Davos preview video

Here is a little video of life in Davos. Thanks to the boys for putting it together. A little glimpse into the life at the Kulm and the ski venue in Davos, Switzerland

Come one, come ALL! Kids Camp!

Link to sign up

Erik and I will be putting on a camp for all the younglins while we are home, so tell everyone you know and encourage everyone to come!! It is going to be tons of fun!

Email me at sadzarue_21@yahoo.com if you have any questions!

Davos training and my FIRST WORLD CUP MEDAL

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!

Ruka Mini-Tour

This past week we have been staying in a little nordic village outside of Kuusamo, Finland. All I have ever heard of Kuusamo is bad things, considering normally it is right on the brisk of illegally cold racing. This year played out a little different than normal. Not only was it warm, but similar to the rest of Europe, there was no snow. Luckily all of these World Cup venues have snow making set up, so the guns were blowing from the day we arrived early on in the week. The first day there was snow only covering about 2km of trail. Each day, more and more trail was built. By race day, they had a full 5km of skiable trails.
Holly digging for her stuff. This is our ski van that gets filled with skis for the travel. Smart system!
The festive Ruka! So awesome
The unique thing that I am going to always classify Ruka skiing under now is hills. If you are not climbing straight up a hill, you are skiing down a curvy steep hill... sometimes even resembling an alpine resort.

The wall... somehow it looks flat.
The big hill into the stadium on the sprint course
One of the other unique things about Ruka is the small village. All the teams are staying within 1km of each other, mostly in small cabins distributed among a steep hill, with the top of the hill being the place where all the athletes eat meals. With everyone in one place, you get the opportunity to meet people during meals and just walking around the village. I have come to realize it really is this sort of competitive traveling family that moves from venue to venue each weekend. It's incredibly fun!

Headed into the waxroom
Races kicked off on friday with a classic sprint on a course I can only explain as hilly. You start in a stadium on the top of a hill, shoot down to the bottom, make a turn and race back up to the top. One of those courses, similar to most, that even the briefest mistake looses you 10 places. I finished the race in 47th, four seconds out of qualifying in the top 30 for the heats. After watching some of the girls ski the course, it became apparent to me where I was loosing most of my time in transitions between the climbs and the descents. After finishing my 3 minute race for the day, I then got to watch my teammate Kikkan show exactly how it is done. Qualifying 12th, she managed to make it through quarter, semi's and then advance on into the finals, where she placed 4th. It is so cool to watch her strengths play out in person among the field. Skiing with her year around, I see her ski every day, but its fun to see what it looks like in a race.
Thanks to Steve for the flyingpoint photo!
Saturdays skate race brought even more fun. A 5k course made of once again, walls and alpine hills... it seemed there was going to be no opportunity for recovery in this race, instead you just had to go from the gun. My first world cup weekend I had Martha Kristoffersen, one of the top norwegian skiers starting behind me, and I had this same thing this weekend. The first weekend, I held on to her as long as I could, but that only lasted for about 1km before she dropped me on the hill. Saturday, I decided I was just going to play, see how long I could hold off Martha, and see how long I could hold on to her once she caught me. Sure enough, Martha managed to catch me at about 3km, in the middle of a massive hill, but from that point until the end, I held on for dear life and skid my heart out to the line, loosing about 3 seconds to her at the final stretch. The coolest thing about this was that one week later, I got another opportunity to ski the speed that a top ten skier was skiing. I finished the day in 37th, my best world cup finish, and only 6 seconds out of scoring points. A fun day, and a good success.

Full waxroom full of Fischer :)
My final day of the tour wasn't nearly as positive as the rest. I have been struggling with finding klister skis yet this year, so sundays hilly course did not play in favor for a pair of skis with no kick. For 10km I tried to power myself up the huge hills with my arms, but it only lasted for so long.. eventually that wasn't enough.

Walking into the stadium
Being on the world cup is extremely rewarding, but I have realized it can be really hard at times as well. You can have the best day of your life, and the following day just barely be off, but place in the bottom 10% of the field. Where a bad day in the US wouldn't crush your heart, a bad day on the world cup can feel like you failed 100%. After only being on this circuit for 2 weeks now, I feel like I got my first experience last weekend on the roller coaster ride this business can take you on. The expectations are high, especially when you have teammates that are up on the top. Sometimes your short site allows you to forget that it took them about 5 years of what I am doing to get to what they are doing. What I have learned though, is you have to take control of your expectations, your goals and your head... because if you allow the pressure and the crowd to control your emotions.... this business will chew you up and spit you out! It's a process though, and you can only learn to do that by living it.

pure focus!!
Focus during racing :) Flyingpoint photo
So after a weekend full of greats and horribles, I am now excited for what's next! And that is a weekend full of skate sprinting in downtown Dusseldorf. The first day is an individual sprint, and the following day will be a team sprint. Lots of enjoyment to come.

Thanks so all for the cheers and support and love. It means so much to have so many people pushing us forward.

APU crew. Casey and Holly
The massive walk up the hill can only be worse when you are lugging bags up it. This is the walk that we made 3 times a day up to food. It appears much flatter than it is :)
For the next 4 days we will be living in Davos, Switzerland in the most adorable little hotel of all time training in the 50 degree weather... and sunshine. A little altitude block of training, before taking off for the city on friday.

My first Week in Euro-land

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!

Anchorage to Sweden

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. The past two weeks has been filled with lots of powder, and lots of tying up business in AK for the winter.

Due to the lack of snow in Europe, the first FIS races were cancelled in Beito, so the APU skiers opted into staying in Anchorage for another week to get some more training in. Lucky for us, nearly 2 feet of snow fell during that time allowing us to get in some great skiing as well as a couple practices races before we headed over seas.
APU Woman's Team after our Sprint Race
Ladies Starting the A-finals

Lucky for me, I got to get some of the early season cob-webs out of the system before my first World Cup. It is always an adjustment during the fall time for me going from hard interval pace to pushing myself beyond pain racing pace.

My plan is to be on the road racing all winter until the end of March for Distance Nationals, so it takes a little thought while I am packing. I have to think about things like where to put my car for the winter, cancel my car insurance, who is going to check my mail.... etc. I found myself making lists about a month out because I knew that as I got ready to leave I would just be thinking about racing and too excited to remember anything important. I managed to get a lot my ducks in a row, but of course managed to forget some things.

Early sunday morning I took off for Norway. For the past week it has been snowing every day, so sunday was no different in Anchorage. After our plane was stuck to the jetway for an extra hour in Anchorage, I luckily still managed to make my flight in Seattle, and then on to Amsterdam and Oslo.

We arrived in the dark last night to Torsby, Sweden where we will be training in an underground tunnel for the next three days. There is no snow anywhere in Scandinavia, nor Europe.. so we are left with few options. Opting out of the 45$ a day ski on the 1k track in the tunnel, Holly and I decided to take a tour of town on our rollerskis today. Since we have been skiing for the past month, we figured we could handle some roller ski training. It was super awesome, we found ourselves skiing right down main street and exploring on the roads surrounding the town. I took a few pictures along the way. One of us skiing through the cemetery, where the bike path went straight through.

Holly skiing up the streets in Torsby
The ski tunnel facilities are super awesome. We are staying right here at the tunnel, in fact I am sitting in a study room at the moment looking out at the tunnel. Not too bad.

Thursday evening we will take off for Sjusjoen where the first World Cup will take place, just outside of Lillehamer. Good fun to come soon!! Can't wait.

Snow is here! Racing season is coming...

Two Stars!

The snow has finally fallen enough to accumulate some ski trails up at Hatchers Pass. Lots of pictures and stories have been circulating around already, so I think the word is out that the Alaskan Crew got to ski on October 20th!! Thats so early. What this means is I skied every month of the year this year, besides one! So I skied on snow 11 months of the training year... how many racers can say that???

The skiing has been great. Extra blue, packed tracks, and blue bird cold days!! The APU crew headed up last thursday for a distance ski, and by the following day I was sore. It's funny how rollerskiing never seems to train the exact same muscles, so you are sore the first ski of the season, regardless. We then skied a second time on saturday... so by the end of the three hour ski, I was cooked. I have to say, this is the main reason that I love training in Alaska. The opportunity to be on snow as much as we are I see as a huge benefit. By getting that early "snow shape" back together in October, you can sometimes jump start the engine for the early racing season.

Speaking of early racing season, I will be on a different path this fall period. For the first time, I will be racing on the World Cup Circuit for Period 1 along with a group of 4 other girls. This has been super exciting news for me, and I have to say, I have been counting down the days for the "2012" experience to begin! The greatest thing about this year is it is the year to experiment and try new things. Because there are no main Championships of the year, I can set my own expectations and goals. Having never raced much in early season, nor raced much on the World Cup Circuit, nor left my home from November 6th until the end of March...... I will be switching things up quite a bit.

Last year I had a small introduction into this top level of racing, and ever since I have been working hard to jump into that category. This fall will be a great opportunity for me to open my eyes wide, learn some new skills and tricks, and have a great time skiing along with the best skiers in the world.

My first World Cup ever, last February in Drammen, Norway. Just before Kikkan won!

My schedule starts with me Leaving November 6th for Beitostoelen, Norway and follows:
November 11-13, FIS Races in Beitostoelen
November 19-20, World Cup in Beito
November 25-27, World Cup Kuusamo, Finland
December 3-4, World Cup downtown Dusseldorf, Germany
December 10-11, World Cup Davos, Switzerland
Following that, December 12th I will fly back to Washington for a short break in Washington before Nationals, early January in Rumford Maine.

Unfortunately this opportunity has come with a price. Being named to the US SKi Team this last year has provided me with the opportunities and the steps at reaching this next level, but it has also provided me with some responsibility for completing these steps. Having major budget cuts this year resulted in the funding being cut for all B-Team level athletes for this top level of competition. What this means for me is that the spot is available for me, but I must find my own funding to get there.

I am not sure on my definite plans for the entire year, but I am going to guess the financial need will remain at the same level through Period 2 as well as Period 3. What it looks like for this first period of racing can be broken down easily between room and board as well as plane tickets to and from Europe, and between race venues. This comes to a total around $8000.

Being an athlete similar to every other nordic athlete in the country, this is not the kind of money we can ask our parents for, or we can raise on a side job. This is the kind of financial support we must find in our supporters and followers. This is also not only a problem for me, but every other talented young athlete in this country that is ready to make another step in their development. It starts at the 16 year old level skier who just made Scando Trips, and continues through the World Juniors level, affecting everyone all the way up to the top level of World Cup Racing.

The nordic community has been working hard recently to make these unrealistic financial expectations more realistic. With the new push at the National Nordic Foundation level, supporters are beginning to see the sad truth of the financial demands affecting the opportunities for a new level of talent our country is now experiencing. This is just the beginning, but it is a step forward.

Tom Kelly Photo from US Team Camp- Training at 2002 Olympic Venue this October

Which brings me to my final point. I have a long year in front of me, and it could cost me around $30,000 to race at this level throughout the season. If you would like to support either myself, or the other athletes in getting there; there are several options. As with everything, even the smallest amount makes a difference and builds towards that end goal. Just like us athletes; it wasn't the 4 hour ski we did that made us fast, but it was the culmination of all those 1 hr., 2hr. and 3hr. workouts that made us great. So please know that every effort is greatly appreciated!

Your options for supporting our skiing goals for the year are:

1) Methow Valley Ski Education Foundation- The community in the Methow has been extremely helpful and supportive towards trying to help make this next step available. The team has created an Elite Opportunity Fund with 501(c)(3) status. Money can be donated to help support the athletes of the Methow participating in international level competition. If you would like to send a tax-deductible donation towards me, or the athletes of the Methow Valley, send to:
MVNSEF Elite Opportunity Fund
PO Box 1063
Winthrop, WA 98862

2) Donations directly towards me. Email me at sbjornsen@alaskapacific.edu if you have questions.

3) Donations towards the National Nordic Foundation, which is a non-profit organization aimed at supporting the nordic athletes of the US. They are recently doing The Drive for 25, which will include a small support of a large spectrum of supporters. Check out this site to get an idea of what we do and learn how to help: http://ccgeneralfund.causevox.com/

4) Support through the APU Ski Club

There are many ways to help out and support including you standing on the side of the trail cheering and screaming. It all counts, and it all keeps us going. So keep it up, and get ready.... race season is coming!!! Thanks to everyone that has helped so far, and that may help in the future! You guys are truly making it possible!

Park City Dryland Camp

So after my explanation of the Fast and Female portion of the US Ski Team Camp in Park City, I will tell you a bit more about what I did for the rest of the 10 days in town.

US ladies... in the pink. Tom Kelly photo

I am actually taking full time school at the moment, so due to some finals and schoolwork, I had to arrive to the camp a week late, which means I missed the "testing" portion of the camp unfortunately. I am taking four classes during the fall term, two of which were condensed 7 week classes that ended the day before I left for Park City Camp. This works awesome for me, because now I will only be taking two classes until middle of December for my "racing" portion of the fall. So, my camp was only ten days, but it was surely 10 days of greatness!!

APU ladies enjoying the sunshine of the West!

When I first arrived in Park City, I was a bit bummed because it was snowing and raining... and appeared the same as it was in Alaska. After watching all these videos, and hearing stories of all the skiers in the 80 degree weather the few days before I arrived... I was expecting summer in PC.!! The good news is we only had about 3 days of cold before summer again arrived. By the end of the camp I was skiing around in a tank top and getting a sun burn! I have to admit though, I was ready to come back to the reality of October in Alaska, seeing as ski season is less than a month away!

Pete photo

My ten day camp consisted of a mixture of races, bounding up the resorts, roller-skiing out to the nearby passes, some hammer-fest in the workout gym, running, and some speedy rollerskiing on the 2002 Olympic courses at Soldier Hollow. It was a great time, and there was a HUGE group of racers, so I had some good company during my workouts.

Breakfast with Matt Whitcomb, who just had back surgery. Coming back stronger than ever :)

I love this time of year, because the racing season is just around the corner, and I just can't keep myself from constantly getting excited every time I go out to train. Likewise, this is also the time of year I keep analyzing in my head if I am fast enough, or trained well enough. The way I find a balance between this storm of feelings and emotions is through bringing my mind back into racing mode, as I try to relax and build confidence. It was great to surround myself with energy and excitement at this camp, because the motivation and enthusiasm is viral in a group of so many fired up girls!

A large train of ladies during the distance workout.

Every day there was a group of at least 25 girls starting the workout together, building towards a time trial, or some intervals, or just some good, focused distance skiing. It was sweet, because everyone is out there, working together, and making it happen. It's an exciting time for US Skiing I think. At least for me!

Ready... GO!

The second to last day of the camp we had the opportunity to do a sprint time trial on the Olympic Course at Soldier Hollow. It was sweet to go out there, work the heart a bit, and feel some speed. It was also fun to play around with tactics and tricks when it doesn't count. Practice races have such a benefit, especially when you are surrounded by the girls you are competing with all winter!

Sprint Racing- Thanks to Elizabeth Simak for many of these race photos!

Jessie and I sprinting for the finish

It was fun, because I also got the opportunity to meet up with some of my old teammates who have moved on to new things. It's crazy, it feels as if they were just on the team yesterday. Somehow this summer has sneaked away so fast!!

APU Group in Utah

After a ten day camp at altitude, I went for a ski up in the hills this afternoon and felt like I could hop skate up everything. It's amazing what 10 days of little air can do for you when you return back to the sea!! It is the greatest feeling, I love it!

Found a zebra, a donkey, and a buffalo, all in the same cage in a coral on the side of the highway while I was rollerskiing.... interesting!

Its back to 2.5 more weeks of Anchorage life before the racing season starts. This is always a busy time filled with wrapping up everything in town before the travel begins, as well as keeping caught up with homework. This is also the time of year that we start pulling out the rock skis for some skiing. Word has it that there is grooming on Hatchers Pass, so day after tomorrow we will be hitting the snow, yehooo! Thanks to the Strabels for the grooming and getting it ready for us!

Park City Fast and Female

Last week, shortly after arriving, we had a Fast and Female celebration in Park City with about 80 little kids and 30 parents. In the last three years, I have participated in six separate Fast and Female events around the US. My second event was in Anchorage, where nearly 200 kids showed up, so we have had quite the variation in activities among these six events. This Fast and Female event was a first in its nature though. Seeing as Park City is the base for the US Ski Team, we took advantage of the variation in talents and sports represented here; inviting ambassadors from different sports such as speed skating, alpine skiing, moguls, snow boarding, aerials, biathlon and cross country skiing. Likewise, we also invited young girls from all variations in sports. This made it both different and exciting for the actual event.

Applying the PINK!

The event was based out of the Center of Excellence (the base for the US Ski Team), which is full of lots of fun toys; such as the foam pits, skateboard parks, trampolines, speed skating boards, a track, a massive gym, and a dancing area. The day started with an introduction to the ambassadors, a team cheer for each of the age groups, and then the event circuits. The circuits consisted of seven separate stations, represented by the seven different sports. I was working with the nine year olds, so I got to practice all the different activities with the young girls as I went around. Kikkan and Jessie were running the cross-country skiing station, so instead of making the girls run around they picked active dancing. Mixed with a fun dance routine each group made up, Kikkan and Jessie would lead the girls through a series of exercises such as; running and dancing, push ups to the beat of the music, crazy jumps and crawls, and any dance move you could think of to go with the beat of the music. It was awesome!!!


Decorating with some of the girls in my group.

The morning of the event we had a 3 hr ski up to one of the nearby passes, so all of us Nordic athletes were pooped. With so much young excitement though, our excitement levels stayed high until we crashed about five minutes after the event finished. That was a true day of training!

The x-country ladies.

Following the circuits we had inspirational talks from some of the ambassadors who had won Olympic medals. It was a true inspiration to hear these ladies talk, even for the younger ambassadors like myself. Shannon Bahrke and Emily Cook started out by telling stories about their careers, their ups and downs, and the feeling of joy and pride as they stood on the podium at the Olympic Games. Emily explained a really great lesson for the young girls as she related the closing ceremonies, where everyone walks out together, to the friendships and sportsmanship’s you share in sport. It was even giving me goosebumps!! Then a speed skating Olympic medalist as well as Kikkan both gave talks about their careers and how important it is to love all the activities as a young child.

The ladies giving their inspirational talks.

Shannon Bahrke, Olympic Medalist, and now running a rockin coffee business called SilverBean.

Following the inspirational talks, we went on to signing posters for all the little kids. I even got a poster that I am going to hang on my wall at home, as many of those girls I was working with that day have already proven they are the best athletes in the world. How cool to share that experience with them, and see them get all dressed in pink and have a ball with the younger kids.

The Nordic Ambassadors and the TUNA team out of Park City.

Fast and Female is a really special thing, and I have loved taking part in it; as I see so many younger kids come away with enthusiasm, and a motivated effort to lead a healthy and fun lifestyle. It is truly a rewarding thing, and sometimes, like this event in Park City, even I come away with a new motivation!

The whole crew!

Another really cool thing about this event is, in conjunction with the kids portion, we also ran a parents seminar, where all the US Ski Team resources were used to educate the parents on what sports is all about. Our Nutritionist, Sports Psychologist, and Physical Therapist educated parents on what they can do to help their children lead a healthy lifestyle, as well as participate in competitive sports. I think that too was really successful! This is something we haven’t done in the US yet, but it has been a part of the Canadian Fast and Female events for a while, so it was great to finally start incorporating that into our process.

Signing Posters.

Our next Fast and Female event will be in Rumford Maine in January, and then in Craftsbury, Vermont at the end of March. Look for those events if you are a young girl, or you have a young daughter!!

An update on the Park City training camp soon to come!

Fall Time

I have been super busy this last month between school, skiing, and organizing the winter. The good news is the snow is coming, and its starting to feel like winter here in AK.

It's that time of year.... all the leaves have fallen!

Good thing I know all the trails by heart... sometimes they get hard to find!

I have been lucky to have a training partner this year that I live with, so Rosie and I have been doing lots of crazy fun stuff lately. From hiking Alyeska 3 times, to finding brown bears in the mountains, to swimming laps, to making some uniquely scary buddies on the town trails. It has been fun to switch things up and try some new things though!

Rosie and I headed for a swim

mmmm, cold sunshine!

On top during our Alyeska Adventure.

Unfortunately school has been taking up every second that I have not been out training. The good news is two of my classes I started early in the summer, so finals are coming up here next week, which means I will have them taken care of by the first week of October!! The other two classes will carry on through December though.. making some good past time on the road.

Nice view of Anchorage in the background.

Next week after finals, I will head to PC to join up with the US Team, along with lots of club teams for my final dryland camp before the season starts.

Just chasing around the Kikkan bus :)

Stay tuned for my fall/early winter plans that are quickly coming together here. Just a short update for now.

Cold mornings along the ocean trail