Rosie and I all bundled in our llbean rain gear- prepared for a wet descent.
2. It makes you work harder than you could ever imagine for it, but the rewards are high.
Saved by a coke after a long week, and a long final workout!
3. You are happy to make sacrifices for it on a year-around basis.
4. When it challenges you, you are willing to take on adversity and be resourceful.
Blurry hike on the treadmill after a rollerski crash left my knee and hand pretty banged up.
Best part about wearing your bones on the outside of your gloves... you can check up on any broken ones easily!
5. It brings together with an amazing group of people to collaborate with and improve from each other.
The Women's Team after a sunny and incredibly intense team sprint workout. (Eric Packer photo)
Thanks to these amazing men for keeping the Glacier going! Erik Flora, Don Haering and Andre Lovett. (Eric Packer Photo)
APU Team celebrating the end of a sweet summer! (Eric Packer photo)
Thanks to our amazing coach, Erik Flora, for managing 100 tasks, always staying positive, and believing 110%!
6. It takes you outdoors in all varieties of conditions, but never lets you focus too much on the weather.
Sunny, or.... (Eric Packer photo)
Not so pleasant....
7. It leaves you feeling fit, happy, and challenged.
Enjoying every second! (Eric Packer photo)
Tyler vs. Rosie. How to get two sets of skis up the long 1km climb from the stadium?
A perfect day on Eagle (Zuzana Rodgers photo)
8. It teaches you about a variety of things, including the changes in climate and glaciers and how to observe your surroundings.
A glacier melting down to blue ice in new places.
Many varieties of snow crystals throughout the day on Eagle. (Zuzana Rodgers photo).
9. You love every second of it, including the brutally long and challenging training hours, races, intervals, and more.
The boys pushing hard, working on uphill DP (Zuzana Rodgers photo).
Team Sprinting with Thomas-Finding the race mindset. (Zuzana Rodgers photo)
Giving it all (Zuzana Rodgers photo).
10. It constantly reminds you to be thankful for the opportunity you are given.
Racing around the world representing your country!
Skiing on a Glacier in the middle of summer...!! (Zuzana Rodgers photo).
Last week was APU's third and final week of training on Eagle Glacier for the summer. It was a successful camp despite some little hurdles thrown my way just before. (I took a big crash on roller skis that left me with a fairly banged up knee and a hand with some sort of ligament/bone damage). But, sunshine cures all frustrations, and that last kilometer skied for the summer on Eagle was my happiest. Over the course of the summer, I had some great time to work on technique goals, I got to ski hundreds of kilometers, and I got to focus my heart on ski racing 100%.
I have been to fourteen camps now on Eagle Glacier, and it still hasn't gotten old. I am just as excited, motivated, and incredibly thankful as I was my first camp on Eagle. It is so hard to believe that I train in town, jump on a helicopter, and am engulfed in winter for a full week… only to return back to town for three weeks of training, and repeat three times throughout the summer! That is a true dream world!
Since arriving up on Eagle Glacier in a very tired state fromthree previous weeks of hard training, I had to make a theme for myself in order to make it through the coming six days of challenging training. This month I have made a big step up, and with a healthy body, I have been able to participate in all the training, resulting in a much higher load than normal. With the weather being a bit foggy and warm all week, this meant for a tough week of pushing through some deeper slush and practicing training in the now very common conditions we race in Europe. Global warming often means slushy, man-made, dirty snow conditions throughout the winter. So when the going gets tough on Eagle with some deep slushy glacier snow, I know I am truly practicing my trade!
So, back to my original problem. I arrived on Eagle Glacier far more tired than I ever have, but I wanted to have a successful six days of training, so I made a theme for myself. "My body is an engine". In endurance sports, we often talk about how we want to build a Ferrari engine inside our bodies, so this was my my Eagle Glacier Plan. Granted, I don't know a whole lot about cars and engines,but I knew enough to work on what I thought a great racing engine would require:Fueling, Maintenance, Efficiency, Speed, and Power.
A little R & R in the rocks (Zuzana photo)
Fueling- While on Eagle Glacier, fueling is important, and also entirely up to your own choice. We cook group meals in the evening; but in the morning, afternoon, and snack hours, fueling is open to interpretation. Now that I have started training higher volumes, I have enjoyed experimenting with different types of foods to see how they carry me through the next training, or even the next day. For example, the later in the week of training; the more glycogen I can eat, the stronger my engine can run for the next training session, or even the next day. It is a common occurrence to be woken up in the middle of the night while training up on the glacier by hunger, so I am forced to head downstairs to eat a little snack because I can't get back to sleep. It is also common to make it through 1.5 hours of training during the second session… and find myself bonking so badly at the top of the course that I literally have to waddle back to the start of the course and find a snack in my drink belt. Avoiding these little crashes has become my goal. So, this camp, while I arrived with a high load of training, I worked really hard to keep my body fueled correctly. By avoiding useless fuel, and taking in more efficient fuel, I managed to have a very successful week of training. My favorite fueling moment came on Wednesday, during our afternoon session following morning threshold intervals. I was feeling really good in the afternoon following intervals, so I took off with a hot pace. Things felt amazing until about 1.5 hours on the top of the big climb at the far end of the course… and I began to start weaving. I could tell I couldn't really keep my technique together, and I was dragging myself around the course, not even working on the important parts of skiing. As I came into the intersection of the access road back up to the building, and the start to another loop, I pulled over and ate the fresh baked cookie in my drink belt. As I headed out for another loop, about three minutes in, I suddenly had the "invincible energy" back. Again, I felt light, quick, and strong. This is when I discovered the "cookie comeback". While you wouldn't commonly feed your Ferrari a cookie, my racing Ferrari thrived on this extremely sugary and easy to access fuel!
Some Powerbar Coke Gummies on OD day saving the day!
Maintenance- As with your nice racing car, sometimes the maintenance and care can take just as long as the actual training/racing. Many people, when they hear that as athletes, we are training 4 hours a day, they wonder what we spend our time doing the remainder of the day…. And the answer is, maintenance. As we come in from our training sessions, each athlete has their own maintenance routine. For me, this looks like: change into dry clothes, get a snack, do a stretching routine, foam rolling, massage, eat a larger meal, get my feet up and rest a little in order to recovery for second training, take care of skis (waxing and cleaning)…. and then, out for another training session, and repeat. It is literally a full days work to maintain my body and keep it healthy. A lot of times, it becomes easy to cut out large portions of this maintenance process, because it becomes easy to fill your day up with other activities. But, while on Eagle Glacier, there are no distractions. For one full week, I am living to train. I am giving 110% of my energy towards maintaining and training the very best Ferrari engine possible! Lucky for us, the APU team is sponsored by an amazing clinic, Advanced Physical Therapy. Last week we had Zuzana Rodgers, the worlds best PT up on the glacier to help us stay healthy and ready to train. For many of us, her manual labor on our stressed and tired muscles is the magic!
Big thanks to Zuzana Rodgers!
Efficiency- Finding the most efficient way get an engine going fast is key. For a cross country skier, technique is a huge factor in efficiency, and it is also an ever changing process. With new efficiency, new movements, new techniques… the sport stays exciting. Becoming a master of the trade means being innovative, aware, and dedicated to focus. With our 20-30 hours per week spent skiing kilometers around our Eagle Glacier track, we have hundreds of thousands of repetitions to work on perfecting our technique. We often watch World Cup videos, technique examples, and videos from our previous training sessions to find cues and things to work on. My personal goal on Eagle Glacier is to focus every minute of effort on skiing the most technically well I can. Because I have skied so many kilometers with my old habits. I know that I have to spend hours and hours of work on the "better technique habits" I am working on, before I will resort to them in a race. So efficiency is an ever-going goal of mine while up on Eagle Glacier.
Speed- On day four of training camp, we often get to rip out some speed training. With the majority of our week so far being distance training, our distance muscles become extremely tired. In fact, we just feel exhausted. I am always blown away by the fact that when it comes to speed, I find this extra storage of energy I had no idea existed. I am magically able to rip out some speed when I thought I had nothing left. Then, day five we have a "practice race", where we throw down some laps around the sprint course at top speed. Again, we are feeling so exhausted, we can't even imagine we can make four laps of 1.5 kilometers. This is the speed that is fun to practice. Like World Cup racing, when it comes time to go top speed… you are rarely rested, or full of energy. Instead, it is at the end of a 1 or 5 or 30 kilometer race, and you feel you have already topped out. Instead, you have to turn that Ferrari engine up, and find one more gear of speed. The best way to train that speed, is to train it in a similarly exhausted state, on day four and five of Eagle Glacier.
Power- I think of power as your endurance. To me this is all the aerobic training I do on a yearly basis, and over my lifetime. This includes the first weeks of training in Park City with my US Teammates, the many hours of hiking and running, and the huge amounts of distance skiing that is so important in endurance sports. This is what creates my power. Eagle Glacier is all about fine-tuning my engine's power. For 25 hours, I push my already exhausted body, and tell myself I can keep going. When the weather is bad, or I am having an epic energycrash, or I am pushing over the top of the hill on the last lap of our practice race on day five ;power is that little voice in my head that says "must keep going". It is the same voice that chirps in during my racing!
Rosie, Becca and I
Voilà, that is "my engine". Now you know all the funny and hilarious things that run through my head during a week of training that feels harder than ever! It is now back to building the strongest engine in the world right here in Anchorage for three weeks of dryland before heading back up for our final week of skiing on Eagle in August.
Last week was one of the best weeks ever! My older sister got married in the Methow Valley, on a cute little ranch up above our home town. All of my family from both my mom and dad's side was able to attend, so I got to have five full days of catching up and family time. It has been years since everyone has been together, so we all felt pretty blessed to be able to make it work! As a young girl, my summer job was catering weddings, but I haven't participated in many myself. So, I got to learn all about what a wedding entails. I realized the most wonderful part about a wedding is how all your closest friends and family all gather together in one place to celebrate love; like a huge love birthday party!
Our newest member of the family!
Ask a french man to dress cowboy for a wedding.... and this is what you get ;) Jo, arriving to the Methow in style!
Maid of Honor and Best Man, speed walking down the aisle!
As the maid of honor, I also got to learn about what that role entails on a day full of chaos, excitement, and happiness. As my beautiful sister pulled on her stunning dress, got her hair and make-up done; and started walking down the aisle alongside my father, I found tears sliding down my face. I had never seen her so beautiful and happy ever! It was really neat! Not only that, we got one new member in our family, a new brother-in-law! I am pretty stoked to have Tyler join the clan, he is a wonderful guy!
Jessica and Kelly, our friends from high school doing our make-up in the sunshine.
A bunch of bridesmaids and a bride headed for the big wedding!
Our beautiful little flower girl cousin.
Jo and Granny
With five short days at home, we didn't have a whole lot of time, but we made the most of every minute of it. My cousins girlfriend caught the bouquet, so we are all hoping we get to do this all again soon!
The Kaley sisters and all the cousins.
A happy bunch of Bjornsen ladies.
Spending time with two of my favorite people out there! My sister, and my god sister!
This weekend I am headed down to Seward to watch the famous 4th of July race up Mount Marathon. Some runners from out of state/out of country will be there this year including Kilian Jornet, and Forsberg, so it should be nothing short of exciting! I have never actually been to the "top" of the mountain, so I am finally headed there this year to watch from above. Shortly after, we will head back up for another week of training on Eagle Glacier.
I step onto the snow my third day of training on Eagle Glacier, and suddenly, I am slammed with a gust of wind, somewhere between 50-60 mph. Closing my eyes, I pull my hood over my head, hold on tight to my skis and poles to make sure they don't get sent flying down glacier, and wait for it to calm. I am just thankful I am not Liz Stephen right now, otherwise I may have just gotten picked up and flown down glacier! As it momentarily calms, I quickly bend down, snap on my skis and poles, pull my sleeves down, my buff up, and secure my glasses. Although it is a complete white out, and I can hardly see my skis below me because of the dense fog… it is still bright as can be. This gives me hope the sun must be somewhere up there.
Zip up, here we go!
As I start sliding down the hill, I proceed cautiously, searching for the wands every 10 feet that mark the trail. The fog is so thick, I can't find the wands, so instead I start doing an awkward half tuck, half snow plow, searching the ground, looking for some corduroy. The wind is blowing so hard that the snow drifts are hiding the majority of the fresh corduroy… so I am going down the 1 km access trail from our little warm house slower than ever. If someone is behind me, and can actually see me, they must be laughing their heads off. I literally look like I just learned how to ski, turning hard right… realizing I am wrong, strongly overcorrecting right… realizing I am still wrong… goodness gracious, the darn trail is straight! Why do I keep expecting a turn?
Finally, I reach the "intersection", the place where our 7.5km loop meets the steep downhill access trail. I drop my water belt full of sport drink and goodies, and set out on the loop. It is interval morning, so I make sure I start my warm-up slow. As I move around the course, I wonder where am I? I know I am on the first part of the loop… but which way is up, which way is down, which was is north… more importantly which way is the cliff that drops the 5,600 feet down to the ocean? (Thank god there are wands on the course, so I know to stop if I haven't seen one for 10 feet). All I can think is thank god I don't often get lost in the mountains. My sense of direction is terrible! It is so foggy and windy I don't even know if I am going uphill or downhill. I am convinced I am going downhill, so I crouch down into a tuck… again searching the corduroy on the ground to find my way. As the wind takes a good slam, I realize I must not actually be going downhill, because my skis aren't moving. In fact, I am on an uphill, and after being blown by this gust of wind, I am going backwards. Now I am straight up laughing, this is almost comical how crazy the weather is! I have forgotten how wild it can get up here, somehow I only have memories in my brain from those sports bra and shorts laps we were doing last year!
Corey and I, pretty stoked we made it back up to the building! (We started calling this 1 km. access trail back up to the building, Alpe Cermis... because it somewhat resembles a very shortened version of the final climb of the Tour de Ski)
But, it is interval day, so I must rally myself! Finding motivation on a day like today requires a little bit of a deeper dig, but somehow it is so much more rewarding at the end of training! While it is frustrating, I keep my mind in a light mood, and stay positive. Seriously, Swedish Olympic Gold Medalist, Anna Haag is out here training with us. It is still a great day to watch her, and try to improve!
This is just a glimpse into the first half of our glacier camp that was hit by a series of stormy days. I believe this is my 14th camp on Eagle Glacier in the past five years, so 14 weeks I have spent living in the little house on the rocks, training around the belly of this enormous and incredibly accessible glacier. In all those years, I have never seen the weather quite as wild as it was the first half of the week. Huge gusts of wind that kept your poles flying sideways, your head tucked down, your hoods and buffs up… and your mind incredibly exhausted from a full blown white out. Searching for the wands every 10 feet was often the hardest part of the 4-5 hours a day of training.
Skiing with teammates often made these training sessions hilarious. If you were the one leading, you were the one looking out into this complete white out searching for the trail. If you were the one following, you were truly entertained, as the person in front of you, and your point of reference went wandering all over the place trying to find the trail. Even more challenging and frustrating was the grooming. All week, Erik Flora kept his patience together and experienced this same feeling, only 10 times worse as he sat in the cab of a Pisten Bully attempting to go straight as he searched his way through the whiteout to create a trail. In many cases, the wind was blowing the snow drifts so much, he would spend the whole training session driving around course, keeping a trail for us to follow… talk about a brain fry!!
Morning scenes inside the house. Erik preparing to head outside with the schedule posted above.
But it was awesome! It was a week of perspective. It was a week to remember how to find your motivation, how to find the positives in a less than ideal situation, and most importantly, how to be tough! Getting out in these often frustrating conditions, being constantly blasted by the wind that sometimes left hail flying at your face… it all felt like you were fighting against something. That fight throughout the season of training is what keeps me motivated. Those days when it is super tough for whatever reason, you feel like you are fighting against expectations, and you finish feeling accomplished! So, although many of my past glacier camps have been those incredible and sunny days where you feel like you can be out there forever skiing… this one kept me on my toes. It make me think a bit more about "if" I wanted to be out there training, and "why". It was a great way to start the summer of training!
And after all that hard work plowing through several feet of snow that fell, and huge gusts of wind; we got rewarded on the last day with one of those perfect Eagle Glacier beautiful days! The sun shone all day, and we enjoyed 3 hours of amazing skiing in packed powder. Funny enough, I bet that is the day I will remember when I think back on the first camp of this summer! Those perfect days somehow erase the challenging days pretty darn quickly!
Sunshine and Smiles, and some interesting styles! (BR photo)
Seems to me the sun has come out! (KR photo)
So, now I am back to Anchorage, 5,600 feet lower, and it is full on summer. Straight from winter, back to green summer! Crazy! Up next; my sister's wedding, a few more weeks of training in town, and then another trip up to Eagle Glacier for "Take 2".
Training Camp number 1, complete and done. The US Ski Team would normally go to Bend, Oregon to ski on snow at Mt. Bachelor for the first camp of the year… but this year with the lack of winter in most areas of the Pacific Northwest, we were forced to switch to a dry land camp. With the US Ski Team "home base" being in Park City, it seemed right to shift our spring camp there. This way we could do our testing on the treadmill, and then finish up our 12 days of training right in Park City.
Camp began with the familiar spring set of tests: classic max, double pole max, BMI tests, strength tests, mobility tests, physicals, body screening, hemoglobin tests, blood tests… the whole fun series of it all. This amounts to two days of constant going.. but once it's done, it becomes time to train!
Got to love going to max and flying off the back of the treadmill.... even if the treadmill always wins!
With the weather being infinitely rainy and cold, Park City felt a little different than our normal warm, summer-like fall camp. Regardless, we embraced the rainy situation and managed a great 12 days of training.
Running through the woods on a search for some Sun Flowers!
We have some new members on the US Team this year, four new women. Two young women, Katherine Ogden and Julia Kern. And then two more women named to the B Team, Rosie Brennan and Caitlin Gregg. This means we have a women's team of 10 people now. It is really exciting to be able to add to our six girls; with new goals, and a new dynamic. I have always loved the value of "team", so it has been fun to add these women into the mix of training and team goals, and see what we can do! We have a long summer of training in front of us, but it is fun to have 10 girls on the same page as far as "where are we going".
A team full of bright enthusiasm! (USSA Nordic Photo)
Ski Walking Intervals... the best type of classic training at altitude!
Most of our training consisted of lots of roller skiing, running, bounding, biking, swimming, and gym work. With the shift from soft snow to the hard pavement pounding, my elbows have been causing me a little trouble. So, for me, this camp meant a little more running and swimming, and a bit less roller skiing. My elbows are really looking forward to heading up to the Glacier next week…. dreaming of a soft fluffy snowy surface.
(USSA Nordic Photo). Starting with the core.
Somehow "triple time" becomes normal at Camp.
Working on my focus in the gym this year.
This year we have a new partnership for our summer training clothes as well as our winter racing suits with Craft, and L.L. Bean. It has been fun to start working with these companies and share some enthusiasm. Both companies seem so excited to start designing clothes, race suits and, warm up's. We spent a portion of our down time last week doing lots of video's, photos, and promotions for this fun new partnership. I am excited to see what sort of stars and stripes they will put together for our winter attire!
Getting back in the rhythm of rollerskiing. (USSA Nordic Photo)
A bunch of crazy's.... thanks Finnsisu for setting us all up with rollerskis! (USSA Nordic Photo)
Find a challenge... and chase that challenge! This year my goal is to finish my first tour. There are two of them this season, both 7-8 stages long. That means a lot of durability, strength, and mental stamina! (USSA Nordic Photo)
It seems everyone had a great break after the season with lots of adventuring, vacationing, and catch up with family, friends and sponsors. After spending all winter with many of these teammates now for four years, it was nice to get back together and catch up on the fun happenings of the spring. Everyone seems finally recovered, and motivated to get going again!
Lounging in the sunshine on our final day... the sun decided to visit us just in time!
After our hard 12 days of training, everyone shared hugs and departed back to our home club team's for the "June 1st" start to hard training. After missing a long two week sunny stretch of Alaskan weather… Alaska has decided to go back to its wonderful rainy state. I managed to squeak two perfect days in though before it changed, just after arriving back from Park City. This made for a weekend of hiking and biking, soaking in some serious rays of Vitamin D. These will keep me happy and going for a few more weeks before heading down to Washington for my sister's wedding!
Enjoying some awesome road biking in my secret neighborhoods of Anchorage
Hiking up to Exit Glacier with my brother, Marine and Jo.
Next up, a week of training in town before I head up to my first glacier camp of the summer. Who will be the guest of the summer? It's a surprise… but a new country this year.!
These last four weeks have gone speedier than ever… a break that didn't hardly feel like a break. It is sort of a Cross Country Skiers tendency to take advantage of a "break" by packing the time with as much as possible. Because we spend 11 months of the year focusing and committing solely to our sport and our training… we think of our break more as a "life break" than a physical break. What this means is that all the "real life" activities that we have to say no to all year, we say yes to every single option in our one month break. Sleep less…. play harder. Not your normal version of a break, but for me, this is perfect. It is the perfect amount of being a "real person" that allows my mind to set free, and then be focused when I need to be. After about four weeks of living this "real person" way though, I start missing the structure and commitment of sport, and that is when I know it is time to start training again. Because I managed to pack so much in this spring, I will do a more brief synopsis by sharing my 15 favorite moments for the past month.
1. Sleeping in my bed- although there was not so much actual "sleeping", because I was doing a bit too much playing… one can never underestimate the pleasure of tucking yourself into your own bed. I probably spend 50 nights of the 365 nights of the year in my own house, in my own bed… so this becomes a true treat when I get to snuggle in to my own bed!
2. Tough Slusher- Getting out in the mud and slush and leading a 3k/5k running race for the young kids. So great to see so many families and kids out there having fun! This is the way I got into sport as a kid, so it is neat to see this young generation grow into loving sport as well.
Handing out medals at the finish line. Love this little girl with the huge smile!
3. Tour de Saltchuk- Saltchuk has been an incredible sponsor this past year. Their corporate values are similar to those of mine. It has been great to work with a company that prides itself on their safety, reliability and commitment to the communities they operate in. Their support has been vital for my ski racing this past year. I got to go down to Seattle and Tacoma to take a tour and help launch the company wide food drive for the Saltchuk companies. It was great to meet so many friendly and wonderful people. Not only that, I got to learn so much more about this incredible family owned company that has been supporting me this past year. By the end of my busy three day tour, I couldn't be more proud and thankful to represent and partner with this company!
Private tour of the Foss Shipyard. So many pieces behind the building of a boat!
Getting to know some of the Delta Western employees.
Visiting the Tote Maritime Terminal down in Tacoma.
Signing posters for some of the employees and their kids at Tote.
Telling Olympic stories to some of the Interstate employees down in Tacoma.
4. Bridal Shower- I made it down to Seattle just in time for my sisters bridal shower. I haven't been around weddings at all, so I got to learn what a Bridal Shower even is. It was so fun to spend time with Kaley, our family, and all her hilarious and amazing friends. It was an entertaining afternoon of games and fun girl time!
Kaley and her bridesmaids (minus Penny and Julie)
Kaley and her wrapping paper bouquet.
Wedding dress fitting with Kaley.
5. Bachelorette Party- 8 ladies set free in Hermosa Beach, L.A. We were a wild bunch, but we had so much fun! Boogie boarding, biking, playing games on the beach, soaking in the sun, running along the bike paths, dancing, and enjoying life. I have officially fallen in love with my sisters friends. It was so great to share this fun weekend with these 8 ladies and celebrate Kaley getting married. Now I can't even wait for the wedding in June!
Morning runs along the beach.
Confused... but cute!
6. Valdez Tour- I took two separate tours to Valdez to visit Jo and Company. Every spring he spends 2-3 weeks camping at Thompson Pass, and backcountry skiing. Since I have often gone all winter without seeing him.. I have to go search for him to get some time with him. This means packing up my backcountry gear and heading for Thompson Pass. The first trip we had really bad weather, so I only got to do one short line. So, Jo talked me into going back and trying again. This time we were a little more lucky. One day we left camp at 10AM and didn't make it back until 1AM… covering the whole glacier tour of Valdez. We are using snowmobiles for access and then boot packing, so it allowed us to cover a huge area! I am blown away by the amount of terrain and beauty in that area! Jo did a fine job of challenging me, scaring me to death, and teaching me some new levels of confidence. It feels good to conquer fear, even if it doesn't always feel like it when you are standing on the top. I think I might stick to the nordic skiing though :)
One of the Foggy afternoons we built this massive Igloo that the boys slept in for the next two weeks.
Here is a link to a video that one of Jo's friends from France put together. Gives you an idea of how amazing it is. These guys are incredible skiers and obviously skiing much harder stuff than I can, but if you go to 2:17 you can see Charline ski down just beside my tracks for one of my scarier runs.
7. Family Week- My family came up for a week leading into my graduation. It was one of my best weeks in AK. I got to share my life, my training grounds, my friends, and some adventures with them. We were lucky enough to get to go flying with Harry McDonald over all the nearby glaciers, including the one we train on all summer. It was neat to share just how vast Alaska is with my family! We fit in an endless amount of adventures and fun. I don't think we sat more than 10 seconds the whole week.
Jo's Family also traveled from France for two weeks. It was fun for our families to meet!
Hiking in the mountains with my parents
Turnagain Arm with my Aunti
Harry and my parents.
8. Graduating- I didn't really expect it to feel like such an achievement, but as I walked across stage to get my diploma, and went on to give a little speech about what APU has meant to me… I was flushed with a feeling of achievement. I have always looked at skiing as my highest achievements, but my college degree is now up there. Graduating with Summa Cum Laude, a double major, and also reaching many of my skiing goals at the same time is something I will also take with me. While it was some of my more stressful and challenging years, I am really proud to have accomplished it. Next up, I am going for MBA starting this fall, so the fun will all begin again! It's a pretty good life I get to live! Thanks Alaska Pacific University for making it possible.
My parents and I.
Hugs for the School President, Don Bantz.
9. APU Fundraiser- Our Annual APU Fundraiser happens every spring, and is entirely athlete organized. What this means is that mixed in with our busy springs, we also have to fit in some discipline in order to organize our fundraiser that brings in the majority of the financial support for our team. It is always a big task, and an incredibly packed and stressful week leading into the event; but again, it is so rewarding after it is finished. This year was really fun and unique to see so much energy and excitement at the event. Thanks to everyone that showed up and supported us. We truly appreciate it.
10. Hiking Time- This spring I have gotten to do a few Alaskan hikes I have never done, including making it to the top of Bird Ridge. It is always fun to reach new peaks and ridges!
Top of Bird Ridge
11. Lap Swimming- I love incorporating some lap swimming into my spring training. I grew up swim racing, so it always brings back the best memories and feelings to jump into the pool once or twice a week and bang out some miles!
12. Catching up with Friends- After being gone for months on end, I love the spring time to catch up with friends that I have been so bad about staying in touch with!
13. National Bike to School Day- This year I helped lead some of the young kids in the Ocean View Community on their bike to school. National Bike to School Day is a holiday that encourages young kids to use biking to school to get outdoors, and be active. There are so many bike paths and side walks available to kids in Anchorage, so it is great to see so much participation. We are lucky to have this available to us. I used to bike to school some as a kid, except I had to plan an hour because it was about a 12-15 mile ride to the school. It sure did help me feel a bit better when I was sitting in class for long hours all day long!
Bike to School.
14. Crust Cruising- There haven't been too many opportunities this year with a low snow pack year.. but any time I get to get out there, it is the best type of spring time adventuring!
Crust Cruising with Jo
15. Rosie B makes the US Team- my favorite training buddy and the amazing Rosie Brennan got named to the US Ski Team which is really exciting. She overcame some really challenging life tests last year, and it was incredible to see her charge through and come out running. Congrats Rosie! One more APU member to join the roster!
What a great end to the 2014/2015 season these past two weeks in Sun Valley, Idaho! Spring Series/Spring Nationals has always been a love-hate relationship for me. Coming back from World Cup, I often feel blown out and just ready to be done! Racing four more times can sound so terrible. On the other hand…. spring series is a time to almost "celebrate" the season during racing. We often refer to it as "letting our hair down". We try to focus a little less, smile a little more, and keep things a little bit lighter.
It may not be the beach... but it is sand! Finding some sunshine in the middle of the golf course.
Fun to meet up with some of the kids from back home that I grew up babysitting. Walker Hall was crushing it all week!
"letting your hair down" or "letting your sleeves down". (Reese Brown photo)
Feed.... yes please! (Reese Brown photo).
This year was a unique one. The US Ski Team as a group was more blown out than ever at the completion of the World Cup Season. I think we all raced far more this year than we have in the past. Also, we ended with a challenging 30k skate race at Holmenkollen that left us all exhausted! Traveling overseas the following morning delivered everyone back to the US simply BLOWN OUT! Sadly, this left a bunch of the US Team sick, tired, or injured for these final few days of racing.
Sprinting in the sun. (Fasterskier photo)
Some challenging relay racing in the snow... with my klister skis. I wasn't imaging winter conditions when I packed my ski bag in Europe... so bringing only klister skis home proved to be a mistake! (Fasterskier photo).
Sun Valley, living up the the "sunny" piece!
Doing some racing with one of my favorite training buddies! (Reese Brown photo)
Somehow, I got really lucky, and my immune system jumped into overdrive trying to help me recover from this challenging and long World Cup Season. The amazing Sun Valley Vitamin D sure seemed to help, Not only that, some family time cured me right up!
Pretty fun to be wearing some Craft with the APU team this week! (Noah Hoffman photo)
Having family around this past week was the highlight of the week. My Grandma and Mom, as well as my dear family friends from Seattle all came out and cheered on my brother and I. We even got a visit from my Aunt, Uncle, and Cousins for the 30k Skate! It was so nice to be able to have some family time after a long season where homesick seemed to visit me all to often throughout the past four months! I also especially enjoyed getting to join back up with my home team, Alaska Pacific University. I love this team, and have so much fun training and racing with these guys. It has been great to join back up with everyone, catch up on winter racing stories, and go to the line wearing my blue APU uniform!
As you can see... my mom has been in a bit of a different climate than me these past few months!
Hanging out with my Mom and Granny in SV.
Our wonderful Family Friends and Hosts, Peter and Kristiann.
That's a happy Granny!
Throughout the four races this past week in Sun Valley, I experienced every different emotional feeling. Exhaustion, excitement, nervousness, but finally, I finished with a great feeling of accomplishment! As I crossed the line the final day, the 30k Skate National Championship, I flopped across the finish line falling into the snow knowing I had given every last bit of energy towards this season! I finished happy, accomplished, and proud of what I have done this year. What a fun 2014/2015 racing season. Ending it with four podiums just put some fun icing on the cake.
Exhaustion (Reese Brown photo).
Excitement! (Fasterskier photo)
Nervous. Doing the Super Woman pose is proven to help you do better. It gives you a rush of testosterone and confidence before the start.
Accomplishment. (Reese Brown photo)
Proud of APU for going 1 and 2 on the relay day! (Fasterskier photo)
After the final races, I stayed a few extra days in Sun valley for a US Ski Team event. This consisted of a day full of teaching ski clinics, meeting some wonderful people of Sun Valley, and finally wrapping up an amazing year with a cheers and celebration with my team! I am so lucky to have such great support from teammates, coaches, family, the people that believe in US Skiing and my largest sponsor, Saltchuk, making this financially possible! I want to thank everyone for making this an incredible and memorable year! I am lucky to be part of this team, and this time of cross country ski racing in the US!
The agility group. (Reese Brown photo)
Showing the younger generation some of our favorite drills. (Reese Brown photo)
Jessie Diggins telling the group of supporters about how lucky we are to have such an awesome team! (Reese Brown photo)
Thanks to Steve and Diana Strandberg for hosting us and hosting the Fundraiser! (Reese Brown photo).
Ready, BREAK! Rest time! (Reese Brown photo).
For now I am headed back to Anchorage to enjoy some much needed rest and recovery. I can't wait to have a few weeks of waking up with as little focus as possible. I sure will enjoy a mental and physical break before starting a new year of new and higher levels of focus and training!
The end of the World Cup Season seemed to have come all too quickly. In a year that I keep looking to find a little bit more, I almost felt like I was racing the clock to find those "great" feelings before the season came to an end.
Enjoying some sun with Rosebud! (Holly Brooks photo).
Fortunately, I came pretty darn close. Lahti, Finland World Cup's are always unique, because they come the weekend after the big Championships. Two weeks of trying to be in your best form, and then you have five short days to recover before you come back onto the "regular tour". This time is especially hard for the US Team because we are not coming home… but instead move from the "Championship hotel setting" to the "World Cup hotel setting". But, even with these funky feelings, I have always still loved Lahti! I love the courses there, I love the atmosphere, and I really enjoy living right in the heart of the city.
Enjoying some time inside a home with a home cooked meal at Aiko's house.
Lahti started with a skate sprint, one of two race courses I have ever qualified into the Semi's. I have always loved the grade of this course, one that I look forward to all year. As it turns out, the organizing committee decided to salt the course the few hours leading into the race… so suddenly nobody was allowed on course, and it was turned to solid ice. As I headed out on track, I felt like I was riding a wild bull. I couldn't find my balance as I ice skated around the track, crossing the line feeling like I hadn't even started breathing hard. Instead, I was fighting my balance for the 1.2 km. So, I narrowly missed the finals, shoot!
But this day still marked an exciting one. Kikkan worked her way back up onto the podium after a challenging season, something that left me with goosebumps and tears. Kikkan has been a leader of this "team" since my very first trip I came on for 2011 World Champs. From that moment, she taught the women's team what it looked like to set goals that would overcome expectations. She taught us to dream, and she showed us that it was possible. Whenever our women's team left the tracks feeling defeated, she reminded us that it only takes time. Patience is the virtue! But in all these years of watching Kikkan, and trying to chase behind her, I have never seen her give up for a second. Not when she got injured, not when she fell in her "gold medal favorite" race in Oslo, not when she didn't reach her goals at the Olympics, and most importantly- not this year! Even when she just couldn't find what was wrong this year, she held herself together, and remained a leader. Somehow she always still managed to dig out some confidence and believe she knew where she belonged. So, this day in Lahti, when she landed back on her spot on the podium… it was a golden one!
Kikk, back where she belongs! (FIS photo)
The following day, I had another opportunity. One of my favorite races, 10k classic, on one of my favorite courses. Perfect! I set out with a hot pace, and tried to hold it. As my technique and kick fell apart, I kept hanging on, reaching for that feeling that I was looking for all season. As I crossed the line, I knew I hadn't caught it yet… but I was getting closer. I finished a happy 14th, something I would feel satisfied about.
Erik starting bib 1.
Sometimes it is a bit exhausting traveling constantly! Erik, finding a place to get some zzz's.
From Lahti, we jumped on a plane and headed for Drammen, Norway, the world's most exciting classic sprint. Situated in the heart of the city, and finishing by climbing up the steps of a Church, this weekend is always unique! Warming up and cooling down in running shoes throws a bit of a different twist in things! A new, and exciting challenge. Again, searching for that fitness and that "feeling", I went out in the qualifier on a mission! I was ready to stop being on the "edge" of qualifying. And finally, I was back! I qualified in 9th, my best of the season. Yehooo.
The last two weekends of the World Cup, FIS was trying a new method of heat selection. It requires this funky order of athletes showing up and picking their heats one at a time… creating an opportunity to have very un-even situations. I was the 3rd athlete to pick, so I picked heat 1, imagining that should be fine. But, somehow a storm of all the top qualifiers came rushing into this same heat. As I looked at my quarterfinal heat, it resembled an A final. Yikes! I was going to have a good opportunity to get lucky loser, but that would entail getting in the top 4. I went out that afternoon, and chased that spot, but finished last in my heat… NO! As the following heats came in, they slowly showed to be less stacked! While I had gotten sixth in my heat, I had skied the 9th fastest time… the same as my qualifier…. but I wasn't moving on. A bit of bad luck on this day that I just wanted some redemption. But, I swallowed my frustration, and looked for one more opportunity in the last few days of this season.
Striding it out in Drammen. Nordic Focus photo.
Fun to have Pete Kling around for some extra cheering!
The 30k Skate! I have only done one 30k Skate before, on a 1.5k loop at Spring Series… maybe a bit different than Oslo. But I sort of enjoyed this, I liked the idea that I was coming into this race with no expectations, and no knowledge of what it was going to feel like. I spent the last few days between Drammen and Oslo enjoying some sunshine, visiting one of my friends families down in the city, enjoying some perfect "promenades", and catching up with some of the college skiers now living back in Norway. It was a perfect last few days to this season. Holmenkollen has always been my favorite place in the world to race, so I started to prepare myself for this 30k Skate battle. As the day came, I went out with the pack, tried to hold on, but couldn't quite manage. It has been a long season, with lots of racing, so I just tried to enjoy every last bit of it. The atmosphere up at Holmenkollen is incredible, so I took in the cheers of the crowd, and used every last bit of stored energy. I crossed the line excited to be done with that race, but sad to have the season wrapped up.
Soaking in some Vitamin D after a long break from it!
Cheering with Celine, her sister, and Pauline (my wax tech's girlfriend).
That is one heck of a view of Oslo from my hotel room!
The season has been a special one. For the first time, I made it through the full World Cup Season. I finally participated in this awesome Tour de Ski, I finally made it through without being sick for any races, and I visited many places! From Russia, to Scandinavia, to Central Europe, and Estonia. 20 different hotel rooms, four months, 26 World Cup Starts…. and it was a good one. I didn't manage to accomplish some of my higher goals during the Championships, but I have started to realize this season has been a large step, and success. I had my best result of the season, and a tie with the best result of my career, in a skate race! I can't say I would have ever guessed that as a classic specialist! I only sat out five races on the World Cup Tour… where last year I sat out close to fifteen. And, I finished 23rd on the overall list, which means I get my name on my bib next year! Pretty fun!
Doing a fun photo shoot along the shore in Fornebu. (Noah Hoff photo).
So, although the World Cup Season seemed to have come to an end all too quickly, before I could accomplish some of those goals I had set, I am left with some "frustrations". Frustrations for me are motivations! I will go into this summer with my list of ten things that I see I have missed, or that I can improve. This list will be that fire that keeps me training hard this long summer and fall!
Laughing it out during in interview after the 30k in Holmenkollen. (Holly Brooks photo)
But, first, Spring Series! I still have four more races. Four more challenging races at 7,600 feet here in Sun Valley, Idaho. A skate sprint, 10k classic, Team Relay, and another one of those wonderful 30k Skate races! So, I am hanging tough, and putting every last bit of energy into these. It is fun to be back with my APU Team, and APU coaches. I spend seven months of the year training with this group, so it is great to be "a team" with them, and enjoy our last bits of racing. I am also looking forward to my Mom and Grandma who will come and cheer for the week. All these wonderful pleasures of being back in the US! Family, great food, teammates from home, laundry, cell phones, fast internet. GREAT!
BBQ on the deck- one of the pleasures of being back home.
Thanks to everyone for all the cheers, support and enthusiasm through this long World Cup Season. A few more weeks, and that will be a season. The 2014/2015 season!
It has been an exciting and long 10 days of Championships in Falun, Sweden. A lot seems to have happened in 10 days! I participated in four of those fun days, so I will share a little bit of my experience in Falun. I will also include a link in case you didn't get to see the races.
Fans on Fans- Noise on Noise!!
Race 1: Classic Sprint
This is one of the events that I have had my largest "sights" and "goals" set on. We haven't done much classic sprinting this year, but every time I finish one, it feels better than the time before. Each time, I feel I figure it out a bit more, and I am getting closer. Sprinting is always a wild card for me… mysteriously it can go really well, or mysteriously it can go really poor. I never feel it is much of a predictable event, so I have a hard time putting all my "goals" towards it. It is too easy for something small to go wrong, and take away all your chances. On the other hand…. on a day where something small goes right, and suddenly I am given an awesome opportunity…. those days I start to "love" sprint racing a bit more.
Fist Pumps before the start- SODIE start (Zuzana Rodgers photo)
On this particular sprint day of World Championships, I fell onto the side of "something small going wrong". I had a strong heat with some of the race favorites, so I knew it was going to be a good opportunity to advance as lucky loser. I soared out of the start ready to begin the Championships with a bang, jumped in behind Bjorgen, a perfect place going into the uphill… and suddenly a skier came shooting out of my side vision, plop, right on top of me. My heart stopped for a second, thinking, "how can this be happening on this one day that I am fighting for my best". My fight or flight mode turned on and I shoved this girl as hard as I could… maybe hard enough that I ended up pushing myself backwards down the course. I quickly tried to get going again, desperately sprinting to catch back up to the high paced race around the 1.2k course. Instantly my legs flooded, and I struggled to stay with the pace… feeling I was fighting from behind. I crossed the lined disappointed, knowing I had missed an opportunity, for a reason out of my control. I later learned that the girl who had stepped on me had been disqualified… deservingly so, but unfortunately she had ruined the opportunities for both of us. Not only had she gone on to ski an incredible heat after my little power push… but I had crossed the line, not even close to my potential. Sprinting… so fun, but sometimes so frustrating. Fortunately, I knew I had many more races to come in the next two days!
Steve Fuller photo- the catch up game
Race 2: 15k Skiathlon
I had an especially fun race this day. I always find myself racing the pursuit race during Championship events… and it has always been the hardest event for me! I start out classic skiing, my stronger suit. Then, I switch skis into my weaker suit, and spend the remaining 7.5 kilometers running from all the strong skaters! It is the true mental test for me! But in a way, I love that. I love the challenge of it! On this particular day in Falun, it was the classic that I struggled with. As I searched to find my relaxed and strong classic pace… I couldn't. I was instantly flooding on the large climbs. For the first time, I was almost looking forward to going through the pit and switching into my skate skis. As I raced around the challenging skate courses up some of the tougher climbs out there…. the roar of the crowd kept me going. I couldn't even hear myself breathing, let alone the coaches yelling out cheers and splits on the side! For 7.5 kilometers, the roar of the crowd numbed my brain from feeling the pain! I crossed the line 20th, one of my better pursuit results… and for once, loving the skate portion!
Steve Fuller photo- headed out of the stadium with an amazing crowd.
Finishing the pursuit- Zuzana Rodgers photo
Race 3: Relay Day
Relay's are my favorite races of them all. Firstly, because they are 5 kilometers, a distance that I just LOVE!. Secondly, because of the weird team pressure, excitement, and energy that comes from relay day. These are the days that somehow I am able to find new strengths and abilities that I wasn't able to dig out earlier. Ever since my first relay races at Nationals, and World Juniors- I have adored this day. I have always loved the middle legs of the relay, because I love going on a "chase". This year I was moved to the "scramble leg" a position that is a little bit more hard. This means a mass start, and a scramble to stay in contact with the top teams! Instead of racing your ideal 5k where you choose the sections to secretly charge, or secretly work… you are forced to follow the "group" and be ready for when ,most likely, the Norwegians are going to pounce and try to drop the pack. Two years ago when I was on the relay team in Val di Fiemme, I wasn't nearly aggressive enough, and I found myself stuck behind teams when the Norwegians made their move… and as a result I wasn't able to try to chase. This year, my goal was to stay in the front, and be on my toes when Heidi decided to go.
Team Tactics the night before- Eli Brown photo.
My first relay in Slovenia
Making it on the podium at World Juniors in Slovenia (2006) with Liz, Morgan and Alexa
Getting ready for the show- glitter, face paint, braids... all of it! (Zuzana photo)
Things worked out spectacularly for the first 2.5 kilometers as I worked myself to the front and remained on the tails of Heidi. I had that feeling inside, that feeling where you know you are going to be able to dig deeper than you have been. As I headed down to the stadium on the twisty course from the highest point, I realized I had some of the fastest skis out there! As my skis took off, out of control, I swerved around the girls, trying to stay on my feet. Dropping down into the stadium, I jumped in my own lane… realizing I was moving significantly faster. Heading over the bump to take a trip back out onto the second loop, the Russian girl moved over on top of me and my skis… leaving me off balanced and trapped under her skis…. beeeeeem… I was down! Just like that, I was watching everyone go flying by in a race that I didn't want to screw up! I jumped up quickly, full of adrenaline, and sprinted through the stadium, trying to catch back up. A 400 meter sprint later, I had worked my way back up to the front, but I had an epic rush of lactate rushing through my legs. Suddenly I felt my legs turn to jello…. I was in trouble. I tried to keep pushing in my head "Sadie you can fight, you can fight".. My legs fell apart, my technique fell apart, and I was giving it all. I wasn't giving up, but it was not looking pretty! That front pack had made their move, to be expected, but I hadn't been there to fight. As I tagged off to Rosie in 6th, a huge 50 seconds behind the Norwegians, I wanted to go hide in a hole. I had faith in my teammates to play the "catch up game"… but I knew I had likely taken them out of the medal hunt!! On a day where we had all the potential in the world to stand on the podium… I had ruined that opportunity.
Calm before the storm... (Ronnols photo)
The best cheering squad!
For the next 45 minutes I watched my teammates fight their way back up, never once giving up! We crossed the line in 4th, a huge accomplishment, what we call "the wooden medal". The girls ensured me that I had done my best, the coaches encouraged me… but all I wanted to do on this day was hide in a little hole and cry! I knew what I was capable of, I knew what our team was capable of… and it just hadn't worked. Lucky for me, I have some pretty incredible and important people around me. While I wasn't able to give my best on this team day, I will be able to give twice as much next time! This is why relays are so special… because in order to have that amazing day and opportunity… it takes no mistakes, and a perfectly executed race by the whole team. It is an amazing collection of perfect team work! It has taken me until this week to finally get over this disappointment. Thank you to all you incredible people that have sent me emails and notes of encouragement! I needed that more than I realized! It was no-where near a disaster.. but on a day when I want to give 150% to my team, it is a hard disappointment to swallow.
Sometimes you just need a friend to give you a hug and tell you to get back up!
The Team behind THE TEAM!
Race 4: 30k Classic
This is a race that I have either really loved, or really hated in my racing career. Dependent on my fitness level, it can go either way. When I am feeling at my best, I love this race. It feels like a race of toughness. Who can go for 1.5 hours without giving up in your mind for a second? Coming through the week, I had realized I wasn't in my best fitness of the year. I wasn't finding that incredible feeling of "invincible" energy and strength that comes with being peaked. The best advice I was told though was "arrive on this day ready to fight with what you have". And that is what I did. I pushed my way to the front of the pack, and held on for as long as possible…. what lasted for about 6 kilometers. For those 6 kilometers though, I was having a heck of a time. I was moving around the pack, even leading at one point… it was a feeling of pure FUN. But, things got tough around 11 kilometers… when I had to hold on for dear life.. trying to stay positive inside my head. Things went back and forth for a bit, and I was finally able to get control of myself for the last 6 kilometers and finish off with a good feeling… crossing the line, again in 20th… the same place I kept managing to get.
Having some fun in the front with an incredible crowd! (Unleashed Coaching photo credit)
Climbing up through the roar of incredible cheers above the stadium- NordicFocus photo
And that was my four days, my 2015 World Championships. While none of these days were "huge break-throughs", they were all satisfying. An improvement from both my Olympics, as well as my World Champs two years ago. The tough thing is going into a Championships with none of your favorite events… because you have these huge number goals, but you forget to think about the little improvements. While I may have had a little bit of bad luck over the course of the 10 days, it was still pretty rewarding. Rewarding to watch some of the others on the team land on the podium. Rewarding to watch my teammates fight back into 4th on the relay day, rewarding to watch Soph and Sim make it into the Semi's on the sprint day. I wasn't the only one that had a little bad luck. Liz Stephen put together one of the more impressive 10k skate races, but it got hidden by a deep layer of slow snow. Baptiste Gros lost a ski in the final lap of the Team Sprint Final when France was in contention for a medal. The Norwegians missed the wax on the 10k Skate day and the Norwegian ladies landed in the 20s and 30's! The Swedish Team had a mishap in the tag zone during the team sprint and one teammate broke the other teammates pole… oops! That is why sport is so cool… because it takes some luck, some opportunity, and some seriously impressive performance to make magic happen!
Because this job is pretty darn fun!! Marc Rohde photo
Wrapping up in this wonderful land of Sweden!
10 days later and I have had lots of emotion, watched two american flags raise during an awards ceremony, screamed in utter disbelief as I watched Petter out-sprint a field of exhausted men after 50 kilometers, enjoyed my first donut in years after 30 kilometers of pain, gotten goose bumps as I stood on the start line during the quarterfinals and listened to 50,000 people go wild when they introduced Stina Nilsson, lead a pack of 50 charging women during the 30k, gathered as a women's team and put our hands in the center ready to take on the week as a team…. and at the end of the 10 days, I left pretty excited. I am certainly hungry for more… but as we say, that's what keeps us coming back. Even Petter Northug… who seems to have won it all… he wants more! At the end of the day, there always needs to be that something, that is going to encourage you to train harder for the next.
8 girls, going in as a team!
But first, it is not over yet! The Championships may have completed, but we still have two more weekends of World Cup racing! Lahti, Finland this weekend, and Oslo, Norway next week!
Big thanks to the huge Staff and Volunteer crew last week! The wax crew, the coaches, the physio's, and the Joey and Toni's of the World!! Thanks for making it all work so awesome this week!
Our awesome PT's that are both tons of fun, and very good at their job! (Zuzana photo)
Thanks to these wonderful people for volunteering their time!
That is Matt Whitcomb, head Women's Coach, putting as much into cheering as we are putting into racing! (Erik Mundahl photo)
Our waxers gave us some of the best skis on the course these past 10 days!! Thanks for some fast rides!!