Next Stop, World Championships

Last night I boarded a bus with a variety of countries and athletes, and headed to Falun, home of the 2015 World Championships. We just completed a short weekend of racing in Ostersund, where I competed in the sprint race, one of the more unique courses I have ever raced on during the World Cup.

Soph and I in the stadium after our quarterfinal on Valentines Day.

Some of the unique qualities included racing through the middle of stands, packed with nearly 10,000 screaming fans. It was a two lap course, that spent the majority of time in what we call, herring boning technique, a technique we don't use so frequently as racers. It had a short start zone, which meant for a new starting method for sprint racing. It had a narrow course which allowed for little passing, and few places to make moves. It featured a screaming fast downhill into a sharp corner that provided some entertainment for the screaming spectators. And finally, we had no ski testing on the course before the start… so an added challenge for the techs and athletes! Here is a video from the race. My heat starts around 8:50

I also found some footage of this weekends racing on the FIS video from the week. I love this Inside the Fence! There is so much "behind the scenes" on any given World Cup Weekend. One huge piece of it is picking skis, working with your wax tech, and balancing the chaos and stress! It means trusting your tech, believing in your feelings, and finding confidence in the challenging selection of skis. I just want to say a big thanks to the US Waxing Crew!

As the bus left the hotel parking lot and headed for Falun for two very important weeks of this season, I took some time to step back and think about what is coming. For two weeks of this long 18 week racing season, we focus many of our largest goals. It is a goal to race at our best all season long, but for two weeks in the middle, we want to be at our ABSOLUTE BEST. For two weeks we are fighting for the chance to be World Champion, to win World Championship medals, and to reach our highest places possible during the Championships. Much like the Olympics, for two weeks, the world tunes in to our sport and our competition. Suddenly there is great honor in reach new PR's, winning medals, and being the best!

Over the course of my racing, I have realized that during this high pressure, high stress, and exciting two weeks, I have to find the right place for my brain. Rather than focusing on the "outcome", I have found myself trying to narrow my brains focus down to the "process". How am I going to perform my best? By focusing on the steps that I have taken to get me right here, right now, I can arrive on the start line, ready to fight!

It begins with the training. For 48 weeks of the season I have dedicated and committed all my energy and mind to this sport. I owe a huge thanks to many people for allowing this to work. My family, my coaches, my team, my friends, and my sponsors! I have a family that supports my goals and aspirations since I was 5 years old, 

This year I started working with a company that shares very similar values and missions to my sport. With strong roots in both Washington and Alaska- this company has a very similar backbone to me! Their support has given me the platform to achieve my goals as well as allowed me to dedicate myself to my training and becoming the best in my sport. Awarded one of the World's Most Ethical Companies in 2014, Saltchuk shares the belief in clean sport, clean business, and honest methods of achieving success.  As I stand on the start line thursday, in my first World Championship race, I am thankful that this company has supported, believed in me, and inspired me to reach new heights of success. They have shown, they are committed to the communities they serve! Thank you Saltchuk!

Aside from having an incredible family, training hard, and supportive sponsors, it takes the reenforcement of a team. This includes the coaches, athletes, PT's, massage therapists, Sports Psychologists, and many more. I am lucky to have two incredible teams that have weaved a platform of support and commitment to this dream. My incredible Alaska Pacific University Team that I spend the many long summer and fall training weeks with, and secondly, the National Team that I spend the winter racing with. Both of these teams have kept me committed to this chase towards my goals, and encouraged me to push through many tough times!

The World Championship Team

As I spend these next two weeks chasing some of my largest goals of the season, I know I have done the work. I have trained incredibly hard, I have committed my mind and body to this goal, and I have surrounded myself in the people and teams that have believed in me.

I can't wait to get the World Championships started!!

I encourage everyone to tune in and watch. See message below just released by US Ski Team:

Nordic Worlds Live in USA

PARK CITY, UT (Feb. 14, 2015) – Live action from the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Sweden is coming to America Feb. 18-March 1. Fans across the USA and Canada will be able to follow the action at the World Championships with both live and video on demand highlights through an innovative new partnership from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. Every cross country, nordic combined and ski jumping event will be streamed live on, as well as through the official Falun2015 Live Arena app.
The Feb. 18-Mar. 1 World Championships will mark the first time U.S. fans have had comprehensive free access to an English language broadcast of World Championships. Each event will stream live on, with parallel transmission on Video highlights will also be available on the USSA Network on YouTube.
L.L.Bean will be the presenting sponsor of the live coverage from Falun. L.L.Bean has always had a love affair with cross country skiing, beginning decades ago when it first began offering skis to its customers, as well as sharing its passion for the sport by offering a wide variety of courses, trips, tours and clinics and demonstrations for skiing. Most recently, L.L.Bean has teamed up with Kikkan Randall, the most decorated cross country ski racer in U.S. history, to be its newest product design and testing partner. As part of its support of the live streaming coverage, L.L.Bean will feature a 30-second spot featuring Randall, as well as additional content that will be integrated into the broadcasts.
The U.S. Ski Team will feature athletes like cross country World Champions Randall and Jessie Diggins, rising World Cup star Liz Stephen, as well as defending world ski jumping champion Sarah Hendrickson, plus a Nordic combined team featuring Olympic champion Billy Demong and brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher. Over 700 athletes from more than 50 countries will compete in the Nordic World Championships in cross country skiing, ski jumping and nordic combined events.
The Falun2015 Live Arena app is powered by Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), the World Championships’ digital experience partner, who has created a platform that will collect a vast amount of data and information from myriad sources throughout the championships.
Most notably, the app will provide a context for the data by correlating static maps and athlete information with competition tracking information alongside the live streaming. It will provide a much more engaging experience than simply watching a video stream, allowing users to be more involved with the event itself.
The Falun2015 Live Arena mobile app is expected to provide the best ‘second screen’ application ever for a skiing event, allowing fans to use the app as a single source for following the race, or a complement to watching live web streaming on or
The app is available for iOS devices.
Falun2015 Live Arena Features
Track view: Take part in the competition from the point of view of your favorite skier, or from the TV camera of your choice.
Ski jump: Follow the ski jumping live.
Lugnet: Take a tour around the ski stadium at Lugnet and take part in the events on-site.
Medals plaza: Join the celebrations and medal ceremonies at the main square in Falun.
Interactive camera: Follow the action and zoom to points of interest from your free-flying virtual camera.
Connected Snow: Through sensors and connectivity, app users can experience a heat map, showing where the snow is coldest – an important parameter for skiing.

Russia and Beyond

SInce arriving in Russia January 21st, it has been a serious series of events. Beginning with a bumpy plane ride, a marginally sketchy landing down into Moscow Russia, a patient trip through Customs, where you cross your fingers and just hope your Visa was done correctly as the Border Control Officers seem to stare at your passport for way too long…. and finishes with a long and seriously bumpy 6 hour bus ride up to the famous Rybinsk, Russia. Arriving and traveling in Russia is always unique. It is very different than your normal experience, and requires a fair amount of patience. Somewhere during this unusually long plane, customs, bags, sketchy bumpy bus experience I noticed I no longer had my phone…. so to make this wonderful travel day even better, my drowsy state of travel allowed me to leave my phone on the airplane seat, only to be snatched up by someone immediately. That is a good way to turn "tired Sadie" into an emotional downward spiral! For the six hour bumpy bus ride driving across roads that resemble bumpy fields rather than highways…. I went through this airplane ride, reliving my responsible self… just wishing I had used my brain a little bit more than I had chosen to. In the US, the flight attendants often say in English "please check your seat and make sure you haven't left any belongings". Something I may have brainlessly blocked out in the past…. will now become the true reminder every time I exit the plane!

OK…. it may suck to lose a phone when you are in Europe because retrieving another US Sim Card, and buying a new phone from afar is not that easy…. but at least I didn't lose my Passport!! That would have been a lot worse! So, I tried to just relax, and finish this long day without getting too bent out of shape.

The next six days it was back to business…. training well, recovering well, finding some Russian food to fill me up, staying warm in the frigid cold temps of Rybinsk, and racing hard! I quickly gathered my focused self after an early bump during the travel and dove back into the racing focus. As temperatures hovered below zero degrees F, combined with super high humidity… staying warm was the focus. Breathing masks, kinesio tape, and 3 layers of pants, 5 layers on top, two buffs…. and down pants were the solution. Spending time racing in Europe this winter has meant that we are often above 32 degrees…. with this funky warm winter. So, it took a bit to adjust to these freezing cold temperatures. Not only is the temperature different, but the skiing is very different as well. The snow becomes much slower to ski on, and even trickier to kick classic skis on.

Staying warm and looking silly.
Mass Start Race- USSA photo
The weekend ended up going well, as I made it into the semi finals, finally, only my second time ever on the World Cup. Rybinsk is challenging racing, even if a huge portion of the World Cup Field is missing. Somehow, 20 Russian woman fill in the empty spots and keep the competition level high! There were so many highlights from the weekend including Liz on the podium, Rosie scoring her first World Cup points (13th!!!!), Jessie matching her individual best, both in the sprint and the skiathlon (5th!!!!!!!), and MY BROTHER SCORING HIS FIRST SPRINT POINTS in 19th. Super cool, and super fun weekend!
celebrating Ida's birthday with some Russian made goodies.
Link to some quarterfinals that you can watch both Erik and I. (My heat starts at 7:50)

Next stop, back to central Europe, and a little preparation time before World Championships. Somehow I convinced Jo to come visit for a little 10 day break from work, and a 10 day break from "focus" for me. So, Jo got to join me for my "World Champ pre-camp". He did a good job of keeping me training hard, and keeping me happy. Even though he hasn't cross country skied so much in the past 10 years of his life… somehow he can still manage to stay in front of me… darn!! We managed to fit a few days of "less skinny skis" into the preparation schedule, which was a fun little treat. Jo just finished his full licensing in ski instructing, so I always love to see a different side of him when we go out into the mountains and he goes into his ski instructor mode! 

Enjoying the powder from a higher place.

Awesome to have my wonderful Physical Therapist from home, Zuzana Rodgers, on the road for 5 weeks! She used to be an amazing alpine skier in her past life... so her and Jo were keeping each other good company on the down!
The APU Crew.
12 great days of recovering, training, recovering, training, and we are back at it. We just arrived in Sweden for our final World Cup Weekend before World Championships begins, February 19th in Falun, Sweden. There will be live streaming available, so be sure to tune in.

Erik, making friends in the sunshine as he waits for the girls to catch up on an easy distance ski.
Rosie and I pushing through some slow powder on a speed day.
Morning French Lessons.
Enjoying a date night with a garden of Frogs... my favorite!!!
Sunny ski with my Alaska buddies!
Marine joining us for interval day!
Funny to see him on skinny skis!
Strength training!
Keeping my French wax tech, JP, happy!
The argument continues.... skinny vs. fat!

"Welcome to Estonia"

In all three times I have been here racing in Otepaa, Estonia- there is one song that plays over and over again in the stadium and get's stuck in my head as I ski around the courses in the "grey tint" of Estonia. This is the song called, "Welcome to Estonia". You can listen to it here:

I feel like this song just sums it up! I have always loved coming and racing in Estonia, because I feel like it "keeps me real". As a World Cup athlete, we are often racing in beautiful places, staying in cute little hotels situated in the Alps…. and sometimes I find I need a little "check". Estonia has always been that place for me. Although it is often grey, and more times than not, the sun is hidden behind layers of rain or freezing cold temperatures, it is still fun! The food may not be gourmet, but it tastes good! The Estonians are friendly, helpful, (often beautiful), and they just seem down to earth in the best way! They love their little grey home, and they are proud of it! I have a great deal of respect for that- and honestly, I love that they find their own "beauty" without the mountains, sunshine, and chaos! 

Welcome to Estonia- the view of the stadium from our bedroom window.
Soph and I found some fun and random hats in one of the two stores we could find in town.
So, as this little upbeat song gets played on repeat for the five days we generally spend here in Otepaa;  in my own way, I am always reminded of the true "pleasures" in life. 

Tech Races- best part of the week. Watching our wax tech's thrown down in a team event against all the other waxing teams!! So fun!! Here is JP all ready to go with a waxed mustache and all!

And their off!
Dream Team! Matt, Oleg and JP
OK, on to the racing! It has been a fun week of training and racing here in Estonia. First off, my best friend from home, and the continental cup leader, Rosie Brennan, arrived to join the group. She just got done crushing Nationals back home; so I have been so excited to get her over here to join us. Not to mention, I have missed my roommate and best buddy from back home. So, we have been having a little reunion this week being hotel roommates. It has been awesome to catch up with her and get all the updates about my teammates back home. 
Rosie and I running through the rainy afternoon.

Racing came quickly, beginning with the classic sprint. I had one of my better heats, and just missed qualifying onto semi's by a photo finish….. darn! As frustrating as it seems now to have two weekends missing moving on in a photo finish… I have some confidence it is coming! If at first you don't succeed… try, try again! If you want to watch, it is on youtube. My heat starts around 15 minutes:

Photo finish... soo close!
Day two was team sprinting, one of my favorite events in skiing. I love the perfect combination of both speed and endurance you need for an event like this. I have always really enjoyed team sprinting in the past, so I have been looking forward to this one for a while. Soph and I finally got to make a SODIESPECIAL team sprint, but a series of unlucky events left us standing on the side cheering on our teammates Ida and Rosie for the finals, rather than joining them. With some variable and slowing weather conditions combined with some falls… it just wasn't the magic we were capable of. But, that's ok. As with all racing, sometimes things just don't work out right. It was incredibly exciting to watch Rosie and Ida race their hearts out and finish 6th!! So impressive and fun to watch!

Always the best of crowds here! Nordic Focus photo

We now have two days of training here in Otepaa before heading to Rybinsk, Russia for next weekends period of "cold racing". Hopefully the warm weather gods will grant us one last "warm weather wish" and keep Rybinsk from freezing over!!

Happy Snow Day- FIS photo

Tour de Ski

For the first time, I participated in the Tour de Ski… otherwise known as the "big battle". For years I have been watching this race, and dreaming of the challenge of participating in it. Never did I really realize what exactly it entailed though. I knew that there was somewhere between 7-9 races. I knew that it ended with a hill climb. And, I knew that it entailed racing in several different locations.
Dinner with the Haub's in Obersdorf- some of Erik and my WONDERFUL supporters! So wonderful to share an evening with them!
Not until starting it did I realize that it is a constant RUSH of testing, racing, sleeping, resting, packing, traveling, racing, sleeping, eating, driving, resting, racing, etc., etc.  There are very few seconds to turn your brain off, and truly relax. 

My tour roommate J.Diggs enjoying some nice views and beauty sunshine!
One of the road trips between venues. Race, come home and grab your bags, and jump in the van for a 3 hour road trip to the next venue. Fun stuff!
With such quick turnover... sometimes it just isn't worth it to unpack
The first two races of the Tour were in Obersdorf, Germany, somewhere I had never been. The French Team was friendly enough to bring Erik and I over to Germany, so we quickly jumped back into the swing of racing after a wonderful break! After a nice streak of cold, snow, and wintery conditions… conditions switched just in time to rain and tropical storm as the racing began. Although it seemed to be a constant downpour in Obersdorf, somehow we found ourselves lucky enough to never race in the rain! While it was warm, it wasn't soaking us! Obersdorf was overly exciting for me, because I had my very first top 10 of the season… in SKATE skiing. Something I wasn't even dreaming I would achieve this year, so I was pretty stoked. Starting on a good note, I was ready to "head to battle" with a smile!

Hanging out waiting for the "Tour de Ski Opening Ceremonies"

Skate Prologue in Obersdorf- Marcel Hilger Photo
Knocking Knees.. always! Marcel Hilger Photo- 10k Classic, Obersdorf
The four days of racing included:

3.3k Prologue- Obersdorf, Germany

10k Classic Mass Start- Obersdorf, Germany

Skate Sprint- Val Mustair, Switzerland

5k Classic- Toblach, Italy

Enjoying some sunshine with my buds in Val Mustair
Some Val Mustair Sprinting.
It was an exciting 5 days of traveling, racing, staying healthy and strong, and putting our best efforts down each day. I found it so fun and exciting to race, and know we were having another chance the following day!

Recovery Methods... massage, ice baths, contrast baths, stretching... and SLEEPING

Before the Tour, my coach, Flora, and I put together a plan for Period 2 of racing. This included doing the first four stages of the tour, resting in Ramsau for a week, and then racing in Estonia and Russia the following two weekends. Not knowing how the tour would go, I was excited and set with this plan. When day four of the tour came around, the 5k Classic in Toblach, I finished the race, and found myself sitting 7th overall in the Tour. Suddenly this plan I had made didn't sound so fun… I wanted to keep going! As I did my warm down, I took a step back, and thought about my goals for the season. Some of the top ones on the list revolved around early February, in Falun, for World Championships. While it seemed so tempting to keep going in this incredibly fun pursuit, the Tour de Ski, I stuck to my guns, and kept the same plan. I have many more years ahead to take on "the big beast". 

Givin' it all!
Sometimes it just feels so good to go to exhaustion!
I have watched the Tour de Ski for many years now, but I now feel like I have the true appreciation for it. I have so much more respect not only for the people that win it, but everyone that completes it!! It is incredible to watch people just tough it out, and keep fighting, day after day… when it seems impossible to have that much energy for so long! I only did four days, and it felt HARD! Not only that, all the staff are having a race of their own!! For them, they are working like crazy, driving us, going to all the meetings, and hardly getting any rest. They have our job, except without the rest and recovery! Yikes! Big thanks to you guys!

JP and I doing some testing (Anatolii Tsymbalov photo)

I am now in Ramsau, Austria trying to enjoy 5 days of rest and recovery, before jumping back into the swing of things and heading to Estonia for a sprint weekend. 

More racing to come soon!

Holiday Break

APU Christmas Fun

Growing up, Christmas was my favorite times of the year. I loved the holidays. To me, it meant family time, playing in the snow, presents, yummy meals, and lots of holiday spirit. In the Bjornsen household, we celebrate in full force! For the past two years, I have spent Christmas away from my family, and overseas. Having a french boyfriend, and his french family nearby- I have learned to appreciate the "french christmas" a bit more. While it is very different, it has become something to look forward to in a new way. They put together an amazing meal, and like Americans, surround themselves in lots of family! I learned that Santa actually comes and brings presents to children in France…. he doesn't just show up in the middle of the night when the children are sleeping. Neat!

Christmas Dinner Party at the Saquet's
Jo helping the little guy's unwrap their gifts from Santa
I asked Santa for snow.... but it didn't quite come as I was hoping.
Christmas in Meribel
Having a ten day break from racing meant that I had a small opportunity to get some "away time". I have learned my ski racing depends on being happy. Being happy means getting a little time away, and finding some time to turn my "professional/serious brain off". I am lucky to have my boyfriend living over on this side of the pond, so I get to go have a little break with him. He is always working a lot during Christmas, so it just means a lot of resting and catching up on life. There wasn't much snow in Meribel, so I was finding myself doing more hiking and jogging than normal, but it was just a nice "mental vacation". I did manage to force myself to ski once a day on the mini .5k loop of ice… but it was the hiking on dirt that I was most enjoying!
Not much snow, but a whole lot of enthusiasm! Love meeting up with my little "Meribel Ski Club buddies"
Enjoying some good wine and good food "while in France"
The awesome Meribel Ski Club girlies
Discovering some cabins in the hills while out running.
After 5 days in Meribel, I headed towards Villard de Lans, where my brothers girlfriend and her family live. Holidays are a prime time to get extremely home sick, so it was really nice to meet up with my brother. It was also really fun to meet Marine's family, who took me in and made me feel right at home! I quickly fell in love with Villard and the Dusser's! The skiing is some of the best skiing I have done, the area is really beautiful, and the people are all wonderful in Villard! There are many french biathletes and nordic skiers living in Villlard, so we were in great company as well! It is definitely a place I will go back to!
Polar Plunge...
Skiing in Autrons (just a few k's from Villard). Maybe my new favorite place in the world to ski!!
One evening we went bowling, and made bets with each other. I won my bet, so Robin (one of the skiers on the French Team) had to wax my skis for training... he is not quite as good as my French Tech on the World Cup.. but I had some good training skis!
Running through the streets of Villard with Erik and Marine
A view of town.
Marine soaking in some evening sunshine.
Interval day, getting chased by Marine
Pretending we are in the Methow for the day.
Marine's sister, Fanny, getting my fingers ready for some golden Tour de Ski days.

After five short days, Erik and I jumped in with the French team and headed to the Tour de Ski. Updates from the Tour de Ski coming soon..!!

Headed for Obersdorf with the French Squad.

Dropping Back onto Earth

It is has been some time since the last time I posted! I don't think I necessarily dropped off the face of the earth, but I definitely took a little break from the world of "inter web". So, I will take you all through a brief synopsis of Period 1 of racing, and a month of happenings. 

World Cup Openers were in Kuusamo, Finland this year with a double classic weekend. Classic Sprinting and classic 10k. With some "less than normal" weather, conditions were warm and tricky, which made for some tricky skiing and waxing conditions over the weekend. The sprint heats left me with some icing skis on the top of both hills which pulled me out of the chase. Sunday's 10k was a new try, and new conditions. JP really nailed the wax, so this time I came with a little more of a chase! 
Doing some Fischer Photo Shoots in Kuusamo with Nordic Focus
Thanksgiving looks a little different from the road.... :) :)
Soph doing some media fun
Jess taking advantage of our small oven in Kuusamo and making us some delicious banana bread!!

One week later we were back in Lillehammer, Norway, one of my favorite places to race. I have always loved racing in Norway. I just love the feeling, I love the confidence I mysteriously always find, and I just love the whole atmosphere and history behind this sport! This year we had our "mini tour" weekend here with 3 races: two distance and one sprint. The highlight from this weekend was making my first distance points in skate skiing during the 5k skate race! It was pretty darn fun!

Just having a little extra fun!
Lillehammer brought some different significance to me this year, other than just ski racing. The past 4.5 years I have been working on school at Alaska Pacific University. So, this year, Lillehammer marked as the home for my senior presentation. Because I was on the road during the time that I would normally present my "senior project" to the Anchorage Community and APU faculty; I had to instead give a "virtual presentation" over a program similar to Skype. Often the places we are staying and racing in Europe have internet…. but it is pretty iffy. It is rare you can carry a successful Skype conversation without being cut out. So, the big stress was finding a place with dependable internet in order to give the best presentation without being "cut out" to my audience back in Alaska that would be grading my project. My norwegian buddy, Celine Brun-Lie, contacted the University in Lillehammer and set me up with an incredibly friendly and helpful man, Christine, that set up a meeting room for me, and the very best internet connection. So, 7PM on Wednesday night I headed over to the University to present my project I have spent the last 8 months working on. It was so neat and special to have all my friends, family and teammates sign on from all over the world- and then also hear the audience that collected in the classroom in Anchorage!

It was so fun to spend some time with Ella Hall, my neighbor from back home in the Methow, who was over here in Norway being the most brave 17 year old ever, and going to school here!
Thank you to this awesome guy, Pete Dickinson for generously donating his PT expertise and time for three weeks! 
So, fast forward one more week, and we arrive in Davos, Switzerland for the next weekend of World Cup Racing. Again, this week is significant for another reason other than racing. This is because I signed in to my final class, turned in my final paper, and sealed the deal for being DONE WITH SCHOOL. With a little celebration, some nice gifts from my teammates, and some bricks being lifted off my shoulders, I quickly tried to focus my energy back into ski racing. With a bit of an off weekend, I missed making sprint heats by .01 seconds (too close to even imagine), and I didn't have the classic race I was capable of. I have always struggled a bit in Davos, so I wasn't dishearten; I just left the weekend looking for some more!
Marcel Hilger photo
Marcel Hilger photo

Really fun to meet some of the girls on the Russian Ski Team!!
Thanks to Liz Arky and Levi for some wonderful cheering and amazing support!!
With no snow in La Clusaz (our next stop for the World Cup), the final weekend of racing before Christmas break got relocated in Davos again- another weekend of racing on the challenging Davos courses. The final weekend would include a skate race, and a skate sprint- double skating! Determine to test out my skating again, I jumped into the 10k distance race, excited to see what I could do. I managed to "just sneak into" the points, in 29th. Still a victory for me. By the final day of racing, I was exhausted. With lots of racing in period 1, and lots of training at altitude, I was left digging for every last bit of energy in the sprint qualifier. Again, I showed up short, missing the heats by a little less than a second!! While frustrated, I finished this past weekend of racing ready for a break.

Finding something new to take my energy!
Jess singing and playing me to sleep

Thanks to this wonderful French man for some fast skis and happy times!
Fun to always have someone around to make you smile! Professor Gus, making sure JP stays on top of his stuff!
So, this meant jumping in the van with the French Team and heading west for some much needed rest and recovery in Meribel. I woke up this morning and looked outside to find all the hills brown! It is crazy, you can hardly even tell it is winter here. There is no snow anywhere. This afternoon I went for a little hike behind Jo's house in the sunshine and found people hiking around with shorts, t-shirts and walking sticks…. something I would imagine in June or July! This afternoon I will adventure up a bit higher and see if I can find a place to potentially ski. But things are looking pretty grim! It has been so sad to see the lack of snow all over Europe this winter. 

Not enough snow for much.....
The cross country skiers were lucky that we were able to race four weekends! There has been a lot of World Cup Racing cancelled in Europe so far. There are very few places with enough snow to hold a race, so I feel pretty lucky to have so many venues willing to put in a lot of extra hard work to allow the races to be pulled off. Big thanks to Davos for some incredible work…. two weekends in a row!

Not much snow in Davos- but they pulled it off really well!!
Now we all cross our fingers for some snow storms in Central Europe so that we can have the Tour de Ski, and of course all the racing after that!!

For the next two weeks I will be chasing snow around France. First I will have some time with Jo, then Christmas with his family in Hauteville, and then some time in Villard de Lans with my brother's girlfriends family. And after that? Who knows…. with this lack of snow, I have learned you can't really make so many plans!

Best Christmas and wintery wishes to everyone!! Enjoy the wonderful holidays, and I will check back in soon!
Soph and I finding some Christmas Spirit

Week 1 On the Road

One week has already flown by of this 2014-2015 season on the road. You know what that means?? Time to start racing!!

We spent the past week living and skiing in Munio, Finland- approximately 300 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. That means many things.

1) It takes 30 hours of travel to get from Anchorage, Alaska to here!

2) It doesn't get light until 9:30, and it begins to get dark at 2:30PM

3) I haven't gotten to say hello to the sunshine since I got here. It is almost like a constant sunset/sunrise all day, which is actually really neat and pretty!
One of the sunrises that goes all day (Sophie photo)

4) BRRRR, it is cold here! We are staying right on the ski trails, which means we walk to training every day, and we can escape to our cabin pretty easily if we underdressed or just need a little break to warm up!
Doing some testing with my new tech, JP. Chilly times! (Reese Hanneman photo)
5) Snow! There is snow, and plenty of it! There is a great little 5 kilometer loop groomed that has provided for some awesome training and interval sessions as we prepare for the World Cup next weekend in Kuusamo, Finland.
Enjoying some snow! (Sophie photo)
6) We are surrounded by other skiers. It has been fun to have some other teams here including the Estonian's, the Polish, the Finnish, and many younger training groups from Norway, Sweden, and Finland.
Following Justyna during intervals one day.
It has made for a great week. Early on, I got to celebrate my birthday, which is always really fun on the road. My teammates are always incredible at making me feel special all day, surprising me with gifts, nice cards, and cakes! Not only that, I get a second birthday when everyone in the US wakes up 10 hours later and sends me many wishes! It is the best! Thanks everyone.

Some amazing Northern Lights (Reese Hanneman photo)
The older you get- the larger the birthday candles! 
I was so excited to have the best Norther Lights show ever the night of my birthday. It was a cold, clear night- so they were really popping! Reese caught some really awesome photos on his camera, I am not sure how, but it was pretty amazing!

We found some time to go visit the local Middle School in town to tell the kids about what we do. It was amazing how well most of them spoke English! (Caitlin photo)
Making strength a little more exciting adding the danger factor. (Sophie photo)
Today we take a 5-6 hour road trip south and towards Russia landing in Kuusamo- the venue for the opening World Cup's. Can't wait to get started!!


For one month now, I have been preparing. Preparing for racing, preparing to leaving, preparing for my graduation, and preparing to spend another five months away from home.

Sad to say goodbye to my favorite little buddies!
Preparing for racing is the fun part! This is the time of year that snow starts falling and training starts feeling fresh after letting our bodies rest from a hard summer of training. This is the time of year that I start waking up in the night with racing dreams….. "I am running for the start, only five minutes until I take off, and I have grabbed one skate and one classic pole. I spin around and run back for the cabins in fear, counting down the seconds until I start". These dreams occasionally come in the middle of the summer, but most the time they are a sign that the racing season is coming. Preparing for racing also means changing up the training. It means shorter and easier training sessions matched with some good quality shorter intervals and time trials. 

Doing some sprinting when the snow was still around
Back to roller skiing

Preparing for leaving is the "less fun" part. Preparing for leaving entails trying to find time for all my friends to say goodbye, finding a storage unit to park my car in, sending early christmas presents, organizing my room so that if I need someone to bring something I forgot, I know exactly where to find it. Most importantly though, it entails packing. I decided this year that I need to make a master packing list…. because each year I spend the month leading into my departure writing little notes in my phone, reminding myself things to bring. This is what one of my checklist notes would look like:
Parking the beauty blue.
-Hand Sanitizer (this is how we attempt to stay healthy eating at buffet's for all of our meals)
-Shampoo and Conditioner (I really don't like the Euro stuff, I much prefer US Herbal Essence)
- Peanut Butter (A staple of race morning breakfast)
- American Coffee
- American Gum
- Powerbars
- Hot mug
- Water bottle holder
- Wax for Meribel (when I go visit Jo, I am waxing on my own, so I have slowly gathered enough wax there to take care of myself)
- Head Lamp (for our first month in the dark north, north lands)
- Nook
- Triple A batteries
- Flecter patches (in case my bone spurs flare up again)
- Bjorn Daehlie shorts and T-shirt for working out in the gym
- Christmas Pajama pants- this helps when I am getting super home sick and dreaming of being home with my family
- Harddrive
- Something for the Fischer boot maker that made me four custom boots before I was totally satisfied. This guy is awesome!
- Cold Medication (if I buy it in the US, then I know it passes the US anti-doping regulations. Better safe than sorry!!)
- Earplugs (Having a roommate for five months means you have to find your own ways to take care of your sleeping needs)
- L.L. Bean rain suit (for those days that Global Warming strikes and for some reason it rains rather than snows)

Packing party with the girls team
So that is just a list of the few things that came to my mind as I was traveling, or away from home, and felt like if I didn't jot them down I was going to forget. As I said, it seems it should be time to simply create a master list. Some of these staple items like peanut butter, and gum and coffee…. you can find them all in Europe, but I have just found it makes me happier to enjoy the US products for as long as possible. The importance of this whole "spend the winter racing in Europe" is to find what makes me happy. For me, Christmas means a lot to me! So I have to take a few things that will make me feel at home and festive. Being happy means enjoying the experience, enjoying the racing, and enjoying my job!

Preparing for graduating means meeting with all of my professors, making sure they are satisfied, making sure they understand where I will be the next month, just keeping them in the loop. Next, it means checking in at the registers office, auditing my transcript and files, making sure I have all my credits to be done. Part of this preparation means setting up my senior project presentation. For all that would like to listen, I will post a link on my blog to the online portal where you can log on and listen to me give my thesis presentation. It is scheduled for December 2nd, my first day in Norway, where I will be preparing for the Lillehammer World Cup's. 

Preparing for spending another five months away from home is the final preparation. This means making my bed for when I arrive back home, this means making calls to all my closest family and friends telling them goodbye, and this means reflecting on what a fun and successful training season I have had. Now it is time to get this party started! I am really looking forward to this coming season. I will be racing the full World Cup Season for the second time now, hopefully spending more time racing this year, and less time sitting on the sidelines getting over sickness. I will also be starting the Tour de Ski for the first time after Christmas!!

Period 1 racing schedule:
November 29: Kuusamo, Finland Claassic Sprint
November 30: Kuusamo, Finland 10k Skate
December 5: Lillehammer, Norway Skate Sprint
December 6: Lillehammer, Norway 10k Skate
December 7: Lillehammer, Norway 10k Pursuit
December 13: Davos, Switzerland 15k Classic
December 14: Davos. Switzerland Skate Sprint
December 20: La Clusaz, France Skiathlon
December 21: La Clusaz, France 4x5km Relay

Huge thanks to Salthcuk for signing on with me this year and partnering with me to support my ski racing this winter! Another huge thanks to Alaska Pacific University for making an awesome training season. I am going to miss you guys! Can't wait to see how well everyone does on the domestic circuit!! I am sure I will have some more APU teammates joining me mid season!
Judy Patrick photo
APU girls enjoying some training
Becca getting some serious air time in jumps.

Now, it's off to Finland we go!!

Park City Camp

Last winter, I made a goal for myself, when I was loading onto the airplane for the 5 month World Cup Season in November. As I was taking off, I had this feeling of sadness. I wasn't ready to leave home and spend my life as a traveling suitcase. As I tried to find some solutions to this problem, I decided the following summer (the one that we have just completed) I was going to spend as much time as possible at home, at Alaska Pacific University. This way, I would be excited to leave, and it wouldn't just mean packing up and living the suitcase life again.

A train of teammates and buddies to train with.. makes this so much fun!
So… I accomplished this goal and spent maybe even enough time in Alaska this summer/fall to receive my PFD next year. From the time that I returned from World Cup last year, I have made my very best effort to spend as many days as possible tucking into my own bed, driving my own car, and regularly checking my mail. Alaska had the most amazing summer, so my goal of "being ready to leave" wasn't accomplished during any periods of the summer. By early October though…. after one straight month of 30-45 degree rain every single day… I was pretty darn well close. As I packed up my bags for Park City Camp for the final 3 week National Team Camp before the season, I was "excited to leave". I was even thrilled as I packed my bags, the "trial run" before the real 5 month packing job in mid November. 

One snowy, cold day in PC!
Starting off in one of our time trials. (Noah Hoffman photo)
As I arrived in Park City, I was taken from Alaskan weather that left me wearing multiple layers under rain jackets, to sunny Utah, where there were multiple days of shorts and sports bras! From winter back to summer- yehooo!

Sun, Smiles and Friends! (Matt Whitcomb photo)
Back to the shorts. (Matt Whitcomb photo)
Thanks to the incredible Zuzana Rodgers and Advanced Physical Therapy for taking care of us so well!
Zuzana taking care of Liz after a hard Time Trial!
The beginning of the camp consisted of lots of testing, measuring, and analyzing. I always struggle with this part, as every year I come into Park City with a different load of training, and a different feeling of rested. This year, I came into testing more tired, and more trained than I ever have been. Fighting off a virus a few weeks before getting to PC, I still wasn't feeling up to "strong par" when it came time to jump onto the rollerski treadmill. As I fought mentally to not give up, and keep pushing through some serious exhaustion, I eventually couldn't anymore, and allowed myself to go flying off the back, caught by the safety harness. 
Focus, Focus!!
The end!
Strength testing.
Nothing about that rollerskiing  treadmill test is ever pretty! In fact, I found myself choking up as I watched and cheered on my teammate, Liz Stephen complete it, pushing and digging as deep as physically possible.. Watching a race is very different then watching a treadmill test. A race requires a perfectly perfected performance of energy exertion, never to the maximum, because lying on the top of the hill having given maximum effort wouldn't be too effective. Instead, an athlete is executing different levels of effort depending on the course, the type of race, and the length. You often can see the pain in their bodies as they cross the finish line, having given every last bit of effort, just enough to get across the line. But here, for this treadmill test, you are hooked up to a breathing tube, you are balancing on your skis on a treadmill whizzing by underneath you, and you are digging as absolutely deep as possible. You are in a fight with this treadmill, trying to win against a machine! You are mentally screaming inside your head "I can do 10 more seconds. NO, I can do 15 more seconds ". It is an endless battle of how mentally tough you can be. As I watched Liz fight this treadmill, and fight this effort, I suddenly found tears coming to my eyes. It is pretty emotional to watch someone put so much effort down, they are eventually flung off the back gasping for oxygen and strength. We like to ask each other afterwards "Who won? The treadmill or you?" And to no surprise… somehow the treadmill always wins!

Liz striding and gliding!
After getting all the testing and measuring done- the fun stuff began; the training part! There were a few unfortunate events that took place at the beginning of the camp that threw a few people for a loop including Sophie tripping and falling on pavement, resulting in another broken elbow. She has been incredible, seeing it as yet another hurdle, and finding a way to keep training! That girl is going to move mountains this winter- you can see it in her eyes (and her fitness). 

Matt taking care of Soph, and getting her shoes tied before training.
Soph running up Hermodes during the time trial cheering me on!

Training in these past 2.5 weeks has been awesome. We have hammered out some great speed and interval training down in Soldier Hollow, home of the 2002 Olympics. We have had some beautiful skis up canyons with amazing fall leaves. We did some sweet recovery runs straight from the front door up in Deer Valley at 8000 feet (where the air is thin). It has been an awesome few weeks of training, and I am now leaving, feeling good and ready for a fun season ahead!

Sophie and I are doing a Training Rap for SkiTrax, where we will be alternating two weeks at a time of updating on our daily training regimes. Bookmark this site if you are interested to get a scope into our yearly training routines on and off the racing circuit. Click on the link below to check it out. My goal for this is to show all the young athletes that training doesn't have to be beautiful. Everyone trains different, everyone trains different amounts, and everyone is unique!

Some speed training. (SMS photo)
Intervals up some beauty canyons. (Matt Whitcomb photo)
(SMS photo). 
One of our first days in Park City we had a Fast and Female event, one that includes all the different US Ski Team, Freeskiing and Snowboard sports, and a few more. I had an extra amount of fun because my young cousin from Jackson Hole came and joined in. She is 14 now and just getting into competitive alpine skiing. It was so neat to see her confidence and strength, something that I found was best learned through sport! I can't even wait to have another Bjornsen join into the top level of skiing! I can see, she is going to be a little star!

Cork, and our strength coaches baby... Kikk a little jealous that Cork gets to hold the baby!
Working hard on the 2002 Olympic Courses.
Joining Soph for her first run since breaking her elbow- SODIE SMILES!
Hiking Bald Mountains with some buddies.
I am currently on the airplane from Salt Lake to Chicago for a brief trip to the city for a US Ski Team Fundraiser Ski Ball. Being a member of the A Team requires that we attend one of the fall fundraisers where we get to meet some of our team sponsors and donors. This entails getting dressed up all fancy and visiting Chicago, a city I have never been to! I am looking forward to being a tourist for a few days and walking around getting to know a new area of the US. I only wish it was a little closer so I could visit some of my midwestern family!!

From Chicago I will be heading back to Alaska for three more weeks of training and preparation before jumping on the plane for my 5 month trip back onto the World Cup Circuit. I have been seeing lots of pictures of skiing in Anchorage, so I am hoping the snow sticks around for a bit so I get to join in on the fun in a few days!

LAST, but NOT least!!

It is Drive for 25 season. What that means is that the National Nordic Foundation, a huge supporter of the Nordic Community is hosting its annual fundraiser. These funds go towards supporting young juniors on their first trips to Europe, supporting camps, supporting project for the US Ski Team that we don't have funding for, and making sure everyone is charging forward and provided with opportunities. The National Nordic Foundation has been a huge support in my career as I was growing up and attending my first National and International competitions. They recognize the importance in development, and they are there to help! The goal of Drive for 25 is to have as many people as possible to donate $25, resulting in huge involvement, and large support. Below is a link to my fundraising page.

I encourage everyone to get involved and join in on this incredible excitement and movement the US is having! Thanks to everyone in advance!

Fall for fun- fun for Fall!

This fall has been following the general theme of this year, a whole heck of a lot of fun! It started on a more negative note…. 1 month straight of rain and 40 degrees. 3 weeks into it, I picked up a little virus that my household managed to catch, and I spent two weeks battling the buggy, trying to find my groove again. Unfortunately, every time I went out to train, it equaled to a cold, wet, draining experience. I took four straight days of lying in bed, and relaxing and recharging which eventually brought me back to life. After a huge summer of training, I have a feeling that virus may have just saved me; because that two weeks of rest has left me feeling rejuvenated and ready to go.

Aside from having a little crummy weather- Alaska has made up for it with two weeks of cool, clear, amazing, fun, fall days! Some of the fun adventures have included:

Clear, beautiful view from up high in the hills.

Olivia time- one of the young talented juniors from my home town, the Methow Valley, finally caved to my peer pressure of coming to check out APU. It is no longer a secret how much fun the APU team is with a great group of athletes, the best coach in the world, perfect training, glacier skiing, opportunities to go to school and ski at the highest level, Kikkan Randall… oh man, it is all so good. So Olivia finally caved to the pressure and came up for a few days. It was fun to be a tour guide for a week trying to show her just how much fun we have. 

APU women's team taking in Olivia
Training in the Rain- Sometimes you just have to embrace the crumminess of the weather. There is something that somehow makes you feel all the much more hardcore when you come home soaked to the core, covered in mud, and totally stoked!
Rosie Frankowski working hard indoors
New strength routines on the rings.
Mountain Adventuring- With some functioning feet this year, I have gotten to adventure to so many places right here in Anchorage. The foothills just here in town are incredible! There are even blueberries left to snack on at the top :)

Made it to one HUGE white rock!
Jo found himself a rainbow!
Exploring a new sport..!
Running with the moms- There are a lot of many wonderful mom's I have gotten to know since moving to Anchorage. I always have such a busy schedule, I never get to spend time with these amazing people. Many of my afternoon training sessions are on my own, so I have gotten to spend some time with these incredible ladies in the afternoons. The secret that I learned… these moms, they have mad mom power! They make me work to keep up, holy cow!! Makes sense now, why MY mom can still kick my butt- it is a secret mom power!

Hunting- Growing up vegetarian means that I didn't really have the appreciation for hunting that many others have. Guns scare me, meet grosses me out when it's not cooked… but the idea of hiking around searching for animals is more interesting. My boyfriend Jo is the king of hunting, so I finally joined him this year for "the experience". A few birds later, a campfire, and awesome sunset… and it made a heck of a dinner! I may just be hooked.

Jo, with his handmade moose caller!
Camping with some amazing sky's!
Fast and Female- This year I joined the organizing crew for the Anchorage Fast and Female. With my Senior Project for my degree relating to Feasibility Studies for this awesome organization; it has been especially neat to get more involved now that I understand the background a bit more. I was in charge of organizing the stations and ambassadors, which was super fun to get to know some of the ambassadors of the various sports here in Anchorage. We managed to get 10 different sports involved this year. Swimming, Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined, Biathlon, Alpine, Nordic, Basketball, Hockey, Soccer, Tennis, Golf.. Cool! With 250 girls, we had one heck of a great time!

F and F organizing committee, Holly, myself, Joey Caterinichio, Bonnie York and Kikkan

Our largest Fast and Female Event, 250 awesome girls!
Virtual Fast and Female Chat with the new Sandpoint Ski Team!
Cooking Dinner - One of our common Fundraising methods is to sell "Dinner cooked by the APU Women". With so many girls on different schedules, we fell behind last year, so we had a series of 4 dinners to catch up on this fall. By the end, we had our meal and timing dialed. I always love these events because we get to know some really wonderful and supportive people! We have some truly generous people in the Anchorage Community believing in our APU Team and helping us move forward! This last event we did before leaving was at the new Special Olympics Gym that was built in town. It is the only Special Olympics Facility in the world! It is amazing, and we are hoping to get together with some of the Special Olympic Athletes and spend some time training with them in their incredible new facility!

Cooking crew and Women's APU Team
Special Olympics Fundraiser
Best Chef on Skinny Skis- One of our annual team fundraisers is the "Best Cheff on Skinny Skis"- a reality TV show that we are formed. See the video here for a little peak into what it is about. Lots of fun!

Fun Sponsor Activity- The fall is always a great time to get involved with our incredible sponsors. Photo shoots and organization events. It is always rewarding to spread our love for active and healthy lifestyles with the company; trying to give back to the incredible support we receive! I have just recently started working with Saltchuk which is a holding company for many transportation companies of Alaska. Aside from working with the amazing Carlile company that has been supporting me for the past three years, I have also gotten to get to know and work with some of the other companies of Saltchuk such as Northern Air Cargo, Tote, Foss and Cook Inlet Tug and Barge. 

Getting Active with Carlile Employees
Showing the Carlile Families a great view from nearby.
Photo Shoot with Tyler Kornfield and Northern Air Cargo
That about wraps up this amazingly fun fall. I am headed to Park City right now for the final National Team Training Camp before I hopefully return to three weeks of snow in AK, and then off to EUROPE for RACING TIME!!!!

Let the fun continue!