Spending any holiday away from your family can be tough, and I haven’t been home in Minnesota for Christmas in four years. But with a team full of friends that I really enjoy spending time with and Skype to keep seeing my family, Christmas this year was really fun! I love my job, I love the way I get to live my life, and I feel so lucky to have a lot of fun people to be with year-round!
I woke up after sleeping in late and went for a super fun 3 hour ski. I joined Simi and Sophie for the last part and we decided to take our rock skis into Dischma, the sunny valley. The snow situation in Davos is really rough at the moment. Not on the race course – the organizers here have done a fantastic job keeping 8km of groomed trails in great condition every day. I can’t complain at all! But what really scares me is looking off the trail at the green grass on all sides. Climate change is slowly killing our sport, and ski towns like Davos that are usually buried under a few feet of snow by this time of year are feeling the effects.
A few of the valleys have a thin covering of crusty snow, and Soph, Sim and I had a blast hammering up and down the valley. The light was a little flat so we’d be cruising down valley and accidentally launch ourselves off of little hills! We were just flying over these little patches of grass and ice. It was a fun Christmas adventure that’s going down in the books.
Sometimes most of the time, training is fairly serious and focused. It’s not that it isn’t fun during most sessions, but I’m trying to hit specific goals for the workout and keep my pace pretty even. But on this particular ski we just said “screw it!” and for an hour we didn’t worry about training or heart rates or technique, we just had fun skiing around like little kids. Skis like that bring me back to why I fell in love with cross country skiing in the first place, and I think someday when I retire I’ll just go touring around in scenic valleys for the rest of my life! Well…..that, and ski the Birkebeiner, of course.
That afternoon we ate lunch in the sun on the deck of the rental apartment we’re living in. I’m living with Liz, Ida, Andy and Noah, and we totally lucked out with a spacious apartment and a great kitchen. Specifically the kitchen part. I’ve been having a blast baking Christmas cookies and we’ve been creating all sorts of delicious foods for dinner that we miss from back home. We’ve had hamburgers, Pad Thai, Sushi/Bento bowls, mushroom risotto, curry, and a Mexican fiesta.
Once it got dark out, we joined our Canadian friends who are also living in town over the Holiday break, and we drove up the Flüela pass to the very top, in between the two mountains. There we found an open skating rink on a pretty large pond, and because it was a full moon there were no lights, it was just skating in the dark! The moon hadn’t quite broken over the mountain yet so it was fairly dark which made it pretty exciting and the pickup game of pond hockey we had with the Canadians was a hoot. I’m really very terrible at skating and hockey, despite being half-Canadian. And despite being terrible, I had so much fun!
When we got home we enjoyed a non-traditional but extremely tasty Christmas dinner of fajitas! Then we opened the stocking gifts we had gotten each other. They were small, super thoughtful and fun gifts and it was really cozy sitting around the living room drinking tea, eating christmas cookies and enjoying each other’s company.
We haven’t done much road-tripping during our break, probably because we travel almost every single weekend and it felt nice to stay in one place for a little while. But yesterday Andy, Ida and I went to Lenzerheide to do some intervals on the course that the Tour de Ski will be starting on next week! The snow was great and I liked the courses there. The drive was really pretty, too, as we passed through a bunch of cute little towns all with their own main street and church.
On our way to Davos at the start of our break, we actually made a crazy little pit stop in Innsbruck. We decided to take the autobahn for most of the drive, because half of us (myself included) get really carsick on the winding mountain passes and we didn’t want to begin the Holidays with people puking out the side of the car. We thought we could make a quick stop to buy groceries in Innsbruck…but wow, were we ever wrong! We ended up going through the heart of the city during rush hour, which was nuts, and then had an adventure in this enormous grocery store. We made it out just fine with all the ingredients for cooking our meals (it’s not that easy to find good Mexican foods in Europe)!
We have another few days to spend training – but mostly resting up – for the Tour, and then we’ll head to Lenzerheide, Switzerland to start the madness!