The Tour De Ski – first of many to come

By January 2, 2013 No Comments

Wow, the tour has been crazy! It’s such a whirlwind of racing, traveling, trying to recover as best you can, and riding the line between being focused for races and having fun.

The Tour started in Oberhof, Germany, with a pretty cool opening ceremonies. We left as they were launching fireworks right over our heads, and the noise and lights were deafening but really fun!

Opening ceremonies (Marcel Hilger photo)

My tour started out a little rough, but I already knew that it would be hard since I hadn’t stopped coughing since Canmore. I felt like I was in great racing shape in Quebec, but after getting a bad virus and having to recover from sickness before training, I figured it would take a couple races to find that race fitness again. So far, every race has felt better than the last! Unfortunately, I took a bad crash in the opening race of the Tour, the skate prologue. My ski tip got caught in some slush (the one thing you can count on in Oberhof is that there will always be rain, sleet and soft conditions!) and I fell, spun twice and finished 62nd.

The second race, a 10km pursuit start classic, was in some really tricky waxing conditions since that morning it rained, snowed, poured sleet, and the tracks were grainy and wet and super mushy. The poor wax techs! The race didn’t go very well for any of the US girls, but we all gave it our best and I was able to climb up to 50th place. It’s definitely more fun racing when you get to chase people down!

The tower near Malles, Italy

Then we traveled to Val Mustair, Switzerland, on Kikkan’s 30th birthday! We drove by this super cool tower in Italy that sticks straight up from the resovoir. There used to be a town there, but they flooded the town and all the buildings are underwater except for the one you can see in the picture. So cool!

Andy and Matt taking a peek into the flooded tower

We celebrated Kikkan’s day with cake, candles and party hats (naturally) but we also have some super sweet coaches who happen to travel with sets of fake mustaches. So we had a really, REALLY fun car drive as every time we’d look at each other we’d burst out laughing. The other teams got a kick out of it when we showed up to the venue still sporting our new looks.

Our Swedish friends Anna, Emil and Charlotte brought Kikkan a cake!

The aftermath of the cake the Swedes brought


Another beautiful view on our drive to Switzerland!

The skate sprint on Dario Cologna’s stomping grounds was super fun. The qualifiers started at 1:15 and the rounds started as it was getting dark, at 4:00. There were huge globe lights illuminating the stadium, and the fans for Dario were FIRED UP and many. There were cool wood and snow scuptures in the stadium as well. The course was pretty tough with a long gradual climb headed into a really steep hill, with an s-turn on the way down. Luckily, it wasn’t icy or there would have been carnage on the fast turns!

The sprint day was the most fun I’ve had so far on the tour since it was a beautiful day, cool venue and all our girls made the rounds! It was a personal best (and first time in the rounds!) for Liz and then Kikkan went on to totally dominate the rounds and win the final by almost 9 seconds. NINE. SECONDS. I’ll say that again in case you missed it the first two times: nine seconds. That’s huge in a sprint! Personally, my race was a good confidence builder since I stopped my cough for the first time in 3 weeks that morning and then had a good qualifier, coming in 6th. I lost energy during the rounds and made a tactical mistake, getting stuck behind the two Germans who blocked the field in my round, but was still very happy with the day. Every race so far this tour has been feeling better and better!

But afterwards – whoa! My stomach was doing some serious flip-flops. That’s the funny thing about the Tour- usually you’re SO hungry and need to be eating pretty much all the time, but then when you race sometimes the hardest thing in the world is keeping down half a banana. And since I really do enjoy bananas, it was crucial to not puke so I’d be able to keep enjoying them in the future, you know? 🙂

More good mustache pictures to come!

So this morning we drove to Toblach-Dobbiaco, and checked out the race venue for tomorrow’s 15km skate race. The men have a 30km that starts in Cortina and finishes here in the Toblach stadium. I wish the women had a nice long race with a cool town-to-town course, but the course here is sweet too – it goes up and over a building!

A short shoutout to all the awesome US Team fans back home who have been getting up at the crack of dawn to watch the races online. We love hearing from you and it’s such a good boost to know that you’re watching us! Also good luck to all my buddies racing at Nationals in Soldier Hollow – those are going to be some super fun races!

Alright, time to go mow down some fantastic Italian food (finally!!!!). Wish us luck tomorrow!

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