It appears that I have a singular talent for embarrassing myself in front of the ski community. I got so zoned out in today’s mass start 10km skate that I completely ignored the very clearly marked “lap” lane and took the longer route to the finish instead. I looked up and saw the finishing lanes and thought “oh my gosh. Did I REALLY just do that?!?” and when it was quite clear that yes, I was an idiot and took the wrong lane, I had to make a quick choice about what to do next.
I saw a walking path that cut up onto the race course so I took it, but it was chopped up and I kept punching though. It cost me 10-15 seconds, but all I could keep thinking was “am I going to get disqualified? what if they decide to add a minute to my time or something?”. So I decided to get as much of a lead as possible, just in case there was a time-related punishment. I should have known better – Canadians are very nice, and all I ended up with was a verbal warning, as well as a hearty congratulations for having won the Stupid-thing-of-the-day award. I was also told that if I ever win an Olympic medal, the walking path I took will be named the “Jessie Diggins terrain park”. Nice. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a tribute to my stupid move, but I sure do deserve the teasing.
Early on in the race, I’d planned to stay with the pack for most of the first two laps. But over the top of the second steep hill, I realized I might be able to test the field a bit. I sprinted over the top of the hill and waited to see who was going to come with me…and then realized that I’d better keep skiing fast, since I’d opened up a gap and once you pull a risky move like that you just need to go with it!
So I skied the next 9km alone…but not really, since so many coaches and athletes were out cheering (which was totally awesome – thanks guys!). It was super encouraging and even after I goofed up the lap lane nobody said anything mean. It was a great way to end the first part of the season, and now I’m super excited to get home for a week!
Huge thanks to my CXC coaches and teammates, all the teams who and all the amazing race organizers and volunteers in West Yellowstone, Bozeman, Silver Star and Rossland for such a fun start to the season!