Beautiful views and tough races

By January 21, 2013 No Comments

La Clusaz has been a great week of training and racing. I guess I am appreciating being on snow and racing even more after being sick, because sometimes its easy to forget how lucky we are to be getting outside every day and training!

Liz and Holly getting in a ping pong match

The venue here is a hard and hilly loop, and for the classic race the girls did 3 laps of it. The waxing conditions were pretty tricky and I don’t think a single girl out there had bomb-proof skis – everyone was icing over the tops of the hills and building up stilts that needed to be kicked off. Some had more luck than others, and some had to stop and scrape off their skis before starting the downhills. Racing like that can get frustrating, but once I had figured out how to smack my skis down and get them gliding well enough again, I got more into a rhythm. Liz led the charge for us in an awesome 15th place (classic race pr!) and I came in 24th, Sadie and Ides in 28th and 29th, and Kikkan in 32nd. I was satisfied with my race, although if I could do it again I think I would have changed the way I was kicking and gliding to minimize building up stilts! But that’s what racing in all conditions is for – building up experience and knowlege about how to handle things.

Looking over the sunny venue from the wax cabins

The relay day had some gorgeous sunshine and warm temperatures (alas, tricky waxing again for the classic legs though!) and the boys got to race right in the middle of all the sunshine! The girls relay didn’t start until 3:45, and our order was: Holly, Kikkan, Liz then me. So by the time I got to race, the sun was going down and clouds had rolled in, and the flat light made the downhills really hard to see. But I need to work on my balance anyways, so I didn’t really mind, although the weather seemed rather fitting for how our race played out!

As usual we got all pumped up with facepaint, glitter and our special striped socks. But after a tough break for Holly with a crash right at the start holding her up, our relay didn’t go very well. To put together a great relay race, everyone has to have good races on the same day, and we all ended up having really bad races on the same day!

Personally, I took it out a little too fast, trying to make up time, and in the altitude my legs flooded and I wasn’t able to clear lactate out fast enough. It was definitely hard racing way off the back – at one point it felt like an extremely glorified time trial! It was especially hard in the last km when the crowds were already leaving, and a glance up at the screen showed that they were already interviewing teams that had finished, while I was still racing my heart out. Days like that force you to be mentally strong, and over the long run they make you tough and make the good races feel even better. I was super proud of our team because all of us kept our heads in the game and kept fighting, even when we knew we weren’t having a great race and we’d likely finish last anyways.

That’s when the entire team kicked in – our boys, Sadie and Ida and the staff were all out on course cheering so hard for us, it made it impossible to back down even a little bit. I feel like the worse your race is going, the more you REALLY NEED to have people you care about cheering for you. It feels good to know that no matter what, they’re behind you and it’s still a team effort, no matter what the results page shows. After the race, our girls huddled together and there were no regrets, just knowing that everyone has off days and if there was a weekend to be feeling out of it, this was probably the best one! World Championships is the focus of the season, and we’re already looking forward.

Speaking of looking forward, a HUGE congrats to the relay team from the Scando cup trip (Julia, Heidi and Katharine) for placing second! Good to see some relay mojo going on somewhere 🙂 Keep it up girls! And good luck to all the US athletes competing at World Junior Championships and U23’s – it starts this week in Liberec, Czech Republic. I am not competing this year as it overlapped with World Cups and would have compromised my preparation for World Champs, but my heart is in Liberec this week cheering on my buddies!

The US team showing off our new Minnesota Youth Ski League shirts (thanks guys!)

With that in mind, we’re headed over to Les Saisies for a week of great training, stalking the internet for results from Liberec and hopefully some more great sunshine!

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