Davos Weekend Update: Altitude

Andy updates us on last weekend’s races in Davos, Switzerland

Although Norway was a lot of fun we all welcome our annual migration to central Europe for the December World Cups here in Davos. Sunshine and great food can always be expected here in Davos and returning to the Hotel Kulm is a lot like coming home to a familiar place.  The one thing that doesn’t feel so familiar however is the jump to altitude. Having spent more than a month at sea level even the adjustment to just 5,000 feet here in Switzerland can be tough to do in just 5 days.

Liz reading her Christmas secret santa poem
Liz reading her Christmas secret santa poem

After a weekend of hard racing in Lillehammer almost everyone has to step down their training a little bit upon arriving here at altitude.  One of the things we have learned over the years is that the first trip to central Europe can sometimes spark a lot of sickness throughout the team, myself included.  Something about trying to adjust to a higher altitude before the weekend races can sometime be just too stressful on the body.


One of the ways to ensure we feel our best on the weekend is by skiing our distance workouts extremely slowly here for the first few days. Like low level 1 and not any harder.  I find that although it feels really slow, and almost like you are not training at all, it can sometimes make the difference in staying healthy.  Another way we play it safe is by pushing back our intensity session by a few days. When arriving at altitude I like to wait at least 3 days before doing intervals, so it’s common for us to push our normal mid week intervals back a few days.

Our favorite running loop around the lake
Our favorite running loop around the lake

Even with all this thought and planning it can still be a painful awakening come race day.  This weekend I was scheduled to race just the sprint here in Davos. The course is pretty flat and fast but that also can be deceiving and translate into not much rest during the race. The heat times here can be under 2.5 minutes making it one of the shortest sprints on the Tour and also very tight finished when it comes to qualification and the rounds.


For me sprint day didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped. Maybe my altitude preparation wasn’t good enough because I think I felt a lot better doing intervals on Friday than I did actually racing on Sunday. That can be a bit frustrating but not uncommon for the first week living high. During the heats I pushed hard into a good position but wasn’t able to sprint past the other skiers the way I would have liked when my legs started to get heavy. The good news is we have a whole week to continue adjusting before racing in Toblach, Italy next weekend.

Racing in my quarterfinal
Racing in my quarterfinal


Luckily Italy will also be about a thousand feel lower than Davos, which will make things feel a lot better.  The course is another fast flat track but there are more passing opportunities than there are here in Davos. We will travel over to Toblach on Wednesday for the skate sprint Sunday and distance classic on Saturday!

A happy team after the race!
A happy team after the race!

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