursuit, the exact race I had just done a week ago in Turkey. The pursuit in Turkey didn't go so well for me, so I made it a goal to change things around in Lahti. The race ended up going really well for me, as I had my best distance result of the year... but unfortunately once again, just 11 seconds shy from the points. Starting bib 66 in a mass start is sort of an obstacle from the start. From the minute the gun goes off, its like driving in city traffic. Floor it, slam into the girl in front of you... floor it, slam into the girl in front of you. Looking for a place to make up places and move forward is like a game- you really have to be quick and on top of it. It's actually pretty enjoyable if you don't stress out about it too much.

After about 3k I had managed to move up pretty far, skiing right along with Holly and Jessie somewhere in the twenties. Just as I made the decision in my head "this is going to be a great race", I came down the bottom of a gnarly downhill corner into an uphill and sprawled across the trail. Letting out a little yelp, I watched as about 30 girls nearly slammed right into me from behind. I quickly jumped up in frustration- and put down the hammer. Going in what seemed like an all out sprint, I made it a mission to catch back up with Jessie to the place I had been. Finally, about 3k later, I managed to gain the ground back.. and then try to relax. After switching into my skate gear, for the rest of the race- I put my head down and hammered on. The skate course was pretty difficult with three laps of a course with two massive climbs. Keeping my eyes on the russian girl that had just recently placed 2nd at U23's... I hammered on to finish 33rd... darn close to those points, but still not there. Luckily, I raced well enough to get the spot to race in the 30k Holmenkollen this weekend. So, one more chance!!

Doing some cheering for Kikkan on sprint day.. kicking butt as usual!
I am now back in Norway, enjoying the delicious norwegian bread and brown cheese. Tomorrow is the Drammen city sprint where we race around the streets on the man-made snow. From what I hear, its quite the scene. Can't wait!!

Two more World Cup races for the season, 3 more OPA cup races, 5 more domestic races.. and then back to AK. It's crazy how fast it has all seemed to go!