The holidays started a little early for me this year, mostly unwanted, but they turned out to be pretty amazing! Last year I started sitting out the distance race in Davos, and it has helped me manage the fatigue level of period one, keeping me healthy along the way. I went with the same plan this year, despite starting to really enjoy distance skate races, but I was sure I was staying on track. Unfortunately, just after the Davos sprint, I woke up with a nasty cold that was making its rounds among our team. In a desperate attempt to try to be healthy by the following weekend, I tried shutting it down as quick as I could!

Davos white ribbon training. (Sverre Caldwell photo)

Davos white ribbon training. (Sverre Caldwell photo)

Davos sprint racing. (Noah Hoffman photo)

Davos sprint racing. (Noah Hoffman photo)

Marcel Hilger photo.

Marcel Hilger photo.

With a long day of travel to France, a few days of rest, and my boyfriend, Jo, around to cheer up my spirits, I tried to fool myself into feeling totally better by the weekend. I have been dreaming of racing a World Cup in France for several years now, since it feels about as close to "home course" as I will have. Since dating Jo for many years now, I have many friends and family that were coming to watch. Not to mention, it was a relay weekend.. my favorite! I set out to do race prep the day before the race, ignoring my warning signs.. but determined as heck. Saturday morning when I woke up to race.. I knew I was in trouble. I was still extremely sick. That is when I made the tough decision to sit out the weekend. Every athlete in the world is insanely determined.. and to have to sit on the sidelines for a weekend can sometimes feel like the end of the world. Fortunately, all my French friends and family were very kind, and encouraged me to not sweat it. I went up to watch the women's relay, and was amazed with the atmosphere up there. La Clusaz did an amazing job of pulling off that race, and there was an incredible amount of energy on the side of the trail! I can only hope we get to return again!

La Clusaz is the home to our amazing wax technition, Jean-Pascal Lauren.

La Clusaz is the home to our amazing wax technition, Jean-Pascal Lauren.

The La Clusaz white ribbon.

The La Clusaz white ribbon.

Adventuring around the La Clusaz region to one of the famous Tour de France climbs, Cold de la Colombiere.

Adventuring around the La Clusaz region to one of the famous Tour de France climbs, Cold de la Colombiere.

Pretty fortunate to have this little gem around to cheer me up! (Caitlin Patterson photo)

Pretty fortunate to have this little gem around to cheer me up! (Caitlin Patterson photo)

Cheering on some relay racing for Sunday's race. 

Cheering on some relay racing for Sunday's race. 

Some wonderful Hauteville company!

Some wonderful Hauteville company!

I spent the next week following La Clusaz trying to get healthy, while doing easy distance and chasing the snow. Buckling down, and being more patient than normal, I waited for the timely two week cold to pass. 

Enjoying some wonderful company for a ski! Pauline (girlfriend of JP), Marine, Liz and I.

Enjoying some wonderful company for a ski! Pauline (girlfriend of JP), Marine, Liz and I.

Making a trip down to Annecy for some site seeing. 

Making a trip down to Annecy for some site seeing. 

Christmas has turned out to be a really challenging time to find snow for the past three winters. With nothing but dirt at my boyfriends home, Meribel, I was forced to stationary bike, hike and exergenie for training. I took a road trip to one of my favorite places in the world to ski, Les Saisies, which was amazing. After traveling to Jo's family's house Christmas Eve night in Hauteville, I ventured on the train towards Villard de Lans on Christmas day to finish off our holiday break. I was greeted with a wonderful 4k loop in Autrans, and some great family time with my brothers girlfriends' family. I have travelled to VIllard de Lans for the past three years, and every time it feels a bit more like home. It is very bizarre that Erik and I both have French significant others, but it is a true gift at the same time. I have some amazing people around me, taking care of me, and helping me from getting too homesick on this long four month overseas world cup tour.

hiking in dry Meribel.

hiking in dry Meribel.

A day in Les Saisies on some amazing trails with the huge Mont Blanc behind.

A day in Les Saisies on some amazing trails with the huge Mont Blanc behind.

Christmas in Hauteville.

Christmas in Hauteville.

The Maubet's do it right! Fireworks, Christmas Lights, and an amazing feast!

The Maubet's do it right! Fireworks, Christmas Lights, and an amazing feast!

More food than you could imagine, but so amazing!

More food than you could imagine, but so amazing!

Ever wonder who is on the train on Christmas? Turns out there are a lot of people! Europeans are so smart with their transportation!

Ever wonder who is on the train on Christmas? Turns out there are a lot of people! Europeans are so smart with their transportation!

The second christmas tree, waiting for me in Villard, thanks to Rosie!

The second christmas tree, waiting for me in Villard, thanks to Rosie!

Roaming the streets of Villard de Lans with Marine.

Roaming the streets of Villard de Lans with Marine.

From there, I am finally feeling healthy again, and have made the trek to Val Mustair, Switzerland for the start of the Tour de Ski. I am really looking forward to it, maybe more so than ever after having such a long break from racing. The Tour is a beast of its own, and something new every year, so I can't wait to see what is to come!

Here is the schedule of events for the Tour:

VAL MUSTAIR
Saturday, December 31, 2016
12:20 - Sprint F Prologue, 14:50 - Sprint Finals
Sunday, January 1, 2017
13:00 - MEN 10 km C mass start,16:00 - LADIES 5 km C mass start

OBERSTDORF
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
12:15 - LADIES 5 km + 5 km Skiathlon, 15:15 - MEN 10 km Skiathlon
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
11:30 - LADIES 10 km + 10 km F Pursuit, 12:45 - MEN 15km F Pursuit

TOBLACH-DOBBIACO
Friday, January 6, 2017
10:45 - MEN 10 km F, 13:00 - LADIES 5 km F

VAL DI FIEMME
Saturday, January 7, 2017
14:30 - LADIES 10 km C, 15:30 - MEN 15 km C Mass start
Sunday, January 8, 2017
11:30 - LADIES Final Climb 9 km F, 15:30 - MEN Final Climb 9 km F

Happy Holidays to everyone all across the world. I hope everyone got to enjoy a little love and laughter… and maybe even some snow if you were lucky!