I can't think of any better way to describe my last two weeks other than "Tour de Sadie". After having a little more relaxing period for World Champs- I got back to racing with a bang. Starting with the World Cup's in Lahti, Finland.
Last year I had one of my best races of the year in the pursuit race in Lahti. At that point that meant coming in 31st... the closest to the points I had ever been. So, this year I went into the weekend with confidence. After having a less than successful experience at World Champs, I was determine to prove to myself I was in better form. I could feel my shape was there, but I knew that things needed to line up better in order to have the day I was capable of.
The first race was the skate sprint. After a 13th place qualifier in one of the most stacked fields I had raced against this season, I knew that I was in a good place. As I walked out to the my first quarterfinal heat, I took a look around me. To my largest fear, every person I would be starting my heat with had won a World Cup medal. Thank god to the immediate encouragement from my coach, Matt Whitcomb, I released my fear into the back of my mind. This year I have had many strong qualifiers, but not once had I finished that day feeling like I skied my quarterfinal to the best of my abilities. So today, I was going to lay it out there. This would mean laying it out there standing beside none other than Marit Bjoergen, Kowalczyk, and Anne Kylloenen. Standing on the line I started to believe in myself, not allowing the intimidation to get to me. After advancing as lucky loser into the semi's, I made a small tactical mistake in my semi's, and narrowly missed moving on to the finals. But what this meant was that I finished my day in 9th- not only my first top 10, but my first top 20! And this was just the motivation and confidence that I needed.
A video of QuarterFinals
|Chasing down Kikkan in the Semi-Finals (Salomon Photo)|
|Enjoying some time in the leaders chair after the 10km|
The following day we had a 10k classic, and again I had a PR, finishing 18th. With little time to soak it in, we jumped on a plane and travelled to Norway where we had a midweek sprint in the city of Drammen on Wednesday. Last year this was my last World Cup Race of the season, and also the first time I had ever made points. So, I went into these races with some confidence from the previous year. Qualifying in 26th, I was determine to move up through the field. Drammen has a unique atmosphere with the fans packing the streets screaming and pushing you on, making it extra fun. Unfortunately, I struggled to get my skis to work throughout the course, crossing the line and moving back to 30th place. While a little disappointed, I couldn't be for too long... because I would be racing three more times in the next four days.
|Ran into Pete Kling up at Holmenkollen during my race prep.|
|Sophie and I having some fun in Oslo|
|Sophie, Rosie and I enjoying the ocean on our pre-race run!|
So, thursday morning I woke up early and jumped on the air plane from Oslo to Innsbruck where I began my adventure through the public bus system and train stations with my skis and duffle. 12 hours later I arrived in Dobiacco for OPA Cup Finals and tried to prepare myself for the next race early the following morning. I knew this travel was not going to be ideal, but with this mini tour being at the end of the season, I was willing to put myself into the "hurt zone" a bit. I also really enjoying ending my European season with both a different group of people, and a different challenge. Winning on the day is possible, so instantly your mind frame goes in a different place.
|A new group of people and our awesome waiter in Dobiacco (Lauren Fritz photo)|
|Bryan Fish photo|
|Many thanks NNF for making this awesome trip happen!|
The three day tour certainly took on a new challenge. When warming up becomes a challenge, you have to dig to new levels during racing. Throughout the three days I finished both 3rd, 2nd and even won one race... which put me in second for the combined mini-tour effort. With 6 races in 9 days in 3 separate countries- I crossed the line in the final race exhausted and exerting every last drop of energy! I had completed my very own Tour de Ski. Some rest and recovery was in store!!
|Standing on the top of the podium for the first time in an OPA race. (Lauren Fritz photo)|
|My huge chunk of meat I won!|
So now with a little over two weeks until our finals series of races in California, I am spending a little recovery time in France with my boyfriend. I am trying to break up the usual training and get some "downhill" time in. It also means some time to catch up in school, catch up in emails, and catch up in life in general!
|Pete, Erik and I on top of Meribel|
|enjoying some fresh powder|
|getting some uphill training as well, of course!|
|Enjoying some powder!|
|Every good day ends with some Hot Chocolate for Erik!|
One more week of rest and then it's the home stretch. Five more races; A prologue, a distance race, a sprint race, a hill climb up the alpine slope, and then a 30k classic. The finish line is in sight!
|Hiking up into the sunset!|