Rybinsk was awesome (except for when you were dealing with frostbite!) and I’m super glad we went. Kershaw won the first race of the weekend: a 15km skate, which was just so cool to see, and I had a career best 5th place in the women’s 10km skate. Which was some kind of crazy and also worth risking my life on the charter flight out of the military base for.
The skate race felt awesome, and I think it was because of the “forced pacing” that happenes when you start farther back in a mass start! I had to keep the first few laps chill because I didn’t want to go down, and then I spent the rest of the race playing the catch-up game. Which was super fun because on the last climb, I got my one and only chance to pass the World Cup leader Kowalczyk! The awards ceremony that night was slightly overwhelming for me – I’d never been to a World Cup one before, and it was so intimidating to be on the stage with such FAST people! But definitely motivating because I really, really want to be seeing the US flag raised for a distance race in the future.
As usual, the ladies have been having a blast, making some funny videos and finding creative ways to stay warm including taping hand warmers to our spandex.
The 15km race was harder for me – the 10km took a toll on my body, but I was still excited to hammer out a pursuit race and see what I could do. I definitely went through a few phases of feeling super tired, then much better after a little recovery on the flat section, then super smashed again. Sometimes I just had to put my head down and fight to keep up with the group I was with, other times I’d be feeling good enough to bridge a gap to the next group. And the pace was so crazy! The women here just go and go and go…and if you can’t hang with them, you get dropped so fast! It’s definitely cool to see and it makes me want to work even harder so that one day I can hang with the lead pack.
The classic stage was a little tough for me…I’d gotten into a great position right after the mass start, but then over the bridge I tripped and fell – it was completely my own fault – but I got skied right over and just tried to make myself as small as possible till the group went by so I could get up start working my way back through the pack. But I guess chasing is what I do best so I tried to not let it shake me up and just focus on one hill at a time.
The last few kilometers were pretty tough, and I was in a good group of women – they’d keep pushing the pace over the hills! We were trading leads quite a bit because of the wind. But in the final hundred meters, I realized I didn’t want to ski 15km only to get passed at the end, so I dug deep and found another gear. This would be a good time to mention how I was super pumped (as always) about my Salomon boards this weekend; our wax techs did their magic again and there were some gutsy races going on out there that were definitely helped by good skis.
Some fun and crazy notes from Rybinsk:
- The legal racing temperature is -20*C, and during the 10km skate race the temps hovered between -19-16. Wow, that was a close one.
- The food was pretty good but I’m still having a lot of trouble accepting fish for breakfast. I’m an oatmeal girl, but in Rybinsk we had a crazy rice mush thing instead. Time to get flexible with what you eat…no room to be picky!
- The charter flight that our distance crew took into the military station was the first flight to land there since the hockey team crashed. (click HERE to read about the hockey team). But the unfortunate flight crashed on take-off, which made our flight out much scarier. However, we got off the ground just fine and made it to Munich safely. The charter flight was sweet except it had the least legroom I’ve ever seen on a plane!
- On the bus for the 10km awards ceremony, I got to meet the Norwegian girls and talk with Kalla, who is super nice. I think I kept my act together, but I was doing so many cartwheels on the inside! Sylvan decided it would be awesome to meet her, so he lived vicariously through a picture Matt took. I think I’ll end the post with this gem of a photo: