Here we go again! The Tour de Ski is underway, and it’s the second time I’ve started this crazy thing. We drove to Lenzerheide the other night from Oberhof, and got in just after midnight. That’s the other thing about the Tour – it’s not just about racing every day, but dealing with stress, travel and venue changes on the way. I’d like to think the US team is pretty good at this, since we spend 5 months of the year on the road anyways!
Oberhof was slightly sunny, foggy, above freezing temps, rainy and then suddenly snowing like mad. I think the weather went through some serious mood swings in the three days we spent there! But somehow the venue and race organizers pulled off a 1.5km loop, and we were able to race, which is awesome.
I got a nice surprise care package to share with the team from another Minnesotan living in Germany! Underneath the trail mix bars, there was tons of rice krispies, M&M’s, fudge and cookies, and they were a big hit with the wax room!
I am really happy with how my Tour has started. It’s been a million times better than last year already, probably because I haven’t crashed in the opening stage! The first race, a 3km skate prologue, went really well for me. My skis were lightning fast and the course was a good one for me, and I came in with a 5th place finish, which ties my best ever World Cup result! It was definitely a great confidence booster to start the Tour with. And it was so cool that Sophie got her first distance WC points…with a 9th place! Booyah!
The next day was the first of two back-to-back skate sprints. Sophie, Andy and I made the heats, and only Andy went through to the semis. I felt good at the start of my quarterfinal- because the course was very twisty and narrow, I wanted to get near the front from the get-go. So I led the heat all the way till the final .5km, but when I went to V1 up the final hill, I found that somehow I had turned my right pole basket around 180 degrees. Dang it! So, after missing a couple plants in a row and losing momentum, I found myself at the back, and then I just plain ran out of steam. I finished 18th on the day, after two girls in front of me took each other out in the finishing lanes, which stinks – you don’t want to finish higher up by default, but at the same time I guess you have to take what you can get, right? So I focused on recovery and getting ready for the next 5 races.
Next, we drove till midnight to get to Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Well, actually, we are staying in Valbella, the town a couple km’s up the road…but close enough! It was such a beauty shock waking up and seeing the gorgeous mountains surrounding the hotel, with sunshine pouring in over the trees and perfect racing temperatures. So awesome! It was a “day off” from the tour, but we still went to test skis on the course (there’s no such thing as a true day off on this thing, so don’t let the wording fool you).
The sprint day yesterday was just an ok day for me, but it turned into a great day when I saw my teammates kicking butt and posting major PR’s! What a great day for SMST2…Andy was in the semifinals, Sophie made her first finals and Simi not only made his first finals but decided, heck, why not win the whole thing? So YEAH for Simi’s amazing and awesome and well-deserved first World Cup win!! I was so pumped for them! Maybe you can tell that from the amount of exclamation points I’ve been using…geez. Sorry, I’ll try to tone it down a notch.
As for my quarterfinal? I felt like my energy was really low yesterday, most likely from not sleeping well at all (we leave our window open every night but our room is boiling hot, and from all the racing my stomach feels like it’s ripping itself to bits, so sleeping has been a little tough lately). I had a rough start in my quarter, getting boxed out and then when the girl in front of me tripped, I had nowhere to go but got stuck at the back. I kept trying to find ways to pass, but I didn’t have the energy to straight up swing super wide up the hill, and just couldn’t pull off a pass in the final sprint. So I finished 21st on the day, which I wasn’t psyched with, but tried not to beat myself up over because there’s going to be low energy days once in a while during the Tour, and I guess I had one of mine yesterday.
However, today is a new day, and I’m starting the mass start classic as bib #15 in the Tour…which I am happy about because that’s higher up than I finished at the end of last year’s Tour! I’m hoping to have a solid day and then enjoy the sunny, beautiful mountains before we travel to Toblach, Italy tomorrow.
Sophie’s family and her boyfriend Dan are here, and it’s been SO nice to see them! It feels so good to see friends from home here, and hear familiar voices cheering out on course.
A huge HUGE thank you to all our staff for working so darn hard day in and day out to get us organized, give us fast skis, and help us prep for each race! Steph Caverhill and Zuzana Rogers are here to help us with body care: PT and massage therapy in between races, and Heather Cichanowski is here as our Doc for the week! I feel very lucky to have them here, and although we lose Heather and Zuzana tomorrow (they go back to Davos with the crew that is stopping the tour), Steph comes with the rest of the Tour crew till the end.