The World Cup tour can be relentless both in its tough races and rigorous travel schedule. Last week we had out first mini tour of the season, which consisted of a sprint, 10k skate, and a 15 classic with all races counting toward one placing at the end of the weekend. For me it was an extra special weekend since we were racing at one of Nordic’s historical venues in Lillehammer.
Lillehammer has not only hosted some of the most memorable xc Olympic races but also is home to the Birkenbiner each year, one of the biggest most historical races. Although the competition courses and stadium have been updated over they years the aura is still there which makes racing there super exciting as an athlete especially when the big crowds roll in.
Friday was our first skate sprint of the year and although results for the team were not what we had expected it’s always helpful to iron out the kinks in our ski testing, waxing, and race preparations so we can continue to get better each weekend. Even though the race was skating it was still a tough waxing day with new snow falling and temperatures around freezing so we definitely had our hands full competing with the other national teams (and their massive waxing trucks).
One of the big ways the World Cup is relentless and unforgiving is how it magnifies a poor performance. You can be a few seconds out in qualification in a domestic race and a top result can be salvageable, but in a World Cup field of 120 skiers a few seconds can put you out of the top 30. It’s challenges like this that keep athletes like myself so committed to racing internationally, and addicted to showing the world what we are capable of. Yes, we are dealing with very small margins for error but when everything comes together it’s the most addicting feeling in the world and it’s what keeps us coming back weekend after weekend. We want to show everyone that the US can be the best in the world.
With a different stop each weekend the World Cup is always moving which provides a great way to reset and refocus each after each weekend. Whether you crushed it or failed to reach your goals there is always something new to look forward to and new racing opportunities just around the corner. So we were pretty stoked on Monday when we traveled from Norway to one of our favorite stops Davos Switzerland.
Davos and the Hotel Kulm is a lot like a home base for us in Europe and it’s awesome to be back here at a familiar place with great food and friendly hosts. Snow is pretty limited here at the moment so we have been skiing on a 1.5 k loop tucked away in the woods on one of the racecourses. Organizers will have a full 5k by Friday but in the mean time we are sharing this small loop with tons of other World Cup skiers. Makes for some fun skiing and even more exciting intensity sessions while trying to do intervals in big crowds. I personally think it’s pretty fun, and this morning got a chance to do a speed workout with some of the Canadian skiers.
For many of the US skiers this weekend’s races will be extremely important since it’s the last sprint in the first period of racing and our last chance to score some much needed World Cup points. Saturday’s competitions will be a 10 and 15k classic followed by a skate sprint on Sunday. This Davos course has been pretty successful for our team in the past so I’m excited to get out there and redeem myself from last weekend. The course here is a 2 lap sprint with lots of fun corners and fast V2 sections so there will definitely be some close battles out there. I’ll be spending the next few days sharpening up our speed to get ready with some short quick workouts and 30 second intervals.
If there’s one thing that last weekend taught me it’s that you can never take anything for granted on the World Cup and how important it is to look at every opportunity on circuit as a chance to do your best. I’m really looking forward to this last sprint race before heading back to the US for a short Christmas break!