Hey everyone! I’m really excited about a few things that I want to share with you. First of all, if you live in or near Stillwater, Minnesota, I have an end of season, welcome-home party going on April 20th, and I’d love to see you there! It’s from 5:30 – 8 pm, at the Stillwater High School. I’ll be sharing photos and stories from the year including some fun stories from my Silver Medal performance in Falun, and handing out posters and taking lots of photos!
I’ll also be giving a tutorial on “Uptown Funk Dancing” and race day face-painting, US Ski Team style. Just kidding…but now that you mention it….I’ll think about it, ok? The event is sponsored by Slumberland Furniture and Podiumwear so be on the lookout for some sweet door prizes. The party is free, open to the public, and parking is in the high school lot with entry to the event through the cafeteria doors located to the right of the main entrance doors.
Here’s another cool thing going on that is near and dear to me for a couple reasons…my headgear and main sponsor, Slumberland Furniture, has been sponsoring me for years. Before I had earned any big results, they believed in me and supported my goals. Their support has allowed me to have a training and travel schedule that created opportunities that led to some exciting races! And now they are signing on to become the title sponsor of the American Birkebeiner, to help create the same exciting races for thousands of others.
Some of you may be wondering…wait, huh? Why does a furniture and mattress store company want to invest so much in funding the American Birkie? Well, let me TELL YOU ABOUT IT! Slumberland as a company is really dedicated to healthy living and supporting active lifestyles (as evidenced by the fact that they support me. Duh!) Slumberland donates 10% of their profits to organizations that assist others at a local, national and global level, with many of these organizations focused on the needs of youth and families. The Birkie is about a healthy, active lifestyle, and both companies are dedicated to improving the quality of their customer’s lives. You see what I’m getting at here? It fits. It works. They have the same goals when it comes to living the good life, and now Slumberland is able to help fund the Birkie in a major way. Lucky us!
Want more details? Visit the American Birkebeiner’s website: http://www.birkie.com/2015/04/slumberland/
Fun fact: Slumberland was the first American CLASSIC Birkie sponsor, helping to create the classic race that complements the ever-popular skate race in Hayward, WI.
Another fun fact? I’ve never actually skied the Birkie. Gasp! And I have the audacity to call myself a real Midwestern skier???? Wait, wait…let me explain myself. You need to be 18 years old to ski it, so I started racing the Kortelopet, the 24km “half-birkie race”, when I was 13 years old. I loved the event so much I kept coming back and won it a few times, but my real moment of glory was when I decided it was going so well I may as well jump into the 52 km race. So at the cutoff point where the trail splits, I tried to sneak my way onto the Birkie course. Being 15 years old, I wasn’t quite smart enough, (or sneaky enough) to realize that my different colored bib would stand out, and I got escorted back onto the Korte course by a VERY helpful volunteer. Darn it. As soon as I was old enough to start racing the Birkie I started spending a lot of time racing in Europe, and that was that. But I’ve promised myself that the year I retire from World Cup racing I’m going to start racing the Birkie, and race it over and over again until I can beat my grandkids.
The last fun announcement? We have some new uniforms coming to the US Ski Team next season. LL Bean and Craft are partnering to become the new technical and trainingwear of the team! We are really excited about this, as Craft makes amazing suits and LL Bean makes great clothes and is an American company.
Right now, you’re probably wondering when I’m going to finally start writing about how the last race of the season went. Well, after getting quite sick when I came home from Europe, I started to round the corner (so I thought) on my cold so I rebooked my flight to Sun Valley and flew out on Monday. I was there for the club team relay, which I think is probably the most fun race of the entire year. It’s a 4×5, and it started girls classic, then boys classic, tagging to girls skate and finishing with boys skate. It’s so fun to be a part of! Unfortunately I was still hacking up a lung and was too sick to race, so I was the “5th leg of the relay” and was out there cheering and taking photos. It killed me to not race but it was important to have a cheerleader on course too, so I gladly stepped into that role!
I wasn’t the only one sick from our SMST2 team…throughout the week, only 2 people remained healthy! Everyone else was recovering from a cold, in the middle of one, or just getting sick. Oof! It was a rough spring series for us, but we made it through together. I am still so happy that I went because I got to see my awesome teammates and friends from other teams as well.
The ski trails at Galena were beautiful and we had some nice sunny days! It was high altitude though, and you sure felt it the first time you climbed a hill.
I was so impressed with Pat and Brayton, as they put so much time and hard work into testing and waxing skis for us! They also had to organize a bunch of racers and sick athletes all week, so they deserve a big thank you and a hug (you know, once I’m not contagious).
The morning of the 30km skate I woke up, rolled over and coughed, and said “well, I flew all the way down here…may as well race!” This was a poor choice, and I may need to re-evaluate my decision making process for future race starts. It wasn’t a poor choice because of any result or slow skiing on my part – the race itself was a long hard slog but I had fun skiing with some great girls and taking some, uh, interesting feeds in the coaching zones. It was a bad idea because the whole time I had this cough rattling around in my chest that I couldn’t get out, and afterwards I got sick again. I’m still coughing today, and I had to go to the doctor when I got home from Sun Valley because my cough had gotten significantly worse. So….moral of the story: don’t risk your health or your job for one slushy moment of glory/pain! That said, it was quite a brutal way to end the season which, in skier talk, means it was AWESOME.
The next day we had the morning to go alpine skiing in Sun Valley! I am proud to say that I’ve officially gone alpine skiing over 10 times in my life now…double digits, baby!
We gave a ski clinic on Saturday, and it was a beautiful sunny day during which I got to meet so many cool people! We skied in perfect spring snow and worked on our technique while logging some km’s and working on our high-speed cornering.
That night, Steve and Diana Strandberg hosted a fundraiser dinner for the XC US Team, and it was a blast! The Strandbergs have generously supported Cross Country skiing and also hosted the team for the extra days we stayed in Sun Valley in their beautiful home. I was so happy to get a chance to know them better and we are so lucky to have them as a part of our team!
My last day in Sun Valley I went hiking with Erika and Ida on a fun loop through the mountains. It was lovely to have an easy hike without worrying about any sort of training elements…just doing what we wanted to do that day, which was being outside with friends!
Then I flew home to be with my family in Minnesota and rest up! It’s been so, so good to be home. I am still kicking this cold, but being out in the sunshine helping my Mom in the garden is a great way to do it.