The Highs and Lows of Period 1


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

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

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

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

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

Scene 1- Preparation

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

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

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

The Power to BELIEVE


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


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

Click for an awesome compilation of the races on Sunday

Video From Relay


Ruka Triple!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A sweet video that Marcel Hilger put together:



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

A special memory! The painting from our wall!

The Final Countdown

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

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

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

Park City

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

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

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

Some good Treadmill testing

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

10 Favorite Days of Fall

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

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


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

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


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

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


Training at Altitude

For these past two weeks, the APU team has been in Park City, Utah for an altitude training camp. With the Olympics in Sochi taking place at a high altitude venue- we have made it a goal of ours to focus more time and energy at being efficient and comfortable training and racing at altitude.

For the past two week we have had several different focuses for the camp.

#1- Footwork!
Having spent the majority of the past year and a half trying to figure out my feet, I dedicated these last two weeks to the "Canyons". Zuzana and Erik F have been working on a plan of strengthening my feet through uphill hiking. In Anchorage, I call this the "bear march", because I start at the base of Anchorage and march my way up to the hills... often encountering bear poop, bear tracks, and sometimes bears. The Canyons in Park City were a whole new story! Not only are there far fewer animals, but it is an alpine slope, so there is a gondola you can ride down for free! These past two weeks I finally got to do some intensity on my feet, something more than running from the crunching bushes in Anchorage.
Holly and I rocking the 2XU recovery socks... trying to avoid the elephant feet after bounding intervals
Tyler hanging out at the base of the Canyon Gondolas

#2 Distance
Through the course of the two weeks, we split our energy between intensity and distance training. Distance training is always fun in Park City because you are surrounded by deserted roads that go forever into the mountains. One of the important things about distance skiing at altitude is learning to move efficiently. With less air, training can often require more energy. It is fun to play around with different techniques, and different movement patterns to exert the least amount of energy for as long as possible.
Tom Kelly photo

#3 Time Trial- Practice Racing
Our second to last day of camp we had a Practice Sprint Race. Erik Flora and Sam Sterling drove around for 15 hrs, searching every canyon within 60 miles of Park City to find the absolute perfect course. (little traffic, wide roads, and big hills) Generally we would do our time trials on the Olympic Courses in Soldier Hollow, but they are currently repaving it (which we are all super excited about). After driving around for a combined 15 hrs, Erik managed to find a PERFECT course. His goal was to simulate the Olympic Sprint courses in Sochi- and he succeeded! With nothing but fumes left on our second to final day of camp- I sure did manage to put myself in the hurt zone! But- that's what it is all about!
Tom Kelly Photo- Chasing the girls up the "A Climb"

#4 "Other training"
A couple afternoons of the week, we get to do our own training; some less focused training that doesn't involve skis on our feet or intervals on our mind. Noah Hoffman was nice enough to let me borrow his bikes for the two weeks I was there. Having never hit the mountain biking trails in Park City- I was in HEAVEN! There are so many awesome trails there- with great climbing, fun dissents, and a healthy amount of technical riding. I had tons of fun getting to know the trails of PC. Thanks Hoff!!!
Kikkan and Rosie after a sweet OD bike ride
Rosie and I at the top of Park City Resort

#5 Team Time
This year we have gotten a whole new batch of boys on the APU team. Many of them I have been around, and even been on a team with in my past; but it has been tons of fun to get to know them better and spend some team training time with them. It is fun to see how much energy and excitement this new group of men have! They are all around the same general age, and have been "biggest competitors" with each other for the past eight years of their lives- but it is amazing to watch them come together, push each other, and share their strengths with each other. This camp is the first time I have gotten to spend an extended period of time around them; and I am super fired up for them!

Teammates making some awesome meals!

Kale Chips!

NOW! Back to Anchorage for a month before returning back to PC for our final altitude camp of the training season!

Home!

These past ten days have flown by! For ten short days, I got to spend some time at home, in the Methow Valley. Every time I go back to the Methow, I fall back in love with it a little more. During my high school years, it was easy to forget how amazing the valley is; with all the great training, and small town living. So, as you would imagine, ten days wasn't enough!
Mom jumping into Rainy Lake after a warm training!
Fishing...!!
Mom and I in the North Cascade Mountains that I miss so much!
It was great to get some family time. I only get to see my parents and sister about two or three times a year, so it is always fun to spend summer hours training and playing in the water with them! My mom is super fit, so she happens to be the best training partner ever. Not only that, she is up for everything! Even an occasional aqua jog, or an uphill only hike. I also got to go for a great ride with my dad, who also manages to stay super fit building houses 12 hours a day! I sure know where I get my good blood from!

Some awesome family time!
Mom's garden that just keeps growing larger every time I visit!
The Bjornsen girls!
Mom, set for her first trip overseas this winter to watch World Juniors/ U23s in Val di Fiemme
Happy Birthday MOM!
Kaley and her newly announced "fiancé" Congrats you two!
It was great to do some different training than I normally do at home. I grew up mountain biking only, so it was also fun to do some new adventuring on a road bike in the Methow. One day I biked from home up to the top of the North Cascades and then back up to Cutthroat, where my mom had run from- which was sweet! Turns out the North Cascade Highway isn't as flat as I was thinking!

Yahooo!
One of the highlights of my trip was the Fast and Female Power Hour, "Skate Skiing in Skirts". It was so fun to see some of the local girls, and also the girls from Leavenworth! We had a fun ski, and even kept ourselves from overheating by plunging into the river half way through. In honor of "Dancing with Diggs" in our past Fast and Female events- we got our dance moves on during our ski in our skirts. We were laughing about what the tourists visiting town and driving by were thinking watching us ski by. We had a lot of fun though- so thanks so much to all the girls that showed up! You girls all looked great and you are doing some awesome summer training!

Talking with the girls about "spreading the love and dominating the world". 
Skiing in skirts!


Lydia getting her "dancing with Diggy" on!
It has been so fun getting to know the Leavenworth girls and watching how much fun they are having! These girls drove 2.5 hrs to come join, the day before they left for a three day camping trip! You guys rock!

It was great to spend some time with family, visit home, and see a couple good family friends. I only wish I could have more time to stay! I am now in Park City, Utah with my APU teammates doing an altitude block. Thank god for my heat training these past ten days! It is hard to adjust back to western summer temperatures after spending so much time in Alaska!

Fast and Female Power Hour in Winthrop!

Calling all ladies, young and old for the Fast and Female power hour event, "Skate Skiing in Skirts". 4pm at the Mazama community center on Thursday, August 8th. Bring skate skis, a skirt you can ski in, a bottle of cold water, a helmet, and a bundle of energy! We will learn some of my favorite skate drills, techniques, and methods of having fun on wheels all summer! Everyone is welcome!



North American Womans Training Alliance Camp!


3rd Annual NAWTA Camp completed!(NAWTA=North American Training Alliance) For three years, the North Americans have been putting our heads together and working towards getting better and better among the international world. There are so many neat aspects of these two weeks that we spend together. First, we have started a thing where we invite a guest that doesn't necessarily fall under the "North American" category. Last year we invited Saarinen, a top skier from Finland. Even though I was only able to participate in the first day of the camp- I brought away many new lessons from her experience. This year, we invited one of the younger World Champions among the Norwegian team, Astrid Jacobsen. Astrid was incredible, she was so open and willing to teach us what she has learned over the years. The Norwegian team is a dominant force among the nordic skiing world; so it is always so interesting to hear the dynamics of their team, how they set goals, how they work together, and what all the skiers are really like off the trails.
Thanks to Kikkan for supplying us with some great seafood from her new sponsor- Alaskan Seafood!
My first true King Crab


It is especially fun for me to get to know Astrid because of my very first international experience at World Juniors in Slovenia. I was 16 years old, I had never been on any form of vacation without my parents, I had never been overseas, and I pretty much didn't know what any food was besides pizza and burritos. Needless to say my first World Junior experience was to say the least, "EYE OPENING". As I skied around the manmade trail in Slovenia in the middle of a cow pasture, I was surrounded by people from all over the world warming up so fast I felt like I was standing in place. My first reaction was fear! Tears started to role down my cheek, so I put my glasses down and pretended I knew what I was doing! I was the VERY last starter in every race, so I learned from the start… there was no-where to go but up. One of the things that stood out to me most in that first international experiences was the Norwegian star, Astrid! I watched her as she won races, walked around in a zone of focus, and looked so chill and relaxed. Since that very first experience, she has always been a reminder of "my start". She started as my hero, but as I entered the international circuit, she became my competitor. That is why this camp has been so fun for me. I have gotten to know this girl that I watched in awe eight years ago. I have gotten to know her focus, her open mind with training, and her incredible team spirit!
 
Astrid and the US Ski Team girls (minus Soph) Matt Whitcomb photo
Turns out she is a tough one too.... raspberries from sliding on the ice in the morning
So with this new guest, the National Team girls (minus Sophie Caldwell- we missed you!), the APU woman's team, and some of the top juniors and development skiers from around the US- we put together two great weeks of training. The first week was in town including roller skiing, hiking, biking, and all the dry land options you get. I am still working on getting my feet in working order, so I substituted in some different training, but got to participate in the majority of the camp! (Huge difference from last year). The last day of our dry land camp, we took a trip out to the Valley where the Alaskan REG camp was going on. After spending the day training with them, we dined in the sunshine and had some Q&A with the local juniors. It was fun to ask Bettina Gruber(another guest who joined for the dry land portion, from Switzerland) and Astrid a few of my own questions. As we discussed with the younger juniors about what it means to believe in yourself and work hard; it brought goose bumps to my skin to review how important the leadership and teamwork has been among the National Team. I learned that the Norwegian Team operates in a very similar manner- finding ways to push each other, but also support each other and believe in each other!
Giving a talk with the REG athletes- Brian Fish Photo
Rosie, Jo and I at the top of Hatchers
Zuzana Rogers doing a house visit, teaching me how to tape with a Sharpie Diagram
Bunch of girls, hanging out waiting for the Glacier! Holly B photo.
From there, we headed up to Eagle Glacier for by far THE BEST WEEK I have spent on the glacier. All but one day, we had sunshine and awesome conditions. Last month I traveled up with the APU Team, but had to come down after one day because my feet were not healthy enough to be spending so much time skiing in soft conditions with no option for "cross training". The NAWTA camp, the snow firmed up a bit as the glacier snow began to come through (which tends to be more firm). Besides the change in snow, the most important part that made the week of training on snow possible was the support of Zuzana Rogers, a local Physical Therapist! I have been working with Zuzana for the past year and a half, through many highs and lows. She has been so positive and helpful through the process. 
PT at the top of the mountains!
Zuzana joining us for a sunny ski- Colorful Zinc was a hit this week!
Since the beginning of the summer, Advanced Physical Therapy, the clinic Zuzana works for, has started sponsoring the APU Team. It has been huge for all of us. Zuzana took it one step further though, and volunteered her time to work all day, and all evening up on Eagle Glacier this week. With many of the girls at camp working through some small feet issues, Zuzana spent endless hours keeping us going. Thank you so much Zuzana! Thank you also to Michael Henrick, who joined us for some body care the last three days of the camp as well!
Kikkan and I doing some ice water/warm water body care after every training session!
The group on a clear day- Matt Whitcomb photo
Some days the weather was wild...
Some days too warm for clothes!!
On our fourth day of camp, we had our annual “Sprint Relay Competition”, where we make teams of four and we race around a 1km track tagging off to each other, practicing many different aspects of sprinting. By turning our usual speed workout into a little competition, things get more exciting. We come up with team names, we smack talk each other, and we get good practice with the ever-important exchange/tagging. To make things a little more exciting than usual, four helicopters full of media arrived to watch the fun and games. Erik Flora had built a jump into one of the downhill’s- so we got some practice with our “big air”. The media groups were not just there for our Eagle Glacier Sprint Workout though; they were there to check out what we do, and what it looks like. Local radio stations, TV stations, and Newspaper stations got to get a little taste of how we train, what the living conditions are like, and how this week of training was going to get us one step closer to winning a medal in Sochi. It was fun to sort of show off the set-up, and see their excitement as we raced across the snow. There were some great articles, pictures, and news broadcasts that came from the little visit. Kikkan and Holly were the big stars, but there was some good APU recognition as well.
APU/USST ladies- Matt Whitcomb photo
Getting some air time on the jump- Matt Whitcomb photo
Here is a video from our sprint relay- The very brightest pink shirt is me
Helicopters arriving mid-workout Zuzana Rogers photo
One of the best parts of the glacier is the constant focus on ski technique. With rollerskis on all summer- you sometimes get lazy with your classic kick and take advantage of the "perfect ratchet kick"
Day one of the sun.!! Liz Stephen photo
Girls getting after it! Matt Whitcomb photo
Helping Holly make her famous Glacier Tuna Salad! Anchorage Daily News photo
Middle of the day is often filled with lots of technique analysis with the coaches. Anchorage Daily News photo

Because of the "midnight sunshine" in Alaska... our bunk beds turn into "princess beds", a fort that I would have dreamed of sleeping in when I was 7 years old!
Taking a roped up trip down into the crevasse the first afternoon to listen to the flowing water underneath! Glacier Studies 101!
By Saturday afternoon, everyone was exhausted and ready for a little rest from training for a while. With two great weeks of training together, it was time to rest, recover, and spend some time enjoying each others company. After every NAWTA camp, the national team girls have made it a goal to have a little side trip for fun and relaxation. This year, Holly treated us to a few nights of fun at her cabin that she is building in Hope. It was so fun to see the work Rob and her have put into it- and it got me inspired to one day build my own house! One day...
 
Astrid "manning" the fire
With that I am now quickly catching up and packing my bags for the next training block. For the next month I will be spending 10 days training in the Methow, enjoying some family time before I take off for an altitude training camp in Park City with the APU team for two weeks. Following that I return back to Alaska for the start to the fall semester of school.. how can the summer already almost be over?

With incredible weather, great training, and fun company- NAWTA Camp was a huge success! Thanks to everyone who helped make such a great two weeks! 
Zuzana taking advantage of the weather and the location for some afternoon body work
Kikkan- always making sure she gets the best parts of video!
Who knew this NCAA Champion in Alpine could be so good at nordic too!
USST coaches Matt Whitcomb and Jason Cork really getting into their selfies mid ski!
Tired coaches- down for the count!

Exhausted, taking a rest at the top of the hill on this fine bed!
Mikey Matteson..... making the tool shed his own!
A motivated train of girls- getting one step closer! Matt Whitcomb photo