I apologize for such a long delay in updating! The past week has been an interesting experience for me. After traveling out of Sochi, I was so excited to be living in Lahti, right in the city! It’s very rare for us to be able to live in a big city because usually we’re racing in more remote towns and often staying out of the city a ways. But every year we look forward to a little city living in Finland, and this year did not disappoint!
My favorite part of our stay in Lahti was getting to have dinner at Aino-Kaisa Saarinen’s house again. She came to our glacier camp in Alaska 2 summers ago, and we have been good friends ever since! She is kind enough to invite all the US girls over to her house for a delicious home-cooked meal, since she knows how special it is for us to be in a house instead of a hotel, and it’s so nice to have time to hang out and catch up. After dinner we even shot oranges out of her potato gun (I really, really loved this)!
Headed into the skate race weekend in Lahti, I was excited and looking forward to it. I had great intervals earlier in the week, and I liked the course, and we hadn’t done an individual start 10km skate all year. But the day before the skate sprint I woke up with a sore throat, cough and stuffy nose…and my weekend was over before it even started. At first I was so bummed out to be missing the races but by Sunday I was so sick and miserable that I didn’t even care. By Wednesday I was feeling so much better but I still had symptoms of a cough and stuffy nose, so I had to sit out the Drammen sprint. And last night the coaches and I decided that since I haven’t been 100% healthy for long enough, it wouldn’t be a good idea to race the 30km classic tomorrow and risk getting sick again since World Cup finals are next week.
It’s so easy for me to feel useless and extremely bummed out when I’m sick on the road…it really sucks to not be able to do my job, and the thing I love – racing. What’s extra hard about getting sick on this team is that instead of being able to go home and recover in your own bed, you get isolated and have to stay in a room by yourself so you don’t get other people sick. I am such a social person that this was maybe the worst part for me – not getting to hang out with my friends. Now that I’m much better I can finally be with the team again, which helps so much! Although I’m really disappointed to not be racing, that doesn’t mean that the past weeks in Lahti and Oslo have been a bust! There have been a lot of silver linings going on.
One of the things I look forward to every year is getting to ski around the Holmenkollen course and soak up the fun atmosphere. The sides of the trail are packed with fans, all excited to cheer for everyone and the woods are filled with tents and elaborate snow-fort campsites. The air smells like hot dogs, campfires and booze and music is blasting from the woods. I think what I like best, though, is that the Norwegians cheer for EVERYBODY. It doesn’t matter what country you race for or if you’re first or last…there will be people in the woods screaming your name, willing you up the hills. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the atmosphere and crowds at the Holmenkollen are better even than the Olympic crowd, because in Sochi most of the crowd would only cheer when a Russian skied by. But here everyone gets cheered for and the fans all have such big smiles on – you can tell they’re having a blast camping overnight by the race trails!
Another really fun thing I got to do this week was be an ambassador at the first ever Fast and Female event in Norway! Astrid Jacobsen, one of our friends on the Norwegian team, organized and made the event possible, and boy was it ever a success. 190 girls were registered in only a couple days, with 100 more on the waiting list! When we arrived, all the girls were checked in and there were a bunch of boys from Astrid’s club, Heming, helping organize and lead the stations.
We got to play a trivia game, do a fun and tricky obstacle course in the gymnasium room, and bounce on some giant trampolines! The girls were giggling, having fun and challenging themselves with new obstacles. Then after a snack and Q&A with the ambassadors, I got do to my dream job…be the dance teacher! I taught the girls a simple line dance (actually, it’s the dance I made up for the US team to use in a music video) and the girls picked it right up! It was really cool for me to see so many girls smiling and dancing, and to feel like I was a part of that totally made my day.
Last but certainly not least, we got to have a potluck party with other girls on the World Cup! Katharine Harsem hosted and everyone brought a dish to share. There were a bunch of Norwegian girls, some Swedish girls and some of the US girls there. It’s not a big secret that I love to bake, so Celine was so kind and invited us over to her house in the afternoon so we could bake banana bread to bring! It felt so nice to be in a house that I was thrilled even when cleaning up the dishes! The dinner party was fun and I couldn’t stop smiling…it was great to get to know the other girls better and have a relaxing night with friends.
On Monday, we’ll travel to Falun, and what I’m most looking forward to has nothing to do with racing, but everything to do with me being super happy…I get to see Kris and Siri! Kris Hansen was my high school coach and is a really good friend of mine, and she and her daughter Siri are traveling all the way to Sweden to see World Cup finals. I can’t wait to see them!