Blog

The Pre-season Mix

*Julia checking in!

Everyone from New England knows that the weather in last few weeks leading up to the racing season is as unpredictable as it gets. One day you might be wearing a tank top and shorts, and the next you are bundled in your mid-winter ski outfit. This year the weather gods decided us New Englanders had gotten soft so they wanted to ensure us New Englanders are tough come the race season.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I didn’t see the sun for 3 weeks straight. On top of that, many of those cloudy days included freezing, cold rain. Oddly enough, with one rainy day after the next, it started to be just another normal day in the east and each rainy day felt less dreary than the last. Maybe part of my reaction was due to the fact that I was at Dartmouth this fall, and regardless the weather, training was my study break so it is something I always looked forward to; it was always the best part of my day.

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It may have been dark and grey all fall, but we made up for the darkness with bright clothing on Halloween at Dartmouth! 

I think the peak drearyNew England weather came for the NENSA Trapps rollerski race. We showed up and it was 32 degrees and pouring rain, with 50 mph wind gusts, and the rain was turning into sleet. In the coaches meting, the coaches and organizers decided to go ahead and hold the race, and it was one of the most brutal rollerskis I have ever done weather wise, but I finished feeling a little tougher and stronger for the race season two short weeks away. Most importantly, I finished with a huge smile across my face, which might sound crazy but to me, some of the most satisfying and motivating workouts are the ones where you just have to have some grit, dig deep, and see the tough conditions as a way to make you that much stronger.

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Charging through the tough conditions at the NENSA Trapps Rollerski Race (PC: Dave Prignac)
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Deep in the pain cave as the rain turned into snow (PC: Reese Brown).

After a bit of toughness training, the weather rewarded us with some incredible early season snow, making for some of the best skiing conditions in the country, if not in the world. During finals, I was extra determined to be productive so that I could take skiing study breaks!

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Perfect skiing at Crafstbury during finals!

I decided the changes in weather weren’t crazy enough for me, so I headed out to San Diego to join my family for thanksgiving! The weather was 60-70 degrees and sunny everyday…you could say I soaked up all the sunshine I could get! Although it may be unusual to go on a beach vacation right before the season, it is exactly what I wanted to do before the racing season. Each person has their own way to prep for the race season and for me, that meant quality family time, sunshine and vitamin D, unwinding from finals, and having some fun (by going surfing and playing beach volleyball) and to relax before heading into the race season! The last two weeks before the season is usually stressful for most athletes, because you start to wonder, “have I done enough?”, “am I ready” , “I have worked so hard all year and now it is time to see how fast I am”.  Hanging out with my family and surfing and playing beach volleyball was the perfect way to clear my head and relax before heading back to winter conditions in West Yellowstone.

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Family time ❤
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Dialing in my balance by doing some surfing! 
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SUNSHINE!

I am now out in West Yellowstone, MT with our U.S. half of the SMS T2 Team for the first weekend of Super Tour races. After the toughness training this fall in the New England, we are ready to go! You can follow along with the live video coverage at https://usskiandsnowboard.org/events/supertour-1and live results at http://www.skirunbikemt.com/supertour.html.

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Alayna making the first tracks out here in West Yellowstone!
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World Cup Beginnings

*Sophie checking in.

We are officially over two weeks into our European adventure and have completed one World Cup weekend and are on the eve of our second! Each year we start our winter in northern Finland, which is generally one of the first places to get snow, but Europe is having a bit of a slow start to winter this year. We arrived in Rovaneimi, Finland to a manmade loop of snow, but mild temperatures that were quickly melting out the loop. We got a few days of good training in and a warm up race before heading to Kuusamo, Finland where the first World Cups were held. Kuusamo also didn’t have any natural snow, but the manmade 3-4 kms they made were relatively clean, so the races were able to be held.

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Our last days in Rovaneimi were getting…thin.

The first World Cup weekend was a solid start for the U.S. Team, but we’re looking forward to building on our results the longer we’re on snow and the more cobwebs we blow out! I’ve struggled in Kuusamo in the past, so I was psyched to have a solid sprint day, just narrowly missing moving onto the semi finals.

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The team celebrating Thanksgiving in Kuusamo.

The schedule for the weekend is a mini tour in Lillehammer, Norway. There is a skate sprint tomorrow, followed by a skate distance race Saturday, and a classic distance race Sunday. We are psyched that the some of the SMS juniors are in Sjusjoen for their fall camp and will be here to cheer us on this weekend. I have been nursing a cold this week, so I’m not sure I will be racing this weekend, but either way, it will be an exciting weekend to watch. Thanks for following!

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Soaking up some sweet sunshine in Norway after a couple weeks in darkness!

THANK YOU!

*Alayna checking in!

It’s been quite a week on the move! In the past 9 days I have managed to squeeze in a lot of last minute details before kicking off the season. I flew home to Minnesota last week with two days to complete the finishing touches for a fundraiser that I had been planning since JULY. The event was at Gear West last Thursday night and it was a huge success! The entire staff at the store was so incredible for helping out with an evening full of fresh snow, running, eating a lot, listening to my presentation, and raising money via silent auction items. HOWEVER, I am feeling especially grateful for all of the extra hard work Gear West employee, Jenny Beckman, put into preparing for the event and of course the store owner, Jan Guenther, for making it all happen. Growing up in the Twin Cities I was always able to rely on Gear West Ski and Bike Shop for anything I needed skiing related: new skis, boots, ski grind, clothing, athletic encouragement… The shop did a great job in making me feel like I was back at home and I was humbled by the support shown from the community.

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Getting ready for the presentation.
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Honored to have guest and Olympian Dough Peterson at the event!

During the event, I was able to share my history as an athlete starting from a Wayzata High School student, into college, and now into this new and focused life that I am so proud of. Friends and family were able to bid on auction items such as a Birkie weekend cabin, Birkie parking pass and wave boost, Rossignol skis, Swix poles, US Ski Team gear, an assortment of gift baskets, and so much more! All the while sipping on some delicious Barley John’s Brewery beer and munching on snacks provided by Gore Wear. Gore Wear is an athletic clothing company primarily creating bike gear but has recently launched its very own Cross Country Ski line. The company was a huge reason for my fundraiser’s success and it was so nice to partner up with them for the evening. By the end of the night we had raised a total $4,785 in silent auction items and numerous other donations. As if I couldn’t feel the love from just that, Gear West and Gore Wear were generous enough to match up to $1,000 in these donations as well! All of these donations will be put toward my season to help me fund plane tickets, hotel rooms, food and race support for all over the world. Thank you to everyone who came out for the event, all of the donations made, and for the confidence boost in believing that this is all worth it 🙂

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Happy to see all of my Wayzata High school coaches again!
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Thank you Jan, Gear West, and Gore Wear for the generous donations!

After an exciting evening, I was delighted to drive up to Hayward, Wisconsin to spend a relaxing weekend at my family’s cabin. Overnight, it happened to snow just enough on the Birkie trails that we were able to break out the old rock skis and go for a fun ski. There’s nothing quite like the excitement of the first big snowfall of the year to get you motivated for the season. It was so nice to spend such a calm weekend in the woods with my family and finally be home to celebrate my sister’s birthday! (Since I’ve missed it the last four years). My sister has always been my biggest role model in life and is the reason I started ski racing in middle school; I wanted to be just like her. Not only is she in the middle of her second year at P.A. School, she’s also training her butt off for the California International Marathon on December 2nd in the hopes of qualifying for the Olympic Trails. She somehow manages to balance it all with so much more grace than I will ever be able to achieve. That being said, it was great to spend the weekend with her in the hopes of all that hard work rubbing off on me!

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Still love using my Rossi rock skis from 1992.
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Forever look up to these women.

After that it was a rush to get things ready for a big road trip out west. On Wednesday night I left The Cities with my parents and drove into Bozeman, Montana. I am planning to spend Thanksgiving week with my parents and a few thousand other skiers, at the West Yellowstone Ski Festival. My parents have made this into a fun family vacation ever since I was in 6thgrade but for the past four years I had been training with my college team in Quebec, Canada and missed the festival. Over the years the size of this family trip as dwindled as each sibling heads off to college. We’ve kept it a fun group through by inviting friends to tag along and teammates from the Wayzata High School team to get some great early season skiing in. This year though, it will just be my parents and me. Who can ski more hours: my dad or me? We will see….

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First day out west skiing at Crosscut Ski Area with my parents in Bozeman, MT.
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Sun, snow, mountains!

The first day of skiing was one of those magical days where you look around and realize how much you love this sport. Warm sun, beautiful views and super fun trails make you never want to end your ski. It was a perfect day! Unfortunately, with every peak there comes a valley and the very next day there was freezing rain while I was skiing in town alone. This was one of those days where you question why you’re doing this and what’s they point? Do I really have to be out here training in such awful weather? But these days separate the weak from the strong and I knew it was something I’d just have to grit my teeth and get through. I though this was similar to racing; you might have a fabulous race one day and think you’re totally unstoppable only to follow that up with a horrible day where you just can’t quite find your groove. Another reason why you have to face the highs and lows of whatever you’re doing with the same determination and will to succeed no matter what the outcome.

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A golden day of skiing!
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On to be followed by freezing rain the next day…

Back to Europe!

The start of the season is here! We flew up to the edge of the Arctic Circle, to Rovaniemi, Finland. Land of reindeer, Santa’s “official airport”, and early season skiing!

The girls ready for our first ski in Rovaniemi! (photo from Pete D., our PT)

Only, climate change is crazy, and there was no natural snow to be found! The side of the trail was full of spongy green moss and green bushes and perfectly clear running trails through the woods, and one of the days it was raining and 40 degrees F. Holy smokes! But the organizers here were doing everything they could, and they rolled out enough snow to save a 1.4km loop from the original 9km of trail they had from man-made snow. We were extremely grateful for everything they did to make the training work out!

Grateful for the chance to get to ski at all given what the weather was doing! (photo from Coach Cork)

The sun rises around 10 and sets before 3, so it’s pretty dark! The trails were all light, and the hotel had really bright lights to help you feel more awake. But we did borrow Rosie Brennan’s sun-lamp to stare into one afternoon when we had a good case of jet-lag tired feelings going on!

Ida and I staring into a sun lamp. (photo from Sophie)

Tomorrow, we’re driving from Rovaniemi to Ruka, Finland, only a couple hours away. Then this Saturday and Sunday we’ll have our first World Cup races of the year! It will be a classic sprint and a 10km classic for the women, 15km classic for the men. Wish us luck!

One of the days this week we actually got to see the sun…and it was beautiful! This photo of the sun just peeking up over the horizon was taken at 12:10pm. We really are far North! 

Learning From Mistakes

How do you get the same lessons from Saturday Night Live performances and ski racing. Kelsey checks in on how it takes courage to make mistakes and learn from them.

This weekend, one of my favorite singers performed on Saturday Night Live. If you haven’t heard of Maggie Rogers, I would recommend watching her NPR Tiny Desk Concert to start: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqPtIkxSxI0.
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When she came out for her first performance, you could see her nerves. You know at the start of ski races, when they pan across the athlete’s faces and some people are obviously nervous? It was like that. But instead of starting a ski race, she was performing on a live TV show that garners millions of views. Pretty big deal, I’d say. Now while I still think she did a good job, she was a little flat in the start of this song – maybe it was just the nerves or maybe there were some technical difficulties that we couldn’t see from the outside.
To me, this made her even more amazing. It is human to be nervous when we take big steps in life. It is human to fail. Most of her fans, it seems, agreed with me. The internet at large, on the other hand, did not. Youtube commenters and twitter users were honestly merciless in their criticisms of this incredibly talented young woman’s first performance. In the world we live in, it’s too easy to expect perfection within the first 10 seconds. It is too easy to judge, especially online. It made me feel disheartened to see so many people write her off based on the first line of her performance being off pitch.
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When she came out for her second appearance, the nerves had dissipated. Her voice was amazing and I had chills throughout the entire performance. I’m sure she knew that the first performance wasn’t what she wanted it to be. But instead of calling it quits, she came back out and absolutely crushed it! So two take aways from this are 1) we can all afford to try to soften our own judgements of other people and be kinder to each other, and 2) if you let yourself learn from mistakes, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish.
So what does this have to do with skiing?
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The entire team is starting to disperse in preparation for race season. Some of the team is gearing up for the first Supertour races in West Yellowstone in about a month, and the other half of us are leaving in just a week to Rovaniemi, Finland to prepare for the first World Cup of the season!
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I learnt from my first World cup start last March. I usually pride myself on holding my composure around any other level of competitors, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t star struck by actually seeing my skiing heroes in person. While some degree of admiration and respect is good, it can also get in the way at first. Maybe that’s why I appreciate when the people I admire so much have moments of nervousness; it makes them more human and relatable.
Looking back, I was more nervous before my race start last year than I think I’d ever been before a race in my life. I was so nervous that I was in my bib and ready to race about 15 minutes before the start of the race. I stood out in the cold like a newbie much longer than my wiser teammates did. I felt SO good before the race that I skied around pretty hard, happily over practicing my hop skate on the course, for basically the entire warmup. And I felt SO good at the start of the race that I completely forgot my pacing plan and took it as hot as I could from the gun. This worked great for half the race, and then I was completely flooded and lost a lot of time over the course of the last hill.
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I think I was still in the top five at this point 😉 pre legs flooding.
All of these little failures resulted in missing the heats by 1 second, and while I was disappointed at the time, I was still proud of myself. I wasn’t afraid to go for it. It was human to make those mistakes. I’m sure there are many more mistakes to be made in the next couple months, but I also know that as long I can learn from my mistakes and grow from them, each time will be a little better.
After not making the heats, I put on my down over-pants and watched my teammates and friends hold their own in heat after heat. I wish I could have been racing, but getting to cheer on so many people I care about, racing as hard as they could, is one of my favorite memories. I’m lucky to have some of the best teammates around who have their own resumes of little mistakes that have already lead to huge accomplishments. I’m definitely starting to get nervous for the races to come, and I’m also incredibly excited! But more than anything, I can’t wait to learn more from all my awesome teammates and I’m feeling confident that we are all going to make each other (and ourselves) proud!
So here’s to being kinder to one another, more supportive, and not being afraid to make mistakes and fail as we chase our goals!

 

Happy November!

*Sophie checking in!

Happy November! Wow, time flies and we’ve found ourselves less than a couple short weeks away from our departures to our first races. We have a couple different plans for the beginning of the season, so here’s the who, what, when, and where you should follow:

U.S. Supertour  
The first Supertour races of the season will take place in West Yellowstone, MT on Dec 1-2 and the second weekend on Dec 8-9 in Silverstar, British Columbia. Look for Kyle, Alayna, Julia, and Katharine in these races!
World Cup
The first World Cup weekend takes place in Kuusamo, Finland on Nov. 24-25, the second in Lillehammer, Norway from Nov 20th-Dec 2nd, the third in Beitostolen, Norway on Dec 8-9, and the final weekend before Christmas in Davos, Switzerland on Dec 15-16. Look for Ben, Paddy, Simi, Jessie, Kelsey, and Sophie in some or all of these races on the World Cup!
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Parting ways, but still one team!

It’s a bittersweet time of year because I’m getting really excited for the World Cup, but sad to leave some of my teammates who I’ve been training with all summer and fall. Luckily, with technology these days, it’s pretty easy to stay in touch with everyone on the road and it’s going to be fun to check in with my teammates on the SuperTour and religiously follow their results and watch them kick some butt.

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Running down the mountain with Alayna after bounding intervals.

Fall training is some of my favorite of the year. It’s less about getting big hours in and more about getting some hard efforts that are high quality. We generally are doing one more interval session a week than we were doing in the summer and the intensity turns to more race pace efforts than threshold efforts. This is always a nice feeling because we’ve built a good base throughout the summer and when we start doing really hard efforts, they tend to feel pretty terrible, but we can have confidence that each one is getting us closer to race shape and by the time November rolls around, we’re starting to feel like we might be able to give this racing thing a stab!

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Max bounding intervals with the girls.

So with ten days to go before I jump on a plane to Europe, I suppose it’s time to start thinking about what I want to pack for the next four plus months. I’m not the most organized person in the world, but planning for this trip definitely requires some thought and organization because you never know what flavor of tea you’re going to be craving in two months or which sweatshirt you’re going to kick yourself for not bringing over. But let’s be honest, I still have ten days and I probably won’t actually start packing until two days before I leave…I’ll just promise to do some thinking about it before then! The most important goal of the next ten days is to spend time with the people I love and this place I love, so that I can pack up enough good feelings to last a winter. So on that note, please consider joining us for our sendoff dinner on November 10th at Stratton Mountain School or making a donation to our team at https://smseliteteam.wordpress.com/fundraising-challenge/. We have a fundraising challenge that means every dollar you donate will be matched and go directly to athlete support. Thank you for being part of our team and for following along our journey!

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A beautiful rollerski on my trip to CO with Simi earlier this month!

 

What My Teammates Have Taught Me

* Julia checking in!

Upon returning from our last U.S. Ski Team camp of the year in Park City, Utah back to Dartmouth to finish up fall term, I have been thinking a lot about how I am extremely fortunate to be surrounded by incredible teammates wherever I go. Each team and individual teammate has taught me something different, and I know I wouldn’t be nearly as fast or have nearly as much fun without them!

For starters, I am very appreciative that each of my teams support me to pursue both my skiing and academic pursuits.  The past few years I have been hopping between the Dartmouth, SMS T2, and the U.S. Ski Team and the amount I spend with each team has changed every year. My teammates on all three teams have been extremely supportive and understanding as I phase in and out (for example leaving Dartmouth for a U.S. Ski Team camp and then coming back to Dartmouth).

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Really excited to be back with the Women’s U.S. Ski Team in Park City last week!

I have come to realize that I have learned an endless amount from my teammates and the list could go on forever, but here are some of the most important things I have learned (no particular order).

  1. Most important, always remember to have FUN!

Training with teammates is the best way to have fun, hands down! If you are not having fun, something needs to change.

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YAY for snow!
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Jessie introducing a new technique….?
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Carving some turns with Andy in New Zealand.
  1. You are stronger as a team, working together is the best way to get faster.

I have learned this and experienced this across all teams I have been on. When everyone gets together to train, they push each other, support each other, challenge each other, and raise everyone to the next level.

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Pushing each other in races.
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Learning how to lunge with the help of coaches, Kelsey (giving feedback from watching), and Ida! What a fun workout!
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Hannah and I went on 3 week trip alone in Germany, training and racing together! I couldn’t have done it without her.
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Practicing a tricky sprint corner…and learning what not to do.
  1. Learn by following.

Everyone skis a little differently, you can learn a lot by skiing behind someone else!

  1. Set BIG goals, work hard and believe in them…and anything is possible.
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Jessie’s and Kikkan’s Gold Medal has truly inspired me and has taught me that anything is possible if you set your mind to it!
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2 years prior we talked about how crazy it would be to medal at World Juniors…and it happened.
  1. Teammates are there to support you and to be supported.

Whether it’s a needed hug, a sunset walk, a pillow talk, or a pump up dance party, your teammates are there for you and you should be there for them. Your celebrate the highs together and ride the lows together.

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Sunset walks ❤
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Teammates make great pillows!
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Sometimes you need a hug…and someone to hold you up when your are too tired to stand.
  1. You can use your position to have an impact beyond your racing career.

There are so many opportunities to inspire and create change. For example…
– Community outreach
– Inspiring the next generation of skiers (and non skiers)
– Having a voice about pressing issues (POW for example)
– Helping kids have access to the outdoors
– Growing confidence in young girls to pursue their passions
– And many more!

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This summer I became a Little Bellas ambassador and it has been so fun!
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Jessie advocating for Protect Our Winters (POW).
  1. Its okay to be your goofy self…actually its encouraged to be super goofy!
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Getting goofy with some fun Dartmouth traditions this fall.
  1. Skiers love being active in the outdoors, which makes for some pretty awesome adventure buddies.

Skiers share their love for snow, the mountains, and being active outdoors. You will never be short on buddies to go on long adventures with.

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Crust cruising in New Zealand!
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Summit photo.
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Mountain biking with Sophie!
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Adventuring in mountains.

So THANK YOU to all of my teammates, I am forever grateful to have you as my teammates and continue to learn new things every day 🙂

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SMS T2 Team
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Dartmouth Women’s Team
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U.S. Ski Team.

Park City Camp

*Paddy checking in.

Last week the US Ski Team wrapped up the final training camp of the year in Park City, Utah. Park City is a fantastic place to train featuring endless single track, canyon skis and bike paths right from town. 
 
Spending time in Park City also means ample time at the US Ski and Snowboard’s headquarters, the Center of Excellence or “COE”. The COE has the most impressive facilities I have ever seen by a long shot. The building was designed as a state of the art training center. The facilities include a massive gym, testing equipment, a Physical Therapy center, a trampoline park, a skate park, a snack bar and kitchen, a full basketball court (don’t let the Nordies go there, its not pretty), a pool, and countless other pieces of exercise and testing equipment. Its fun, and sometimes exhausting, to have all these resources around. 
 
We are now heading into our final weeks of dry-land training in Vermont before starting the 2018/2019 season! There is snow on the mountain and more in the forecast for later this week. Stay tuned for updates on the final NENSA rollerski race of the year and the final weeks of hard training here in VT
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American Fork OD (PC: Matt). 
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Post workout donuts (PC: Matt)!
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Solider Hollow intervals (PC: Matt)!

Skiers to the line, set… Move out!

* Alayna checking in!

The last few weeks in Stratton have been great training and we’re starting to gear up for an exciting winter! It’s hard to believe we are only about a month away from the start of the season. As a college athlete, my season usually didn’t start until US Nationals in January because we were busy working toward finals in school. This year will be totally different for me! My first Supertour will be the first weekend in December, but I will have a few races even prior to that to help prepare for it. That means that right now, it’s time to put in a lot of hard work. Personally, the best way I can get into racing shape is to simply race more. We’ve been incorporating more of this into our training; two weeks ago Kyle and I competed in an uphill running race that went from the base of Stratton Mountain Resort all the way up to the top of the gondola. It was a 2.18 mile race but it took me just over 28 minutes! Kyle made it to the top of the podium while I placed second, overall a great day for SMS T2.

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Gearing up for the big climb.
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Shout-out to Pat and Kelsey for climbing all the way up to cheer for us at the top.
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Women’s Podium.

This past weekend, we traveled up north to race at the NENSA Roller Ski race in Jericho, Vermont. I headed up a few days early to spend some time with old college friends and teammates in Burlington. It was really nice to feel so much VCat love, which made it pretty tough to say goodbye. I was so excited though to see my old teammates perform so well at the ski race with Bill Harmeyer taking first place and Lina Sutro in third. Personally, I was happy to be in the mix (finished in 5th place) but that also set a nice fire inside me to get down to business this next month.

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Back with the VCats!
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Time to race.
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So proud of all my teammates, old and new! 

On top of all this racing and gearing up for the season, a lot of us are starting to move out of our summer homes. Kelsey and I ran into a few challenges with our condo over the summer and decided that the combination of mice and mold did not add up to a great living space for athletes. So, we worked to find alternative living options and decided to make a small move across the mountain. Kelsey and I spent a majority of last week packing and cleaning our condo and putting some of our belongings into winter storage. It might not sound like much work but turns out skiers come with a lot of extra “stuff” required for training and racing. Happy to have gotten that out of the way so our real move-out date will go much smoother!

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Continuous interval work with Sophie and Kelsey in Stratton.
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Joined the Craftsbury team for a run/hike up Mt. Mansfield the morning after the Jericho race.
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First snow up on Stratton Mountain calls for some hard bounding intervals!

I am looking forward to heading home in just three short weeks before I head out West for the kickoff to the season!

 

Train. Rest. Repeat!

Here we are, pounding the roller ski track in Soldier Hollow in our last US Team training camp of the year! How is it already late October? This is nuts, people! It’s hard to believe that on November 12th, I’m going to be getting on a plane…and not coming back to the US until late March. I’m excited for the season, ready to get back into the thrill of racing and see all my friends on the World Cup again, but there is one more month of work to do first.

USA Team jumping shot! (photo by Reese Brown/SIA Images)

Thursday and Friday we had back-to-back time trials. We had a skate sprint time trial first, with round-robin style heats so everyone raced the course 4 times. And wow, I somehow managed to forget (or trick my brain) in between New Zealand and now. I managed to forget how hard racing actually is on your body! It HURTS, you know? Pulling up to the line before the final, my legs felt shaky and I thought I might actually puke, and I couldn’t really feel my toes.

Hammering in intervals with Rosie Brennan! (photo from Matt Whitcomb)

But then I went out and hammered as hard as I could anyways, and it turns out that even when I’m convinced my body is about to fall apart, somehow that darn thing keeps on going! We’re so much stronger than we think, and our bodies are capable of so much more than we realize. Having a time trial to play around and push myself in every round was a great way to not only practice that race feeling, but to remind myself that the “pain cave” is my specialty, and it feels so satisfying to dig deep and then dig some more, and realize that I can handle it.

It feels so good to be done with intervals!!! (photo fro Matt Whitcomb)

Today we did a 12.6km for the women and 16.8km for the men. We did this on purpose, because FIS is considering adding in those distances, based on careful focus groups that determined the ideal race length for fans. These changes will go into place starting in the fall of 2019, so we need to start adjusting our bodies now! Just. Kidding. But did I get you going there, just for a second? We did those distances because that’s how long three laps of the paved roller ski course in Solder Hollow is. The real answer is so boring!

Sadie and I working on our double pole. (photo from Matt Whitcomb)

While racing at altitude is tricky because you have less oxygen and can “blow up” or “hit the wall” a lot faster than at sea level, I appreciate the chance to practice here. It’s good for me to get to play around in a low-stakes atmosphere to see exactly what it feels like right before I’m about to blow up. And as we near the end of camp, I’m feeling really good about where the team is at! Everyone’s working hard, in a good place, and looking good.

Team L3 skate intervals on a cold snowy day! (photo from Andy Newell)

But sometimes, it can be really hard to feel confident when there’s not a lot you can actually measure. We don’t have a 400 time on the track to compare in the off-season. We’re not swimmers, where we could go off a time to see if we’re in the right place. Our roller ski courses and wheels are all slightly different speeds, and even a time trial course on the pavement can be drastically faster or slower depending on the weather!

Working with Cork to improve my technique (photo from Reese Brown/SIA Images)

So what do we do, when we don’t have a way to really know where we are? Train hard, train smart, and have a little trust in the process. We’re not robots, after all. It adds a little bit of excitement, that edge of uncertainty. I do the absolute best I can, and if I’m giving this sport everything I have in training, and listening to my body, then I’m doing my job right. I also like to focus on getting the best recovery I can as well! When I go do do a strength workout in the gym, or do 6 x 4 minutes all-out intervals up a hill, those things don’t actually make me faster by themselves. I’m tearing my muscles apart and breaking my body down, and only by resting and recovering will my body come back stronger and faster. Which makes getting enough sleep basically one of the most important parts of my job!

Resting in a “cuddle puddle” with Hannah, Hailey and Julia after the time trial!

When I was training in high school, I’d hear that I needed to be sleeping better and longer, and I’d sort of roll my eyes – hey, I was a teenager! That’s what we do! – and think “but I have so many things I need to be DOING!” But hey, you know what? Mom was right. (She’s always right, by the way). Without enough sleep, I wasn’t recovering and getting the full benefit of the training I was doing. When I turned pro, I couldn’t believe how much better I felt once I started sleeping 9 hours a night, and once I had some down time in the middle of the day to do things like stretch, foam roll or ice tub. Honestly, if I could go back and tell my 15 year old self one thing to make me a better athlete.. it’d be this: sleep more. Everything else can wait, because you’ll do a better job if you’re rested.

The team at the Warren Miller movie the other night…because we’re IN IT! Sometimes you need that balance of fun things in your life along with the rest. (although I DID sleep for 8.5 hours that night anyways)!

I realize this sounds sort of ironic, coming from the girl who appears on social media to be EVERYWHERE and doing All Of The Things that a person could possibly do. And I recognize that the amount of extra work I’ve been taking on post-Olympics is only sustainable in the short term, so don’t worry, you’ll see me doing less next year! But in between training and helping promote the sport I love and my sponsors whom I love for supporting me in my career and also helping to grow this incredibly fun sport, I’ve been working on resting. I make sure to come to every training session ready to go, and in between training sessions I get off my feet and have a little down time. I look for ways to sleep better, to totally chill out in the middle of the day, to relax both my body and my brain!

Enjoying a really pretty sunset run!