Finally, I’m getting around to a recap of last weekend’s races…just in time to start the Lillehammer mini-tour tomorrow! For those of you wanting to tune in, you can stream the races live at THIS link. But, as with anything you stream, if it asks you to download something…don’t do it. Or, if you want to see the race afterwards, this site here is amazing with putting up the races. Results afterwards are on FIS at this link! Thanks everyone for cheering!
Last weekend we had the first World Cups of the season in Ruka (also called Kuusamo), Finland. It was a classic sprint and a 10 (15 for men) km individual start. For me, it was a great opportunity to get the jitters out without too much pressure. Since I have yet to qualify for the rounds in a classic sprint, just making the top 30 would have been huge for me…and I came pretty close! I was doing really well and my skis were great (thanks coaches and techs!) but on the second downhill I fell. In the flat light I must have just caught an edge, and I actually skidded to a stop right in front of the ski depot and warm up tracks at Simi Hamilton’s feet.
Simi immediately started cheering for me “Get up! Get up! You still got this!” which was super nice of him to say since if you fall in a sprint qualifier, you probably don’t still “got this”! But I kept hammering anyways, although I fell right before a good gliding section so I lost both speed and energy as I had to bring myself back up to pace. I finished about 9 seconds out of qualifying, which was really encouraging for me because if I hadn’t fallen I believe I would have made the heats! Obviously, staying on your feet is part of the game and it’s 100% my fault for falling, but everything else about that sprint went pretty much perfectly for me. But someone on our team had a career-best day: Ida got a 5th! So we all piled onto the side of the course to cheer her on, and she even heard us during the race. It’s always so great to see someone on the team have a good day, and that’s the strength of a team – even if your race doesn’t go well, someone’s probably did, and you can rally around them and celebrate their success, as they will for you when it’s your day!
The next day, during the 10km, I finished right about where I thought I might. Considering the training load I was carrying through the week, and how the entire team had a goal of coming into the season a little more gently since the big races are all in January and February, it went very well! I feel like my technique on the gradual climbs reflected all the work I’ve been putting into it. However, the Ruka courses have some incredibly steep climbs, and every girl and guy had to herringbone the tops of the hills. Turns out, my herringbone is pretty inefficient and, knowing this, I tried to stay in the tracks longer than I should have! I made some poor decisions with that as well as pacing, but I have learned some things to carry into the next race weekend!
Unfortunately, our team seems to be cursed with a bit of a freak accident streak. In Noah’s race, he fell on the blind corner and got his foot stuck in the fence, breaking his fibula. Thanks to the coaches, staff and venue workers, Noah was taken off course in a snowmachine and right to the hospital, then flown to Vail where experts have been working with him. Right now the plan is for him to be ready by World Champs in Falun in February. We are wishing Noah luck today as he gets surgery on his leg, and he is in great spirits, motivated and I know he will come out of this strong and fired up to race again in February!
You already know that the techs and coaches do an amazing job working round the clock to make our racing possible, but I would like to say a special thank you to another man who has been working tirelessly for us the last 3 weeks as well! Pete Dickinson, from the Methow Valley, Washinton, has been our team Physical Therapist on the road all the way from Muonio to Lillehammer, and he has been fitting in the entire team each day! He checks on injuries, helps sore joints and muscles, and makes sure we don’t get hurt. It has been incredible having him here and we are lucky anytime we can get a PT or MT (massage therapist) on the road, as this is an important part of racing fast and every team on the World Cup has at least one with them. Thanks Pete!