Here we are…about to start the last World Cup race of the season! It feels good to be done after nearly 5 months of traveling and racing, but at the same time I know that in a few weeks I’ll be a little “homesick” for some parts of my life on the road.
Falun is so fun, every year. It seems like it’s always sunny and warm when we’re here, and even though this year Mother Nature hasn’t always cooperated with the snow cover at each venue, I’m impressed that the organizers managed to cover the race trails well and have a good stadium set up! Of course, the people here are really awesome too. We all went over to Maria Grafnings house to have a “Fika” (dessert) with her and some of our Swedish friends, and it was so nice to hang out with them! And of course, seeing Kris Hansen and her daughter Siri here has been so nice, and really made my week.
We are racing here in a mini-tour, like we do every year, but this year is especially important to try out the venue because these are the courses we’ll be competing on at World Championships next February. The courses are challenging with big climbs up the infamous “Mordarbacken” hill, and lots of twists, turns and bridges. A course map looks like a total maze because the trails loop over and under themselves, but it makes more sense when you’re racing it! The mini-tour is a classic spint, a 15km skiathalon and a pursuit start 10km skate. They keep track of your overall time from the first two races, and that’s the order we start the pursuit skate in. Whomever crosses the line first in the last day’s race wins the entire mini-tour, although other racers may have skied the fastest time on the course that day.
Usually, I really love racing here in Falun – the course suits me well and I’ve had good results the last two years. This year I’m still enjoying the courses, the awesome fans and good atmosphere, but my racing hasn’t been that much fun after being sick. It’s a huge bummer for me because I know that a month ago, I was in really good racing shape. I’d done everything I could do and was excited to finish out the season strong. When I got really sick right before Lahti, there was nothing I could do with a hacking cough but wait to get better…but 2 weeks of being sick and not racing took a toll on me and now my race shape isn’t what it was. It’s always hard to finish a race knowing you’re capable of so much more but don’t have the time left in the season to get back to good race shape. Still, I’m planning to go out today and finish my season as best I can…race my hardest, leave nothing out on the course and cross the finish line satisfied that I gave it my best. At the end of the day, that’s the only thing I really have control over: how much effort I put into the race, and I plan to make the most of it!
As much as I’m looking forward to having a break and finally letting my body rest, there are so many things I’ll miss about being over here. I’ll miss seeing all my friends on the other teams, and getting to hang out with them. I’ll miss seeing new countries and new towns every week. I’ll miss living with my teammates all winter! Strange as it is, I’ll miss the way my hands shake when I’m putting on my race bib and how my stomach drops when I hear the ticking down of the start clock. But next fall we’ll be able to do it all over again 🙂
We also got to celebrate Kikkan’s THIRD Sprint Globe! This is such a big deal, because she’s the all-around best sprinter in the World for the third year in a row…not an easy thing to accomplish! We’re really proud of her and it’s fun to be able to celebrate as a team.