The last week at home has been incredibly fun, and also busy. Life always seems to be fast-paced when there’s a countdown in progress…and this Friday is the day I leave for 3 months of traveling and racing through Europe! Packing your life into a large duffel and a ski bag is simultaneously daunting, annoying, and liberating because when you’re a professional ski bum, you don’t really need much other than your training and racing gear. But…pick the right gear, because you’re stuck with those clothes for the whole winter. However, I’m headed to Europe, not the moon. The only thing I really can’t get over there is good peanut butter. And sometimes I can’t decipher the labels, so when I’m trying to buy shampoo I get conditioner and won’t find out till I’m in the shower. For the most part, though, I’ve got life on the road figured out.
I get asked a lot just what exactly it is that I cram into that suitcase of mine. Besides regular clothes and ski equipment, my race suit, jacket, pants and training clothes, I bring a few specific things. Peanut butter, for one. Nuun tablets to make my water more hydrating and get the electrolytes I need in my drink belt. I pack peppermint gum because for some reason I’ve never found good chewing gum in Europe. Ever. So weird. I also bring coffee and an aero-press because as any devoted coffee drinker knows, when you can’t get a decent cup of coffee on race day morning it just throws your whole world out of whack. I travel with a little foam roller so I can work on my sore muscles after training. I’ll also be bringing my new Steger Mukluk boots on the road! They were kind enough to make me my own pair after I borrowed my Mom’s to wear in New Zealand and loved them so much.
Speaking of packing, I’ve been able to pack quite a bit of action into the few weeks I’ve been home, including 9 sponsor and kids events! If I had time, I would come ski with every school and club in Minnesota…it’s great seeing all the energy and enthusiasm that these skiers have for the sport! It helps remind me why I wanted to become a professional skier in the first place – sheer love of skiing, competition, and great teammates surrounding you. In between I’ve been soaking up family time and of course, I’m training full time, which takes up quite a bit of my energy at the moment.
Right now is the last push before the races begin, so my intervals are harder and longer than any other time of year. My coach Jason Cork is in town, so he’s come to some of my hardest workouts, riding a bike alongside me. He is the master of multi-tasking, so he’s cheering me on, biking with one hand and filming me with the other so we can review technique afterwards. A glimpse into why I like skiing in Afton so much: just the other day Cork was biking with me as I did some all-out, 2 minute long intervals. There were a lot of them, and they were tough, but it was really motivating to have him there with me. After our first interval a lady in her car pulled up and started cheering for us, saying how wonderful it was to have people training here. Then my neighbor out for a walk cheered me on during the rest of the intervals. Some places you might get cars honking at you, but at home I get cheers instead!
Last Thursday, I crashed the Stillwater girls ski team captain’s practice, and some girls from other schools came over, too! We worked on bounding and ski walking technique, agility, balance, power and did some fun (and funny) relays with some ridiculous starts and rules like “you have to hold a plank until your teammate reaches the top of the hill, then you can go”.
I came to the St. Croix Valley ski club’s annual ski swap to play games with the kids and talk about the upcoming season, which is always fun! I grew up skiing in a club just like that one so it’s pretty awesome seeing all these tiny skiers get psyched up about the trails they’ll be skiing in a month.
On Monday I drove to Winona, Minnesota, which is where one of my sponsors, Fastenal, is headquartered. We did some video filming and I had a lot of fun creating their employee health tips of the month! Stay tuned this winter…I’ll be putting up links to their public video channel.
Before I left Winona I joined the Winona High School ski team for their first day of practice! I had a great time guest coaching and they had great energy and had fun with the drills we did.
Today I ended my tour of high school practices with my own team – Stillwater! We worked on our agility and since I was so impressed with everyone’s energy and ability to handle themselves on roller skis, we learned how to flip 180’s on our skis. Then I cheered and skied along a little as they did intervals.
I have one more full day to spend with my family, and then off I go!