OK – updated version!
Otepaa was so fun! However, my favorite part of the weekend was cheering on the coaches. The night before the sprints, there were servicemen relays. Every country got to field a team of 3 wax techs, and they did a shortened version of the sprint course – each doing a lap before tagging off but ultimately doing 2 laps. They got so serious and competitive with techs for the techs brushing out skis in-between laps, and people taking each other out and crashing…so fun to watch! We went and cheered alongside the course with all the Norwegian skiers. I’ve just been loving this whole World Cup atmosphere. It was also a great reminder that we race for FUN – it’s not as serious as people sometimes like to make believe it is.
The classic sprint was cool, but so much double pole! I was amazed and impressed that most of the dudes double poled the entire thing. I somehow couldn’t find that faster gear I needed in qualifying so missed out on the rounds, but was psyched for Kikk, Ida and Andy for making it in!
Sunday was the first time I got to race a World Cup distance, and the 10km classic was without a doubt the toughest course I’ve ever raced! But our wax techs and coaches were amazing and although my technique fell apart sooner on the hill than the girls in front of me, I definitely had the kick to stride farther! And the downhills? Oh man, they were SO fast. Some of the coolest rollercoasters out there.
As much as I wanted to grow wings for the climbs, what I really needed was a drag chute for the downhills. I almost flew right out of the tracks going over one of the bumps – the wind caught me up and pulled me out of my tuck, and I thought “if I fall here, I’m not only going to have a bad race – I’m straight up gonna die” so I pulled it together and told myself, out loud, to focus on the corners.
When I came through the stadium for my second lap, Astrid Jacobsen tracked me and I practically jumped out of the way. Growing up hearing about her and the rest of the Norwegian women, it was like being tracked by Wonderwoman. I tried to hang onto her but she passed me like I was standing still! Boy, that second lap was tough. I was definitely coming unglued and even the coaches noticed I looked “a little rough”. Thanks to them for putting it so delicately, because that probably means I was visibly struggling with the enormous climbs. But I held it together long enough to cross the line for my best result of the year – 18th! The best part about this is that North America put 4 women in the top 30 today. WHoo!
Then came the crazy part of this life we’re living – the TRAVEL. Right after our cooldown, we packed up the wax room, drove to our hotel, packed up everything else and took a shuttle to an airport hotel in Tallinn. The next day we flew to Munich and drove from there to this awesome hotel in Ramsau, Austria, where we’ll be till we leave for Moscow. Only the drive wasn’t quite as smooth as we’d thought since there’s been so much snow they’ve closed roads! GPS is SO overrated.
Last night we went to the night Slalom races in Schladming to cheer on the men’s alpine team. Ted made it to the top 30 so we came back for second run, and the atmosphere was fantastic! I’d say about 99% of the fans were hammered, and the air was a crazy mix of cigarrette smoke, alcohol and flames/torches. There were so many airhorns and flags and it was so cool to be a part of the crowd.
Ramsau is a total winter wonderland. The snowdrifts are as high as the car, and the skiing has been unreal. It’s probably as close to powder skiing as I’ll get for a while! There’ve been some team birthdays happening and it’s been such a great atmosphere. Everyone is so psyched about being here, training with the team and enjoying every bit of it.