Relay days at World Champs

By March 1, 2013 No Comments

Right now I’m sitting on Ida’s bed, and we’re busy watching the dude’s 4x10km relay race. I’m so excited for them – they’re right in the lead pack and Andy just tagged off to Bird man in a great spot. They’re skiing their hearts out, all while wearing the USA flag on their faces (they finally consented to let me paint their faces!!!). Noah will ski the third leg and Tad will finish the relay.

Andy put out and impressive first leg! (photo stolen from Caldwell Sport)

Yesterday we had the women’s 4x5km relay, and our order was: Sadie, Kikkan, Liz then me. I was so excited and nervous, with the pressure of being the anchor leg. On the one hand I wasn’t stressing because I knew without a doubt that everyone on the team, including me, would give their 100% effort and you can’t give more than that. All the work has been done – all the training logged, the resting over, and worrying about it doesn’t change anything. But I was still so nervous because when you’re the one to cross the finish line, the hopes of the whole team are riding on you once you exit the tag zone. Talk about pressure! Gahh.

Sadie did such a great job opening for us, and kept us in the fight. Even though she had a little tangle with the fence, she still skied super well and I’m really proud of her for handling the nerves of her first World Champs relay like a pro! Kikkan didn’t have her best day today, but still skied strong and was able to tag Liz into 9th, in a good group of skiers.

Then Liz skied the fastest third leg by a ton, and just scampered her way up all the hills, passing girls left and right, and tagged me into 4th place! She did just an amazing job, and we’re so proud of her for being able to push so hard the whole way. She is on fire right now!

Sadie and Liz high-fiving after the finish (Fasterskier photo)

So in the tag zone I started 25 seconds behind third-place (Finland) and 8 seconds up on Russia. And I couldn’t have pushed any harder, but it was so hard to see the Russian girl ski by and not be able to hang with her, as she caught the Finns and pulled her team into the bronze medal place. I did end up catching the Finnish girl, and as she was dying hard (I know what that feels like, I’ve totally been there) I was able to put 18 seconds into her on the last hill.

Initially in the finish pen I was so disappointed in myself for not being able to hang with the Russian girl, but I did the best I could that day and when I stepped back I realized that getting passed by one of the top-3 skaters in the world isn’t really shameful at all. But it does make me even more motivated for next year’s relay (if that’s even possible!) and every year I gain a couple hundred more hours of training and more experience. Hopefully next time round I can hang!

What got me most excited about the day was that although not everything went perfect and some of the race legs felt just solid instead of outstanding, we still got our best ever World Champs relay finish and jumped up from 9th in 2011 to 4th!

The girls team with Matt (Joey Caterinichio photo)

And I want to make sure and note that the wax techs did a great job, and it was so cool to hear our teammates and coaches out on course yelling for us. It made such a difference! Ida and Holly were out on course screaming, and Holly was dressed up in a crazy pink suspenders-and-tuttu-outfit with a flag, yelling like I’ve never heard her before.

Team spirit leader! (photo stolen from Caldwell Sport)

Alright, the men’s relay just finished! Hoff skied a solid leg and Tad was able to catch onto the leader’s pack for a while! Then Finland caught up with a strong last lap, as well as Japan and France, and the US team finished 10th. However, it was the most exciting relay in a long time and they stayed right in the fight!

Tomorrow is the Ladies 30km classic mass start, and Sunday is the Men’s 50km classic mass start. Wish us luck!