New Team, New Year

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.!

15 Favorites of this Spring

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.

The Team
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.
Double Diplomas

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!

End of Season

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!

Happy Spring from the USST!

End to the World Cup Season

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!

Falun 2015

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!
Wooden Medal's! 
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!!

Next Stop, World Championships

Last night I boarded a bus with a variety of countries and athletes, and headed to Falun, home of the 2015 World Championships. We just completed a short weekend of racing in Ostersund, where I competed in the sprint race, one of the more unique courses I have ever raced on during the World Cup.

Soph and I in the stadium after our quarterfinal on Valentines Day.

Some of the unique qualities included racing through the middle of stands, packed with nearly 10,000 screaming fans. It was a two lap course, that spent the majority of time in what we call, herring boning technique, a technique we don't use so frequently as racers. It had a short start zone, which meant for a new starting method for sprint racing. It had a narrow course which allowed for little passing, and few places to make moves. It featured a screaming fast downhill into a sharp corner that provided some entertainment for the screaming spectators. And finally, we had no ski testing on the course before the start… so an added challenge for the techs and athletes! Here is a video from the race. My heat starts around 8:50

I also found some footage of this weekends racing on the FIS video from the week. I love this Inside the Fence! There is so much "behind the scenes" on any given World Cup Weekend. One huge piece of it is picking skis, working with your wax tech, and balancing the chaos and stress! It means trusting your tech, believing in your feelings, and finding confidence in the challenging selection of skis. I just want to say a big thanks to the US Waxing Crew!

As the bus left the hotel parking lot and headed for Falun for two very important weeks of this season, I took some time to step back and think about what is coming. For two weeks of this long 18 week racing season, we focus many of our largest goals. It is a goal to race at our best all season long, but for two weeks in the middle, we want to be at our ABSOLUTE BEST. For two weeks we are fighting for the chance to be World Champion, to win World Championship medals, and to reach our highest places possible during the Championships. Much like the Olympics, for two weeks, the world tunes in to our sport and our competition. Suddenly there is great honor in reach new PR's, winning medals, and being the best!

Over the course of my racing, I have realized that during this high pressure, high stress, and exciting two weeks, I have to find the right place for my brain. Rather than focusing on the "outcome", I have found myself trying to narrow my brains focus down to the "process". How am I going to perform my best? By focusing on the steps that I have taken to get me right here, right now, I can arrive on the start line, ready to fight!

It begins with the training. For 48 weeks of the season I have dedicated and committed all my energy and mind to this sport. I owe a huge thanks to many people for allowing this to work. My family, my coaches, my team, my friends, and my sponsors! I have a family that supports my goals and aspirations since I was 5 years old, 

This year I started working with a company that shares very similar values and missions to my sport. With strong roots in both Washington and Alaska- this company has a very similar backbone to me! Their support has given me the platform to achieve my goals as well as allowed me to dedicate myself to my training and becoming the best in my sport. Awarded one of the World's Most Ethical Companies in 2014, Saltchuk shares the belief in clean sport, clean business, and honest methods of achieving success.  As I stand on the start line thursday, in my first World Championship race, I am thankful that this company has supported, believed in me, and inspired me to reach new heights of success. They have shown, they are committed to the communities they serve! Thank you Saltchuk!

Aside from having an incredible family, training hard, and supportive sponsors, it takes the reenforcement of a team. This includes the coaches, athletes, PT's, massage therapists, Sports Psychologists, and many more. I am lucky to have two incredible teams that have weaved a platform of support and commitment to this dream. My incredible Alaska Pacific University Team that I spend the many long summer and fall training weeks with, and secondly, the National Team that I spend the winter racing with. Both of these teams have kept me committed to this chase towards my goals, and encouraged me to push through many tough times!

The World Championship Team

As I spend these next two weeks chasing some of my largest goals of the season, I know I have done the work. I have trained incredibly hard, I have committed my mind and body to this goal, and I have surrounded myself in the people and teams that have believed in me.

I can't wait to get the World Championships started!!

I encourage everyone to tune in and watch. See message below just released by US Ski Team:

Nordic Worlds Live in USA

PARK CITY, UT (Feb. 14, 2015) – Live action from the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Sweden is coming to America Feb. 18-March 1. Fans across the USA and Canada will be able to follow the action at the World Championships with both live and video on demand highlights through an innovative new partnership from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. Every cross country, nordic combined and ski jumping event will be streamed live on, as well as through the official Falun2015 Live Arena app.
The Feb. 18-Mar. 1 World Championships will mark the first time U.S. fans have had comprehensive free access to an English language broadcast of World Championships. Each event will stream live on, with parallel transmission on Video highlights will also be available on the USSA Network on YouTube.
L.L.Bean will be the presenting sponsor of the live coverage from Falun. L.L.Bean has always had a love affair with cross country skiing, beginning decades ago when it first began offering skis to its customers, as well as sharing its passion for the sport by offering a wide variety of courses, trips, tours and clinics and demonstrations for skiing. Most recently, L.L.Bean has teamed up with Kikkan Randall, the most decorated cross country ski racer in U.S. history, to be its newest product design and testing partner. As part of its support of the live streaming coverage, L.L.Bean will feature a 30-second spot featuring Randall, as well as additional content that will be integrated into the broadcasts.
The U.S. Ski Team will feature athletes like cross country World Champions Randall and Jessie Diggins, rising World Cup star Liz Stephen, as well as defending world ski jumping champion Sarah Hendrickson, plus a Nordic combined team featuring Olympic champion Billy Demong and brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher. Over 700 athletes from more than 50 countries will compete in the Nordic World Championships in cross country skiing, ski jumping and nordic combined events.
The Falun2015 Live Arena app is powered by Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), the World Championships’ digital experience partner, who has created a platform that will collect a vast amount of data and information from myriad sources throughout the championships.
Most notably, the app will provide a context for the data by correlating static maps and athlete information with competition tracking information alongside the live streaming. It will provide a much more engaging experience than simply watching a video stream, allowing users to be more involved with the event itself.
The Falun2015 Live Arena mobile app is expected to provide the best ‘second screen’ application ever for a skiing event, allowing fans to use the app as a single source for following the race, or a complement to watching live web streaming on or
The app is available for iOS devices.
Falun2015 Live Arena Features
Track view: Take part in the competition from the point of view of your favorite skier, or from the TV camera of your choice.
Ski jump: Follow the ski jumping live.
Lugnet: Take a tour around the ski stadium at Lugnet and take part in the events on-site.
Medals plaza: Join the celebrations and medal ceremonies at the main square in Falun.
Interactive camera: Follow the action and zoom to points of interest from your free-flying virtual camera.
Connected Snow: Through sensors and connectivity, app users can experience a heat map, showing where the snow is coldest – an important parameter for skiing.

Russia and Beyond

SInce arriving in Russia January 21st, it has been a serious series of events. Beginning with a bumpy plane ride, a marginally sketchy landing down into Moscow Russia, a patient trip through Customs, where you cross your fingers and just hope your Visa was done correctly as the Border Control Officers seem to stare at your passport for way too long…. and finishes with a long and seriously bumpy 6 hour bus ride up to the famous Rybinsk, Russia. Arriving and traveling in Russia is always unique. It is very different than your normal experience, and requires a fair amount of patience. Somewhere during this unusually long plane, customs, bags, sketchy bumpy bus experience I noticed I no longer had my phone…. so to make this wonderful travel day even better, my drowsy state of travel allowed me to leave my phone on the airplane seat, only to be snatched up by someone immediately. That is a good way to turn "tired Sadie" into an emotional downward spiral! For the six hour bumpy bus ride driving across roads that resemble bumpy fields rather than highways…. I went through this airplane ride, reliving my responsible self… just wishing I had used my brain a little bit more than I had chosen to. In the US, the flight attendants often say in English "please check your seat and make sure you haven't left any belongings". Something I may have brainlessly blocked out in the past…. will now become the true reminder every time I exit the plane!

OK…. it may suck to lose a phone when you are in Europe because retrieving another US Sim Card, and buying a new phone from afar is not that easy…. but at least I didn't lose my Passport!! That would have been a lot worse! So, I tried to just relax, and finish this long day without getting too bent out of shape.

The next six days it was back to business…. training well, recovering well, finding some Russian food to fill me up, staying warm in the frigid cold temps of Rybinsk, and racing hard! I quickly gathered my focused self after an early bump during the travel and dove back into the racing focus. As temperatures hovered below zero degrees F, combined with super high humidity… staying warm was the focus. Breathing masks, kinesio tape, and 3 layers of pants, 5 layers on top, two buffs…. and down pants were the solution. Spending time racing in Europe this winter has meant that we are often above 32 degrees…. with this funky warm winter. So, it took a bit to adjust to these freezing cold temperatures. Not only is the temperature different, but the skiing is very different as well. The snow becomes much slower to ski on, and even trickier to kick classic skis on.

Staying warm and looking silly.
Mass Start Race- USSA photo
The weekend ended up going well, as I made it into the semi finals, finally, only my second time ever on the World Cup. Rybinsk is challenging racing, even if a huge portion of the World Cup Field is missing. Somehow, 20 Russian woman fill in the empty spots and keep the competition level high! There were so many highlights from the weekend including Liz on the podium, Rosie scoring her first World Cup points (13th!!!!), Jessie matching her individual best, both in the sprint and the skiathlon (5th!!!!!!!), and MY BROTHER SCORING HIS FIRST SPRINT POINTS in 19th. Super cool, and super fun weekend!
celebrating Ida's birthday with some Russian made goodies.
Link to some quarterfinals that you can watch both Erik and I. (My heat starts at 7:50)

Next stop, back to central Europe, and a little preparation time before World Championships. Somehow I convinced Jo to come visit for a little 10 day break from work, and a 10 day break from "focus" for me. So, Jo got to join me for my "World Champ pre-camp". He did a good job of keeping me training hard, and keeping me happy. Even though he hasn't cross country skied so much in the past 10 years of his life… somehow he can still manage to stay in front of me… darn!! We managed to fit a few days of "less skinny skis" into the preparation schedule, which was a fun little treat. Jo just finished his full licensing in ski instructing, so I always love to see a different side of him when we go out into the mountains and he goes into his ski instructor mode! 

Enjoying the powder from a higher place.

Awesome to have my wonderful Physical Therapist from home, Zuzana Rodgers, on the road for 5 weeks! She used to be an amazing alpine skier in her past life... so her and Jo were keeping each other good company on the down!
The APU Crew.
12 great days of recovering, training, recovering, training, and we are back at it. We just arrived in Sweden for our final World Cup Weekend before World Championships begins, February 19th in Falun, Sweden. There will be live streaming available, so be sure to tune in.

Erik, making friends in the sunshine as he waits for the girls to catch up on an easy distance ski.
Rosie and I pushing through some slow powder on a speed day.
Morning French Lessons.
Enjoying a date night with a garden of Frogs... my favorite!!!
Sunny ski with my Alaska buddies!
Marine joining us for interval day!
Funny to see him on skinny skis!
Strength training!
Keeping my French wax tech, JP, happy!
The argument continues.... skinny vs. fat!

"Welcome to Estonia"

In all three times I have been here racing in Otepaa, Estonia- there is one song that plays over and over again in the stadium and get's stuck in my head as I ski around the courses in the "grey tint" of Estonia. This is the song called, "Welcome to Estonia". You can listen to it here:

I feel like this song just sums it up! I have always loved coming and racing in Estonia, because I feel like it "keeps me real". As a World Cup athlete, we are often racing in beautiful places, staying in cute little hotels situated in the Alps…. and sometimes I find I need a little "check". Estonia has always been that place for me. Although it is often grey, and more times than not, the sun is hidden behind layers of rain or freezing cold temperatures, it is still fun! The food may not be gourmet, but it tastes good! The Estonians are friendly, helpful, (often beautiful), and they just seem down to earth in the best way! They love their little grey home, and they are proud of it! I have a great deal of respect for that- and honestly, I love that they find their own "beauty" without the mountains, sunshine, and chaos! 

Welcome to Estonia- the view of the stadium from our bedroom window.
Soph and I found some fun and random hats in one of the two stores we could find in town.
So, as this little upbeat song gets played on repeat for the five days we generally spend here in Otepaa;  in my own way, I am always reminded of the true "pleasures" in life. 

Tech Races- best part of the week. Watching our wax tech's thrown down in a team event against all the other waxing teams!! So fun!! Here is JP all ready to go with a waxed mustache and all!

And their off!
Dream Team! Matt, Oleg and JP
OK, on to the racing! It has been a fun week of training and racing here in Estonia. First off, my best friend from home, and the continental cup leader, Rosie Brennan, arrived to join the group. She just got done crushing Nationals back home; so I have been so excited to get her over here to join us. Not to mention, I have missed my roommate and best buddy from back home. So, we have been having a little reunion this week being hotel roommates. It has been awesome to catch up with her and get all the updates about my teammates back home. 
Rosie and I running through the rainy afternoon.

Racing came quickly, beginning with the classic sprint. I had one of my better heats, and just missed qualifying onto semi's by a photo finish….. darn! As frustrating as it seems now to have two weekends missing moving on in a photo finish… I have some confidence it is coming! If at first you don't succeed… try, try again! If you want to watch, it is on youtube. My heat starts around 15 minutes:

Photo finish... soo close!
Day two was team sprinting, one of my favorite events in skiing. I love the perfect combination of both speed and endurance you need for an event like this. I have always really enjoyed team sprinting in the past, so I have been looking forward to this one for a while. Soph and I finally got to make a SODIESPECIAL team sprint, but a series of unlucky events left us standing on the side cheering on our teammates Ida and Rosie for the finals, rather than joining them. With some variable and slowing weather conditions combined with some falls… it just wasn't the magic we were capable of. But, that's ok. As with all racing, sometimes things just don't work out right. It was incredibly exciting to watch Rosie and Ida race their hearts out and finish 6th!! So impressive and fun to watch!

Always the best of crowds here! Nordic Focus photo

We now have two days of training here in Otepaa before heading to Rybinsk, Russia for next weekends period of "cold racing". Hopefully the warm weather gods will grant us one last "warm weather wish" and keep Rybinsk from freezing over!!

Happy Snow Day- FIS photo

Tour de Ski

For the first time, I participated in the Tour de Ski… otherwise known as the "big battle". For years I have been watching this race, and dreaming of the challenge of participating in it. Never did I really realize what exactly it entailed though. I knew that there was somewhere between 7-9 races. I knew that it ended with a hill climb. And, I knew that it entailed racing in several different locations.
Dinner with the Haub's in Obersdorf- some of Erik and my WONDERFUL supporters! So wonderful to share an evening with them!
Not until starting it did I realize that it is a constant RUSH of testing, racing, sleeping, resting, packing, traveling, racing, sleeping, eating, driving, resting, racing, etc., etc.  There are very few seconds to turn your brain off, and truly relax. 

My tour roommate J.Diggs enjoying some nice views and beauty sunshine!
One of the road trips between venues. Race, come home and grab your bags, and jump in the van for a 3 hour road trip to the next venue. Fun stuff!
With such quick turnover... sometimes it just isn't worth it to unpack
The first two races of the Tour were in Obersdorf, Germany, somewhere I had never been. The French Team was friendly enough to bring Erik and I over to Germany, so we quickly jumped back into the swing of racing after a wonderful break! After a nice streak of cold, snow, and wintery conditions… conditions switched just in time to rain and tropical storm as the racing began. Although it seemed to be a constant downpour in Obersdorf, somehow we found ourselves lucky enough to never race in the rain! While it was warm, it wasn't soaking us! Obersdorf was overly exciting for me, because I had my very first top 10 of the season… in SKATE skiing. Something I wasn't even dreaming I would achieve this year, so I was pretty stoked. Starting on a good note, I was ready to "head to battle" with a smile!

Hanging out waiting for the "Tour de Ski Opening Ceremonies"

Skate Prologue in Obersdorf- Marcel Hilger Photo
Knocking Knees.. always! Marcel Hilger Photo- 10k Classic, Obersdorf
The four days of racing included:

3.3k Prologue- Obersdorf, Germany

10k Classic Mass Start- Obersdorf, Germany

Skate Sprint- Val Mustair, Switzerland

5k Classic- Toblach, Italy

Enjoying some sunshine with my buds in Val Mustair
Some Val Mustair Sprinting.
It was an exciting 5 days of traveling, racing, staying healthy and strong, and putting our best efforts down each day. I found it so fun and exciting to race, and know we were having another chance the following day!

Recovery Methods... massage, ice baths, contrast baths, stretching... and SLEEPING

Before the Tour, my coach, Flora, and I put together a plan for Period 2 of racing. This included doing the first four stages of the tour, resting in Ramsau for a week, and then racing in Estonia and Russia the following two weekends. Not knowing how the tour would go, I was excited and set with this plan. When day four of the tour came around, the 5k Classic in Toblach, I finished the race, and found myself sitting 7th overall in the Tour. Suddenly this plan I had made didn't sound so fun… I wanted to keep going! As I did my warm down, I took a step back, and thought about my goals for the season. Some of the top ones on the list revolved around early February, in Falun, for World Championships. While it seemed so tempting to keep going in this incredibly fun pursuit, the Tour de Ski, I stuck to my guns, and kept the same plan. I have many more years ahead to take on "the big beast". 

Givin' it all!
Sometimes it just feels so good to go to exhaustion!
I have watched the Tour de Ski for many years now, but I now feel like I have the true appreciation for it. I have so much more respect not only for the people that win it, but everyone that completes it!! It is incredible to watch people just tough it out, and keep fighting, day after day… when it seems impossible to have that much energy for so long! I only did four days, and it felt HARD! Not only that, all the staff are having a race of their own!! For them, they are working like crazy, driving us, going to all the meetings, and hardly getting any rest. They have our job, except without the rest and recovery! Yikes! Big thanks to you guys!

JP and I doing some testing (Anatolii Tsymbalov photo)

I am now in Ramsau, Austria trying to enjoy 5 days of rest and recovery, before jumping back into the swing of things and heading to Estonia for a sprint weekend. 

More racing to come soon!

Holiday Break

APU Christmas Fun

Growing up, Christmas was my favorite times of the year. I loved the holidays. To me, it meant family time, playing in the snow, presents, yummy meals, and lots of holiday spirit. In the Bjornsen household, we celebrate in full force! For the past two years, I have spent Christmas away from my family, and overseas. Having a french boyfriend, and his french family nearby- I have learned to appreciate the "french christmas" a bit more. While it is very different, it has become something to look forward to in a new way. They put together an amazing meal, and like Americans, surround themselves in lots of family! I learned that Santa actually comes and brings presents to children in France…. he doesn't just show up in the middle of the night when the children are sleeping. Neat!

Christmas Dinner Party at the Saquet's
Jo helping the little guy's unwrap their gifts from Santa
I asked Santa for snow.... but it didn't quite come as I was hoping.
Christmas in Meribel
Having a ten day break from racing meant that I had a small opportunity to get some "away time". I have learned my ski racing depends on being happy. Being happy means getting a little time away, and finding some time to turn my "professional/serious brain off". I am lucky to have my boyfriend living over on this side of the pond, so I get to go have a little break with him. He is always working a lot during Christmas, so it just means a lot of resting and catching up on life. There wasn't much snow in Meribel, so I was finding myself doing more hiking and jogging than normal, but it was just a nice "mental vacation". I did manage to force myself to ski once a day on the mini .5k loop of ice… but it was the hiking on dirt that I was most enjoying!
Not much snow, but a whole lot of enthusiasm! Love meeting up with my little "Meribel Ski Club buddies"
Enjoying some good wine and good food "while in France"
The awesome Meribel Ski Club girlies
Discovering some cabins in the hills while out running.
After 5 days in Meribel, I headed towards Villard de Lans, where my brothers girlfriend and her family live. Holidays are a prime time to get extremely home sick, so it was really nice to meet up with my brother. It was also really fun to meet Marine's family, who took me in and made me feel right at home! I quickly fell in love with Villard and the Dusser's! The skiing is some of the best skiing I have done, the area is really beautiful, and the people are all wonderful in Villard! There are many french biathletes and nordic skiers living in Villlard, so we were in great company as well! It is definitely a place I will go back to!
Polar Plunge...
Skiing in Autrons (just a few k's from Villard). Maybe my new favorite place in the world to ski!!
One evening we went bowling, and made bets with each other. I won my bet, so Robin (one of the skiers on the French Team) had to wax my skis for training... he is not quite as good as my French Tech on the World Cup.. but I had some good training skis!
Running through the streets of Villard with Erik and Marine
A view of town.
Marine soaking in some evening sunshine.
Interval day, getting chased by Marine
Pretending we are in the Methow for the day.
Marine's sister, Fanny, getting my fingers ready for some golden Tour de Ski days.

After five short days, Erik and I jumped in with the French team and headed to the Tour de Ski. Updates from the Tour de Ski coming soon..!!

Headed for Obersdorf with the French Squad.

Dropping Back onto Earth

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

Week 1 On the Road

One week has already flown by of this 2014-2015 season on the road. You know what that means?? Time to start racing!!

We spent the past week living and skiing in Munio, Finland- approximately 300 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. That means many things.

1) It takes 30 hours of travel to get from Anchorage, Alaska to here!

2) It doesn't get light until 9:30, and it begins to get dark at 2:30PM

3) I haven't gotten to say hello to the sunshine since I got here. It is almost like a constant sunset/sunrise all day, which is actually really neat and pretty!
One of the sunrises that goes all day (Sophie photo)

4) BRRRR, it is cold here! We are staying right on the ski trails, which means we walk to training every day, and we can escape to our cabin pretty easily if we underdressed or just need a little break to warm up!
Doing some testing with my new tech, JP. Chilly times! (Reese Hanneman photo)
5) Snow! There is snow, and plenty of it! There is a great little 5 kilometer loop groomed that has provided for some awesome training and interval sessions as we prepare for the World Cup next weekend in Kuusamo, Finland.
Enjoying some snow! (Sophie photo)
6) We are surrounded by other skiers. It has been fun to have some other teams here including the Estonian's, the Polish, the Finnish, and many younger training groups from Norway, Sweden, and Finland.
Following Justyna during intervals one day.
It has made for a great week. Early on, I got to celebrate my birthday, which is always really fun on the road. My teammates are always incredible at making me feel special all day, surprising me with gifts, nice cards, and cakes! Not only that, I get a second birthday when everyone in the US wakes up 10 hours later and sends me many wishes! It is the best! Thanks everyone.

Some amazing Northern Lights (Reese Hanneman photo)
The older you get- the larger the birthday candles! 
I was so excited to have the best Norther Lights show ever the night of my birthday. It was a cold, clear night- so they were really popping! Reese caught some really awesome photos on his camera, I am not sure how, but it was pretty amazing!

We found some time to go visit the local Middle School in town to tell the kids about what we do. It was amazing how well most of them spoke English! (Caitlin photo)
Making strength a little more exciting adding the danger factor. (Sophie photo)
Today we take a 5-6 hour road trip south and towards Russia landing in Kuusamo- the venue for the opening World Cup's. Can't wait to get started!!


For one month now, I have been preparing. Preparing for racing, preparing to leaving, preparing for my graduation, and preparing to spend another five months away from home.

Sad to say goodbye to my favorite little buddies!
Preparing for racing is the fun part! This is the time of year that snow starts falling and training starts feeling fresh after letting our bodies rest from a hard summer of training. This is the time of year that I start waking up in the night with racing dreams….. "I am running for the start, only five minutes until I take off, and I have grabbed one skate and one classic pole. I spin around and run back for the cabins in fear, counting down the seconds until I start". These dreams occasionally come in the middle of the summer, but most the time they are a sign that the racing season is coming. Preparing for racing also means changing up the training. It means shorter and easier training sessions matched with some good quality shorter intervals and time trials. 

Doing some sprinting when the snow was still around
Back to roller skiing

Preparing for leaving is the "less fun" part. Preparing for leaving entails trying to find time for all my friends to say goodbye, finding a storage unit to park my car in, sending early christmas presents, organizing my room so that if I need someone to bring something I forgot, I know exactly where to find it. Most importantly though, it entails packing. I decided this year that I need to make a master packing list…. because each year I spend the month leading into my departure writing little notes in my phone, reminding myself things to bring. This is what one of my checklist notes would look like:
Parking the beauty blue.
-Hand Sanitizer (this is how we attempt to stay healthy eating at buffet's for all of our meals)
-Shampoo and Conditioner (I really don't like the Euro stuff, I much prefer US Herbal Essence)
- Peanut Butter (A staple of race morning breakfast)
- American Coffee
- American Gum
- Powerbars
- Hot mug
- Water bottle holder
- Wax for Meribel (when I go visit Jo, I am waxing on my own, so I have slowly gathered enough wax there to take care of myself)
- Head Lamp (for our first month in the dark north, north lands)
- Nook
- Triple A batteries
- Flecter patches (in case my bone spurs flare up again)
- Bjorn Daehlie shorts and T-shirt for working out in the gym
- Christmas Pajama pants- this helps when I am getting super home sick and dreaming of being home with my family
- Harddrive
- Something for the Fischer boot maker that made me four custom boots before I was totally satisfied. This guy is awesome!
- Cold Medication (if I buy it in the US, then I know it passes the US anti-doping regulations. Better safe than sorry!!)
- Earplugs (Having a roommate for five months means you have to find your own ways to take care of your sleeping needs)
- L.L. Bean rain suit (for those days that Global Warming strikes and for some reason it rains rather than snows)

Packing party with the girls team
So that is just a list of the few things that came to my mind as I was traveling, or away from home, and felt like if I didn't jot them down I was going to forget. As I said, it seems it should be time to simply create a master list. Some of these staple items like peanut butter, and gum and coffee…. you can find them all in Europe, but I have just found it makes me happier to enjoy the US products for as long as possible. The importance of this whole "spend the winter racing in Europe" is to find what makes me happy. For me, Christmas means a lot to me! So I have to take a few things that will make me feel at home and festive. Being happy means enjoying the experience, enjoying the racing, and enjoying my job!

Preparing for graduating means meeting with all of my professors, making sure they are satisfied, making sure they understand where I will be the next month, just keeping them in the loop. Next, it means checking in at the registers office, auditing my transcript and files, making sure I have all my credits to be done. Part of this preparation means setting up my senior project presentation. For all that would like to listen, I will post a link on my blog to the online portal where you can log on and listen to me give my thesis presentation. It is scheduled for December 2nd, my first day in Norway, where I will be preparing for the Lillehammer World Cup's. 

Preparing for spending another five months away from home is the final preparation. This means making my bed for when I arrive back home, this means making calls to all my closest family and friends telling them goodbye, and this means reflecting on what a fun and successful training season I have had. Now it is time to get this party started! I am really looking forward to this coming season. I will be racing the full World Cup Season for the second time now, hopefully spending more time racing this year, and less time sitting on the sidelines getting over sickness. I will also be starting the Tour de Ski for the first time after Christmas!!

Period 1 racing schedule:
November 29: Kuusamo, Finland Claassic Sprint
November 30: Kuusamo, Finland 10k Skate
December 5: Lillehammer, Norway Skate Sprint
December 6: Lillehammer, Norway 10k Skate
December 7: Lillehammer, Norway 10k Pursuit
December 13: Davos, Switzerland 15k Classic
December 14: Davos. Switzerland Skate Sprint
December 20: La Clusaz, France Skiathlon
December 21: La Clusaz, France 4x5km Relay

Huge thanks to Salthcuk for signing on with me this year and partnering with me to support my ski racing this winter! Another huge thanks to Alaska Pacific University for making an awesome training season. I am going to miss you guys! Can't wait to see how well everyone does on the domestic circuit!! I am sure I will have some more APU teammates joining me mid season!
Judy Patrick photo
APU girls enjoying some training
Becca getting some serious air time in jumps.

Now, it's off to Finland we go!!

Park City Camp

Last winter, I made a goal for myself, when I was loading onto the airplane for the 5 month World Cup Season in November. As I was taking off, I had this feeling of sadness. I wasn't ready to leave home and spend my life as a traveling suitcase. As I tried to find some solutions to this problem, I decided the following summer (the one that we have just completed) I was going to spend as much time as possible at home, at Alaska Pacific University. This way, I would be excited to leave, and it wouldn't just mean packing up and living the suitcase life again.

A train of teammates and buddies to train with.. makes this so much fun!
So… I accomplished this goal and spent maybe even enough time in Alaska this summer/fall to receive my PFD next year. From the time that I returned from World Cup last year, I have made my very best effort to spend as many days as possible tucking into my own bed, driving my own car, and regularly checking my mail. Alaska had the most amazing summer, so my goal of "being ready to leave" wasn't accomplished during any periods of the summer. By early October though…. after one straight month of 30-45 degree rain every single day… I was pretty darn well close. As I packed up my bags for Park City Camp for the final 3 week National Team Camp before the season, I was "excited to leave". I was even thrilled as I packed my bags, the "trial run" before the real 5 month packing job in mid November. 

One snowy, cold day in PC!
Starting off in one of our time trials. (Noah Hoffman photo)
As I arrived in Park City, I was taken from Alaskan weather that left me wearing multiple layers under rain jackets, to sunny Utah, where there were multiple days of shorts and sports bras! From winter back to summer- yehooo!

Sun, Smiles and Friends! (Matt Whitcomb photo)
Back to the shorts. (Matt Whitcomb photo)
Thanks to the incredible Zuzana Rodgers and Advanced Physical Therapy for taking care of us so well!
Zuzana taking care of Liz after a hard Time Trial!
The beginning of the camp consisted of lots of testing, measuring, and analyzing. I always struggle with this part, as every year I come into Park City with a different load of training, and a different feeling of rested. This year, I came into testing more tired, and more trained than I ever have been. Fighting off a virus a few weeks before getting to PC, I still wasn't feeling up to "strong par" when it came time to jump onto the rollerski treadmill. As I fought mentally to not give up, and keep pushing through some serious exhaustion, I eventually couldn't anymore, and allowed myself to go flying off the back, caught by the safety harness. 
Focus, Focus!!
The end!
Strength testing.
Nothing about that rollerskiing  treadmill test is ever pretty! In fact, I found myself choking up as I watched and cheered on my teammate, Liz Stephen complete it, pushing and digging as deep as physically possible.. Watching a race is very different then watching a treadmill test. A race requires a perfectly perfected performance of energy exertion, never to the maximum, because lying on the top of the hill having given maximum effort wouldn't be too effective. Instead, an athlete is executing different levels of effort depending on the course, the type of race, and the length. You often can see the pain in their bodies as they cross the finish line, having given every last bit of effort, just enough to get across the line. But here, for this treadmill test, you are hooked up to a breathing tube, you are balancing on your skis on a treadmill whizzing by underneath you, and you are digging as absolutely deep as possible. You are in a fight with this treadmill, trying to win against a machine! You are mentally screaming inside your head "I can do 10 more seconds. NO, I can do 15 more seconds ". It is an endless battle of how mentally tough you can be. As I watched Liz fight this treadmill, and fight this effort, I suddenly found tears coming to my eyes. It is pretty emotional to watch someone put so much effort down, they are eventually flung off the back gasping for oxygen and strength. We like to ask each other afterwards "Who won? The treadmill or you?" And to no surprise… somehow the treadmill always wins!

Liz striding and gliding!
After getting all the testing and measuring done- the fun stuff began; the training part! There were a few unfortunate events that took place at the beginning of the camp that threw a few people for a loop including Sophie tripping and falling on pavement, resulting in another broken elbow. She has been incredible, seeing it as yet another hurdle, and finding a way to keep training! That girl is going to move mountains this winter- you can see it in her eyes (and her fitness). 

Matt taking care of Soph, and getting her shoes tied before training.
Soph running up Hermodes during the time trial cheering me on!

Training in these past 2.5 weeks has been awesome. We have hammered out some great speed and interval training down in Soldier Hollow, home of the 2002 Olympics. We have had some beautiful skis up canyons with amazing fall leaves. We did some sweet recovery runs straight from the front door up in Deer Valley at 8000 feet (where the air is thin). It has been an awesome few weeks of training, and I am now leaving, feeling good and ready for a fun season ahead!

Sophie and I are doing a Training Rap for SkiTrax, where we will be alternating two weeks at a time of updating on our daily training regimes. Bookmark this site if you are interested to get a scope into our yearly training routines on and off the racing circuit. Click on the link below to check it out. My goal for this is to show all the young athletes that training doesn't have to be beautiful. Everyone trains different, everyone trains different amounts, and everyone is unique!

Some speed training. (SMS photo)
Intervals up some beauty canyons. (Matt Whitcomb photo)
(SMS photo). 
One of our first days in Park City we had a Fast and Female event, one that includes all the different US Ski Team, Freeskiing and Snowboard sports, and a few more. I had an extra amount of fun because my young cousin from Jackson Hole came and joined in. She is 14 now and just getting into competitive alpine skiing. It was so neat to see her confidence and strength, something that I found was best learned through sport! I can't even wait to have another Bjornsen join into the top level of skiing! I can see, she is going to be a little star!

Cork, and our strength coaches baby... Kikk a little jealous that Cork gets to hold the baby!
Working hard on the 2002 Olympic Courses.
Joining Soph for her first run since breaking her elbow- SODIE SMILES!
Hiking Bald Mountains with some buddies.
I am currently on the airplane from Salt Lake to Chicago for a brief trip to the city for a US Ski Team Fundraiser Ski Ball. Being a member of the A Team requires that we attend one of the fall fundraisers where we get to meet some of our team sponsors and donors. This entails getting dressed up all fancy and visiting Chicago, a city I have never been to! I am looking forward to being a tourist for a few days and walking around getting to know a new area of the US. I only wish it was a little closer so I could visit some of my midwestern family!!

From Chicago I will be heading back to Alaska for three more weeks of training and preparation before jumping on the plane for my 5 month trip back onto the World Cup Circuit. I have been seeing lots of pictures of skiing in Anchorage, so I am hoping the snow sticks around for a bit so I get to join in on the fun in a few days!

LAST, but NOT least!!

It is Drive for 25 season. What that means is that the National Nordic Foundation, a huge supporter of the Nordic Community is hosting its annual fundraiser. These funds go towards supporting young juniors on their first trips to Europe, supporting camps, supporting project for the US Ski Team that we don't have funding for, and making sure everyone is charging forward and provided with opportunities. The National Nordic Foundation has been a huge support in my career as I was growing up and attending my first National and International competitions. They recognize the importance in development, and they are there to help! The goal of Drive for 25 is to have as many people as possible to donate $25, resulting in huge involvement, and large support. Below is a link to my fundraising page.

I encourage everyone to get involved and join in on this incredible excitement and movement the US is having! Thanks to everyone in advance!

Fall for fun- fun for Fall!

This fall has been following the general theme of this year, a whole heck of a lot of fun! It started on a more negative note…. 1 month straight of rain and 40 degrees. 3 weeks into it, I picked up a little virus that my household managed to catch, and I spent two weeks battling the buggy, trying to find my groove again. Unfortunately, every time I went out to train, it equaled to a cold, wet, draining experience. I took four straight days of lying in bed, and relaxing and recharging which eventually brought me back to life. After a huge summer of training, I have a feeling that virus may have just saved me; because that two weeks of rest has left me feeling rejuvenated and ready to go.

Aside from having a little crummy weather- Alaska has made up for it with two weeks of cool, clear, amazing, fun, fall days! Some of the fun adventures have included:

Clear, beautiful view from up high in the hills.

Olivia time- one of the young talented juniors from my home town, the Methow Valley, finally caved to my peer pressure of coming to check out APU. It is no longer a secret how much fun the APU team is with a great group of athletes, the best coach in the world, perfect training, glacier skiing, opportunities to go to school and ski at the highest level, Kikkan Randall… oh man, it is all so good. So Olivia finally caved to the pressure and came up for a few days. It was fun to be a tour guide for a week trying to show her just how much fun we have. 

APU women's team taking in Olivia
Training in the Rain- Sometimes you just have to embrace the crumminess of the weather. There is something that somehow makes you feel all the much more hardcore when you come home soaked to the core, covered in mud, and totally stoked!
Rosie Frankowski working hard indoors
New strength routines on the rings.
Mountain Adventuring- With some functioning feet this year, I have gotten to adventure to so many places right here in Anchorage. The foothills just here in town are incredible! There are even blueberries left to snack on at the top :)

Made it to one HUGE white rock!
Jo found himself a rainbow!
Exploring a new sport..!
Running with the moms- There are a lot of many wonderful mom's I have gotten to know since moving to Anchorage. I always have such a busy schedule, I never get to spend time with these amazing people. Many of my afternoon training sessions are on my own, so I have gotten to spend some time with these incredible ladies in the afternoons. The secret that I learned… these moms, they have mad mom power! They make me work to keep up, holy cow!! Makes sense now, why MY mom can still kick my butt- it is a secret mom power!

Hunting- Growing up vegetarian means that I didn't really have the appreciation for hunting that many others have. Guns scare me, meet grosses me out when it's not cooked… but the idea of hiking around searching for animals is more interesting. My boyfriend Jo is the king of hunting, so I finally joined him this year for "the experience". A few birds later, a campfire, and awesome sunset… and it made a heck of a dinner! I may just be hooked.

Jo, with his handmade moose caller!
Camping with some amazing sky's!
Fast and Female- This year I joined the organizing crew for the Anchorage Fast and Female. With my Senior Project for my degree relating to Feasibility Studies for this awesome organization; it has been especially neat to get more involved now that I understand the background a bit more. I was in charge of organizing the stations and ambassadors, which was super fun to get to know some of the ambassadors of the various sports here in Anchorage. We managed to get 10 different sports involved this year. Swimming, Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined, Biathlon, Alpine, Nordic, Basketball, Hockey, Soccer, Tennis, Golf.. Cool! With 250 girls, we had one heck of a great time!

F and F organizing committee, Holly, myself, Joey Caterinichio, Bonnie York and Kikkan

Our largest Fast and Female Event, 250 awesome girls!
Virtual Fast and Female Chat with the new Sandpoint Ski Team!
Cooking Dinner - One of our common Fundraising methods is to sell "Dinner cooked by the APU Women". With so many girls on different schedules, we fell behind last year, so we had a series of 4 dinners to catch up on this fall. By the end, we had our meal and timing dialed. I always love these events because we get to know some really wonderful and supportive people! We have some truly generous people in the Anchorage Community believing in our APU Team and helping us move forward! This last event we did before leaving was at the new Special Olympics Gym that was built in town. It is the only Special Olympics Facility in the world! It is amazing, and we are hoping to get together with some of the Special Olympic Athletes and spend some time training with them in their incredible new facility!

Cooking crew and Women's APU Team
Special Olympics Fundraiser
Best Chef on Skinny Skis- One of our annual team fundraisers is the "Best Cheff on Skinny Skis"- a reality TV show that we are formed. See the video here for a little peak into what it is about. Lots of fun!

Fun Sponsor Activity- The fall is always a great time to get involved with our incredible sponsors. Photo shoots and organization events. It is always rewarding to spread our love for active and healthy lifestyles with the company; trying to give back to the incredible support we receive! I have just recently started working with Saltchuk which is a holding company for many transportation companies of Alaska. Aside from working with the amazing Carlile company that has been supporting me for the past three years, I have also gotten to get to know and work with some of the other companies of Saltchuk such as Northern Air Cargo, Tote, Foss and Cook Inlet Tug and Barge. 

Getting Active with Carlile Employees
Showing the Carlile Families a great view from nearby.
Photo Shoot with Tyler Kornfield and Northern Air Cargo
That about wraps up this amazingly fun fall. I am headed to Park City right now for the final National Team Training Camp before I hopefully return to three weeks of snow in AK, and then off to EUROPE for RACING TIME!!!!

Let the fun continue!