Davos is probably the closest thing we have in Europe to a home base. I just love this place, and it’s fair to say that Davos has a special place in our team’s heart! We always stay at the Hotel Kulm, run by the Kessler family, and they treat us as a part of their family. The town is large enough to have fun exploring but not big enough to feel impersonal. The public transit is awesome, which gives me the feeling that I’m not stuck in my hotel room all day. It’s really important for me to feel like I have a life on the road and I’m more than just a person who skis for a job, because I live most of my life out of a duffel bag. So last night we went to a Davos hockey game, and we’ve had trips into town to do some Christmas shopping, coffee drinking, and just general meandering around.

While there isn’t very much snow this year, the World Cup organizers here have done a fantastic job of covering the 5km race course loop, and I’ve been extremely impressed with how the snow has held up and stayed clean and clear of rocks!

Sophie, Liz, me and Kikkan enjoying a chill ski around the race course together! (photo by Cork)

Sophie, Liz, me and Kikkan enjoying a chill ski around the race course together! (photo by Cork)

The other thing I enjoy about Davos is all the sunshine! While the race tracks are in the shade of the valley (and that’s probably why they’re in such great shape), the deck of the hotel gets nice and hot and sunny and I’ve spent some time nearly every afternoon playing guitar and soaking up some Vitamin D outside in a t-shirt!

Ida enjoying some tea and some sun!

Ida enjoying some tea and some sun!

Sweet skis - check! Awesome socks - check! Adventure park? Check!

Sweet skis – check! Awesome socks – check! Adventure park? Check!

This is also the place where we do our traditional secret santa day with the team. This makes me so happy and by the end of the night I’m always sore from laughing so hard! We each draw a name from a hat, and you have to find a small gift for that persona and write them a poem. Then you sneak your gift into the main room of the hotel, and after dinner each person has to find their poem and read it out loud to the group, then try and guess who wrote it for them. It’s usually funny and sweet and embarrassing all at once.

T reading her scroll of a poem!

T reading her scroll of a poem!

JP reading his poem out loud...with a camera up in his face. That part was a little strange, not going to lie.

JP reading his poem out loud…with a camera up in his face! That part was a little strange, not going to lie.

And you know what else is such a treat? We get Kikkan with us for these two weeks! Yay! We’ve missed our teammate and while I’m so thrilled for her and her little baby bump, it’s weird to not have her on the road with us. So it’s been a lot of fun getting to catch up and ski with her.

Kiks, Sadie and Sophie "Sodie", Ida and LIz goofing off on the downhill.

Kiks, Sadie and Sophie “Sodie”, Ida and LIz goofing off on the downhill.

Kikkan showing off that baby bump!

Kikkan showing off that baby bump!

Me, so happy to have a snow day! (photo from Noah)

Me, so happy to have a snow day! (photo from Noah)

And finally…the races!

Davos is a really tricky place to race in, because it’s at altitude so once you blow up, it’s really hard to recover and you can bleed not just seconds, but minutes over a 15/30km race. So for the individual start 15km skate, I adopted a newer, more conservative pacing plan. I also worked every inch of the downhills as part of my strategy, since the course is all gradual uphill on direction and all gradual downhill on the way back to the stadium.¬†Finishing 11th, my best distance race so far of the year, I was really happy with my race. I also had great skis from our techs and coaches, and looking at the splits, my last 2km of each lap tied the race leader’s times! So I was pretty pumped about that…thanks Salomon and our incredibly hardworking staff!

Getting a big hug from Soph! (photo from Kikkan)

Getting a big hug from Soph! (photo from Kikkan)

On the sprint day it was so cool to have 6 US skiers in the points! I was so proud of Sophie for making it to the final and placing 6th – she’s skiing so smooth and so smart and it’s so wonderful to see all that summer training translate right onto the World Cup tracks! I placed 9th and we had Andy, Simi, Ida and Sadie all in the quarters. Fun day for team USA!

A happy team after the races! (photo from Kikkan)

A happy team after the races! (photo from Kikkan)

Straightening JP's mustache in between rounds. Just looking after our techs. (photo by Kiks)

Straightening JP’s mustache in between rounds. Just looking after our techs. (photo by Kiks)

Now we’re headed to Toblach, Italy for another skate sprint and an individual start 10/15km classic race. Whoohoo!