The past two weeks have been such a blast. Every Alaskan I’ve come across has been ecstatic about the sunny warm weather and clear skies. And with good reason…it’s been perfect spring skiing here! It feels both awesome and kind of sad that the season is finally drawing to a close. Admittedly, I’ve been looking forward to a break for the last few weeks, but what on earth am I going to do with myself once the days are no longer centered around skiing? Go alpine skiing, of course! I’m staying up in Anchorage for an extra couple days before flying to DC for the White House trip. Everyone on the US Olympic and Paralympic Team gets to meet the President, which I’ve been looking forward to for a while! I’ll be putting up a post soon with details from my adventure time after the races, and then one for the White House trip, but first I should probably recap the last moments of the 2013-14 race season.
In a somewhat ironic move, my body decided to start clawing it’s way back towards the race shape I had in February. The last few races just started feeling better and better! While it was frustrating to end my racing on the World Cup feeling like my body wasn’t at all where I wanted it to be, it was nice to end the season knowing that I pushed things as far as I could and it was getting better with every kilometer I raced.
I loved the 10km freestyle individual beause it was the first time I’d been able to do that race all year, and I really liked the course. I took the first lap out a little hot and burned out, but that might have just made all the cheering from the side of the course even more special. It was so cool to see old friends and meet new ones here, and it felt like a big party/reunion after each race!
The very best part about the 10km freestyle day wasn’t about the racing at all, however…it was about Sophie’s birthday! A bunch of us girls were waiting at the finish line with ridiculous costumes thrown on, and the second Soph crossed the line we attacked her. I actually felt a little bad about that becuase she had just finished a really hard race and suddenly girls in masks, feather boas and cowboy hats were decending on her and hugging her and singing, and I’m sure it was a little bewildering. But boy did we suprise her!
The classic sprint was pretty sweet because while I don’t label myself specifically a “classic sprinter”, I had fun trying to become one (and I’m not just saying that…nobody in their right mind labels me as a classic sprinter, either)! The course started out flat, then swept down a twisty hill before ending with a long climb. At around 4 minutes for the girls it was a real lung-burner! It was a pretty sweet moment at the start of the final as we lined up, and realized that it was all USST girls in the final, and we decided to do our ridiculous eagle cry cheer. It’s weird, it really is, and it sounds like croaking baby birds, but it’s also one of those things that you can’t possibly do without breaking into a laugh.
Another fun thing I got to do besides racing was a photo shoot for Podiumwear with Charlie Renfro. He’s a super talented and really nice photographer, and took the time to get some sweet shots of myself and Karl Nygren skiing in all three lines of suits. Check out Podiumwear’s website for photos soon!
Hold on just a second…lets talk about that MIXED RELAY race! Whoa was that ever neat. I hope the format sticks, because it was one of the most fun races I’ve done this year since it gets the whole team rallied around one focus together and with the classic-classic-skate-skate boy-girl-boy-girl format, it kept things changing up every lap. APU’s team led and we chased for the remainder of the race, and I’m already excited to see how it shakes down next year (so please, USSA, don’t go changing formats on us). We wore facepaint and glitter, of course, and the boys made my day by letting me paint up their faces too. The girls also painted on mustaches, but since the guys already had real ones we figured it’d be overkill to paint theirs as well.
Mid-week, we got to meet lots of young skiers from Alaska in our Ski with the Olympians event! I made so many new ski buddies that day, and we played follow the leader, tag, and practiced our downhill racing as well as hop-skating up the hills. All of the ambassadors told a little something about themselves or their experiences at the Olympics and then we signed posters and got to talk a little more with the up-and-coming Olympians for team 2022 🙂
The 30km. Yep. I’m going to be perfectly honest here (it is MY blog, after all…) and say that I wasn’t psyched that it was a CLASSIC 30km for the second year in a row. Mostly because I love to skate but also because it should be switching up every year. Anyways, it was one of my more enjoyable 30km classic races although I spent much of it yo-yo-ing off the front pack. I even had a little moment where I slipped a couple times in a row, planted my skis in a herringbone and stopped dead still for a second so I could mutter about how much I wanted to just be done racing already, before getting on with it and getting up the hill. Immature moment? Sure, why not. Everyone is entitled to one at least once every race season. But once I got back into it the thrill of racing took over. I got some great feeds from the coaches, volunteers and from the APU team as well, and even kept most of the gatorade off my face! And the feeling of ending the season after a long, hard race is really satisfying.
Then it was time for us to hike back up Spencer’s climb one final time to set up the feed station for our boys. We had a great time hanging out in the sun in between laps, passing out gatorade and coke to the guys and cheering in-between. And just like that, the season was over!
Last but certainly not least, another huge thank-you goes out to the Packer family, for their incredible hospitality in hosting the SMST2 team at their house for the entire race series! We had an amazing stay and most of that was because of their kindness in sharing their home with us. Thanks guys!