Go Big or Go Home…(just don’t go off the course!)

WOW! I am so psyched and proud of our team’s efforts today. And by team, I mean the WHOLE team – all the girls and guys trained extremely hard and smart all summer, and the coaches and wax techs nailed it today in changing conditions!

Liz and I (on the left) celebrating with Holly in the leader's chair (photo from Rob Whitney, at 1:30 am in AK)

Kikkan busted out a 3rd, Holly nabbed 5th, Liz got 21st, I finished 32nd and Ida placed 53rd. The girls results are linked here: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/610.html?sector=CC&raceid=20653 and the men’s results are linked here: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/610.html?sector=CC&raceid=20654

On course (photo from Rob Whitney, thanks Rob for the pictures!)

For those wondering about the course – it’s really technical, with tons of winding, twisting downhills and sharp uphills. There’s not a lot of rest since you have to be ready for the next corner and working hard over the tops of the hills. It started raining during the warmup and was icy fast on parts of the course, and then somewhere around the 6km marker for me it started snowing, which definitely slowed down the course but it stopped again after a while. Then it started snowing on the men’s race! I felt bad for the dudes since the course was slower and the corners were already iced out and rutted. Sorry guys!

The race went pretty well for me as the first World Cup of the season. Going into it I was thinking, “go big or go home”, so I skied the transitions and sharp corners as hard as I could and was getting good splits on the first lap. That is, until I fell right off the last hard corner before the 5km mark and lost quite a bit of time. I had to get out of the soft snow on the side of the course and then V1 up the hill I would have glided up had I not biffed it. Dang.

Falling was a good test of mental racing and focus for me, since it took a few more km’s for me to get back in the zone and get my confidence back on the corners, where I normally make time, not lose it! So today was another good learning experience, and I’m satisfied with how it went, all things considered!

Liz also took a fall today and broke a pole, and I know without a shred of doubt that if it hadn’t been for her fall, she would have been RIGHT up there in the top 10! Which is super encouraging and really gets me psyched up, knowing my teammates are doing well.

Quite honestly, it’s hard to remember why racing is fun when you’re curled up in a ball on the ground in the finish pen, trying to breathe through your rattling lungs and reassure yourself that although it feels like you’re going to die, you probably won’t. But then you see your teammates faces light up when they have a personal best result. You see the wax techs fist pumping and high five-ing each other. You see the coaches practically combusting with pride. And you get the flood of emails, notes, and encouraging words from friends, fans and family back home. And then you remember why this is so worth every minute of pain on the course, and all the nerves beforehand.

Oleg, one of our wax techs, had his Birthday yesterday!

Speaking of nerves, my stomach has already tied itself into a knot. A really good one. Tomorrow’s relay lineup looks like this: Holly, Kikkan, Liz, Me. I bought glitter 2 months ago in preparation for this year’s relays (no, really, I did) and we’ve got face paint at the ready. Call me immature, call me a junior, whatever….this stuff gets me psyched and there’s nothing wrong with wearing even more red, white and blue on my face.

Sadie sent us an awesome picture of her with USA face paint! Love it! (picture from Sadie)

I’ve never, ever, EVER raced a leg of a relay and not absolutely given 100% for the team. Ever time I cross the finish line or tag off to a teammate I’m on the ground, having killed myself for every second I can get the USA. Tomorrow is going to hurt, and I may or may not be as fast as I want to be, but I will for sure have the best possible race I can give.

Thanks for all the love and support from home – all us girls are soaking it in and it makes such a difference to know we’re being cheered on every step of the way!

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