Work Hard, Play Hard

After four weeks of working really hard at finishing summer school, and training my butt off- I got to have the little "play hard" break at home with my family last week. I was in the Methow for only five days earlier this summer, so it was great to be able to sneak another one week break down to the valley. It never seems like enough, but it sure does keep me going!

Love seeing these guys!!
Home, sweet home!
Playing hard in the Methow is always a little different each time. This past week I spent a lot more time in the mountains than I have in a while- and quickly fell back in love with the valley. My parents and I headed up to the North Cascades one day to a familiar childhood mountain pass trail. I found it amazing how even just the smells in the mountains remind me of my childhood and so many good memories! I really am convinced the small valley that I grew up in offers some of the best training in the world for a Cross Country Skier!
Running with Dad
I'm on top of the world, hey!
Mom and Dad, looking over Glacier Peak
The thing I appreciate most about my dad- he always has a smile on his face!! He works harder than anyone I know, and at the end of the day, he will always be smiling!!
There are some awesome trails in these mountains!
Spending summers in Alaska for the past four years means that I have lost a great deal of heat tolerance. I used to make fun of the Alaskans who came down to the lower 48 for camps and were affected by heat exhaustion when it was only mid 80's…. had they never been in the heat before? Well…. to my surprise, I have developed this problem myself. As I headed out on the roads for roller skiing in this last week  - I found myself drowning in heat, always needing to finish my workout at some body of cold water. A few sun bumps later… I managed to survive, and hopefully worked on getting my tolerance back.
Diving into a snow melted lake after a long run.
Warm times on the road with the best training partner!! (MVSTA photo)
Looking out over the valley.

This summer has been a unique and devastating one for the Methow Valley. It all started with a small fire started by lighting, and developed into a massive fire, taking down 300 houses, putting the power out for nearly two weeks, and devastating many of the wonderful families of the Methow Valley. The "poor luck" continued as new fires started with new storms, ten more houses burned down, more storms, mud slides, more storms, more small fires, more storms, houses washing down the river…. one thing after another. Suddenly a town that thrives on the business that summer tourists bring is put in a state of need. Wonderful families are left with no homes, no belongings, and even houses covered in mud. It was heartbreaking to drive into the valley and see the miles and miles of burnt property, sometimes, just chimneys standing on the property. What I have concluded is that someone from above is testing this small valley. While it is a time of challenge, it was nice to see how the valley has come together and helped each other! As I told some of my family friends who lost their home; someone from above is throwing lemons down at you, testing how many you can stuff in your bra and keep running. Hopefully they will catch a break, and they will be able to recover from such a tough one!

One of my close friends from growing up, Hillary Ketchum, had the cutest little baby boy. Kaley and I dressed him up in pink undies just so he can hate us when he gets older and looks at the pics :)
Spending some time with Rita Kenny, the owner of Winthrop Mountain Sports, the local sports star. This woman has been wonderful to our family since the very first time I bought a pair of skis. It is safe to say she has taught me nearly everything I know about cross country skis! We love her!

I am headed back to Alaska now for one more training chunk before our final National Team camp in Park City before the season starts. As I start making Christmas plans, thinking about racing schedules; I can't believe the summer has already flown by. It has been an amazing one- but I can't say I am ready for the chilly mornings to start coming! I guess that is part of it though- time will always fly!
Playing dress up with my Grandma! Wish I could see all my family more, but any amount is amazing!! 
(Reese Hanneman photo)
On another note, I am really excited to announce I will be racing on Fischer Boots, so the Fischer Complete Package next year!!

Summer on!

Somehow this Alaskan summer just keeps summering on!! Normally when I think about summer in Alaska I think of missing the warmth, I think of training hard, and I think of avoiding the rain. Not this summer!!! The amazing weather, the fun training, and the fresh atmosphere just keeps coming!! I have had another "best ever month" here in Alaska. Best month of training, best month of fun, and best month of just living the life!

who knew you could sun bath in Alaska?
Don teaching Celine a geography lesson.
Enjoying the midnight sun with my fine new teammates!
Backtrack to getting off my first glacier camp of the summer a few weeks back, and jumping into the full swing of July 4th in Seward. With temperatures up in the 80's, Mount Marathon was going to be more challenging than ever. Having never made it more than 100 meters up the Mount Marathon track... I didn't really appreciate what this "hot weather threat" really meant. So, this year I finally made my way up the mountain for the first time. I was in disbelief!! Suddenly I had 100 times the respect for those racers than ever! Not only was it incredibly technical and crazy going both up and down- but the strength of the sun on the side of this bare mountain was unmeasurable! As I lay there between the mens and woman's race constantly re-applying as much sun screen as possible and saving my water to poor on the racers, I thought I was going to turn into a raisin! Holy, heat!! Congrats to awesome races by my teammates Lauren and Holly, and of course the amazing Erik Strabel!!

Saved by the cool water! (Sarah Cresap Photo)
Happy Birthday America
Land of the midnight sun, and the midnight swimming! (Lauren Fritz photo)
Exploring Lost Lake with the ladies
Enjoying time with the greatest two people! Greta and Corey
One great camping spot right there!
Headed up the roots at the bottom of the mountain.
Jessie leading the Frenchi's and Norwegians up the way.

roasting and toasting on the side of the mountain.
Beauty from above!
Racers cover the whole span of this picture in approximately 3 seconds..... controlled fall I call it.

With one week to rest and rejuvenate from our first glacier camp, we were back at it for the annual North American Womans Training Alliance Camp. This year our mystery international guest was Celine Brun-Lie from the Norwegian National Team. Celine has been a good friend of the American Team for the past couple of years after she took in Liz Stephen last summer when Liz went to join the Norwegians for a camp. Ever since, we have been encouraging her to come join us. So, a few months back, she jumped on board the ship and booked her ticket. She has been staying with me for the past three weeks of camp, so it has been fun and awesome getting to know her. We learned that we have more than a few things in common- with our similar training approach and 'need to keep this fun'. I think we both learned a lot from each other. Many of our afternoons of training we spent talking about the team atmosphere, the personalities of different Norwegian stars, our academic goals, and our life outside of ski racing. Meanwhile I also had a French Biathlon National Team guest visiting at the same time, Marine Bolliet. Between Marine, Celine and I... it was an international mixing pot of ideas and laughter!
Spending some time with the biathletes
Celine Brun-Lie! (Chris Hodel photo)
So our NAWTA Camp began with the usual first week of dryland camp in town. We were blessed by the weather gods as usual... with lots of amazing days of skiing in our tank tops and soaking in sunshine. We had one amazing day of rollerskiing up Hatchers Pass, a few days of running in the mountains, and one hard day of intervals around backwards Spencer (our 30k race course from nationals).
A beautiful day to make a trek up Hatcher Pass!
When your watch tells you this at the end of your workout... you know you have had a good day of training!
Introducing Celine to the world of aqua training! She busted out 1 kilometer like it was nothing!
It's great to follow Celine and watch how she moves so effortlessly! (Matt Whitcomb photo)
Smiles post skate threshold training! (Matt Whitcomb photo)
From there, we headed to Girdwood, waiting for the helicopter hop up to Eagle Glacier for the second week of training. As usual, the day of flying to Eagle quickly clouded over. Weather moved in, and we were forced to wait for an opening. As Deb Essex of Alpine Air kept us finely entertained, around 9PM an opening appeared. I jumped on the first trip up, and we made our usual trek up the valley, up over the ridge, and then suddenly, it was clouded over! So, the pilot ,Andy, did the next best thing, dropping us in a clump at the bottom of the glacier. Erik Flora came racing down glacier on his snowmobile, probing a little circle for us to stand on, and left us there to wait. by 10PM, the weather cleared out, and we could see the building about two miles above us. The remaining three helicopter loads were dropped at the building as we waited for a jump back up. Trying to keep warm, the six of us turned on some music, and had ourselves a little Eagle Glacier dance party. It was hilarious! By 10:30PM, Erik headed back down glacier in the Pistenbully to pick us up. Not the normal entrance into Eagle Glacier, but a good one to remember!

hanging out in the Alpine Air hanger for the weather to clear.

A quick glance at how many layers I was wearing on the side of the freezing glacier... maybe 10?
Rosie and I trying to stay warm! (Lauren Fritz photo)
From there, it was another great week of training. Weather wasn't great, but I always think that is a blessing! It keeps us from getting soft. Life isn't allowed to be too plush on Eagle Glacier.... I mean we are training on a Glacier only 45 minutes from Anchorage, in July!! It can't get too good to be true! The final couple days it warmed up, and we were able to do a few afternoon workouts in our shorts and sports bras! The warmer conditions all week and 'lack of clearing overnight' left the snow softer than ever. I think it is safe to say we got some good practice in what our coach likes to call "Championship Day", otherwise known as the most challenging conditions in the world to ski in. I often just refer to it as mashed potatoes. The kind of skiing where you feel like you are sinking and working harder than ever just to keep moving! But the true story is- it is actually great practice!

Things can get a little bit messy up there..... sticky! (Lauren Fritz photo)
SODIE special
Thanks to these two awesome people! Zuzana Rodgers, the best physio in the world, and Erik Flora, the best coach in the world! (Zuzana Rodgers photo)
Pushing hard on an interval day at the end of the camp. (Matt Whitcomb photo)
Matt fueling up on an odd Sandwich full of pasta and anything else you can think of! Coaching, training, chasing people around on the snowmobile- that is hard work!!!
Mid-week media day with one excited photographer!
The one place in the world a salad like this is acceptable.... Eagle Glacier when you are training all day, every day!
And some days will be less glorious than others...!! (Matt Whitcomb photos)
A team full of many strengths! (Matt Whitcomb)
Our flashy new summer training gear! Wa-BAM! (Matt Whitcomb)
Working on speed (Matt Whitcomb)
Practicing our downhill skills. (Matt Whitcomb)
July? (Matt Whitcomb)
Interval day- pushing with every last bit. This picture shows what it takes to make this happen. A group of athletes that want to work hard, and a group of support that also loves to work hard. Thanks to all the glacier crew and the coaches for being amazing people! Here is Don driving Andre, who is filming the interval session. (Matt Whitcomb photo)
Trying to follow one of the best sprinters in the world! (Matt Whitcomb)
OUCH! (Matt Whitcomb)
PAIN TRAIN! (Matt Whitcomb) 
Sodie (Matt Whitcomb)
The final day decided to test our true patience and strength. As we headed out for our last day of training, often a 3-4 hour workout, temperatures hit 38 degrees and there was a torrential downpour! The kind of raining that will literally soak you to the bone in 3 minutes. Not having been in that for at least a year on Eagle Glacier... I forgot how you dress appropriately for the weather. You always need at least three layers on your legs and you need a true rain jacket. Aside from that, you need at least one change of gloves and hat for mid-training! Un-prepared, I headed up to the building after 1 hour, stripped every layer off my soaking wet body, and started over. This time I layered on the long underwear, put on my gore-tex rain jacket, dumped out two loaves of bread on the counter in order to cover my hands and gloves in a bread bag jacket.... and headed back out. I managed to finish my three hour workout in a much better place than those first 45 minutes!

Colorful combination of rain jackets (Matt Whitcomb)
NAWTA Camp 2014 (Matt Whitcomb)
NAWTA crew minus Erik Flora, Don Haering, and Andre Lovett. (Matt Whitcomb)
And that was a wrap! Another amazing NAWTA women's camp! We had tons of fun, we had great weather for the most part, we had more productive training than ever- and it was a blast! So thanks ladies and coaches for one heck of a great two weeks!

See you next year. (Matt Whitcomb)
I am now in my much-needed week of recover where I get ready for another four week training block of training.
GCI is a sponsor of our team, so Tuesday I took a trip to Cordova to help lead a customer appreciation day.
Signing posters for the little kids (GCI photo)
leading a train of Cordova girls around an obstacle course. Thanks GCI for an adventurous and fun trip! (GCI photo)
On another note, to everyone back in the Methow dealing with this terrible fire, I have you in my thoughts! It has been hard to watch from afar. I hope that is it for the summer fires, and everyone is able to recover from such a disaster!

Summer on!

Adventures of June

June has proven to be a typical June month- full of adventures and full of fun activities all packed into one short month.

Here is a sneak peak into some of the activities that I have been up to for these past four weeks of June

1. Methow- A short, brief trip home to see my family and celebrate Fathers Day and my Dad's birthday- all a few days early.

2. Being an Alaskan- being an Alaskan means spending a few days of the year fishing. I have fished a few times in the past few years- but never have I caught a fish that I would bring home and put on the dinner table. I have caught my fair share of Humpies- so I was pretty excited to pull in my first Red Salmon down on the Kasilof RIver. The boyfriend of one of the girls on our team, Corey Hetrick, owns a fishing company called Chugach Backcountry Fishing. Corey is one of the happiest, kindest dudes out there- so fishing with him is always a ball. We were on a mission to find some Kings- so that meant driving down to the Kenai through the night and getting on the river first, around 4AM. Corey is the "fish whisper", so we had a good morning of learning some tricks from the best! My brother and Jo have spent a few more early mornings on the river, so I am happy to say my freezer is full of the very freshest and best fish in the world!

There it is! Thanks Corey!!
Eating some Sushi with our fresh fish
3. Bear Hunting- The woods of Anchorage have been more populated than ever with furry black and brown animals. The theory is that with the warmer and "easier" winter- the bears were able to survive better than in the past. There has been more than a handful of "running in's" with the bears in our usual training locations- so I am always on the watch. Every day I head out the door for my training I feel like I am out on my bear hunt… but managed to forget my weapon at home. If you want a mental picture of what this looks like.. imagine a girl running through the woods screaming at the top of my lungs every two minutes "hey bear". One tourist was so confused by this he kept asking me "where's the bear", "did you see a bear". I kept trying to explain to this nice foreign man that I hadn't seen the bear, I was just warning mr. bear I was coming, "hello bear". After trying to clarify his confusion for two minutes, I ended up taking off, leaving him probably a little frazzled… whoops.
Learning some biathlon from the Frenchi's
4. Testing my limits- as with every athlete, and many of my past summers… I get a little excited and test my limits a bit… leaving me a little achy for some days. Early this month, I managed to strain a disk in my back- literally the exact same thing my brother had done in Bend. After a week of spending my days walking, getting help from Zuzana, and laying on heating pads… things finally turned around. I have had some problems with my back in the past- but this was a little bit different. It was a great little "check in" to remind me that all the hours of the year that we spend skiing means constant stress on our bodies. I haven't taken the time yet to step back and analyze my technique and think about if I am really skiing with the best form for continued health. Well, this little bump forced me to. I am now thinking more than ever about the position of my pelvis, the way my vertebra and disks are stacking up as I am applying power with my skating and striding… and I have come out a smarter woman. Nice- isn't it how those little "testing of limits" is supposed to work?

5. Training with a new Group of younger girls- APU has put together a University Team this year with a bunch of young, excited girls. Since joining the APU Team, I have always felt like the younger generation… but four years later, I have now started becoming one of the "older girls". With Kikkan and Holly gone for the past month and Fitz retiring- training has had a bit of a different feel. I have had a ton of fun though. These young girls are super fired up and excited about the training sessions that I am used to doing for the past four years- so it has helped keep me fresh and excited! On that same note- I have definitely been missing some of my usual training buddies as well!

5. Glacier Days- The end of the month was filled with 7 days of Glacier Skiing. This Glacier Camp was very different than my previous 10 camps I have spent up on the Glacier. Every morning we woke up with buckets of fresh snow… and it just didn't stop. We spent six days of "playing hide and go seek" out on the Glacier… skiing laps around in a constant white out. It was often hilarious as we squeezed our eyes together trying to figure out where was the next wand? We often found ourselves wondering…which direction is up, which was is North, where in the world am I at this moment? Fortunate for me I don't get very bad vertigo… but it took "white out" to a whole new level for me. Finally, on the last day- just to put some icing on the cake- the sun popped out and we had an awesome rocket day of skiing with the usual beautiful views!!
Foggy Days!
The boys- appearing from the mist
Our newest girl member- Rosie Frankowski- otherwise known as Franki... because now there are two Rosie's.
Strength time on the Glacier
Our gym- at 5,700 feet
Flora put in a new course on the Glacier this year that was more exciting than ever. He put in a set of S turns throughout each of the three little loops. Corners are something that are always good to work on as an elite athlete… so we were forced to overcome some of our fears as we bombed around the tight turns… often with no idea when the next one was coming. 
Rosie and I fueling up before some good k's
Our little special friend and Bobcat, D.Norris
Thanks Flora for putting on such an awesome camp!! Little Coda- our new glacier dog
My Glacier Team-Sprinting partner, and one of our new boys, Scotty P.
Woman's Team- post Team Sprint Time Trialing
With three feet of new snow this week... hiking out wasn't safe enough with the Avalanche danger- so here we are, waiting for the helicopter.
Masters coming in for a camp as we come out. Awesome to see Gill Lund, one of our biggest fans from back home.
Alpine Air flying us up and down and setting all of us up with some awesome new socks!
The most exciting mode of transportation!!
6. Getting School Done- two more classes finished, four more to go before I have my degrees. I have just started my Senior Project this summer, which I will finish in the fall- so it truly feels like things are beginning to wrap up. I am doing a research project on turning Fast and Female into a US Nonprofit. The course I just finished last week was my Literature Review where I did all the research on similar nonprofit organizations such as Girls on the Run, Woman's Sports Foundation, and a Norwegian based organization, Sunn Jenteidrett. I looked into how these organizations are run, what are their missions, where do they get their funding from, etc. I then did some research on the nonprofit market in Alaska as well as the US. I learned that there is a nonprofit for every 90 people in Alaska, WOW! I started to look into the steps and procedures of starting a nonprofit- and what it entails. The class that I just started this week will be a little bit more of the research piece. I will develop my research question and begin doing interviews. Through talking about my project with a collection of people in the past few months- I have put together a great group of resources and people to interview and gather information from. Because I am doing a double major; Accounting as well as Nonprofit Business Management- I will also be doing a cost analysis project of the financials that the Canadian Fast and Female is using - and trying to put together the best way to operate the US version. It has all been really fun for me since I have such an invested interest in this awesome program I have been involved with, and helping lead for the past 8 years. 

That about wraps up my adventures of June- and what it has entailed. Next up, July, which begins with the US Ski Team Woman's Camp in Alaska. As usual, we will be doing one week dry land training, and then another week on the Glacier… so back up on the Glacier in two weeks! Hopefully the sun might make more of an appearance for this one. I will also be spending next week adventuring down to Seward for the 4th of July- but more importantly, to watch Mount Marathon. This is one of my favorite things in the World to watch… truly incredible! Holly just announced she will be racing- so I get to cheer on my some of my teammates including Holly, Lauren Fritz, Forrest Mahlem, and Ann Spencer. Can't wait!

Five days of Methow Paradise

The past five days have been nothing but paradise. Five days of family, five days of sunshine, five days of amazing Methow Valley! 
Home, sweet, home!
Some Olympic Spirit still living on the front of the Garage.
When you become an elite athlete, similar to when you have a full time job- your life becomes about your job. I eat, sleep, breath ski racing for 11 months of the year. I wake up, train, come home and study, train again, recover, and start over. Squeezed in between that is Fundraisers, team obligations, searching for sponsors, traveling for camps, racing, meeting with professors, and much more. The result of this is sadly no time for anyone. Even most of my best friends in Anchorage, I rarely get to see if they aren't training with me every day. But the thing that has been hardest for me is not having much time for my family. I always try to find at least 10 days of the summer that I can go home and spend some time with my family- but those 10 days always go too fast- and the time in between becomes large. I used to count on seeing my family at the races cheering; but with most of my racing in Europe now- I can't count on that too much. So over the course of these past four years, as I have become more and more dedicated- it has been hard to see my family less and less.

Missing these days!
That is why these last five days were so special. My sister came over from Seattle for the first two days of my little break in the Methow, which was super nice. She is getting married next summer, so I got to finally participate in some of her planning, art projects; and even got to model my brides made dress! I have only been to maybe two or three weddings in my life; so I don't know much about the process. One of the things I learned is that the made of honor is in charge of planning the bachelorette party- so we even got to start brainstorming about ideas for this next spring in my one month off. 
Mom and Kaley were in charge of drawing, I was the designated painter. ( I lack their artistic skills)
Making sure my dress fits.
My sister and I
My family is really great in that they really respect my training- which means they come and join me for all my activities. When I roller ski, they bike alongside chit chatting away and keeping me entertained. For my running, biking and strength exercises- they jump in beside me, amazingly keeping up! I guess I know how I got my athletic abilities! I grew up playing outside, and exercises all day long- so not much has changed, except that things are a little more focused now. When we head up behind my house for a run though…. sometimes you could convince me that I am still seven years old chasing my mom around in the familiar meadows filled with wildflowers and scents that I miss a lot in Alaska!
Princess Kaley
My training buddies
discovering some awesome new trails!
Miss these trails!
Taking me back to these days.
As you can imagine, the five days went too fast. With school two of the nights that I was there- I barely got to squeeze in enough time with my parents before I was packing up again and heading back to the Airport. I didn't get much time to visit anyone, or do much; but just a little family time is going to carry me over until August. I did manage to do a little community event telling my story from "The Olympic Chase". I talked about this past year leading into the Olympics, and then my story of the Olympic Games. It was grew to see so many people show up- thank you everyone! Experiences like the Olympics are only special when you get to share them with people; laughing over the hilarious parts, and speculating about the mysterious clouds that drifted over the mountain one day. The Methow was very supportive over the Games- so it was fun to come back and share my part with the kids and adults of the community!
Pat Leigh at my Olympic Event. She is one of the nicest ladies in the world- and the best fan!
Enjoying the Washington fresh fruit!
chasing the June snow with mom
Turns out, I didn't inherit my dads hand eye coordination. He is just as good as ever at Montana Golf... and I am just as bad as ever!!

This leaves me back in Alaska, where I have about two weeks of training in town before I head up on my first Glacier Camp. In the meantime, I am diving deep into my senior project with lots of research and excitement.... dreaming about this fall when I am going to finally be done with my degrees!

Bend Camp

It is hard believe, Bend Camp, already! This past month has flown by. I feel like it was two days ago I was arriving home from Europe, the Olympics, and my first five month trip away from the US... but it turns out that was nearly two months ago!

Found "Mazama" in Bend- at COCC :)
A huge supporter of ours, and a great dude! Andy Fectau and his talking bird :)
Back at Bachelor
Always some sun for us on this trip!
Sun and lots of smiles!
Noah Hoffman photo- some great skiing in Bend!
Bend Camp has always been a love hate relationship for me. I love it for many reasons. I grew up racing here, so it almost feels like home. When the weather is nice, it is so fun to ski in the sun. Bend is a fun town, so it always provides great social events. After not seeing your teammates for a month, we are re-united with many "non-skiing" stories from our month off, etc. But for the past couple of years, I have come to Bend with a little too much excitement and determination, and I walk away from this camp limping full of little overuse injuries from 10 days of excited training. What I have learned from these experiences is that taking three weeks away from skiing activities invites weaknesses. For that reason, adversity at Bend Camp is my friend. So- this year I sat down and made a better plan, scheduling a swimming and running day every third day in order to avoid some of those over-use injuries I pick up from too much excited time on the snow.

story hour
Noah Hoffman photo
Girls night out with the huge US Team truck.... perfect parking!
Three girls in a huge truck
Getting some awesome outdoor swimming in- Thanks to Bend Athletic Club
Waxing up before training.
Fortunately we were blessed by the weather gods this year- so we had 10 days of amazing weather. This made for great skiing, great swimming outside, and one sweet "snowy day" that we got to break out our hairies. It was awesome!
Sun with smiles!
A little mid-week girls trip
Noah and Liz cooking the team an awesome breakfast before skiing
Mid-camp we fit in a Fast and Female event with the local girls. This is my favorite Fast and Female of the year, because we get the girls from my hometown, and my home region- which I love to see! It has been amazing to see the increase in participation over the past couple of years. Three years ago, there was one or two PNSA girls out there following us around skiing. This year, there was a group of at least 25 beach babes ripping around in sports bras, working on technique, and having a great time! These are the types of things that make me smile inside!

I got to work with the 14-19 year olds for this event- which was awesome, because I have gotten to know most of them over the last couple of years- and they have so much enthusiasm!
Acting out all the Olympic Events
Talking with the girls about the pressures of being in high school, how to choose what to do after, how to learn more about colleges, the possibilities of finding grants and financial support if you take a Post Grad year, etc. The great thing is that every US Ski Team girl took a different path. Some went through NCAA, some went straight to skiing, I tried every different option.. etc. So we have lots of different experiences; and it is proof there is no ONE option!
Autograph Hour
My awesome PNSA girls!
This cutie little girl and I learned that we share the same birthday.
One of the local talented Methow girls, Olivia Ekblad. So fun to see her here, and getting stronger each year!
So many PNSA girls!!
Unfortunately there was a little accident of the Bend Camp including Soph, her mountain bike, some clipless peddles, and her elbow. Sadly it resulted in a fracture in her elbow; but she has been doing amazing. It has been amazing to watch her just put a smile on her face, and keep going. These are the sorts of things that just happen with some bad luck... but can be incredibly frustrating. Soph has been getting after some no pole skiing, stationary biking and hiking... so I am sure this is going to turn into one of those things that is a blessing in disguise. She is going to have the strongest legs and buns out there in a month from now!
Following the speed demons!
With one functioning elbow- I get to do the honors of picking Soph's hair do of the day- high ponies are my favorite :)
A determine diggy!
Diggs isn't a huge fan of that biking stuff.
I am now headed to the Methow for a short little break before getting back to Alaska for another training block that will have me up on the Glacier in just a few weeks already. For those of you that are around- please come out to the Mazama Community Center Sunday night at 7PM for some Olympic Stories!
Enjoying some sun the last afternoon of camp
Resting and relaxing in the sun after a hard 10 days of training.

Thanks to Dave Cieslowski for some great PT work this week!

Woman's Team enjoying some Froyo.
Matt- tired after 10 hard days of training!

Thanks to Bend for a wonderful camp, thanks to the weather gods for some amazing weather this year, and BIG thanks to Mt. Bachelor for some wonderful grooming!! See you next year.

John Hale Photos

John Hale, a local photographer sent me some awesome photos from the last week of the season. Here are a few. Thanks John!

White House

I am headed home now on a plane for the final conclusion of the season.

One of the privileges we get from being an Olympian is the President Visit to the White House at the end of the season. This year, that meant jumping on a plane back across the US  only three days after finishing our season. With such a tight turn around, I almost passed up the opportunity. Now, as I head home from one of the most memorable two days, I am incredibly thankful I made the right decision!

The two days started out with a visit around DC checking out the Supreme Court, the many buildings and halls, and then an opportunity to sit and speak with Senator Patty Murray from Washington, who I learned grew up right outside Bothell, where my dad grew up! Following that, Erik and I got to meet up with Lisa Murkowski, whom we met last fall for our Olympic send-off in November. It was nice to connect with her again, and listen in on one of her court hearings. 

Erik and Torin K. 

Following our day of exploring and meet and greets, we got all dressed up for a fancy evening in the Warner Theater that began with a "red carpet entrance", and then a filming of an awards show "Best of US" that NBC will be showing later this week.
The Red Carpet
Best of US Awards Show
All dressed up!
The second day was just as fun packed as the first, and included some nerves! We began the morning with a march across the front lawn of the White House for "Let's Move" a program against fight against obesity that Michelle Obama is pushing to encouraging kids to get out, be active, and healthy.
Headed to the White House :)
The march
Let's Move!

The Diva Mikaela with her Vegetable Torch!
Following that we had a tour inside the White House that ended with the "big president visit". As I was waiting in line, watching Obama shake each individual athletes hand, I started getting crazy nervous. More nervous then my first race at the Olympics!! This was arguably the most powerful man in the world I was about to have a conversation with! It's funny, I was so nervous, I honestly don't even remember what I said to him! What struck me was how personable he was, asking each athlete a little something about themselves! Then, I moved on to Michelle ready to shake her hand, only to be swooped in for a big hug! A hug from the first lady! Neat!
Waiting in line with anticipation!!
A talk with the Obama's
After meeting each individual athlete, the Obama's went on to give the Olympic group a little talk. They thanked us for inspiring a young generation with our healthy lives and determination. They laughed at us for being crazy "flying down mountains on lunch trays, and flinging ourselves into the air doing god knows how many flips and turns, etc.". They finished by encouraging us to keep believing, keep picking ourselves up and trying when we have setbacks, and keep representing our country well in an event that shows the world we can be one! It was an inspiring talk, and something that I will certainly remember forever! 
Taking flowers from the White House for souvenirs.
Checking out some other athletes gold medals.

I am now headed back to Anchorage, ready to be home, and ready to take some time to catch up!

The Pentagon, just outside my hotel window.
Exploring the super nice DC Subway.
Thank you USOC and Washington DC for such an awesome opportunity these last two days. That was fun!!

Spring Series

Spring Series has wrapped up here in Anchorage, making for the end of the 2013-2014 season. It was an incredibly fun season, it couldn't have ended better!

The last time I raced in Anchorage was 4 years ago when I was trying to qualify for the Vancouver Games. It was a different world, I had a different home, I was in a different place, and I didn't come close to making my Olympic goals. So, to come back to Anchorage, and race at what now feels like "home" was so much fun. In these last three years, it has been so much fun becoming a member of APU and this community! People are so excited about skiing here. They love it, and they support their local crew so well. All four races, I couldn't believe the amount of people that showed up, and the noise level of the crowd. It was often louder than the cheering I heard at the Olympics! So, to be included in that excitement, and hear my name being cheered on, it meant so much!
ADN photo- Celebrating Sophie's birthday right as she crosses the line
Rob Whitney photo- having a little cheer with the girls after our last sprint of the season.
ADN photo- some awesome cheering on the sidelines!
Spring Series was a little shorter this year than normal, thankfully! We are always so tired at the end of the season that each additional race after World Cup Finals gets you closer and closer to the bottom of the tank! This year the race set up was 10k skate, classic sprint, team relay, and then ending with a 30k classic.
Rob Whitney photo from Team Relay
The first three races were held out at Kincaid. With the low snow year, there wasn't much snow left out at Kincaid, but the organizers did an awesome job of making it work! There was enough snow to ski on, and we had a great time racing on the old World Cup Trails. Even though I am now living in Anchorage, I have skid very few of these trails; only because I spend my entire winter in Europe racing. But I quickly grew familiar with them, and really enjoyed them!
ADN Photo
ADN Photo
Along with the rest of the field, I managed to scrape out enough energy to have four good races. It started with the skate race; that aside from taking a fall on one of the icy downhill corners, it went really well. The second race was a classic sprint, which was fun to have a sprint off with the local favorite, and best sprinter in the world… the one and only Kikkan! The third race was my favorite, the team relay. It was a new event this year; two boys, two girls. The first two legs were classic, and the final two were skate, all 5k legs. The APU Team entered 6 teams into this event, and landed two of them on the podium! My team made of Reese, me, Erik B and Kikkan was lead out by Reese making a break from the field early on in his leg. It was so much fun getting decked out in APU spirit… yellow and blue sparkles, face paint, hair gems… you name it! There was some fun trash talk between the teams, and it turned out to be a ton of fun! Since many of the World Cup Skiers are from different clubs, there were some good teams out on the line!
ADN Photo- Tagging off to Erik in the Team Event
Skiing around at our "Ski With the Olympians" Kids event
Fasterskier Photo- Sprint Podium with the APU Bear!
And then the final day was the 30k classic… a race I have suddenly started to enjoy. Ever since being a young junior, I was often steered in the sprinting direction. Since joining APU, I have started trying to train more for distance racing… but I would have never guessed I would ever do well in a 30k. After Holmenkollen this year though, I decided I really like the format of a 30k. You go out hard… and see how absolute long you can hold on to it. I think it is fun to test your body… see how deep you can dig into the pain cave. So, I have been looking forward to this 30k at spring series, in my hometown for the past month!
ADN Photo- 30k race with Lizard
ADN Photo- celebrating across the line!
After deciding there wasn't enough snow, the 30/50k got moved up to Hilltop, on the Spencer Loop… an infamously hard course…. harder than 95% of the World Cup Courses I have skied. The thing about Spencer is it keeps climbing, and climbing… and climbing! It is not very forgiving! So, as I was skiing around it the day before the race… all I could wish for was that we took it out at an easy pace and didn't start going crazy until the last 10k. Well, come race day… that idea lasted no more than 10 mins into the hour and 30 min race! Once it started, I wanted to go! I wanted to see what I could make of each ounce of energy all of us had left! It turned into an incredibly fun race! The first lap, there was a group of 4 of us. The second lap there was a group of 3 of us, and then for the final lap… it was a group of two of us… just Liz and I… both working together, but also trying to beat each other. The whole 30 kilometers, I was smiling inside. I was having so much fun! There were so many people out there cheering, I was racing on one of the hardest courses of the season, I was skiing alongside my teammates using teamwork to push ourselves…. and all I could feel was this feeling of celebration. As I crossed the line, I was swarmed with emotion! I was so happy! Winning a 30k National Championship race is one of my larger accomplishments in my career… and to be able to do it in Anchorage, on Spencer Loop!! One thing is for sure; I am going to enjoy bounding intervals there a lot more this summer when I have flashbacks!
Todd List photo from the 30k
Travis Rector Photo Credit
So now, the season is over, and it's time to rest, relax and reflect a little! It has been such a fun season, and so many good times! Thanks Anchorage for welcoming me home with so much excitement, and thanks James Southam, APU and all the organizing committee for putting on such a great event here in Anchorage!! And thank you to everyone that has made this year possible for me! I can't say thank you enough!

World Cup Finals

Well, the World Cup Season has come to an end for me. One of my main goals of the season was to finish in the top 50, which meant that I was allowed to participate in my first World Cup Finals. With the World Championship event in Falun, Sweden next year- I was also curious to check out the Championship courses to come. 

I haven't written much since the Olympics after coming down from a pretty high Olympic buzz. After the challenging travel back to Munich, the organization of getting everything home, and then the mental drainage of moving on to the next venue for the next races.. I picked up the Sochi Plague. A disease that came in an ugly form of a cold. Fever, chest congestion, all the fun stuff that you try to avoid all winter. Well, sadly the morning of the Lahti sprint, I woke up with the Sochi Plague. I learned pretty quickly how common it was; it seemed many people had managed to pick it up as well.

So after practicing my new found patience for illness this winter, I rested in bed for four days and jumped back on my skis for the Drammen Sprint. The Drammen/Oslo World Cup weekend has always been one of my favorite weekends of the season. The incredible atmosphere and excitement for skiing truly shine in these two venues. 

Wednesday's sprint in Drammen went well for me until I made a poor lane choice and collided with my Norwegian buddy, Astrid Jacobsen. We quickly got up, and raced our hearts out, catching one girl, but never getting back in contention. Unfortunately, I got in trouble for one of my lane selections, so I was relegated down to 30th place on the day. With three more days to recover to full health- I looked forward to the weekend of Holmekollen racing.

I have always loved visiting Oslo for more reasons then the culture. I also have a huge collection of friends around the area that always make me feel at home. Between my college friends, the family of my college friends, and some of the girls on the Norwegian Team that live in Oslo… there are many welcoming homes. After spending four months on the road traveling through hotels after hotels; spending an evening inside a real home with home prepared food is priceless!! It is something that just means the World. My five day stay in Oslo was quickly filled with social interactions, Fast and Female Events, and preparing for a 30k.

I went into Sunday's 30k race with little expectations. With Oslo being a special place because of my very first World Cup/World Championship level racing being there; I can't ever wipe the smile off my face as I ski around those courses. I love how challenging they are, but mostly; I love how many spectators there are in the most challenging places. Ski racing becomes like a dream. Often the noise is so loud as you are racing that it forces you to go into another place in your mind. You have to make another room, one with less noise and more focus… like a dream within your mind. Something crazy like that. Well this year, things were even louder than normal in my 30k race. Spending the majority of the race skiing in a pack of between 3-5 Norwegian girls… the crowds were always at full force when I went skiing by. While I knew they were cheering for the Norwegians, I could hear some "Bjornsen" and "Kikkan" coming out of the crowd! We had some of our own fans out there as well!! Between the atmosphere and the good feelings, it turned out to be my best 30k ever!'

So from this event high, next stop was World Cup Finals. Falun is about 7 hours away by bus from Oslo, and somehow we got lucky enough to enjoy this experience in a double decker bus. I have never ridden in a double decker bus, so I was like a kid in a candy shop, sitting on the top floor with my face plastered out the front the whole time. It was pretty darn fun!

As we rolled up to Falun… something just didn't seem right.. the ground was fully brown. The only snow that could be found was on the Falun race courses. To my disbelief, the skiing was great. The snow held together, and the organizing committee did a great job of still holding great races under such challenging conditions. 

World Cup Finals is raced in a Tour style format, so each race contributes to your overall score at the end of Sunday. Starting with a classic sprint was pretty exciting for me. Having gotten tangled last weekend in Drammen, I was stoked to try again right away. I had a great qualifier, crossing the line in 5th. In period 1, I had two great qualifiers, but both times really struggled in the heats. My goal was to do better. Be stronger in the heats, and be smarter. I took off out of the start, ready for battle.. and suddenly found myself leading. Without thinking about the best tactics, I kept firing on, just so excited I was out front. On the final corner into the stadium, my two teammates that I was in a heat with (Soph and Kikk) went shooting up beside me and past me. Trying to match their momentum, I double poled my heart out to the line but sadly wasn't able to gain my leading position back. I immediately was bummed… that was my chance. I was in the front all that time, why wasn't I the one sitting in behind? But, again, that is sprint racing. You have to do it wrong 30 times before you do it right! So, another season of training and tactical knowledge… and I will be back, smarter and fitter, for next season!

Up next in the tour was some skate skiing, FINALLY! Prior to this weekend, I had done two skate races this season. One in Kuusamo, and one in the Olympic Pursuit Race. That was just pure coincidence. With most of the skate racing during the Tour (which I skipped), and then missing Lahti… I haven't gotten to try much. Falun has fun courses. Lots of challenging climbing, and fast curvy downhills. It was good for me! On Saturday was the Pursuit race, and after having a great classic leg, I fell back a few places; but it still ended up being my best pursuit race ever. And then finally, Sunday ended with the 10k skate, pursuit style. The order at the finish Sunday was your overall placing in the tour. Starting 18th, at the same time as Liz, I wanted to see how long I could stay with her. Liz is an incredible skate skier. She has such fast tempo, yet great glide, and has proved numerous times she is one of the best skate skiers in the world. So foolishly, I went out hanging on for dear life. That lasted for about 1.5k when I had a major explosion. An explosion that left six girls passing me like I was standing still. My friend Astrid gave me some advice after the first day of the Tour. She told me my fitness was visibly there, but that I just needed to believe in myself, especially with my skate racing. So as I attempted to recover from my Liz chase too early, I eventually pulled my mind back together, and started working my way back to that group of girls that had passed me earlier on. Slowly I picked a few off, and managed to finish the tour in 22nd, only loosing 4 places. I was excited, and left my final races of the season happy!

Last year I finished 52nd on the overall list, missing World Cup Finals by about 8 points if I remember correctly. This year, I finished the season in 32nd, only 6 points from top 30, and I moved into the red group for distance racing; another accomplishment I have never achieved! While it was a tough season mentally, it started well and finished well. The middle was a good test, but the important part was I was able to pull myself back together.

But, before I get too excited about the end, it is too early for that. I am currently on an airplane traveling back home, to Anchorage for Spring Series. There we will have four races. The 30k National Championship, a Team Relay (4x5), a classic sprint, and a 10k skate. Anchorage hasn't had much snow this winter, but fortunately the snow gods decided to be generous and send down about two feet of fresh powder just in time for the races!

I am getting so excited for some racing in what feels like my hometown now. The last time I raced in Anchorage was six years ago for Nationals, before I had established a home in Anchorage. I am really looking forward to sharing my racing with all my friends and supporters, getting them excited about what we are doing! For those of you that are in town, we will be racing March 22-28, so come out and check it out. Races are expected to be held at Kincaid, assuming the snow holds up!

Thanks to everyone for the incredible support this season! This is the first time I have spent the full four months living and racing full time on the World Cup Season. It is certainly different, and I would say a lot harder. The homesick feelings are a little bit stronger with such  long stint at one time. I really appreciate all the emails, the photos, the love, and support that I have received throughout the winter. You have all made this the most special winter yet for me, so thanks!


Well, that's a wrap- hard to believe that the Olympics could already have come, happened, and are now over! How did that happen so fast?

Where do I even begin to explain this experience. I have to start with the silly theme of my very first Olympics, "hot, cool, yours". I think that about sums up my experience just perfectly! None of us really knew what those three words written on everything meant, but I made up my own idea..!

 First, and foremost, we got incredibly lucky. We had the most incredible three weeks of weather I have ever had consecutively in a winter. Three weeks of beautiful views, beautiful weather, and beautiful Sochi racing! What comes with the beauty was heat though... in fact there were a few days of racing where I just couldn't figure out how the snow wasn't simply turning into a rushing river down the mountain! I don't know how Russia knew it was going to be hot.... but I guess they predicted well!

"Cool"... that was the next word. While it may have never actually been "cool" as far as temperature, it was one heck of a "cool experience". Every day there was something new to blow my mind away. Some new experience, some new extremely friendly volunteer, some race that played out incredibly "cool". If I had a ten year old's vocabulary, or a fourty-five year old's very brilliant vocabulary... "cool" is simply the best way to describe what the Olympics are like! Cool feelings, cool honor, cool people, cool venue, cool coaches and wax techs that rock at their job, cool Russia... COOL! Ok, they nailed the second word in their theme.

So, finally, "yours".... and by yours, I see it as "your experience". The Olympics are what you make of them. You either choose to have the racing define it, the experience to define it, or whatever it be. For me, Sochi was one of the coolest experiences in my life. The racing was exciting, and fun... not my highest moments of the season, but it was "yours". I gave what I had at every moment, learned a lot of lessons, struggled on some of the hardest sections of the course, but gave it my very best! I still dream of winning medals, and will still continue that dream into my future!! But, "yours" was more than racing for me. It was the feelings I had every time I skied by the Olympic rings. It was the feeling of excitement and joy as I watched in disbelief when my brother dropped everyone in the team sprint. It was the feelings I got when I watched an awards ceremonies and saw tears rolling down fellow athletes cheeks. It was the feelings I got when I watched Kikkan pull her heart together after the sprint race when it didn't go exactly as planned. It was the feelings I got as Kikkan, Liz, Jessie and I did a cheer together before the start of our relay and decided to make it "our" race..... whatever it was going to be! It was the feelings I got as I watched coaches cry, scream, jump five feet off the ground as they watched their athletes succeed.... it was everything!! Two days before I left, I went out and did a workout with Erik Flora, and decided to take "yours" to a new level. Sochi has this incredibly hard seven minute climb at the finish of all of the races... and every race I had started... that hill tore me to pieces. So, two days before I left, I decided to make that climb "mine". I went out and did intervals on it, and learned to conquer it. While it may have not been in a race, I still walked away just as satisfied! It topped off making the Olympic experience "yours".

When I look back on Sochi, less than likely will I even remember the places I finished in the races; but I will remember all the hottest, coolest, and unique Sadie experiences. I will remember all the messages I got day after day from friends, family, media, Jimmy Fallon... the whole experience. And, not only that, I am going to remember that silly little theme written everywhere, ""!

They say that pictures speak a thousand words... and since there are probably a million words I could put together to explain how awesome these last three weeks have been... I am going to let pictures tell most of the story!

You have seen it a lot in media, and seen it a lot in my own writing- but it has been awesome to have Erik around! Not only because having family makes everything more special, but because of who Erik is! He is the most easy going, silly dude in the world! He keeps the atmosphere light, he keeps everyone smiling, and he knows how to kick some butt ski racing!!

The dream team! This team has been a key piece of this experience. We all worked together for years now getting to this point, and it is cool to be here together! Thanks to all of you for helping me get here. I have a heck of a team. A team that teaches me something 365 days of the year, and a team that keeps me having fun!

Always excitement! 21 days later, still stoked on the experience!

Photo Credit- Competitive Image
Erik Flora! The man behind the magic. It has been so awesome having our coach here at the Olympics! This is the hardest working, most excited dude in the world! Thanks Erik Flora!

Photo Credit- Zimbio
Photo Credit- Getty Imgaes
Fasterskier Photo

Spirit- while we may rock glitter and pink all other parts of the year- I always appreciate when we get to put the stars and stripes on, and we rock the red, white, and blue!

Photo Credit- Andrew Scott
Norwegian News
Photo Credit- Competitive Image

FasterSkier Photo
FasterSkier Photo
Well.... what you can tell from these images.... WARM! I only entered one race with a full suit... felt like racing in California! The 10K Classic was by far the worst. It was reported +20 C in the sun.. 68F. When you are standing on snow at high altitude.... that is straight tropical. Sophie and I got a surprising large amount of press for wearing tank tops... the Norwegian Media plastered photos of us everywhere... I was feeling pretty smart afterwards :)

Photo Credit- Jonas Lindkvist
Going hard! If I am not lying on the ground after the race like this.... there was more left in me!

Even though we are at the Olympics, and the pressure can seem high... a little laughing always solves the problem!

Matt Whitcomb giving the big X for extremely amazing woman's coach (and for standing in a coaching zone to cheer... when we were told not to) Whoops!

Sophie and Jessie in the quarterfinals. Sophie was extremely impressive this day!! She was skiing like she had a set of wings on her back. Floating when she needed to, and turning on the turbo engine when she wanted! Unfortunately she fell on the furthest corner out during the finals... but don't be surprised if she has the gold medal in hand four years from now!

The Sochi atmosphere was great! There were tons of excited fans, and it made the olympic experience a true olympic experience!

Chandra and I enjoying some rays while we cheer on the race. Chandra has been a hero since I was young, and a great friend in these past four years. We have had a lot of awesome talks about goals, dreams in life, and dealing with adversity. This photo really captures how much I appreciate this girl!

Hanging out with the legend, Bjorn Daehlie himself!

While I may have missed opening ceremonies because I had a race the next day... I still got to rock the suit for the afternoon around our village!

Flowers for our first Olympic Race from Torin Koos! How nice!

The hardworking staff working all day, every day. These guys may be behind the scenes- but they are running the show! You would be amazed how much time and effort it takes to put together a pair of skis to be competitive on the World Cup. It is something that never gets enough credit- and these dudes are amazing!!

My "Sochi Mom" time. It was so nice to see Kristann Schoening, who was working for the Norwegian Team. She is my dad's best friend from growing up, and a really close family friend, so I was enjoying spending time with her so much! Thanks Kristiann for the huge smile all the time!

The Endurance Village had everything!!! Even a lap swimming pool that looked out on the mountains. I was bummed I didn't bring my suit and goggles!

And school goes on- class the morning of race day.

The view of our walk to the dining hall at two different times of the day.... beauty!!

Family Spirit! My sister and godsister made these t-shirts for all our friends and family. It meant the world to get all the photos from everyone. Thanks Hills and Kaley for making them- and thanks to all the amazing people rocking them!!

Valentines Day at the Olympics wasn't as fun as spending it with Jo- but we have some awesome boys on our team who made us some Valentines!

OnePiece gave us a bunch of suits this year, and I was laughing when I saw the American Flag one in the store in Sochi! Crazy to see they had a store there!

I finally made it down to the Coastal Village on the last day for closing Ceremonies. It was amazing to see the difference. It smelled like the Sea, there were Palm Trees, there was sweet sunsets looking out on to the Black Sea, there were bikes to ride around the Village... it was just an entirely different scene. It was really neat to visit, but I was glad we had our secluded village up on the top of the mountain without so many distractions!

After not getting to be part of opening ceremonies, I was double excited to be part of closing ceremonies. There was an amazing show and the largest firework show I could ever imagine afterwards. It was pretty neat!

After the show, there was an Olympic DJ in the middle of the massive stadium... maybe the coolest dance party I have ever been to!

And finally, after three weeks and an epicly long final day of the games... we have made it back to Europe for the final three weeks of World Cup racing. I guess with world keeps spinning after the games have completed. Next weekend we are going to go out and race the exact same people, but this time it is not for an Olympic Medal... how crazy is that?

That about sums up the majority of my experience. It was an incredible one, and I can't believe it is already over! Thanks to everyone that helped me get there, thanks to everyone that cheered me on once I was there, and thanks to everyone who is keeping me going! I just had the time of my life!

And finally, here is a little laugh if you haven't seen it already. Jimmy Fallon found Erik and I were Bjorn to do this!