AK Fall

This fall has been a whirlwind of school, rain, wind, training, and some more wind. I have decided there are some true tradeoffs to living in Alaska and getting skiing year around. We have to put up with the rain and wind. On the same note, I guess it prepares us for those mornings when we wake up for the race, and the weather seems to be everything but nice. It will just seem normal for us Alaskan's from now on.
Doing some biking along the Turnagain Arm with Jo.

Becca truly prepared for the Alaskan Weather!
I started school a bit earlier than normal this year. I was trying to take most of my courses in the condensed form early on, so that I have less in the later half of the semester. This means that my month of August and September have been a balance between trying to get my homework and training in all at one time. All of my courses ended up being online, so lately I have been having to do the true college multi-tasking and biking on the inside trainer while plugged into my computer listening to class. I have to be sure to go easy when it comes time to turn the speaker on and talk... otherwise I think my classmates are going to be super confused why I am breathing so hard.
I have been turning Jo into a nordic skier this past month!!
The APU womans team sold two dinners this year at fundraisers where we put on a dinner party for a group of people; designing a menu, perfecting the meal, and getting all dressed up. We basically are your very own catering service for an evening. It has been very fun though, as we did two of them during the month of September. The first one was very fancy, where we perfected cooking duck, ratatouille, and some very classy soup and salad. The second one was for a group of ten ladies, with ten APU woman cooks, so it was a huge house full of woman! Both of these have been good for all of us though- because we have been working on cooking outside of our comfort zone. Nordic skiers generally get stuck in a rut, cooking the quickest meals that have the perfect amount of what we crave at the moment. Rarely do we spend the time to cook something that not only tastes good, but looks good. So I have to say, this has been good for all of us!
The APU Woman's Rainbow Cooks
Becca has been Master Cheff. I have discovered she has a true hidden talent
Erika and the Ratatouille
The dinner party of ten ladies. Thanks to both groups of dinner guests for supporting the APU team!
September is also a good month to try to do some community events. One of the neat things that Anchorage has are these events that Healthy Futures (a local nonprofit organization) puts on called Jamberees. These Jamberees are little running races that literally thousands of k-6 graders come out and participate in. Last week, some of the APU athletes went out and warmed up the kids for the races. It was fun to see how much energy all these young kids have. One little boy ran a mile on the muddy hilly trails in 5:30! He was ten years old, it was unbelievable!
Holly, Rosie and I warming up for the kids "warm-up". (Gagnum Style)
Training has been a collection of running, roller skiing, biking, and most recently skiing. Anchorage has been getting some wild windstorms recently, mixed with the rain... so sometimes you have to be creative in order to get your training in. One day I attempted to go running on the hillside while there was 90mph gusts... and I was terrified. At one point a gust of wind hit so hard, that I had to stop, and by the end of it, I had rocks in my mouth! It can be exciting, but sometimes just frustrating when you are trying to get good training in.
Spending some time in the Gym!
I recently found Kate Fitz in a book in a coffee shop... some old school Fitz!
Other days I just resort to staying indoors and doing aqua jogging, or biking on the stationary bike. At some point, you just get sick of getting soaked to the bone. Luckily we are leaving for the National Team Camp this coming week, so we will potentially be getting some vitamin D fix for two weeks in Park City, Utah. I have been checking the forecast, and it looks very promising.

It turns out the machine even wants to push you!
Yesterday was pretty exciting when I woke up and looked out the window and saw nothing but white!! Rosie and I went running up to the deep snow at flattop (6 inches), and then finishing our workout on skis. It wasn't great skiing, but it was enough snow to "ski". I was stoked regardless, because this meant that I have now skid every month of the year!! September has always been a challenge for me, but on September 29, I did it!!
Rosie extremely stoked!
Looking up snowy Powerline Pass
From here, I am off to Park City next week. After having missed most of the camps with my US teammates from being injured all summer, I am excited to meet back up with them!! It will be nice to get back with a massive group of motivated ladies while soaking in some vitamin D! Yehaaa.
One of the young girls on our team, Mary Roubinchaux was hit by a car on her bike and has been staying super tough! Her Caringbridge site is: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/getwellmary . Wishing her all the luck in getting better!

Glacier Camp 1

Last week I had my first glacier camp of the summer up on Eagle Glacier. I had a bit of a delayed start this year because of injuries, but I finally got to make the trip up.

It all started a little different than usual. Weather was really crummy sunday morning, so after hanging out all afternoon down in Girdwood, Keith from Alpine Air decided to take us up the ridge as far as possible. With the facility "socked in" and windy, we planned to hike the last section that was not flyable.
Getting snowmobiled across the last section of the trek.
So after taking six trips of four athletes ten minutes up into the clouds, we were all dropped on a ridge line only about 30 minutes hike below the glacier. I have never made the hike up or down from the glacier, so it was exciting to switch things up a bit. I can't wait until the day that I have absolutely no injuries and can do that full hike!!
This picture was at 11PM on one of the nicest days... so hard to go to sleep when it's that beautiful out.
The first couple days shaped up to be a usual glacier summer camp. Cloudy, a bit rainy, and "lukewarm". It made doing my homework inside the house more appealing than usual. But day three, the sun came out. For the first time, I skid around the glacier twice a day in a pair of shorts and a sports bra. It was unreal! Made the tough training even more enjoyable than usual!

Thanks to Mike, Dylan and Erik for sweet tracks every workout!!
This camp was a bit different than usual. Nursing a back injury that is on its way out, I had to be careful to not do too much too quick. When the weather is as nice as it is, sometimes its extremely tough to say no to one more lap, and turn in. Regardless, I was able to get in some great training and bring the snow ski muscles back to life. One afternoon I decided I wanted to do something other than ski, so I found myself a "250 step" loop up the little hill behind the facility, down the snow field, and around the house. We don't have much room to move around up there off of the snow, so I was forced to make a little baby loop. After about 15 loops I started counting my steps... 251 steps! A lot more exciting than running in the pool, ill tell you that!

Now its back to two more weeks of dry land training, and then one more week on the Glacier.

Charlie Renfro and Chris Hodel came up one of the sunny afternoons and took a whole bunch of photos and video. They are working on putting together some media stuff for the APU team and managed to catch the best day of weather on the Glacier. I look forward to seeing what they put together! Thanks for many of these team photos!
Erik Flora giving us some technique advice (Chris Hodel photo)
APU Womans Elite Team (minus Kikkan. Charlie Renfro photo)

Summer Time

Hi All- Sorry for the MIA from the blogging world. The beginning of the summer has thrown me a couple challenges and speed bumps, forcing for me to test my patience and creativity. This past year I have been working with a functional back injury that first appeared when I left for World Cup last fall, then disappeared for five months, before making another appearance my first week of training this spring.

After spending the first month of the training year doing nothing but skating and running (classic was hurting my back), I ended up with an overuse injury on one of the tendons on my foot. This is when I had to pull the plug, sit down and really think about what was going wrong. This is also when I started going to Physical Therapy and understanding more of what was going wrong with my back.

Unfortunately, an injury like I have, has lots of ups and downs. Fixing it means changing my technique, changing the way I carry myself, changing the ways I pick things up.. basically learning to move in a different way that is not constantly pinching my facet joint. As every athlete in the world, and every normal human being in the world wants to know... how do I get better? Unfortunately, I have been testing the boundaries and learning those limitations through the course of the summer. Not being able to train at full capacity is the hardest part of training. Training hard when I am healthy is the easy part!

The two weeks in between our first National Team Camp in Bend, Oregon and the scheduled North American Womans Team Camp (NAWTA) I raced to get back in working order. I knew Aino Kaisa Saarinen (Auku) would be coming, and since I first started watching her ski, I have dreamt about classic skiing behind her, and learning to ski like her. As I raced to quickly be better in time, I over-jumped my limitations, skiing a two hour skate through the hills chasing Auku and Kikkan. Again, I was back at the bottom with my heart hanging low. At that point I had to make the dfficult decision to leave the National Team Camp in my own town and get away from the excitement and motivated girls to truly get my body back to order.
Still getting in a couple training days with the camp ladies

This is when I headed back to the Methow to spend some time with my parents and forget about the frustrations and expectations. For ten days, I enjoyed being with my family, enjoyed the sunshine, let my mind relax, and did some PT work. But again, I was faced with a difficult decision. What next? Things are not completely better, so what next? When your heart only knows one thing- and that is working hard and being motivated... its difficult to not go searching in every direction for the magic answer.
Getting in some time with my two best friends from back home
Luckily I have a coach full of experience with injuries, and a team of extremely motivating friends. I haven't gone a day without someone reminding me that injuries happen to all the best. I even came across a quote from an Olympic Hurdler, Lolo Jones, on my flight back to AK. During the 2008 Olympic Games, she was the favorite to win a gold medal in the 100-meter hurdles, but clipped the second to last hurdle, sending her from first to seventh place. She also went through her fair share of injuries and challenges. Her response to these adversities were:

"Any time a bad thing happens, when I haven't made a team or I've been injured, I think. There's got to be a reason for this. Adversities make you mad, they make you sad, they literally break you down, but if you fight through them, they make you stronger, sharper and more motivated". 

Spending time on the beach with great teammates!
So with that, I headed back to AK, and have been working on creating a consistent plan of progression, and learning to change my movements in order to learn to avoid back pain. After seeing a specialist, getting an MRI, and working with many PT's, the answers all remain the same. Learn to move a way that doesn't pinch that facet joint, and gradually increase back into activity. And finally, I have started making true progress. 
Corey Stock came to train with APU for a couple months this summer and we have been spending some quality time training together. She too has had some leg injuries so we have been doing lots of ski striding and hiking working on leg strength and searching for the bears.
I have been combining lots of aqua jogging, ski striding up the mountains, skate roller skiing and very controlled classic roller skiing. Last week I finally trained a true full week, and my positive spirit is coming back. Even though I know its not all going to be smiles and giggles from here, I have finally started believing. From the words of a good friend and one of the best skiers in the world, Chandra Crawford,

"The key to it all is the difference between hoping and believing. Hoping is better than nothing, but it's still laced with fear, apprehension, and doubt, and that will effect your circulation, physiology and healing. When you become a believer- through experience, evidence from other athletes who've been through this- you can change from hope to belief. When you do that, you find a new level of responsiveness."

Thank god I have a coach that truly understands and can relate to the mental swings of injuries. Especially when you feel like you have no answers. Erik has been great about continuously reminding me that the year is still young, it is the time to work on my weaknesses, and the answer is consistency. When looking for a magic solution becomes tempting, I am constantly reminded that the solution comes with consistency. 
This is not me aqua jogging- but this is what it looks like. If you haven't ever tried if before- you should. It may be the worlds most boring workout, but it has saved many professional runners leading into huge events that they have been successful at. 
Unfortunately this will mean sitting out on the joint Swedish and US National Team Camp in two weeks, but I know this is going to only make me more motivated, and more determine. Like Lolo Jones says, its these adversities that make us stronger, sharper and more motivated!!
Nothing says motivation like having to skip out on something like this!
One more week of training in town and then up to the Eagle Glacier to try some snow skiing!! No more bears to run from, no more driving and biking... just the snow, and what I know best!!

Eagle Glacier at its finest!
Thanks to everyone that has been so incredibly supportive this summer. You guys are all wonderful angels and I truly appreciate it!

Testing and First Camp of the Year!!

For the past two weeks I have been down in Utah and Oregon soaking in some Vitamin D while getting back into the training routine. My trip started out with a six hour layover in Seattle where I got to visit my sister, her boyfriend, and my Grandma. With such a busy life and traveling here and there, I don't get as much time to see family as I would like to, so it was so nice to spend the time together!
My sister, Kaley, and I soaking in some Seattle sunshine
Then I hopped back on the plane with my skis and duffle and made a two day trip to the Center of Excellence in Park City. For 48 hours I fit in about 10 different tests, 5 of which were on the treadmill. Blood test, strength tests, mobility tests, VO2 Max tests, altitude response tests, body composition tests, CO2 tests, you name it- we did it. This is also our opportunity to get to visit with some of the PT's, check in with our health, test our fitness, and meet the new employees of the US Ski Team. These testing periods are always pretty frantic, busy, and almost stressful as we try to stay on the schedule jumping from test to test. One of the neatest tests this year was an Altitude Response test where they set up the Oxygen levels in the mask to resemble sea level, Val di Fiemme (World Championship venue next winter), Sochi (Olympics in 2014) and then finally Park City. It was neat to feel the difference between the work load at those different levels of oxygen and how it affected my body. There is a team of extremely educated, smart people working with us with all the tests, so it is fun to see what they can learn about each and every one of us.
Meeting Alberto Salazar and his running team. What an interesting experience. Erik Flora loves this guy and his training beliefs, so it was fun to meet him and his athletes in person. Also fun to learn how talented people truly are in their sport. Those guys were training my sprinting speed for two hours... yikes!

Some Treadmill testing photos... never too glamorous- but you can see the pain :) Makes you appreciate "free breath" without a tube in your mouth next time you go train hard :)
Two days later we jumped on a plane and flew the next jump over to Bend, Oregon. As we arrived, the sun was shining and we were in full summer mode. Skiing in the soft snow in the morning on Mt. Bachelor, and then doing our dryland in tank tops and shorts in the afternoon.

One of the new things we participated in this year was the Pole, Peddle Paddle. The PPP is a relay race that begins with alpine, followed by nordic, road bike, run, kayak and then sprint. This year the Rebound Clinic sponsored two US Ski team woman's teams as well as a mens team. Kikkan, Jessie and I against Ida, Holly and Liz. It was incredibly fun. I did the nordic skiing leg as well as the 800 meter sprint at the end. From the start we were head to head and we finished within two minutes of each other- so it was super fun to get back into some race mode in a more relaxed atmosphere. (though many of us were saying how we felt more nervous the morning of PPP than we generally feel in our largest races of the year. It's funny how you get used to the nerves in what you specialize in.) Regardless, by the end of the day we were all exhausted- but all for a fun cause!!
Thats true pain face there.... racing in May... ouch!! 
The teams in the morning with our fun outfits. I wore a bright pink hair inserts that everyone actually thought was my hair... success!!
Check out the pink hair... the chair lift, the certain lack of "white snow" and the heat radiating off the dirty snow!
The woman's team... wrecked and asleep at the end of the race. Yes, Jessie does actually sleep like that. Stretching and sleeping at the same time... great multi-tasker.
For the remainder of the ten days we did lots of hard training with lots of kilometers, and a fair amount of snow flakes. As the weather got a bit more "winter like", we got the full spectrum! Days of powder, days of sun burns, and days of drenched to the bone. I always love Bend and its ability to get your motivation back and rolling. As the team sits down and sets goals for the future; Olympic goals and World Championship goals, the fire starts again. A new year, and 6 more months of hard training to do even bigger and better things than last year!
Getting in some K's (Matt Whitcomb photo)
The US 2012-2013 US Ski Team (notice Erik and my in-ability to open our eyes in the sunshine... darn blue eyes) Matt Whitcomb Photo
The Woman's Squad (Matt Whitcomb Photo)
This year was unique in that all the top skiers from APU, as well as my coach Erik Flora, got to come down to Bend and join in with the camp as well. It's fun when I get to combine the best of both worlds with my local team as well as the National Team. Not only that- we all get to push each other and begin to work together.
Intervals with US ladies and APU ladies
While we were in Bend, we also managed to fit in one of our Fast and Female Events. This is one of the best events I have been part of, as we changed some of the activities we generally do with the girls. With an older range of girls- we focused more of goal setting, positive thinking, and teamwork. It was fun to see some of the goals girls set for themselves- and then to see them follow us around on the ski trails the remainder of the week. There its quite a group of motivated young girls in that region- which is especially exciting for me to see, as it is part of the PNSA region I grew up in.
Jessie and I ran the "Endura-dance" station where you combine endurance strength with dancing.
These two girls rocked!! I came away from this day inspired by them!
Jessie and I teaching the girls the foot clap
For now, I am back in Anchorage doing the usual catch up as well as starting summer school classes. Things kick up again in two weeks for the North American Woman's Training Alliance  Camp the last two weeks of June..... wowww time flies!

Above I have posted a video from my Max Vo2 Test. This is at the end of 8 minutes of increasing vertical, so it doesn't look too glorious or great- but still fun to watch the end of. Notice Matt Whitcomb in the backcountry cheering us on. He did that for all 12 athletes, for all 5 treadmill tests. Do the math for that... and you can easily imagine he didn't have much of a voice by the end of testing period. Thanks Matt- you rock!!

Spring Time

Spring time is that one month of the year that I get to do just absolutely whatever I want. If I am burnt on ski racing... I can take up video games. If I have a need for speed.. I can pull out my alpine skis. If I am fairly motivated... I can go on adventure mode.
Having fun regardless!!
I think the mixture between my motivation at the end of the year mixed with Alaska's sweet weather this spring... combined with some well motivated friends put me in "full sadie bjornsen adventure mode". I began to plan my day's around A)getting my homework done and finishing off strong with school, B) catching up on life as far as all my taxes, thanking the people who helped me, following up on missed emails, etc C) getting in some community service work and D)adventuring.

Catching up with Sponsors- Harry and Peggy of Carlile
Failing to take advantage of my three months of sleeping in (april)... I often set my alarm for six in the morning- at which time I would jump up, grab my skis, check the weather for "crust conditions", meet up with my buddies, and head for the mountains.
Pete Kling and I with Spencer Glacier in the background
Inside of an ice tunnel up on the Glacier... one scary moment- all for the picture!!

Last year I left the season with little motivation and spent most of the month of april resting and resting my head.... which meant that I haven't gotten to see some of Alaska's greatest adventures. So... this year I had some catching up to do. Glaciers, lakes, climbs into hidden passes, animals, crevasses, you name it.... I was going to find it. Due to the pure fact that many of my buddies that were up for adventuring where male members... I was on the chase constantly.
Top of Skoocum Glacier... chasing with the boys
Some good mountains and some great sunshine
Chilly little glacier lake right there.
I had tons of fun though and even managed to fit some of the "downhill style" in as well. My boyfriend, who is a frenchi, is way into the backcountry skiing- so I took a short trip down to Valdez. I have to say- if there is one place in the world to go in your lifetime- that is Valdez!! That place is unreal, its like the "magic mountains" you see in the ski movies; the ones that you always look at and wonder where the heck those are, and if they are even real.. or photoshopped. So, after some much needed backcountry, I got to enjoy some nice turns.
Road tripping... got all the necessities for a good time! Nordic, alpine, sleeping bags and fuel!!
Driving into Valdez
Getting in some turns
"The Books" in the background... Jo's home!
The Wrangles... maybe next years adventure zone.
In the meantime, I was working hard on three separate things that were consuming most my time. First, school. After falling behind a hair bit this spring during racing- I had to work extra hard to keep my solid 4.0 status :) Somehow I managed. Only two more years and I am finally going to have my accounting degree.. yehoooo!!
Annual Beer Relays- Pete and I were Power Rangers this year.
Second, I have been working with ARISE, a non-profit organization that was incorporating an athletic lifestyle into the recesses at one of the underprivileged schools in town, Tyson Elementary. Every tuesday and thursday for four weeks, I would head to Tyson and run 20 minutes with each of the grades, K-5. It was incredible how many students would participate and enjoy the athletic lifestyle. The coolest thing about this project though was the outcome within school. Not only did the students run about 1,300 cumulative miles between the whole project, but their behavior in school increased as well. There was a 70% decrease in office referrals. It was so fun to see this effect and watch how excited these kids would get while learning to be healthy and enjoy the outdoors at the same time.
Running with one of the young boys
I look forward to participating in some more of these programs in the future. Now that I have seen the effect, and gotten to experience how neat it is to involve yourself as a leader- I look forward to more to come.
Doing an interview with one of the young girls on the team, Katja about Olympic Ski racing and what it takes to get there.
The third thing that was consuming my time was the APU Fundraiser. Each year, the Elite Team puts on an silent and live auction to raise money for our travel budget in the previous year. As always, this is a lot of work- but there are an incredible amount of generous people who participate by either donating items, and coming to the event and buying items. We had a very successful event though, so thanks to everyone for helping out and participating.
APU Fundraiser Crew
After my three week break, we hit it hard back into training last week with the APU annual start up camp. This is one week of 3 intensity sessions, 2 track workouts, lots of skiing... and about 20 hours of great fun. Depending on what you did for the past three weeks... this is either a rude awakening, or just a painful experience.
Our newest workout... ski to the top of the ridge, throw on your shoes and then run across the south faces to a new valley... fun stuff!
Erik and I mentally getting ready for the icy decent on nordic skis with no medal edges... eek!
APU ladies stoked to be back at the training again.

Following that I traveled down to Park City two days ago, where I am now doing treadmill testing along with all the other fun tests we run every spring and fall on the US Ski Team athletes. More on that to come soon!

Big THANKS to all my Supporters and Sponsors

Now that the season is coming to an end and I am looking back to review it and set new goals for next year- I want to take the chance to really thank and recognize the people that helped make it possible this year.

After being named to the National Team this year, about three months before the World Cup Season began, the US Team received a massive budget cut, cutting all funding available to B-team members for World Cup Skiing. Being determine to make things work, I set out on a search for supporters. With a knowledge that I would be spending 5 months racing at $150/day plus all air fair between venues, as well as overseas two times- I set out on a search to raise $30,000. I frantically applied for every grant I could find, and started asking for help.

I want to thank my many friends, family, supporters, sponsors, club teams, and everyone else for stepping up and generously offering your help via financial support, cheers, and/or pointing me in a new direction. The US faces a unique challenge in that we must fund our way to success. Many times this may seem tough, frustrating, and unrealistic- but at the same time I think it challenges us to develop new skills and create a family of supporters. When we get our moment of success or glory, we get to share that success with the thousands of people that got us there.

I am just at the beginning of my career, and I know that this year has only set a bar for my future. I look forward to continuing to set new goals and chase after these goals. With the Olympics only two years away now, and a recent jump in motivation among american skiing-the US has a presence on the World Cup now. We are excited to show up, mix it up, and be competitive among the European and Scandinavian countries. It truly is an exciting time.

With that, we are still faced with the same financial challenges going into next year as well- so the quest for support continues.

I want to take the time to recognize and thank some of the crucial people that made it work for me this year. First off, thanks to my home town for putting their forces together to get the 501c3 Elite Opportunity Fund running. The Methow Valley has a large amount of talent that has come from it, and I know that will only continue. With some of the best skiing in the world, and many enthusiastic athletes- it's hard to not grow up loving the sport. So thanks to everyone that either donated to this Fund, or helped put it together.

Second, thanks to my present team, APU for making it possible. I couldn't be happier with a group of people and coaches to work with every day and then show up at races with! I have a pretty unique opportunity where I get to attend school full time while racing as an elite athlete. This has taught me a great deal about time management, being flexible, and burring your head in the books while racing. It is a special thing going on at APU with an incredible amount of talent and enthusiasm. Thanks to Erik Flora for leading the charge, and getting it done!!
Rockin Support Crew!!

Third, I want to thank the US Ski Team. The support and structure that is set up for all of us athletes traveling on the World Cup is incredible. Every wax tech and coach is there to make it happen. If it means bending over ackwards to make sure you are comfortable, set for success, and prepared for everything- they will do it. Thanks guys!
Thats what success looks like! Kikkan with her Crystal Globe and the  US support Staff
Fourth, I want to thank the National Nordic Foundation. This is something the US cross country ski community has worked to put together in order to support a variety of talented athletes in the US. Starting at the J1 level, the NNF has tried to make it possible for the young incoming talent to be able to attend races in Europe for the first time. As they work up the chain, this organization has also helped me attend World Juniors and U23's for the past six years, along with many other young stars. Thanks to Dave Knoop for leading that charge and donating so much time towards helping athletes. Also a big thanks to the many people that have donated to this cause.

Fifth, I want to thank all my teammates. My US Team teammates, my APU teammates, my NAWTA teammates- all of them. Thanks for pushing me, supporting me, and being great friends. You guys rock!!
One Team among many different teams!
This fall I started working with Carlile Transportation for my headgear sponsor. Little did I know that I was being introduced into a new group of amazing, happy, enthusiastic people. It has been nothing but wonderful working with everyone over there- not to mention learning about the trucking industry around Alaska and the lower 48. I want to thank Harry McDonald for being such a generous supporter of the APU program!

Alaska Ski Education Foundation and United States Olympic Committee. Thanks for the support through Grants you provide to the athletes! Every bit truly helps!

Fischer, Salomon, Swix, Skhoop, Rudy Project, Hammer. Thanks for keeping me speedy with fast skis, comfortable boots, speedy poles, stylish clothing, speedy eyewear, and healthy!

And finally, thanks to all the wonderful people that sent support through various manners. Maybe even kind notes, cheers, or high fives. You are all wonderful people and help keep me going. I can't tell you how much it means to get a nice email after a good race, or a response to one of my blogs. I love to hear that people are out there cheering and watching. Like I said, being able to share these goals and this passion with others is what makes it so special.

With a benchmark year done and over- I am now looking forward to this next year. Next years highs will be World Championships in Val di Fiemme as well as the World Cup in Sochi. The Sochi races will be the test drive for the following Olympic Year. Exciting times to come!!

It's crazy, and maybe a bit hard to believe- but only 1 more weeks before training for next year begins. WOW!!

Fast and Female Craftsbury

Just a fun little blurb on our fast and female event in Craftsbury after spring nationals.
Article on Fast and Female

Thanks all you kiddies for coming out- we love meeting you and sharing our skills and excitement with you. Also thanks to everyone for helping put it on!

The big crew!
teaching some skiing and keeping it colorful!

Chandra sharing the secret to her speedy skills

End of the Season

In the past three weeks I have gradually been making my way closer and closer to home as I raced my body to the bottom of the fuel tank. After leaving the 30k Holmenkollen race, I headed for Dobiacco, Italy where I planned to compete in a three series OPA Finals Competition. Unfortunately I came down with the MEAN stomach bug two days out. After spending the whole night over the toilet and the following day- I decided it wouldn't be so smart to race. Sooo, instead I slept, attempted to get some food down, enjoyed the sunshine and used that loud voice of mine for some cheering. I have to say, it was pretty interesting watching some of my closest European competitors ski. Rarely do I get to see what they are skiing like- so that was sort of fun.
cheering on Erik during the races in Italy
The APU ladies team that was traveling around on OPA 

Following that I headed back to Vermont to meet up with my club team for Spring Series. Our first couple days in Vermont were more like spring vacation than anything. It was 80 degrees out and beautiful. You could literally hear the snow melt as you skid around with no shirt and shorts. It was incredible!! I even had to visit the local thrift shop for some "warm weather clothing" as my wardrobe of clothing did not exactly have "summer" in mind.
some would call this water skiing
Luckily temperatures dropped shortly afterwards, otherwise I think we would have been running our spring series races. Craftsbury has been working super hard for the entire winter farming enormous piles of man-made snow for the event, so it was hard to even tell it was summer when you were on the little magic white path through the forest.
waxing on the grass..!!

This years spring series event was made up of four races with a combined effort ending in a hill climb up the alpine hill. Following that we had our 30k skate National Championships to top off the broken body. After missing Nationals during Christmas time due to a sickness that took me down for the month- I was excited to finally get to do some domestic races. Every single race I had started this year was either a World Cup or U23 Championships.

With the certain lack of snow, all of the races throughout the week were around a 1.5k loop that managed to do a good amount of climbing. Starting with the 2.5km Prologue, I managed to finish on the podium in 3rd place. The following day was a mass start classic race, which was pretty exciting for me! Having never really excelled in mass starts, I decided to just have fun and see what happened. With two preems on the course, one at about 3k and one at 5k, I decided to sprint for the money. At the second preem I looked around realizing nobody was around me- and really went for it. Looking back I realize that was maybe a bit aggressive, but it managed to work out. At about 8km, my roommate and one of my closest friends, Rosie Brennan pulled up beside me. As she said "Sadie lets make this happen", I found a second wind and we worked together to hold off the rest of the field finishing first and second. Having never won a domestic mass start, I was pretty stoked on the race. I was even more stoked for Rosie, who had her break through race of the year!! Not only that, APU swept the podium for the day, with Holly Brooks finishing 3rd. I have to say, there is nothing more fun than sweeping the podium with your teammates- there is a unique feeling that comes with that!
APU podium sweep
Herb Swanson Photo
Jessie and I working together in Mass Start- Herb Swanson Photo
With a day off in between, the next race was a classic sprint. Qualifying 2nd, sandwiched between two of the best sprinters in the world, I was pretty stoked to finally ski some heats. Racing on World Cup all year only allowed me to ski two heats; once in Turkey and once on my last World Cup Sprint of the year. Unfortunately in my semi-finals, I got a little blocked by another skier, so went on to skiing B-finals. Still, that was about 3 more races than usual for a sprint day!
Skiing some heats alongside the dirt... don't want to get thrown off the trail on this course!!
Leading the charge w/ Kikkan

With my placing throughout the week I started the final day leading the tour, and getting chased down (rather up) by Liz, Jessie and Holly up the massive alpine slope. Having always HATED this race, I decided to just shut my brain down. Those three girls are some of the best climbers in the world, as they have proved in the final climb of the tour de ski- so as they passed me I tried to stay positive. One foot in front of the next, I managed to get myself up the hill, holding myself in 4th position for the Mini-Tour! Much better than I have ever finished in these final spring series races.

After one more rest day, it was time for the 30k skate. Having only done two 30k races  before, both classic- this was a bit of a new experience for me. With the small amount of snow left in Craftsbury, we were set to do 20 laps on the 1.5k loop. After talking with the girls, I decided that we were going to treat it like 20 victory laps in celebration of what an amazing season everyone has had this year. Right from the gun, those 20 victory laps were clearly going to hurt! Settling in with a group of 5 other strong skiers, we went around the loops hammering the big hill all 20 times, and working together to get through the deep slush. Skating has always been my weaker stroke, and especially when things start exceeding 15k. Going into the race with no huge expectations, I was pretty excited to be able to hold onto the group and finish in 9th on the day! To me, that was my own personal victory, and a great way to finish the season! With all the people out there cheering, and Craftsbury's amazing ability to keep the event possible despite the conditions- I was just so happy! Happy to be there, and happy to be done!
Working with the pack of ladies- fasterskier photo

The following day we all go dressed up in bright clothes, brought out the boom-box and stood at the top of the hill dancing and cheering for all 33 laps of the mens 50k. Another sweet finish to the season.
got to have the beats when you are cheering loud!
The cheering squad
This season has been long, but so great in so many ways. It has been amazing to be part of a team that has continuously pushed all year long. Every person on our team had an exceptional break through, and one of them even came home as the best sprinter in the world! It is an incredibly exciting time to be part of this sport as all of us are working hard to push that bar even higher! Thanks to the US Ski Team, APU and Erik Flora for steering me in the right direction and making sure we believe we can do this!
The rockin APU squad. Always kicking butt and having fun!!
This year has been a huge motivator and learning lesson for the many years ahead. With my first year on the World Cup, my first World Cup medal, my first World Cup Point, my first time to Russia and many more firsts.... this would have never been possible without the financial support of so many people that jumped in to help. The success that we all experienced this year was only possible because the people from back home jumped in and helped us work towards our goals. So thanks to everyone! You guys are all wonderful, generous people with a passion- and I am fortunate to be able to share that with you!

For now its catching up on the life that I put on hold for the past five months! Sleeping in my bed last night was amazing, but not as amazing as waking up and picking a new outfit out of my closet! Man did I miss it back here in AK.... although there seems to be about 30 times more snow here than I have seen all winter combined. I guess AK was hogging it all.

Thanks to Everyone and more updates from my spring adventures to come.


So I am currently sitting in my bed in utter complete pain as my legs ache from the most painful experience I have ever taken part in.... Holmenkollen 30k!! To give you a bit of an idea of just how today went down, I think I skid a 30k at my regular 10k pace. From the minute the gun went off, we were after it. Just like last years World Champs here in Holmenkollen, the atmosphere here is amazing.

Distributed across the course are thousands and thousands of fans just decked out in face paint, flags and anything to support their home crowd. And not to forget, along with the people are big camps set up with people dressed all funny, drinking and cooking food on the campfire. I have to say, its a smell that isn't always so pleasant to smell while you are racing- but I am more than happy to put up with it in exchange for the incredible enthusiasm these people have. What a place!! There is a reason all the Norwegians are so good- the people here are in love with the sport!!

Coming through the stadium- with a huge crowd in the bleachers behind
To back up a hair bit, Wednesday was a city sprint in Drammen, Norway- just outside of Oslo (45mins). Since they don't lay the snow down until the morning of the event, we have been staying in Oslo all week, and then we just drove over for the race day. The atmosphere there was just incredible and a little different than Holmenkollen. With the event taking place centered around a massive church and racing up and down the main street- the whole scene is a bit different. Unfortunately it was raining/snowing super hard that day, but the fans were all still out their in the plastic bags and ponchos.
The large church that sort of serves as the finish line as well as the "center" of the course.
Wet and warm in rainy Drammen!!
As I was warming up I managed to keep my head down and not really take in the environment- mostly in an effort to stay dry from the rain... and maybe a bit in an effort to focus, but right before I raced- I decided I needed to take a lap where I looked around. I was in disbelief. There was an actual band playing right along the course, along with a whole lot of excited fans. Little kids were reaching into the course in an effort to touch the athletes, people were genuinely STOKED!!

It's hard to tell, but that is in fact a stage with a band... and the ski course runs between it and the people Thanks to  Will Coleman for many of these pictures! I was much to soaked to bring my camera out.
A little glimpse of the scene
Setting the whole scene out of my head, I was able to focus and put together my best race of the season, finishing 16th in the classic sprint, and scoring my first World Cup Points ever. In the quarterfinals my race came to a sudden disappointment about 45 seconds into it when I collided with the Norwegian girl leaving us a long ways off the pack by the time we finally got our skis pointed back forward. As we raced to catch back up to the group, we gained some ground... but we had been stalled for just too long. I was a hair sad that I never got the chance to really fight as I felt so good on the day- but then again, it was my first World Cup heat ever... I had to take what I could get.
Sprinting it out with the Norwegian girl I collided with right up to the finish
In between then and today, I got the chance to meet up with some of my college buddies that are now back in Norway. I have a good friend who is still in Ak, but his family took me in last year during World Champs, having me over for dinner, giving me the tour of Oslo, washing my clothes and feeding me lots of chocolate. They did the same thing this year- which was awesome since I have been washing my clothes in the sink now for nearly a month.
Walking along the ocean with Marit Ulsund, one of my good friends who was skiing at UAA last year.
Why not laugh a little?
Which bring us to the present... Holmenkol 30k!! I went into this race with little expectations as a 30k is about twice as long as I normally call "my limit". Trying to keep an open mind though, I decided I was just going to go out there, have fun and work as hard as I could. One of the cool things about 30k's on the World Cup circuit is they have "ski exchanges" where you go through a pit and you are able to switch your skis up to three times throughout the race. This enables the athletes to have fast skis all throughout the race. I have just recently gotten an entirely new fleet of classic skis as I have been trading in and out with the world cup skis, in an effort to get some speedy skis... which has been a bit of a challenge this week since I don't know them very well.
Race prep pre-race day with the ladies... the black mamba!!
Testing some skis with the ladies the day before.
With the sun shining so hard today, the tracks switched to mush pretty quickly from the start. For the first 22k, I held a consistent speed skiing right around 32-34th place. I was definitely about 10 levels above my comfort zone for a race that long, but taking every feed I could get.. coke or gatorade, I had the feeling I was going to be able to hold it in the "hurt zone" for the remainder of the race. Unfortunately on the way out for my last lap, I switched onto a pair of skis that was much too soft for the condition.. so things got about twice as hard from there. Struggling to hold myself together, I dug deeper than ever and managed to finish in 40th place.

Ahhh yes, feeling the burn baby!!
So I can now say "I skid a world cup 30k". I would have never guessed I was going to have the opportunity to do that this year, along with many other things. Today was the completion of my world cup season, as I will head to Italy tomorrow for continental cup races. The whole journey throughout the world cup season has been awesome. The goal going into this year was to "get some experience". Experience I did, weather it was coming in nearly last place, standing on my first world cup podium, skiing the last two kilometers of a race with Martha Kristofersson, doing a sprint in the streets of Moscow, getting my first world cup point, or finishing the hardest race of my life. It all has been tough, rewarding, and sometimes beyond frustrating... but experience, I DID! Thanks to the many people that donated their support in making it possible!! You guys rock- and I have to say, I am certain I got enough motivation this year to train even harder and come back for some more!!

So, as I said- its now onto Italy where I will be racing in the OPA Cup Finals. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I will also be meeting up with a huge group of other American athletes, one being my brother- so I am really looking forward to it. Sad to leave the amazing atmosphere of Oslo, but happy to see what will come next.

Now its on to taking an ice tub to try to numb some of the "race ache"!

Lahti, Finland

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!