Spring Series has wrapped up here in Anchorage, making for the end of the 2013-2014 season. It was an incredibly fun season, it couldn't have ended better!
The last time I raced in Anchorage was 4 years ago when I was trying to qualify for the Vancouver Games. It was a different world, I had a different home, I was in a different place, and I didn't come close to making my Olympic goals. So, to come back to Anchorage, and race at what now feels like "home" was so much fun. In these last three years, it has been so much fun becoming a member of APU and this community! People are so excited about skiing here. They love it, and they support their local crew so well. All four races, I couldn't believe the amount of people that showed up, and the noise level of the crowd. It was often louder than the cheering I heard at the Olympics! So, to be included in that excitement, and hear my name being cheered on, it meant so much!
|ADN photo- Celebrating Sophie's birthday right as she crosses the line|
|Rob Whitney photo- having a little cheer with the girls after our last sprint of the season.|
|ADN photo- some awesome cheering on the sidelines!|
Spring Series was a little shorter this year than normal, thankfully! We are always so tired at the end of the season that each additional race after World Cup Finals gets you closer and closer to the bottom of the tank! This year the race set up was 10k skate, classic sprint, team relay, and then ending with a 30k classic.
|Rob Whitney photo from Team Relay|
The first three races were held out at Kincaid. With the low snow year, there wasn't much snow left out at Kincaid, but the organizers did an awesome job of making it work! There was enough snow to ski on, and we had a great time racing on the old World Cup Trails. Even though I am now living in Anchorage, I have skid very few of these trails; only because I spend my entire winter in Europe racing. But I quickly grew familiar with them, and really enjoyed them!
Along with the rest of the field, I managed to scrape out enough energy to have four good races. It started with the skate race; that aside from taking a fall on one of the icy downhill corners, it went really well. The second race was a classic sprint, which was fun to have a sprint off with the local favorite, and best sprinter in the world… the one and only Kikkan! The third race was my favorite, the team relay. It was a new event this year; two boys, two girls. The first two legs were classic, and the final two were skate, all 5k legs. The APU Team entered 6 teams into this event, and landed two of them on the podium! My team made of Reese, me, Erik B and Kikkan was lead out by Reese making a break from the field early on in his leg. It was so much fun getting decked out in APU spirit… yellow and blue sparkles, face paint, hair gems… you name it! There was some fun trash talk between the teams, and it turned out to be a ton of fun! Since many of the World Cup Skiers are from different clubs, there were some good teams out on the line!
|ADN Photo- Tagging off to Erik in the Team Event|
|Skiing around at our "Ski With the Olympians" Kids event|
|Fasterskier Photo- Sprint Podium with the APU Bear!|
And then the final day was the 30k classic… a race I have suddenly started to enjoy. Ever since being a young junior, I was often steered in the sprinting direction. Since joining APU, I have started trying to train more for distance racing… but I would have never guessed I would ever do well in a 30k. After Holmenkollen this year though, I decided I really like the format of a 30k. You go out hard… and see how absolute long you can hold on to it. I think it is fun to test your body… see how deep you can dig into the pain cave. So, I have been looking forward to this 30k at spring series, in my hometown for the past month!
|ADN Photo- 30k race with Lizard|
|ADN Photo- celebrating across the line!|
After deciding there wasn't enough snow, the 30/50k got moved up to Hilltop, on the Spencer Loop… an infamously hard course…. harder than 95% of the World Cup Courses I have skied. The thing about Spencer is it keeps climbing, and climbing… and climbing! It is not very forgiving! So, as I was skiing around it the day before the race… all I could wish for was that we took it out at an easy pace and didn't start going crazy until the last 10k. Well, come race day… that idea lasted no more than 10 mins into the hour and 30 min race! Once it started, I wanted to go! I wanted to see what I could make of each ounce of energy all of us had left! It turned into an incredibly fun race! The first lap, there was a group of 4 of us. The second lap there was a group of 3 of us, and then for the final lap… it was a group of two of us… just Liz and I… both working together, but also trying to beat each other. The whole 30 kilometers, I was smiling inside. I was having so much fun! There were so many people out there cheering, I was racing on one of the hardest courses of the season, I was skiing alongside my teammates using teamwork to push ourselves…. and all I could feel was this feeling of celebration. As I crossed the line, I was swarmed with emotion! I was so happy! Winning a 30k National Championship race is one of my larger accomplishments in my career… and to be able to do it in Anchorage, on Spencer Loop!! One thing is for sure; I am going to enjoy bounding intervals there a lot more this summer when I have flashbacks!
|Todd List photo from the 30k|
|Travis Rector Photo Credit|
So now, the season is over, and it's time to rest, relax and reflect a little! It has been such a fun season, and so many good times! Thanks Anchorage for welcoming me home with so much excitement, and thanks James Southam, APU and all the organizing committee for putting on such a great event here in Anchorage!! And thank you to everyone that has made this year possible for me! I can't say thank you enough!