Erika’s Nationals Update
While our teammates across the pond were busy WINNING World Cup races last week, the SMS T2 domestic squad brought our A-game to U.S. Nationals in Houghton, MI. Anne, Annie, Ben, Paddy and I joined some of the SMS juniors for 10 days of racing against the top skiers from around the U.S. The races offer valuable points and qualification opportunities for Junior/U23 World Championships, OPA Cup racing and the Canadian World Cup tour later this year. As a team we snagged multiple personal best finishes, team spots, and podiums and finished the week happy, tired and ready for some rest. Check out some of the highs from the week…
Top 10 Houghton Highlights:
- The weather
For those of you who blocked out forgot about last year’s beyond epic week in Houghton, this year was a refreshing change. Sunshine and temperatures in the mid-20s replaced the blowing, freezing, blizzard conditions that tested us (and our blood circulation) last year. The relatively mild weather and awesome trail conditions at Michigan Tech made every race day exponentially better than last year.
- Jim and Betsy Meese
We were fortunate to stay with two of the best people you can find in the entire state of Michigan during our week in Houghton. We are still trying to figure out how we got so lucky. Thank you to the Meese’s for the fireplace chats, for the wonderful food, for sharing your stories and adventures, for the cozy rooms and comfy beds, for laundry, for absurd amounts of tea, for grooming smooth trails, for making sure every racer got their chip, for cheering and for generally being awesome. We hope to return the favor one day!
- Goob (Annie Hart)’s first podium (and second podium!)
On the skate sprint day Annie, Goob and I qualified in 3rd, 5th, and 9th respectively-a pretty sweet way to start the day. Goob and I went on to make the A-final, an accomplishment I barely imagined possible just over a month ago when I was skiing with one arm. Although I lost a little steam during the final and finished 6th, Goob continued to ski strong all day and snagged her very first U.S. Nationals podium racing to 2nd place!
A few days later during the classic sprint, Anne fought through some tough heats and raced to another 2nd place finish! Although I know she wanted the win, the races were a huge breakthrough and led to another first…drug testing! Yay for peeing in a cup!
- Team skiing in the 20km skate mass start
This was definitely my favorite day of the whole week. After some shuffling around at the start, Goob, K.O. and I skied most of the 20km together as a pack along with Chelsea Holmes (APU), Caitlin Patterson (GRP), and Eliska Hajkova. At one point during the race I was drifting off the back and Goob turned back, yelling at me to “hold on!” I smiled the rest of the race. Even as I faded to 5th in the second lap, the race was the most fun I have had on skis in the last year and we were pumped to put 3 girls in the top 5!
- Paddy qualifying for U23 Championships (and our junior skiers qualifying for World Juniors!)
Excited to cheer them on in Romania at the end of Feburary!
- Ben’s mom making us hot soup, sandwiches and dinner after the races
The only thing better than coming home to a hot meal after a race is coming home to one that has been prepared for you by someone else. We owe a huge thank you to Ben’s mom Julie for completely spoiling us all week with homemade soup and paninis after a long day of racing. She made sure we were well fueled all week and even made us dinner a few nights so we could focus on rest and recovery. Thank you Julie!
- Annie P’s Mushroom Boost
This girl has some pure raw speed and qualified in 3rd on the skate sprint day. Unfortunately she tangled with another girl in her quarterfinal. BUT… the crash was the perfect set-up for trying out her new mushroom boost technique-similar to that thing Mario and Luigi get in video games to propel them forward with extra lightning speed. Annie made an impressive comeback, skiing to within a few seconds of second place and nearly qualifying for the semi-finals.
- Cheering for Sophie and watching her win her first World Cup.
Paddy was literally hopping back and forth from foot to foot in excitement!
- And then cheering for Jessie and watching her win her first World Cup!
- Pat, Sverre and Boobs setting us up with the fastest skis in the field on race day
These coaches head to the wax room at 7 am and often we don’t see them again until they return home sometime after 9 pm every night. They work incredibly hard to make sure we have competitive skis for every race. We can’t thank them enough for their endless work and race support.
Flowers over and out! XO