Brrr! Lahti was a bit of a slap to the face after being in a t-shirt and warm sunshine last week. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t get nice and sunny by noon today for the skate sprint. It was a fast course out there, with lots of turns and two-way traffic on a bridge that made placing very tricky and strategic. I was on the wrong end of it today, and though I had a good qualifier I wasn’t able to move around people in my quarterfinal and ended 25th on the day. Andy was the only boys qualifier and also ended his day in the quarterfinal, as he had the same problem I did!
But what could have been a mediocre day was saved by our other two qualifiers and ended up as a fantastic cheer-fest because Kikkan won the sprint, on her 100th World Cup start, AND locked up the Overall Sprint title for the year! Which means she will get the Crystal Globe at the end of finals week! Just wait, it keeps going…Sadie got her first top-10 finish with a 9th place, and made it into the Semifinals for the first time ever. I am so proud of them, even more so because they both worked though injuries this summer and fall and kept a great attitude through it all.
I guess I could look at my personal result today as really disappointing since I’ve been in a lot of quarterfinals this year where I felt like if I had another chance I could have moved on, and it just hasn’t played out right yet, but I actually think it’s a really good thing in the long run. It’s always good to have something you’re really gunning for, really working towards, that’s within reach but will be a stretch. And if you get it too soon, then you have suddenly raised the bar so high that you can feel let down if you have a performance that would have previously been pretty sweet.
I think that’s what I’ve been feeling a bit this year – because last year I had a couple big breakthough races with a 6th in a sprint and 5th in a distance race. This year I’m racing like what I am – a 21 year old who still needs to learn sprint tactics, who needs a couple more years of training under her belt, but has crazy amounts of energy and enthusiasm. And in the team events, luckily, I’ve been able to pull togther good races! But in my individual performances, I catch myself not celebrating the little things, the small steps up the ladder that I wouldn’t have missed a year ago.
This is a bad thing, because I’m already that crazy type-A person who puts a ton of pressure on herself! So to have a year where I’m racing consistently just inside the top-30 has been really good for me, to make me take a step back and remember where I really am in the overall scheme of things, and appreciate the small victories. And of course, I can’t get bummed out when my teammates are having awesome days, because this is such a supportive team where everyone shares their success and energy. And if one person has a bad day they ride on the success of someone else’s, and then the next race they might be carrying someone else through a rough patch. But it all comes around!
Unfortunately, I don’t have any good pictures from Lahti, so those will have to wait. But tomorrow is a 10km classic individual start, on some of the most challenging hills. There will definitely be a lot of herringbone going on out there! And then there’s the famous “Lahti curve”, a tight 180 corner coming down the hill into the stadium area. Maybe that’s why there are so many spectators? Hmmm. On classic skis, it might get a little crazy, but I think it’s going to be a really fun day out there.