Adventure time up in Alaska! Boy was that fun. I was so happy that I got an extra 4 days there to play in the backcountry, get on the alpine slopes, hang out with friends and soak up some long days of sunlight!
First, a million and one thanks to Alyeska Resort letting Olympians ski for free that weekend, and an awesome ski setup borrowed from Zuzana Rogers, a super awesome PT who works at Advanced Physical Therapy in Anchorage and traveled with us this year on the road! And thanks to Don Haering for being my “Alaskan adventure guide” for the weekend – I had to learn what “setting an edge” meant and I most definitely slowed him down since I didn’t know what I was doing at all, especially my first time skinning up a mountain! But he was really patient and I had an awesome time.
Alyeska was so much fun, and I spend the day trying to keep up with the group, which was great because it pushed me to go faster and learn faster. I absolutely love those adrenaline-filled “oh crap!” moments where you’re just a little outside your control but pull it back together at the last second. Of course, sometimes you don’t pull it back together and eat snow pretty hard. On the off chance that either my coach or my Grandma is reading this right now I’m NOT going to tell you if I crashed or not…but you can probably guess.
While I was up in Anchorage I stored my stuff and crashed at the ski house, so a big thanks to Sadie, Rosie and Erik for letting me once again invade their home! I feel like I’m a very part-time resident of many different people’s homes by now, and this is one I’ve frequently stayed in. And it’s always a good time. Even when we do happen to find dead mice…but that’s why we keep the guys around! 😉
The day after getting my inner Mikaela Shiffrin on, I was thrilled to try backcountry skiing for the first time ever. I had always seen epic-looking pictures from all my friends but alas, there isn’t really the right terrain for it back home, so I’d never been. So on Monday morning Don and I drove up to Eddy’s Mountain, and we did a quick lesson on how to put on skins and change the backcountry bindings (yes, I DID need help with this) and how to use the beacons in case of an avalanche. Then we were off!
I didn’t trust the skins at first because I was so used to kicking classic skis, so it took me a while to get comfortable. This was also the part where I made Don lead so he couldn’t see how goofy I looked.
We were originally going to do a couple runs of the bottom half of the mountain, but we got 2/3 of the way up and then decided heck, why not go for the whole thing. I’ll admit, when we were hiking up the last steep pitch I was getting pretty nervous because skiing in powder isn’t exactly like skiing groomed trails, but it was too late to chicken out and a big part of me loves to get scared like that.
So at the top we took a moment to catch our breath, and then we came back down! It was terrifying (mostly because of my ridiculously low alpine skill level) and exhilarating and I loved it. Although the snow wasn’t crazy powdery it still felt like I was floating over it, and I was laughing on the way down.
The last day in Alaska Sadie and I were running around town trying to find cocktail dresses for the D.C. party and packing. We managed to get everything except for the things I proceeded to forget at the ski house. Go figure. It was a great stay up in Anchorage and I’m really thankful for all the people we got to hang out with who made it an incredible experience!