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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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