First Impressions

It is hard for me to even put words to my first impressions from the Olympics! I feel like there is not enough words or word combinations to explain all the sites, feelings, and experiences so far. Lets just say that when I dreamed of going to the Olympics, I wasn't imaging it could be THIS amazing! (And the racing hasn't even started yet)
Exceeding the dreams!
If I had to explain it as best as I could I would say it feels something like being a princess! Going to processing, you are handed all these clothes, jewelry, credentials, a phone, etc. It is four hours of trying on outfits, running around in your new race suits, fitting your Olympic ring, taking team photos, tailoring your "way too warm" opening ceremonies outfit, taking face shots, the list goes on. It is a day full of instructions, organization, and just pure excitement!!

Day 1: Processing in Munich
Seriously too funny!!
Day 2: Travel to Sochi. This was surprisingly easy and quick. It was a plane full of US athletes, so we took some fun pictures of the whole plane, gave a few cheers as we took off, and then made the 3 hour trip to Sochi. Last time we were here we flew in and left, both in the dark... so it was my first time actually seeing the city as we arrived. It is crazy to see the beach right there, the palm trees, the longest city in the World, and then look up into the white mountains! After arriving, we loaded all of our stuff into vans- headed to the welcoming center in the coastal village, got our credentials processed, checked our bags, and made our way up to the mountains. The drive was a lot different than last year. The roads were huge, fast, and there was no traffic to stop us. Again, amazingly quick and easy. We finished with a gondola ride up to the mountains and then arrived in the amazing Endurance Village. Smooth sailing!

The view on the way in (athlete village right there up against the water).
Arriving in the Coastal village!! (Welcoming Center)
Bags on bags!!
Driving up the road with the white mountains right there.
Multi-tasking on our Gondola ride. We all got cell phones with some credit on them to keep us in contact with all our loved ones. Our phones have this awesome ability to get close and share files... so convenient!
Since arriving, I have been constantly amazed! We arrived in our cottage fully stoked with peanut butter, Kashi products, stationary bikes, presents on our bed, coffee makers, huge comfy rooms, TV's full of Olympic coverage. (Thanks to the USOC for making sure everything is perfect) When we leave the house we are constantly greeted by incredibly helpful and friendly volunteers looking for some way to help us. The Olympic Village is unbelievable. It wasn't here last year, so that is all new and exciting. There is a cafeteria, a post office, small store, hair salon, outdoor pool, disco ball, game room... you name it, they have it! The only athletes in our village are the nordic skiers and the biathletes- so the majority of the athletes are familiar. For that reason, things feel a little more calming and familiar.

So much peanut butter- so much excitement!!
Some nice strength training on the walk to breakfast!
One beautiful walk to meals!
Soph doing some media. I am not used to so much media! 

The courses are amazing, and the weather has been incredible. It is hard to not just want to stop every five seconds and snap a photo. With Olympic Rings covering the hill, white mountains poking out of everywhere, and Olympic Spirit just busting out of everywhere... it is hard to keep your mind on your workout. Not only that- all this excitement makes you want to race around the courses in pure glee!

Testing skis and enjoying the sunshine!
so much fun to have stars and stripes in our uniform!
These past four days I have had to teach myself to regulate my energy. The first day I was so excited when I got to processing that I forgot to conserve energy... which lead to a huge bonk by the end. Then later that night my mind was so wired and excited I couldn't sleep for a full night. So, my new approach is to take everything in at a slower rate. I have to control my excitement and regulate my energy. Every bit of being here is beyond exciting! The Olympics are everything and more than I ever dreamed of! My brother said it perfectly "I knew the Olympics were going to be amazing, but nobody told me were coming to heaven for a ski race". That about sums up the whole experience so far!!

so stoked!!!!!
Our new home for the next three weeks! Soph and I have been racing together since we were 14 years old- so super fun to have lots of Sodie time! The fun part about our location is we are living in a house, so it feels like a camp atmosphere- all living together!
On another note, racing is coming quickly. I have decided to race in the Pursuit on Saturday, the first nordic event of the Olympics... so unfortunately that means missing the Opening Ceremonies. We wouldn't return from the Opening Ceremonies until 2PM... so I have decided to conserve that energy for skating up the big hills 12 hours later. I have spent the day trying to plan an opening ceremonies up in the Endurance Village for all of us that are racing the following day. My plan is to dress up in all the gear, walk the road up to the Olympic Village, and gather all the other countries. By the time we make it to the Village, we will hopefully collect a dozen countries or so... and suddenly it is our own Opening Ceremonies! Then we can watch it on the big screen over there in the Cinema! Then I will direct all the rest of my energy towards the closing ceremonies!

Missing my little buddies back in AK! I absolutely love waking up to fun little things like this!
Look how much my cheering squad has grown up :)
More updates to come soon when the racing starts!

Olympic Time

Finally, back to the world of racing!
Thanks Romney for the great Olympic Clogs!
For these past two weeks now, I have been recovering, getting back to training, throwing in some interval session, and digging out the Sadie Bjornsen in me. After being so sick, it was a bit hard to find, but I am finally chiseling off the layer of rust, and finding my grove again.
Family time!
It has been a special past 10 days! My parents were able to make their very first trip overseas, and came over to watch some of Erik's racing at u23's and then their first European World Cup. I got to have some quality time visiting, skiing, and soaking in some sunshine with them during my training camp in Seiser Alm, Italy! Erik has also been around, so it has been some great family time. (We were only missing Kaley). But it has meant the world to have them over here. After missing Christmas, and then getting the flu, I have been pretty homesick for the past month- so a case of "family time" has cured it all! I am now going into Sochi with some extra warm feelings in my heart, so nothing beats that!

A little taste of America that I have really been missing!
Books and sunshine.... good mix!
Loving every minute of Italy!
Enjoying some K's with my parents!
So much fun!
This past weekend of racing was exiting more many reasons. First, I got to finally race!! YES! It wasn't quite the weekend of racing I would have mapped out for myself leading into the games, but it was incredibly encouraging. By the end of the weekend, I found some good feelings, and one more week before the BIG FUN STUFF BEGINS! I am beyond stoked for my brother for making his first World Cup points, and just skiing amazing!! 
Watching Erik kill it on TV!
Surprise visit from my awesome boyfriend one day! So nice :)
Directly after the race, we hopped in vans and made out wary to Munich where we have spent a marathon day going through processing. Processing means picking up our uniforms, trying on 1000 outfits, getting our opening and closing ceremonies clothing fitted to us, and organizing everything. Organizing means packing an extra of everything to carry on the plane in case our bags don't make it, making sure we have nothing in our bags that have GMO in it (prohibited in Russia), loading all our old uniforms and stuff to leave behind in to our cargo van while we are at the games, etc. It is a long day of full blown excitement… and now exhaustion.
Opening and Closing Outfits
Erik preparing his walk for Opening Ceremonies
Tomorrow morning we are up early and heading to Sochi for the best adventures to come!

Eastern Block and Olympic Selection

First, I have to say, I am so excited to be officially named to the 2014 Olympic Team in Sochi! Ever since I was a young girl, I have dreamt of competing in the Olympics. I can remember telling all my classmates, my coaches throughout the years, my parents, my siblings, my friends, my sponsors, everyone! But, it is one thing to dream of going to the Olympics, and another thing to make all the sacrifices, hard training, tough decisions, and steps to get there!

The J2 years racing in Soldier Hollow
Four years ago, I dropped out of college and moved back to my home town in an effort to train my heart out to make the Vancouver Olympic Games. After giving up what felt like everything, and throwing all efforts into this dream of racing at the Olympics- I came out short. I had one of my worst years of ski racing, and lost all "fun" in the process. That same winter, I wondered if it was simply time to give up that "dream of racing in the olympics". It was at that same time that Holly Brooks and APU approached me and convinced me to give it a true try.

The APU World Cup Ladies
So, again, I went a new direction. What felt like a spontaneous and extreme decision four years ago turned out to be the best decision of my life so far! These past four years training with APU I have fallen back in love with this sport and made some huge improvements, and suddenly I am now going to be competing in this "Olympic Dream" of mine! As an athlete, there are always a million hard decisions you have to make, weeks on weeks of struggling, and and endless hardships. It is a bumpy road, but I am lucky that I have so many people in my life that keep me going. When injury seemed like it took over my existence and happiness last year, Erik Flora amazingly kept me afloat with the most positive outlook in the world! When I made the crazy decision to drop out of an NCAA supported school and transfer to APU- my parents didn't necessarily approve, but they supported my decision. There have been so many steps to get here; and it is crazy to think how each one could have worked out.

One awesome coach!
Since I was a young kid, I have had an incredible family full of love and support. My parents taught us how to work hard, how to appreciate the opportunities we get, and how to dream big. While Olympics may not have been what my parents were thinking when they told us to always reach high, but "doing our absolute best" was the real lesson. So, here Erik and I are, competing in our first Olympics together.  It has meant a lot to have Erik around all these years. Since our very first races, Kaley, Erik and I were always looking out for each other. Even if that meant blocking each other in a mass start when we were 5, 7 and 9 years old!

Kaley and Erik
We have always had a sense for each other, and how to keep each other going! So as Erik and I have followed the same path since we started competing in sports 18 years ago, it has been awesome to have a brother and friend to keep me going. Erik has an incredible sense and ability to always keep the atmosphere light, the training hard, and the spirit high. Life is about having fun for Erik; so he always has a contagious smile and hug to offer. It has been vital for me to have that constant reminder around me year around! So, as Erik and I have had similar goals over the years, it has been fun to reach the same level together. Even though we are not directly racing each other anymore; everything is still a competition for us! If he wins two National Titles, then I better win three! If I make the Olympics, then he better too! So, here we are, at an even count now. Both competing in our first Olympics together.... so who is going to win this one?
An awesome Family full of support!
He is the younger brother after all- he is supposed to be a little twerp! 
Anyways, as you can imagine, I am pretty excited for what is going to come. Last year was a ton of fun for our pre-olympic world cup in Sochi, so I am looking forward to seeing what the real show will be like this time around!

I have been recovering from a pretty bad flu virus the last two weeks, so it has been so nice to be able to train again. I wrote up a little summary of these past two weeks and the hardships for the NNF. Check it out here:
NNF Blog

Thanks to everyone for all the kind notes you have sent!! It is pretty exciting.

From here is is one more week of training up here in Seiser Alm, Italy- and then our final World Cup before the Olympics. I am already excited to get back to racing after nearly 6  months off from racing.!

16 days with 6 French Frogs

16 days of holidays and the six French boys that live in Jo’s house!! 16 days of resting, recovering, and revamping for this next period of racing. 16 days to wake up late, wash my laundry, wax my own skis, bake some cakes, skype with my family, catch up on emails, plan my next semester of school, talk to some media from back home, organize my bags. 16 days to forget I am a ski racer, and truly recover and relax. These are the 16 days I spent in Meribel, France for both Christmas and New Years.

Jo vs. Sadie. Fat vs. Skinny... the ongoing controversy :)
Snow, mountains- winter wonderland!
I have been visiting my boyfriend, Jo, now for four winters in Meribel. It has always been a special place for me, because it is a place I can release all the pressures of being a ski racer- and fully recover my mind and body. Generally I spend a week alpine skiing, eating home cooked meals, and trying to learn some French. So, when I made the decision to stay in Europe for Christmas, Meribel, and boyfriend time sounded the best!
The boys don't have an oven- so cooking happens in a toaster oven.
The Meribel Ski Club was always out on the trails, smiling and being awesome!
I got to train a few days with these enthusiastic little buddies! So nice!
The 16 days started out with a trip home form Asiago with the French Team. They were friendly and generous enough to bring me all the way to Albertville, so Jo only had to come 45 minutes to pick me up. It was so convenient and nice of them, so thanks Frenchi’s for that!

Pretty quickly after arriving, it was already Christmas; so Jo and I took off for his parents house in Hauteville, only two hours away, and had a great family holiday. It sure was different than normal, but an awesome time! We started the evening with a firework festival, and then went all the way until 3:30AM eating, drinking good red wine, and celebrating the holiday. While most of it was in French, it still felt so good to be around some family, and in a cozy home, rather than a hotel room! I learned that the holiday celebration wasn’t too different in Europe than what I was used to.
Maubet Christmas Tree
Jo letting Leo open his present for him.
Jo's mom, Diane used to ski for the US Ski Team as an alpine racer. It has made it extra special sharing everything with her because she can relate so well! Here she is rocking this year's Olympic Gloves. Our biggest French supporter!!
Christmas Day
Christmas Dinner with Jo's Family and Friends
one of our many courses of Christmas Dinner- I am proud of myself for at least trying everything!
For the next two weeks I had a great time of building back into some training, meeting some great people on the Nordic trails, making friends with the young junior team of Meribel, baking, skyping home with good internet, watching the Tour de Ski on the TV, and just relaxing!
I got to meet some of Jo's clients. Here is "Whats",  a young boy from Paris that was skiing with Jo for the week. Rocking some awesome American spirit, even my pink shades during lunch!
The nordic trails run across the alpine slope quite a bit- so I happened to run into Jo and his clients some. Here is one of the young boys from a friendly family from Paris. They are supporters of the American squad, which is always so fun to hear!
The older brother
making friends with Jo's parrot!
At times I was really struggling and having a hard time resting. Every day I would watch my teammates on the TV doing so well racing day after day. It is hard in our sport; we spend 11 months of the year pushing our bodies, our minds, and our hearts. All we know and learn is to push, push, push. So when it comes time to rest; everything is foreign to us. We aren’t familiar with the feelings, so we hate it. Not only that, aside from pushing my body in training, I am also constantly stressing my mind with school. I always have homework to be done, reading to do, and something pressing in school. My mind functions on a level of stress that I grown really familiar with. So, for the first part of this break I was going crazy and loosing my mind. Resting, and no stressful school work to get done (I had a two week Christmas break from school). It was driving me nuts!! I felt like a bump on a log! Even though I knew that was the goal... there was something terribly unsatisfying about the whole thing. But, I kept telling myself this was just as important as the actual training, and eventually I came around. By week two I started to do some intervals, and get into some more training; so life got better pretty quickly.
Watching the Tour de Ski. One Computer was delayed with the sound... so sound from one, picture from the other.
Everyone on the team is great about keeping in contact over the break. Here is a talking frog from Ida that gave me an awesome update on the extra blue skiing in Davos... and it even spoke a little French to me :)
A care package I received mid-week from Marine Dusser. American Peanut Butter!!! Awesome
Unfortunately, the last week, all six boys in Jo’s house each got some odd version of the flu. With the holiday season comes tourists and tons of sickness’s. Everyone is sick, and coughing everywhere, and germs are “flying everywhere”. I tried to calm the storm, and keep my immune system firing; but unfortunately by the end of the trip I started picking up a mild version of the flu. So after resting for what seemed like all winter; I am stuck resting a little bit more now until I get healthy.... darn!

Jo introducing me to a world of seafood!
But I have arrived safely in Czech Republic, and getting ready to hopefully be healthy enough to race this weekend. There is no snow on the ground, aside from on the tracks, so that is always funny! But the course is plenty filled, and the weather looks like there is some moisture and cold in the future. It has been so fun to re-unite with the team again! Not only that, I have been receiving some awesome care packages and presents from the US which have been awesome! Peanut Butter, American Coffee, new additions to my wardrobe... it has been awesome!! Thanks everyone for keeping me happy and going!
Stoked Selfie!! Coffee, power bars and a sweet tank top from  Kittiwake AK. Christmas of American necessities! Thanks to Zuzana for brining over and Calisa for helping organize. You guys rock!
I also am so happy to now know I have officially made the Olympic Team. The first criteria is to be top 50 on the overall World Cup standings, and I finished 25th in the distance standings- so that means I have made the first criteria. So that is so exciting, and so awesome!! I can’t even wait to see what it will feel like to walk into my first opening ceremonies, compete in the Olympic suit, hear our National Anthem when a medal is won; the whole thing!! I have been dreaming about making the Olympics sine I was a young girl, so it is so awesome to have it finally come true. There were some recent publications that came out on the local news and Alaska, and the NPR:


So now it is time to find my health, cheer on my brother back in the US at Nationals, and gear up for another block of great racing! Thanks everyone for your great notes lately congratulating me on the Olympic Team. As always, I love hearing from you all, and appreciate it so much!!

Fun fact of the Holiday. Jo takes his parrot in the shower with him, and is kind enough to ry him off afterwards!

The Highs and Lows of Period 1

I haven’t been great about blogging from weekend to weekend through Period 1 since I have spent most of my time that I am not skiing with my nose in my school books. I have two weeks off from school now, so I am finally catching up and finding some time to reflect on this past month and a half of racing in Period 1. I will take you through a couple highs and lows to give the summary of this awesome past 6 weeks!

Starting with Beito in my first race overseas, I finished with a confident place; and started to believe in myself from there. The next two weekends were full of classic skiing. The classic sprint and 5k Classic in Kuusamo, the 10k and classic leg of the relay in Lillehammer... I was having a classic dream come true. Each weekend I was finding new confidence, new belief in myself, and I was having so much fun!
NordicFocus photo
After arriving in Davos following my exciting weekend in Lillehammer filled with my first 4x5 relay medal; I was still jazzing on so much excitement and enthusiasm. I was struggling to sleep; because I just felt so excited all the time. When Erik Flora arrived on Tuesday, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I talked to him; I was still just so happy! As we skid around the courses in Davos, we caught up, and had some technique talk- I had some great AH-HA moments. We reviewed the racing, talked about where I can improve, talked about what is going well, and even came up with some new technique ideas... one of which was shortening my poles. After debating about this with Erik since three years ago when I joined his team; I finally gave in. I went and talked to the International Swix Techs, and they laughed at me. “You are using 150cm and 160cm”!!! They couldn’t believe it. So they happily cut a pair of mine down, and instantly I was in disbelief. It felt so much better! So with my new technique ideas, my new training ideas, and some new confidence from simply spending some time talking with Erik; I looked forward to the weekend of skate racing! I have been working on my skating this summer a lot; and I have started to make some improvements; so I couldn’t wait to put it to the test.
Figuring out some boot issues too- my newest boot has my name on the tag... may be spelled wrong, but it is the thought that counts!
But suddenly I came screeching into a low. When I woke up Friday morning, I had a sore throat. Not just the high altitude, dry climate sore throat; but the swollen, sick sore throat. I lay in bed for an extra ten minutes; trying to convince myself this was nothing, it would disappear if I went out and did some race prep. I haven’t been sick on the road since two years ago when I spent Nationals in Rumford on the side line as I fought off a terrible sinus infection. So, I was bummed to say the least! Not only that, I was so excited for this skate race! But what I had realized was that I was just running on too high of a “jazzed” level. I had been so stoked for three weeks, I was finishing up some very stressful finals in class, and my body just decided “ok Sadie, that’s enough mon ami”!!! As I moved out of the room, hoping to keep Ida healthy, I went across the road and spent a day in bed. On a positive note, I finished my entire Accounting Final- so I had one huge stone off my chest. Next was convincing myself to not be bummed out. Missing a race happens to everyone, and it won’t effect any outcomes if you relax and accept it. So after some good encouragement from Matt, Erik, and my teammates; I slept a night in piece, and woke up feeling so much better.
Spending some time with my good friend from home, Taylor Clayton. It was so nice seeing her, reminding me to keep things in perspective! She traveled all the way from Geneva on the train to watch me race. Sadly she got to see me stand on the side lines and get healthy instead- but still meant the world to see her on the other side of the world here!
My sore throat was gone, and I was feeling like I could have the energy to race on Sunday. Saturday consisted of another day of relaxing and sleeping, preparing for Sunday.

Sunday’s sprint turned out surprisingly well. I qualified into the heats, and went on to have a strong heat, and as I rounded the final corner setting up a good sling shot for the finishing stretch; I slipped on the ice and went down all too quickly. I got up, and skid into the finish bummed.... that was so close! I took ten minutes of frustration, and then moved on; many more healthy skate sprints to come! And with excitement, I watched three of my teammates qualify into the semi’s!! Sophie even went on to get 9th, her first top ten, on a tough course with a fully stacked field; INCREDIBLE and so exciting!!
Bryan Fish photo
So last week I spent the week trying to get healthy. After racing Sunday, my nose started running, and the sickness set in a little more. I took some days off, tried to really rest up, and I went into this weekend feeling healthy just in the nick of time! Friday morning I woke up without the usual congestion; and I knew I was set for another weekend of classic... yes!!
Doing some race prep as a team on Friday- Austin Caldwell photo
We wish it was actually snowing!!!
Soph and I are really trying to work on our lunges. This is us listening and really trying to understand as Matt explains lunges are more simple than you imagine!
This weekends world cup’s were held in Asiago, Italy. As we drove into town at night, and the city was surrounded with Christmas lights, and Christmas spirit, I instantly felt at home. I had this breath of “familiar feelings”. The holiday spirit just got me so excited and so happy! It turned out to be a wet and warm weekend! With temperatures far above freezing, the little white path of snow along the town park quickly became brown! By the end of the weekend it was much more dirt then there was snow!

I may not have a Christmas tree this year- but Asiago had one for me! Austin Caldwell photo
The streets were closed in the evening for walking, shopping and celebrating!
The view from Sophie and my balcony!
Saturday was the individual sprint, which went well. I qualified in 5th; and went on to finish 16th. I was a little disappointed to not make it into the semi’s- but this period has been a good learning curve for me! Each weekend, I get a little bit better at skiing heats. I hold my own a little more, I find some holes to move through the pack a little more, and I learn where I am loosing time on everyone! The cool news is I know I have the speed; now I just have to learn to apply it in the chaos! But it is coming!
Franco Sella photo
Getting ready for the start. Austin photo
Who said you were allowed to smile!!!???
The perfect example of a typical 90 degree corner on this course... keep your cool... and be the first one to the corner! Salomon photo
Sunday was the exciting part, the Team Sprint. I have always loved team sprinting because of its combination of endurance and sprinting skills. It is this hybrid race that has become one of my favorite events! US put two teams on the start line, both of which were in the fight for a medal all through the semi’s and finals- which was so exciting!! We put on our relay socks, fought hard, and came away super happy with a 5th and 8th place. We know we are within striking distance, and all we needed was the hope!!
Ida and I rocking the relay socks! Austin photo
We actually spent most of the race skiing with each other!
Trying to find the fastest snow... often not in the tracks! Austin photo
Both teams racing hard and in the mix- so awesome!! Austin photo

 I wrote a little “play by play” story on the National Nordic Foundation website; so be sure to go check it out. Here is the first scene of my story- be sure to visit National Nordic Foundation to see the full story! Just click on the blue, and it should take you there!

Scene 1- Preparation

Act 1: In Asiago, it all started with a 6 AM wake up call. Races were held early in Italy because of the warm temperatures and the quickly melting snow. This meant that techs were waking up at 4:45AM to start preparing and testing in the dark!! Yikes! A 6AM race morning means that I need to start my day with a cup of American Coffee to truly wake me up for a relay day!
An early and dark morning in the stadium- NordicFocus photo
Act 2: Head over to the venue, gather my equipment and start testing with my tech, Randy Gibbs. Last night they decided to salt the course, which means that the tracks are a mix of icy and soaking wet in the tracks. This means that I need to pick a ski that doesn’t grab on the ice, but also kicks when I have to jump in the tracks. Randy helps me dial this down, adjusting a few things here in there; always in the same calming voice reminding me that it will work! I pick my skis, hand them off to him, and head out to finish my warm-up
Randy, keeping his cool, and helping me get the very best skis! Eli Brown photo
Act 3: I do my final hot laps around the course making sure I am fully warmed up. I try some practice exchanges with Kikkan, visualize some places to go around people, and find places on the course to make moves. I look for best line out of the stadium, find the places on the course that the snow is still icy, and dial my entrances into the 180 degree corners.

coming in hot to an exchange. Austin photo
So pumped and proud of my teammates!! Austin photo
I have now arrived in France, where I will be spending two weeks resting and recharging for the rest of the season. I will get to spend Christmas with my boyfriend and his family here, so my first holiday away from home will hopefully feel like home! Just like the Methow, there is not much snow here.... so it is starting familier!

Happy Holidays to everyone and thanks for following and sending so many encouraging emails this past 6 weeks! They have meant to world. I wish you the best warm wishes through the holiday! 

The Power to BELIEVE

I am just closing in on a Sunday night from the most exciting weekend of being part of the World Cup so far: An individual 7thplace in the 10k classic and then a World Cup Podium in the 4x5km. I stood on the podium once before with Kikkan three long years ago, but it sure was fun to jump up there again today with three other teammates!
Taking a turn in the leaders chair after the 10k race!!
It’s funny to travel on the World Cup- you can so easily go from cloud nine, to swimming in the dirt, and then back up to cloud nine in a heart beat. With 70+ of the very best girls in the world showing up every weekend ready to win- there is little room to “falter”. This season I have been fortunate enough to start on a high, but I also have to remember all the various ups and downs that come with the game! I distinctly remember just two years ago finishing the sprint qualifier in Kuusamo around 5th to last and simply not understanding HOW I could have gone so much slower than everyone else. I truly felt like I was flying! Now, two years later, it feels like the opposite. How could I have gone that fast?? It didn’t seem possible! In those two years though, there is one thing that has really changed, and that is the power of belief!
Nordic Focus photo
NordicFocus Photo- 10k Classic in Lillehammer
Enjoying some incredible sunshine and skiing!!!!
Three weeks ago when I arrived in Europe- I felt like I had arrived in a car going 150mph and I was trying to make a tight turn ahead! I had a great season of training, I finally made some ground on my injuries, I was healthy, I was stoked to be back with my teammates…. but four days into my trip, I had the most challenging homework assignment of my life due for my Seminar in my Taxation course. As I looked down at the 6 pages of information that I needed to use in order to fill out a 1040 for a family with an un-usual amount of challenging “business” going on, a feeling of fear and overwhelming uncertainly flushed through me.
Following one of the best skiers in the world! Matt Whitcomb photo
How on earth was I even going to start this problem? My professor warned me, “This is going to take you upwards of 20 hours, and you are going to struggle- but it is 50% of your grade, so very important”. Well, yes, that was in fact true. For hours I looked at these problems- “No seriously, where do I even start”? This was an ever so familiar feeling- a feeling I felt two years ago when I saw the results sheet in Kuusamo. Overwhelming intimidation- “Where do I even start”? After hours of pondering and frustration that third day in Europe, I was ready to throw in the towel. Write to my professor and explain to him, “I am sorry- this is just too difficult. I can’t do this much school when I am doing what I am doing”. But with some unknown ability,Kikkan somehow started sensing my dwindling belief. She cornered me and explained “You can do this. If you are struggling, you have to imagine your classmates are as well. Just do what you can do now, and I am sure you are doing better than you think”. Again, some familiar advice I had heard before from her. The same advice she reminded me of in Kuusamo two years ago. “Sadie, it takes dozens of tries before it starts working out”. And like myself, others had done the same; tried and tried before they had gotten some positive feedback. I wasn’t the first and only one crossing the line in my first World Cup’s wondering “how will I ever get there”. I knew though- in order to ever get there- I was going to have to believe in it. I was going to have to accept and recognize that success never comes instantly- but it is something that is learned. So like my 1040 that I first looked at in utter fear, after hours of patience and belief, it came together! My family even walked away with a $3000 refund!
Bronze Medal!! NordicFocus photo
I have to say it is nothing but rewarding, exciting, and amazing to finish a weekend having PR’s! In the past two years, I have had many bumps. I have been so injured I was ready to give up skiing all together- but belief has incredible power. It is the power that has brought the US girls to not one, but now two podiums in the relay. It is the power that has allowed our team to walk onto the start line and fight. It is the power that made history today when we put two US woman’s teams on the line for the start of a relay! It is incredible stuff- and I am just so happy I get to be part of it. But most importantly, I am stoked to be part of a team with people like Kikkan, constantly reminding you to truly believe!

So thanks to Lillehammer for making one heck of an exciting weekend! Now we are off to Davos for a weekend of skate skiing and sunshine!
USSA photo
Wahoooo!! NordicFocus Photo
8 girls starting a relay!!! Most exciting part of this day!
for more photos and news go to

Click for an awesome compilation of the races on Sunday

Video From Relay

Ruka Triple!

WOW! A lot of exciting stuff has happened in the past two weeks since arriving in Europe! I turned 24, I finished my first 1040 for a family in my tax class, I tried 6 different kinds of Brown Cheese, I had a Thanksgiving dinner on November 22 when we had a kitchen, I met up with a lot of my World Cup buddies that I haven't seen since last spring, Newell turned 30, Noah Hoffman WON a world cup, I got my first top ten in a distance race, the christmas music has started, and I got chased by a reindeer! A solid two weeks filled with a ton of excitement!!

An awesome birthday spent with the best teammates! Noah picture
The first week overseas we spent in Beitestolen, Norway. I raced there three years ago when I was preparing for my very first World Championships, so I have always thought of Beito as a memorable special spot. It is where all this "fun madness" began! It was a great week of staying in little apartments, cooking our own meals, and adjusting to the time. It was fun to catch up with Astrid, who came and trained with us this summer. She has introduced us to the rest of the Norwegian ladies, so it has been fun to get to know them. We had a "Night Snack" party with them one evening, a popular thing for Norwegians, which was both fun and delicious. I love confirming that all the hero's I grew up looking up to are human, friendly, and awesome!
pink on pink! Enjoying some beautiful weather in Beito. Holly photo
After adjusting to the time zone for a few days, we had some practice/warm up races. 10k Classic and Skate Sprint. It was fun to get used to the nerves, the excitement, the ski selection, and all the fun business that goes along with racing. It was a fun weekend, and helped me feel a little bit better entering into my first week of World Cup racing.

Night Snack with the Norwegian girlies
Early this week we flew up North where the sun doesn't rise until nine, but then proceeds to set around 2PM! The last time I was in Kuusamo, two years ago, I left intimidated and hating the "hills" of Kuusamo. They were steeper than anything I had skid before, and I just didn't know how to move up them. I was excited to take them on again this year, but I didn't have many expectations. Aside from being stoked about a 5k classic in the World Cup schedule, I was just looking forward to a true "challenge".

Right from the start, things went better than expected. Somehow I qualified third in the sprint the first day. As I watched the video from last years sprint one of the first days I arrived in Ruka, I spent the next four days trying to envision how I was going to manage to get my limbs to move as fast as those girls were. With a massive steep climb leading back up to the stadium, I knew I was going to have to wrap my mind around "moving quick". Of course the goal is always to move quick, but these girls were moving about ten speeds faster than quick!

Serious pain face in the qualifier- NordicFocus photo
Well somehow it worked out. I went on to race in the heats, and walked away a little disappointed. Having only skid three Classic World Cup heats before, I am still learning how to ski relaxed in the pack, where to find holes, and simply how to do it. So, I got one more chance to practice, and already I am looking forward to another try!

Racing in some heats- FIS photo
The following day I had my favorite, the 5k Classic. Again, things went a little better than expected. As  I struggled to get my head into the race the first kilometer with all the darkness, and quiet, all of a sudden I heard in my head, "Gooo Sadie". I heard this loud cracking voice, the voice I love, my mom's voice coming out of the woods. It was so crazy. There was a group of kids from Northern Michigan out there cheering, and maybe it was them, but I heard my moms voice- and suddenly I was in the game. So for the next 4k I hammered out my best race ever, a 7th!

Nordic Focus photo
Today was the final day of the Ruka Triple, a pursuit style start, 10k skate. Again intimidated by the "walls" otherwise know as climbs, I went into today ready to conquer Everest. It was a challenging day, but also REALLY fun. I got an idea of how the best girls are skating, and I even was able to jump in behind them a bit. I managed to hold on to 17th until the end; which I was happy about. But more importantly, some of my other teammates had some crazy performances. First, Kikkan held on to 5th place for the tour, and then both her, Jessie, and Liz all skid top ten on the day!! But what else, NOAH HOFFMAN WON A WORLD CUP TODAY! I think our team is all still in shock, but Noah skid an incredibly smart and strong race today, skiing all the way up to 9th place and posting the fastest time of the day. I am so stoked for him. I have always believed this was coming... it was just when! So huge congrats to Hoff- I think our team is going to be running on that excitement all the way up until next weeks races in Lillehammer, Norway!

The last time I came to Kuusamo two years ago! Thanks to Randy Gibbs for all the hard work and some incredible skis these past two weeks!!

A sweet video that Marcel Hilger put together:

Aside from all the ski racing, I have been having a great time in both Finland and Norway. It has been so nice to get back over here, get in the grove of being a ski racer, and being part of the traveling circus. Both weeks we have been staying in cabins, so it has been warm and cozy- which helps a lot. On thanksgiving I was really missing both my family and West Yellowstone- but skype did a great number!
Sarah Willis taking some fun photos of the TV
Tomorrow we will travel to Lillehammer where next weekends World Cups of Relay racing and 10k Classic will take place. I have never raced in Lillehammer, so I am really looking forward to skiing in the famous Olympic Stadium! Since I was a young girl, our family has had one of Sean McCabes paintings hanging on the wall from the Olympics in Lillehammer; so in another way, it is also a special place because of that! Some more excitement to come!

A special memory! The painting from our wall!

The Final Countdown

4 more days and counting down... it is coming to the last bit. For the past three weeks I have been in Alaska, doing my final preparation for the season. As usual, we were lucky enough to come home from Park City Camp to snow and skiing up at Hatchers Pass. While it may be dark and cold in Alaska- we always have skiing up here!!! Ed Strabel has been doing an incredible job of grooming, with a new addition to the course this year called, "Sochi Hill".
A cold morning after a time trial- Becca Photo
Kikkan staying warm in some early morning cold winds!!
Reese and Peter
Lauren-- ready for a good season!!
Our first few weeks in town were recovering from Park City Camp, so we spent long hours up on the snow getting used to the feelings of snow and long skis again. With nearly 5km of groomed trails, it made for some awesome mornings of catching the sun rise and enjoying the snow!
Erik and I with our Wax Ring Prize after our win in one of the time trails.
The combination of snow in the mountains, and dry grounds in Anchorage made it awesome for the transition of training. This meant we could spend afternoons roller skiing or running combined with a morning of skiing. NOT TOO BAD!!!
Rosie soaking in some "happy light" and studying at the same time.
I have been staying busier than usual with school and last minute things before I leave for winter. The new block of 7 week classes started right when I got back from Park City, so I entered into a high level accounting class and another course, Seminar in Taxation. Reading 100 pages a day of Accounting and dry tax codes has become my daily routine. With these long days of driving out to Hatchers and back, I have been forced to travel with the head lamp text book for the long van rides. I have to say, it is an interesting switch to spend 2 hours thinking about technique and fitness; and then shift over to thinking about itemized deductions, inventory valuation, and fun stuff like that! I just keep telling myself; just like it is my final push of training before the season... it is my final push on my education (hopefully done next summer). At the same time, it is this incredibly entertaining challenge to understand tax codes!! Those are some fun facts to name off to your ski buddies, hehehehe.
My weirdo Halloween Pumpkin
A couple weekends ago, during Halloween week, our team put on a "Fund Run" to raise funds for the Alaska Winter Olympians Foundation and the National Nordic Foundation; both huge supporters of my ski racing. It was so fun to see everyone get dressed up and come out and run! Thanks to everyone who came and participated.
Johnna the superwoman! 
Fitz, the Viking!
Jo ran his first 5k in a fur jacket!! Hilarious!! Charlie Photo
In honor of my spirit animal, and my very favorite animal- I was the Frog! Charlie Photo

That same week we had a Fast and Female in Anchorage- here I am teaching a young girl how to DP
One of my favorite little girls, Maya!
On that same note, it is the final five days of the Drive for 25. I haven't come near my goal for the year of fundraising. If you are reading this, please consider donating $25. It makes a huge difference for all of us involved today. We all benefit from the support of this organization. They are the ones that are fronting the bills of getting the coaches and support crew over there; they are paying for several weekends of my racing, they are getting the juniors overseas so the parents aren't having to pay it all; they are the ones making it possible. The cool thing is they operate solely on the support of the community. What that means is that our community gets our racers THERE! Everyone signing up to donate $25 is making our job possible!! So thank you if you have already participated, and please consider if you haven't. Here is the easy link to my page:
It is my goal to get three more donations by thursday when I leave!
I had an appointment with Zuzana on Halloween. For the day I was getting worked on by "Kikkan Randall". It wasn't as scary as I expected ;)
Last night it snowed a whole ton, maybe close to a foot, so the skiing has finally come to us in Anchorage just in time!!

Thanks to everyone who has sent notes wishing me luck lately. It is going to be a very exciting season! A lot of fun stuff is happening this year. For the first time, I will be spending my entire winter in Europe, so I won't be coming back for Christmas. So keep the emails coming; it keeps me going. I really appreciate all the cheers and words!
Saying goodbye to my favorite little babysitting buddy, Molly!! I am going to miss these little guys!
4 more days and I am on a plane for Beitestolen Norway, first stop on our tour!
Erik and I at the BP Sponsored Sochi Send Off- Rob Whitney Photo

Park City

The first week of camp is completed here in Park City, and already we have fit in a whirlwind of activities.
USSA photo
Before camp started, I had a few days of acclimation followed by a weekend full of Fast and Female events and some family time with my cousin and uncle.

The Fast and Female went really well! We had a record number of Park City participants, 130 little girls! It was great fun!
The group of Fast and Female Ambassadors
My little cousin from Jackson, who has started to do really well in Alpine skiing was planning to come down for the F&F, but unfortunately she got sick. My uncle and cousin still made the trek over, so it was so great to catch up with some more Bjornsen's! I can't wait until they are old enough that they too will likely be racing on the US Team!
My uncle Jeff and little cousin
A little mini Bjornsen
Haakin checking out the Center of Excellence
After a couple days of adjusting, the actual camp started at the beginning of this week.

US Ski Team girls- taken from
Monday started with a collection of all types of testing. Treadmill testing, strength testing, mobility testing, body comp, blood tests and HB mass. Everything! I haven't done treadmill testing now for 1.5 years because of injury, so I was actually excited to jump on and go to the hurt zone. Nothing has changed though. You get on, breath through an uncomfortable tube, push yourself to extreme limits... chasing that finish line that never seems to come. At some point, you legs just can't hold on any longer, and you fall down in exhaustion, only to be caught by the harness before you go shooting off the back. Good fun! Especially after your buddies send you a youtube video of "treadmill gone wrong"...

Some good Treadmill testing

Going to the real hurt zone!
Doing some squat testing
Chad, our awesome Sports Science guy who decided nordic is best! :)
Eventually after getting all of our tests taken care of, we got back into the real training camp business. The weather has been a real collection... t-shirts and shorts to full on snow storms! The usual fall in Park City.
Soph and I stoked about an awesome meal our teammates made us! (HB photo)
Some Skate Threshold training out at Soldier Hollow. Matt Whitcomb photo
some sweet training happening here! (ussa photo)
It has been so fun to have our full team together, setting goals and looking ahead into the winter!
The US Ski Team... dressed up!
I finally got to join the team for an OD yesterday with a ski up East Canyon followed by a run in the mountains! It was so fun to finally be able to join! A huge shout out to our PT, Zuzana Rogers who has traveled down to Park City with us for this first week to help keep us healthy and get to know the team more. She has been a huge help, she even came up this morning for a Sunday morning therapy in our house!! She is incredible!
An army of bright skiers hitting the road. (Zuzana photo)
Headed up the hill.
Nearing the top of East Canyon (Zuzana photo)
The bright group headed through hunting zone! (Zuzana photo)
Next week is a week full of more speed, more distance, and a Sprint TT on Tuesday. It should be good fun!
Zuzana doing some great morning therapy!

10 Favorite Days of Fall

Fall is here in FULL FORCE here in Alaska. The past five weeks of my life have been consumed by school and training here in Alaska. As the days start to get shorter, and the mornings start to feel cooler; the feeling of winter and racing is truly coming. I have also been fully engulfed in studies for the past five weeks... so life is at its busiest! In order to give a little catch up on my past month, I am going to give you a little glimpse into my 10 favorite workouts of this fall.

1. SNOW DAY- September 23 I woke up, pulled the blinds in my room to find a snow storm. It was crazy to see the snow so early, but I was more than excited since it had been 40 degrees and freezing rain for the past month. So the answer- Jo and I jumped in my two wheel drive Toyota Matrix and drove to the highest point of access in Anchorage. After the third attempt on the final steep climb to the parking lot... my car managed to maneuver through the 5 inches of snow covering the road. We headed up to the top of Bear Valley and hiked into the storm. By the top it was nearly a foot deep and blowing like crazy. Even though it was September, it was fun to jump around in the snow and get a fun reminder that the season is in fact approaching quickly!

2. OD (over-distance) BIKING- This fall, I finally made my very first bike purchase. I was given an old road bike from a friend of mine that I have been using for the past two years. It is brand-less, three sizes too large for me- and I learned midway through the summer the welds were coming apart on the frame. After choosing to no longer take on the danger, I spent a week searching around Anchorage for what to get. I eventually came across Chain Reaction, who did a great job of finding a bike perfect for me. After a great deal of adjusting, and setting it to not hurt my back; I came away with an awesome bike! I have been putting it to great use this past month. Rosie and I have been adventuring everyone in Anchorage. From new neighborhoods in some of the highest points of the hillside, to our favorite street "Klatt" with hidden beautiful airstrips. It has been tons of fun to see new areas of Anchorage while training! With so much rain, the second it becomes dry, you have to jump at the opportunity!
Even Rosie is stoked about my new bike!
Keeping a bike safe in the ski house means keeping it on the ceiling!
On top of the mountains!
3. Kincaid Moose Hatchery- I have also been spending some time getting to know the mountain bike trails at Kincaid. This is the first year I have used my mountain bike in the four years I have been in Anchorage- and my favorite place to go is Kincaid. The trails are awesome and weave in and out of the winter nordic trails. The only problem is you have to fight the moose along the way. Not to mention, this is the time of year the bull moose are trying to collect their female companions... so everyone just gets a little crazy. One day we ran into 6 moose in 2 hours... all of which forced us to go running and biking as hard as we could in the opposite direction. Never a dull moment at Kincaid Moose Hatchery!
Taking a break from Kincaid Moose Hatchery for a ride up to the top of Powerline Pass
4. Bounding Intervals- I am happy to say I am finally getting to do some bounding intervals! Having skipped them for a year, I have been having a ball getting back into some of our classic APU interval courses. One of my favorite- backwards spencer up at Hillside.
Keeping my feet healthy every day with ice-cold combination!
5. Team Distance Sessions- Some of my favorite distance sessions this year have been the trek from the ocean up to the hills. We have been getting some good work climbing, and nothing makes it better than a group of 6 girls working together and having fun in the daily rain training!
Thanks Finnsisu for keeping me safe with new wheels! Getting some k's!
Skiing with the ladies- Rob Whitney photo
6. Tuesday Night Races- 1000 participants showing up for the weekly Tuesday Night races! I love the excitement and athletic community of Anchorage. What a place to grow up in!

7. Biking with my buddies- I have been spending lots of time with the little kiddies that I have been babysitting for the past four years. They are starting to turn into quite the little bikers, so nothing is better than cruising around the coastal trail with these little guys!

8. Healthy Futures Jamborees- Yesterday I helped warm up all the k-6 graders that participated in the South Anchorage Jamboree. There was 1300 little children that showed up! I couldn't believe how many kids were involved. The race was broken into 6 different races for various age groups and genders. Ten minutes before each race we would warm up the kids with lots of fun dancing, jumping and stretching. For one of the last races, I got to join a young boy around the course for a unique experience. Ryan is a fifth grader, and had a stroke when he was 1 year old. He was determine to participate, and made his way around the 1/2 mile course full of rocks and hills with his walker. As he crossed the finish line, and the crowd screamed and encouraged him on, I started to choke up. This young boy reminded me of some important things that are easy to forget. As he worked around the course with a huge smile and a determine heart- it made me think about how he had gotten there. He obviously had some wonderful parents that taught him even though he wasn't handed the same deck of cards as everyone else- he was going to live life to the fullest. It was just incredible to see how much heart this young boy had! I came away from my walk with Ryan with a great reminder that the glass is not half empty, but half full! Many times we go to these events to be role models in teaching young children to be healthy; but I came away from this event with a reminder myself! So thank you Ryan for showing me just how much heart everyone has! And thank you mom and dad for being great role-models to me, teaching me how to appreciate each and every day!

9. Lap Swimming- with all the rain this past month- sometimes you have to just switch things up and stay indoors. I generally divide this between lap swimming and stationary biking. I have been enjoying swimming though- it is bringing back some good memories from my younger years.
Rosie making indoor biking manageable
creative indoor activities- training Jo while training myself :)
10. Time Trials- We have only had one time trial this fall- but it is always nice to break up your tough training with a "real life" training. In other words, remember how to warm up for a race. Remember how to put your mind in the frame of a race; and remember how to find that extra gear you don't always reach in training.
Keeping it exciting!
Mixing it up!
These ten training days have described what I have mostly been up to for the past five weeks! Busy as ever- I am looking forward to my next coming block of training. On tuesday I head to Park City for our final National Team Training Camp and altitude training block! I can't wait to meet up with all my teammates and have some group training and hopefully a little less moisture!