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Happy Holidays! And the calm before the Tour de Ski

By December 27, 2013 No Comments

Happy Holidays from the US girls over in Europe!

...and a Happy New Year!

…and a Happy New Year!

We had a really lovely little ski family Christmas in Davos. Of course, the highlight for me was getting to Skype with my family back in Minnesota on Christmas, and watch them open the presents I sent home with Cork for them! But I feel like we got started on celebrating a couple days before, with new friends we’ve made here in Davos. Karin Camenisch, a super awesome girl who skied in the US for a couple years and lives in Davos now, came over for dinner. I am so glad I got to meet her!

Me, Karin and Liz (photo from Noah)

Me, Karin and Liz (photo from Noah)

Thanks to our new friend Markus setting it up for us, we got to make a little Christmas surprise for another family! These two boys, Curdin and Linus, are Swiss, come from a very nice and welcoming family, and ski like nobody’s business! They follow the World Cup races and were cheering for us during the races in Davos. We suprised them for a ski on the sunny trails in the valley, and I’m sure they boys caught more air off the jumps we hit than I did šŸ™‚ Afterwards, their family invited us in for coffee and cakes, and it was so nice to meet them and hang out. I really hope we get to ski with them again next time we come to Davos!

The gang before a sunny afternoon ski! Noah, Curdin, Linus, Me, Liz and Markus

The gang before a sunny afternoon ski! Noah, Linus, Curdin, Me, Liz and Markus (photo from Noah)

Out on our ski

Out on our ski (photo from Noah)

Wait – our social time didn’t stop there! We love hanging out with friends too much šŸ™‚Ā Liz, Noah and I hosted a fun gift exchange party at our apartment on the 23rd. We had some Canadian and Norwegian skiers over, and everyone brought a wrapped present. We played that gift game where you get to pick a present and unwrap it, but then people can steal gifts from each other. At the end everyone took home a present, some silly (look at Alex’s underwear…or don’t…) and some practical (Ida’s i-tunes giftcard). I was pretty psyched to end up with a tiny lego-block set to build a Christmas tree with, and a box of fireworks. Those are going to be set off during the Tour de Ski for New Years, for sure.

Our gift exchange party crew!

Our gift exchange party crew!

I had a blast baking cookies for the party, and seeing all the funny and goofy gifts

I had a blast baking cookies for the party, and seeing all the funny and goofy gifts

The Capol family was incredibly generous and invited the entire US Ski Team over to their house for Christmas dinner! Over in Europe, the 24th is the big night, so it was especially kind of them to open their hearts and their home to us so that we could be with a family for dinner. Jurg Capol works with FIS, and was one of the guys who invented the Tour de Ski. He now works in FIS marketing, and knew that a bunch of us were over in Davos during the Holdiays, and had us all over!

Jurg, Liz, Kikkan, me, Noah and Ida

Jurg, Liz, Kikkan, me, Noah and Ida (photo from Kikkan)

It was really fun for me to see his little girls so excited about Santa coming. Only, I learned, here he’s called Christkind and he comes the night of the 24th. So, after an amazingly delicious dinner full of turkey (they knew that a lot of American’s eat turkey on Christmas, and wanted us to feel at home!) and traditional foods, we all took a walk. Jurg kept the garage door open so that the Christkind could come in and deliver the presents, and when he called to us that he thought the Christkind had come, his little girls ran headlong down the road back to the house, shrieking in delight. They were so cute opening their gifts, and the Capol family even got chocolates and a little snowglobe for each of us under their tree! I felt so happy and welcome, and it was a perfect way to spend Christmas Eve.

On Christmas morning, Liz, Noah and I all opened stockings at breakfast. My family sent over this huge stocking full of everything I could possibly need, and more. I decided that you’re not allowed to out-grow stockings, so I stuffed a couple for Liz and Noah (don’t worry, my socks were clean! I swear!)

And oh, the Christmas presents we got under the tree! It was so fun to see cards from friend and family, and exchange gifts. Liz and Noah and I all got each other presents, and we received gifts from Celine and Ingvild, two of our Norwegian friends, as well as gifts from Karin and Markus. I definitely don’t deserve all that I got, and I’m very thankful!

Thanks Minnesota skiers! And thanks Kris Hansen for sending me this awesome poster! (photo from Noah)

Thanks Minnesota skiers! And thanks Kris Hansen for sending me this awesome poster! (photo from Noah)

Mackenzie with her new "Go USA" mittens!

Mackenzie with her new “Go USA” mittens!

I think my parents have a pretty great sense of humor...at least my luggage won't get taken! (photo from Liz)

I think my parents have a pretty great sense of humor…at least my luggage won’t get taken! (photo from Liz)

We went for a ski together, and it was nice to ski as a group one last time around Davos!

Me and Liz on our Christmas day ski! (photo from Noah)

Me and Liz on our Christmas day ski! (photo from Noah)

Glister Wax, courtesy of Ralph Hapness!

Glister Wax, courtesy of Ralph Hapness!

It was hard for me to start taking Christmas decorations down that night, but we needed to get packed up and clean the apartment before we left on the 26th to drive to Oberhof. Whew, that sure was a scary drive! We got a snowstorm in Davos late morning on the 26th, right as we were leaving. About 200 meters down the road from the Kulm hotel where we loaded the vans, there was a car in the ditch due to the wicked slippery roads. We started to go into a slide and I thought for sure we would hit the cars coming up. Day over. But Andy at the wheel did some of the most impressively calm driving I’ve ever seen (except for in James Bond movies) and steered us right out of it! We spent a lot of time freezing our fingers off getting chains on every wheel after that, but we made it down in one piece and made it to Oberhof for the start of the Tour!

The Tour de Ski is a stage race that is made up of 7 races in 10 days, across 3 countries. We’ll start in Oberhof Germany with a skate prologue and skate sprint, then in Lenzerheide Switzerland we’ll race a skate sprint and 10km classic. In Toblach Italy we will have a 15km skate race, and in Val di Fiemme, Italy is the 5km classic and the infamous hill climb up Alpe Cermis. It’s almost cruel because of how tired you get at the end, but it’s also so much fun – just this wild adrenaline ride as you race nearly every day and travel like it’s your job (which it is).

Because of some crazy warm weather and rain, the 10km classic scheduled for Sunday is now a skate sprint instead. I know people are freaking out a little due to the lack of snow and change of Tour schedule, but I think Oberhof is doing an amazing job with the cards they’ve been dealt. They only had 3 days in which it was cold enough to make snow in the last few weeks, and they had 300 volunteers shoveling snow from the woods onto the 1.5km loop they’ve made. I think it’s incredible that they are going to pull off these races at all! Of course, I’m not that bummed out that we are doing another skate sprint in the Tour, either, because I really like skating. šŸ™‚

I’ll keep updating through the Tour, but wish us luck as we begin tomorrow with a 3km skate prologue!