Last year, I was in a very different place (literally and figuratively). I was in Muonio, Finland, and it was much darker, I had lost my computer so I didn’t have great access to contact my family and friends, I was super nervous about the upcoming season, and I didn’t have stellar self-confidence in my skiing. This time around, in the weeks before the opening world cup, I feel so much happier! I am living in Beitostolen, Norway with my teammates all in the same hotel condos, we are cooking for ourselves and I am able to Skype with my family so I can stay in touch. It’s been beautiful and sunny here, with longer daylight hours than I was expecting and I have more confidence in myself and how I am skiing. So yep, I’m pretty dang happy with how the winter is starting off!
Speaking of skiing…I used to think West Yellowstone was incredibly crowded. My opinion has now changed a little bit! Our first day here in Beitostolen, we went out for a ski, and since it was the weekend and this is one of the only places with 5km of trails covered, it was packed. There were hundreds of skiers out, most of them kids and high school skiers, from at least 20 different clubs. Even the littlest kids were dressed to the nines in full ski suits and jackets, and making their way around the course. They were racing each other in relays, short sprints, and some were doing intervals. One kid had LMFAO songs blasting from speakers in his water bottle pack. It was pretty neat to see SO many kids and families out skiing, but also a little terrifying and chaotic, since I never knew when one would unpredicatbly stop in the middle of the trail or cut across, and the last thing I wanted to do was run over a pint-sized skier! But after the weekend the traffic wound down considerably, and we were able to get our intervals done without any problems.
The 5 km loop winds it’s way around and behind the stadium, with a couple nice short climbs but no monster hills, which is really nice for a training loop. It’s easy to wear yourself down if all you’re doing is climbing huge steep hills for hours and hours! This coming weekend, we have the FIS races here, which are a great chance to shake the dust off and practice firing up the engine. The race are Friday-Sunday, with a 10km classic, 10km skate and skate sprint, in that order. I will do the classic and sprint races, and I think most of the team will do those two as well.
The Norwegian team is here too, with an impressive possy of trucks. They now have three wax trucks, two of them being two-story pop up ones! Crazy awesome. I have to stop myself from just standing there staring. Our wax building is warm and nice, but not quite as big or impressive. But hey, it’s better than a cardboard box, right? Anyways, it’s the wax techs inside that make the difference. And our techs have been working really hard, getting all the skis organized, scraped, helping us test them out and figure out what we need for the year. We would be nowhere without these guys, and I’m so psyched that they are with us!
We are staying in these awesome condos, only a 10 minute walk away from the ski trails. Since our budget doesn’t really take well to being on the hotel dining plan, and since we’ll be eating from buffets most of the winter anyways, we are cooking for ourselves. I am quite enjoying it, thank you very much. My roomates and I (Holly, Rosie and Ida) decided to do an “American” dinner and make hamburgers, sweet potato fries and brussel sprouts. Everything was delicious, except for one small detail: we can’t read Norwegian, so at the grocery store we got pork instead of ground beef by accident. We were cooking, going “wow, these look like garden burgers or something…weird…” but the team was nice and said they tasted good anyways. They weren’t half bad!
Ok, so here’s something awesome I have to share. If you know me at all, you know that I love making new friends and hanging out with them. So I got really excited when the Norwegian girls invited us US team ladies over for Norwegian “bolle” at their cabin! I got to know Astrid this summer when she came to Eagle Glacier to train with us, but now I’ve gotten to meet all the rest of the girls. They were all so friendly and nice and spoke amazing English, and as we walked back home that night I was perfectly happy. I think 5 months on the road is fun, but it’s way more enjoyable when you have lots of friends to hang out with, and I’ve been getting to know the girls from other countries more every year. I guess this isn’t how the World Cup used to be – separate countries don’t usually hang out so much with each other. But this is how I think it should be, because when you know the people you ski with you can learn about other countries, try new things (like brown cheese – yum!), cheer on other athletes and be happy for them when they have breakthroughs because you know how hard they’ve been working to get there.