The 7 stage Tour de Ski ski is now over and for most of the US Ski team squad we are using this week to re-group, recover, and prepare for the next World Cup races. Racing 7 races in 9 days is not for the faint of heart, and considering roughly just a third of the skiers who start the Tour make it through to the last stage it really is a test of strength and endurance.
For a lot of athletes, myself included, we go into the Tour just hoping for some successful stages and individual races with the plan of opting out before the final stop in Val De Femme, Italy. With the tiring schedule and so many races it’s common to see athletes either building momentum through the 7 stages or slowly fatiguing from the stress before they reach the final climb. Unfortunately for me having just flown over from the US and feeling a little sick I was definitely not racing up to potential during the first few stages.
Continuing to struggle with an allergic reaction and lots of crashes and bad luck in the races this year the Tour was a real mental test for me, but was highlighted by seeing some of my teammates excel, especially Liz who puts a huge emphasis of her season on competing in the Tour de Ski and definitely didn’t disappoint. Watching her have the classic race of her life in the 6th stage was incredible and then to power up the final climb to a 5th place finish was inspirational for the team. We crowded around the TV here in Ramsau to cheer her on.
Now that the Tour is over it’s perfect time for me to put these races behind me and move on trying to focus on the next two World Cup stops in Estonia and Russia, both of which have great sprinting opportunities. For the past 3 days Simi, Sophie, Sadie, Ida and I have been training here in Ramsau Austria and recharging the batteries before flying to Otepaa on Thursday. Despite some pretty radial weather skiing conditions have been great especially for me who’s on the 1 hour per day training regimen in an attempt to shake my allergy problems once and for all. It’s funny how returning to familiar places like the Kobaldhof here in Ramsau is like returning home and can act as the perfect setting to re-group.
Aside from having some pretty relaxed training sessions in the morning we have been filling the days with trips into Schaldming, hanging out in the sunshine, and getting organized for the next few weeks on the road. In addition to some short training sessions I’ve been going to the gym for some easy strength, and have a training plan of 30 minute walks every afternoon, which is supposed to help re-set the body. Now for those who know me can understand how walking around for 30 minutes isn’t really enough to keep me interested so my evening walks usually turn into adventures bushwhacking in the woods. I don’t have too many complaints however since the scenery around here in pretty unreal.
With a season full of ups and downs one of the most important things to do is to keep looking toward the future and to better things to come. I’m optimistic I’ll be able to get my heath in line to preform well at the next two stops and with several weeks still until the World Championships in Falun, time is still on my side and I’m really looking forward to testing out my classic sprinting skills in the upcoming competitions. It will be a pretty exciting schedule with a sprint and sprint relay in Otepaa, one of my favorite venues, followed by a trip to Rybinsk Russia, which is always an adventure.