It has been 22 days since I left for Norway, and it has been a whirlwind of amazing training (check out the Newells’ posts on life in Sjuesjoen), some choice tourist activities, and three days of racing in Beitostoelen at the Norwegian opening FIS races. I just finished watching Wonder Woman side by side with my mom, who flew over to Oslo to be my number one fan whilst racing amongst Norway’s best.
Reflecting on last season, one thing I felt sure about was my personal need to log more on snow time before the first races of the season that “matter.” So when I figured out that the two week training camp in Sjusjoen would allow me three race starts…I dove right in to the lion’s den. The “Beito” weekend brings the top names in Norway—Klaebo, Bjorgen, Sundby, Falla, Weng…—plus everyone else. These races represent the only opportunities for other Norwegians to make it onto the World Cup, and as such the best individuals arrive tuned up to hammer out two distance races and a sprint.
So, I was a little nervous. I had just begun doing some more ski specific intensity, and honestly my only goal the first day was not to make an idiot out of myself. The Madshus World Cup tech graciously worked with me for race wax, but I didn’t do any ski testing and instead just relied on his expertise and my ski guessing. Thankfully conditions were easy waxing, so I headed out for the 10K classic at what I thought was a competitive pace. I ended up 31st- a solid result. I felt good, I skied well, but was instantly stunned at just how many fast Norwegians there were. Even the girl who started bib one (they seeded the race slowest to fastest) looked pretty good.
The next day brought a sprint, and I went out with a lot more intensity after seeing the suffer speed of the prior day. I made a couple mistakes, and missed qualifying by less than two tenths of a second. However I was thrilled with 90% of my qualifier, especially since my focus has been a little more on distance skiing this training season. After a quick lunch, my mom and I went back to the venue to watch the heats. Again, inspiring would be a disservice. There were hundreds of fans, cheering just as hard for Klaebo as the thirtieth qualifier.
On the final day I was faced with my albatross- a 10K individual start skate. But after watching two days of top performances, I was starting to get an idea of what being competitive in this field required. I went out hard and never looked back. Of course there were times where I could have skied a little smarter, worked a different technique longer or took corners better. But it was the first time in quite some time that I really raced the entire time. I pushed into the finish and spent a solid thirty seconds on my back watching my breathe curl into the air for reassurance I was still alive. I finished the day in 19th— my best international performance to date, and very pleased with my company.
It was the most amazing way to finish off my trip to Norway, and an even better way to kick of my season. I’m headed home for a week (I’ll be home for Thanksgiving for the first time since 9th grade!!), and then to West Yellowstone to kick off the races that “matter.” We will keep you posted, and be sure to cheer on our World Cup Contingent as they take on the Ruka Triple this weekend!