After a whopping big travel day, we made it to the Snow Farm in Wanaka, New Zealand! I’m so thrilled to be here, and see a country I’ve never been to. It’s so beautiful and I’m quickly falling in love with the skiing down under. We’re taking tons of photos so you’ll be able to experience this adventure with us. But first, a quick update on my week at home in Minnesota! It seemed to fly by, but it was great to have some family time since I’m very close with my family and don’t see them too much these days.
When I was asked this spring if I would be the Grand Marshal of the Afton 4th of July Parade, of course I said yes! It was such an honor for me to get to be a part of my hometown Independence Day. I got to sit on the back of a shiny convertible and throw candy, while the Stillwater High School skiers made a “roller skiing honor guard”! The Mayor presented me with a beautiful painted set of skis from “the 3-pin binding days”, and told me that instead of giving me the keys to the city, he thought skis would be much more useful. I love it!
I also got to meet the families who made these cool signs and put them up along the roads in Afton during the Olympics. It was so great to connect with the people who were cheering me on from across the ocean, because I see photos and receive all these awesome emails from fans of US Skiing, and I don’t get to meet people in person as much as I would like!
As I always do when I come home, I went for a roller ski with Kris, my coach in high school. Her daughter Siri joins us now but I forgot to take the photo before she had to leave!
I got a fun surprise from the Endurance United training group – their coach asked where I’d be doing intervals one morning and I said if they came to my favorite hill at 8:30, they’d be welcome to join me. And such a big group was ready and psyched to go when I showed up! I was really impressed with the enthusiasm and focus they brought to the intervals, and we had fun as well.
I also spent a really fun afternoon out on the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers with my family. My Dad’s getting pretty good at driving the boat when Mackenzie and I are tubing, and we had some pretty big wipeouts!
The morning of the 4th, my Dad ran in the Afton Trail Race, and did the 25km. I got to pace him for half of it, and it was so much fun running with my Dad and seeing where my racing genes come from. Fun fact: he and I have the same style of racing, and the same race face. Go figure.
One other small detail that meant a lot to me was getting to walk around the garden every morning with my coffee, checking out the plants and vegetables I’d planted with my Mom this spring. There’s something so satisfying about picking and eating veggies you grew yourself, and they were so delicious!
I also got to do some intervals with Caitlin Gregg while we were both in town, which was great, and I got to run in the park with Danielle, my friend who came to Costa Rica with me in April! She recently qualified for the Boston marathon and I’m so psyched for her, although I can’t quite keep up on our runs anymore! I’ll need some lessons in running economy sometime soon.
After a whirlwind packing experience in which I almost forgot to pack hats and gloves (packing in the summer for travel to a winter continent = really confusing!) it was time to get on the plane.
It was actually much easier and smoother travel than I thought it would be, and it was more than worth it to get to a new place and see new trails. There is around 35 kilometers of groomed trail that is so much fun to ski – it swoops up and down and around the edges of the mountains so it looks like you’re about to ski off the edge of the world.
We are staying at the Snow Farm, a big lodge up on top of a mountain with rooming and really amazing food. The only thing is…to get there, you need a stomach of steel! The road winds it’s way up the mountain and comes very close to the edge, and those of us who tend to get carsick (read: me) are pretty much glued to the windshield.
Stay tuned for another post with more photos and details on New Zealand soon!