All right, I know, it’s been a little while since I updated. So brace yourself! It’s time to get rolling on a new season, and since it’s 2020, we’re basically ready for anything and everything.

Getting a few last puppy snuggles at home with my family before leaving.
I took some time off with my family recently to refresh, and it was incredible.

I want to hit pause for a second and address the fact that I’m over here in Ruka, Finland right now with the US team, getting ready to start the 2020-21 World Cup race season. It was not an easy or quick decision for any of us to be here, and we realize that COVID precautions across the globe (or even across counties) are not consistent, and therefore a little scary. After hours and hours of meetings with the US Ski and Snowboard team, I have decided that I am comfortable placing my trust in their panel of COVID experts, and following the strict guidelines they’ve developed for our team to keep us as safe and thoughtful as possible in how we travel, interact (or rather, not interact) with local communities where we are racing, and even in how we stay in our tiny pods within the team to minimize contact. It seems like a quarter of my suitcase is packed with PPE equipment, and even then, there’s a small level of worry at the back of my mind. And I think that’s ok; it’s good to not become complacent or lazy. My goal for this season is to be smart and considerate, but also to bring joy and excitement as well as an entertaining way to keep our minds off of 2020 in general through racing. So bust out your biodegradable glitter, folks! We’re going to need it!

Julia Kern, my roommate for the winter! She’s the only one I can be this close to without a mask since we’re in a little “germ bubble” together.

Let’s back it up for a moment to where I’d last left the blog, with my left ankle roughly the size of a grapefruit that’s been kicked around a little. It’s doing much better now, thanks to our amazing PT and massage support as well as daily exercises and stretches! Training for the last few months continued on as usual, in Stratton, Vermont with the SMST2 team. In an outlandish burst of confidence…I got on a mountain bike for the first time in a long time. And loved it! We had a wonderful team mini-training camp at Green Woodlands in New Hampshire, and Julia and I got our mermaid-training-mode on in the lake. It was freezing. And worth it.

Mermaid time! (photo from Julia)
Do I look scared? Well, I am. But enjoyed it nonetheless.

Fall in Stratton was absolutely gorgeous. And by that, I mean I finally stopped dripping sweat into my eyes long enough to look around and enjoy the fiery leaves and the crisp cool air! We had some awesome training sessions as a team, and got to show off how cool Cross Country skiing is when NBC came to town to do a bit of filming for the run-up to Beijing 2022 Olympics.

Roller skating while shooting! A really creative way to showcase how we train on roller skis. (photo by DGA Productions/NBC Olympics)
I also got to talk with NBC about body image in sport, and I’m grateful they let me talk so much about things that matter! (photo by DGA Productions/NBC Olympics)

And since we’re all living for happy thing to look forward to, it was so exciting to be able to share that Miss Hayley Paige, wedding dress designer extraordinaire and fellow sparkle-lover, is going to be designing my dream wedding dress! I’m so dang excited, I can hardly wait!

The “Drew romper” by Hayley Paige…a sneak peak of her style (which I adore). (photo by Julia Kern)

I’ve been asked if I changed anything in my training this year, and aside from the obvious of not being able to get on snow and staying in one place without team camps, I haven’t changed anything. And I found that I really, really enjoyed breaking my multi-year record of only sleeping in one place for 5 weeks max! Being able to really truly unpack my suitcase, spend all my time with Wade, and not feel rushed with the time I had at home was marvelous. Obviously this has been a challenging year in many ways, but if you’re looking for silver linings (and I always am), they were everywhere.

The leaves! The ability to wear jackets again! I was so happy. (photo by Bill Harmeyer)
SMST2 team snack break on top of Baker peak during a long run.
Getting ready for the season with some fast speeds! (photo by Bill Harmeyer)

I had the opportunity to spend two weeks hunkered down with my family in Minnesota right before the season began. Besides needing to get my skis from the basement and organize for 4.5 months on the road, it was important to me that I lead into the season with the same prep that I usually have. And that includes mental and emotional preparation. Family is everything to me, and I feel lucky to be really close with mine! Getting to absorb that love and puppy snuggles was really important, as I’m about to head out for 4.5 months of not being able to hug anyone. For someone as touchy-feely as I am, who already gets a little homesick in a normal season, that’s a little bit daunting, even as I feel lucky to be able to go race. And I know I’m not the only one in that situation. Thank goodness for video calls! I guess where I’m going with this is to remind you to reach out to someone you care about in your life and let them know you’re thinking of them today, because a little love goes a long way.

Dad, grilling up bison and moose burgers and peppers. Yum!
Wade and Lucy, who, like me, can never get enough attention. Our other dog Leo likes cuddles too, but on his terms.
Hard bounding intervals in the Afton State Park! (photo and coaching from Jason Cork)
Perhaps the best way to begin each day is with a good snuggle. And coffee.

So here we are, on snow for the first time, testing skis and remembering how kicking wax actually works (what?!? No roller ski ratchets?!?). I’m feeling a big mix of extremely grateful to be here, lucky to have this job that I love with this team that I adore, and excited to get to put all the hundreds of hours of training to use in our first races this coming weekend!

Cheesin and showing off my cute JD Swix gloves! Scott Patterson in the background patiently waiting for me to stop being ridiculous. (photo from Jason Cork)
The real heroes of the World Cup – our techs, coaches and support team. From left to right; Jason Cork, Chris Hecker, Tim Baucom, Matt Whitcomb. Not pictured but equally as awesome: Chris Grover, Oleg Ragilo, Karel Kruuser, Eli Brown, Nick Brown, Per-Erik Bjørnstad, Pete Dickinson. Thank you crew, we love you!
Oleg’s birthday party! A distanced team walk outside, with masks. This was the first time we all got “together” since we arrived. (photo from Matt Whitcomb)
Does this lunge look familiar? It should. We race the way we train! (screenshot from Jason Cork)

We will be racing Friday-Saturday-Sunday, November 27-29th, in a mini-tour format. Wish us luck!