World Junior/U23 Championships

This is Julia checking in from Switzerland! After the Dresden and Planica World Cups, I joined the USA crew coming over for World Juniors/U23 Championships in Switzerland. I was really psyched to re group with my friends back home and hang out with people my age for a bit. After being sick the first two weeks of January and feeling a bit tired in Dresden and Planica, I was happy to have some good energy the first two days in Switzerland. There was so much snow that we had to take a long detour on our drive to the hotel and we could not ski the first day because of avalanche danger! It is funny how there is either too little snow or too much snow now a days.

IMG_0017
Sunshine and smiles.
IMG_0018
Beautiful triple tracks!
IMG_2528
We didn’t build it, but we climbed it 😉

Unfortunately I came down with another cold just 1.5 weeks after I kicked my last one, and right before the races started. I did everything in my power to get healthy as soon as possible, but I was still very sick on sprint day. I skied the qualifier and placed 21st former SMS PG Lauren Jortberg qualified in 14th. Lauren went on to ski an awesome qualifier, but got tangled going up the last climb and lost the leaders, and I tried my best but was too sick to keep up in the quarterfinal. I did not start the 10km classic in hopes of giving myself a little more time to get healthy for the skiathlon. When skiathalon day came around, I was still a little sick but I decided to give it a shot and just see how I feel. I ended up not finishing the race because there is so much racing left in the season and I didn’t want to put myself totally under since I wasn’t feeling totally healthy, but I at least had to try.

IMG_0150
Cornering in the spirit qualifier. 
DSC_6294
Went on a lot of sick walks, bu thankfully the views were nice.
IMG_2575
My friends got me outside to build a tunnel when I was sick and it put a smile on my face.

Even though I did not have the week I wanted, our team had the most historic results to date at World Juniors! Hailey Swirbul from UAA earned 2 medals, one silver and one bronze during the week and the Junior men’s relay put the icing on the cake by finishing 2nd on the last day! Ben Ogden made history by being on the first US men’s relay team to earn a medal, as well as placing 7th in the 10km classic race, the best result for any US guy at World Juniors! Ben also placed 18th in the 20km skiathlon on an extremely hilly course with over 2,500 feet of climbing. It is so cool to see that the US is a threat at every level, from the World Cup, to U23s and World Juniors, all the way down to U18 Trip, and that history keeps being made!

IMG_2635
Biking into town the day before Hailey got a silver medal!
DSC_6365
Hailey getting her silver medal and making history.
DSC_6612
Ben charging in the relay.
DSC_6751
Silver medalist in the relay!
DSC_6801
Wahoo!

 

Now I am headed to Germany with my fellow D- Team teammate Hannah Halvorsen for an OPA Cup and for German Nationals the next 3 weeks. It will be exciting to watch our SMS T2 team crush it at the Olympics!!

Advertisements

Tour De Ski

After a nice little holiday break in Seefeld, we packed up the spandex and hit the road for the Tour de Ski. The Tour de Ski consists of seven races over nine days in three different countries. About half our team completes the tour, and the other half, who is more sprint oriented, usually pulls out after the second sprint, or just over half way through the tour. The first stop of the Tour this year was in Lenzerheide and we had three races in a row being a skate sprint, classic 10km individual start, and skate pursuit start. I’ve always loved the sprint course in Lenzerheide. It has a lot of flats where maximizing glide is important, and it’s a two lap course, which makes it a little easier to pace for me and pacing is quite important since it’s at altitude. I felt great throughout the day and was really happy to come away with my first podium of the season with a second place! Jessie had a really impressive day and skied to 5th place despite breaking a pole in the 1/4 final and final.
IMG_4277
Photo: FIS
Day 2 of the tour brought a 10km classic race. The conditions that day were some of the trickiest I have ever seen. It was very hard to get kick and the downhills were fast, icy, and sketchy. Jessie, Andy, Simi, and I are all people who love downhills and consider ourselves pretty good at them, but I think we would all be quick to tell you those were scary (or at least Jessie and I would)! Sadie raced to 3rd that day, Jessie to 7th and I was psyched to score my first distance points in a couple years placing 21st. Two podiums in two days!
IMG_4260
Beautiful Lenzerheide
Day 3 of the tour was a pursuit start 10km skate. Jessie skied an impressive race on her own and maintained her 3rd place, getting her first podium of the season! 10km skates are the most difficult discipline for me, but I actually felt pretty good for a couple laps before fading some on my last laps and holding on to a top 20 in the standings. Three podiums in three days!
IMG_4276
Photo: FIS
After the three races in Lenzerheide, we drove to Oberstdorf and had a rest day on the tour. Most of us went for a very short ski on the sprint course and tested a couple pairs of skis. The next day was a classic sprint, and one that I happen to really like! I love the sprint course in Oberstdorf because it’s quick, has a couple short steep climbs, and some technical downhills. I also had my only world cup win there two years ago, so that probably adds to my love of the course. Unfortunately x 2, I woke up with a sore throat the day of the sprint AND the race ended up being cancelled due to ridiculous torrential downpours, winds, thunder and lightning.
IMG_4280
Oberstdorf weather forecast
So that was the end of my tour, but the other tour goers races a 10km skate mass start in Oberstdorf and then had another rest day, then raced a 10km classic mass start in Val di Fiemme today and will finish up with the Alpe de Cermis tomorrow – a race up an alpine mountain. Yes, I know, it sounds crazy and it is.
IMG_4242
Jessie, Liz, and me in Seefeld over Christmas

Meanwhile, the sprint crew is recovering here in Ramsau, Austria where the sun is shining and the skiing is amazing. We’re enjoying cheering on our teammates and getting prepared for the World Cups next weekend in Dresden, Germany. Thanks for following!

IMG_4331
Ramsau views

Christmas in Germany

While the World Cup skiers spent the holidays in Seefeld, Austria and the rest of the team was at home in the U.S., I (Julia) went “home” to Germany where my family is from. This year I am lucky to already have been in Europe so the travel to Germany was only a drive away. Christmas is my favorite time of year because I get to be back together with my whole family (who I only get to see maybe once a year if I am lucky), stroll through the Christmas market, ski with my family, and enjoy my grandmothers yummy food and Christmas “plätzchen”.

IMG_E1618
My favorite Christmas Market ❤
IMG_1664
Christmas tree with real candles as always.
IMG_4314
The whole family hanging out after dinner.
IMG_1844
Playing games with the little kiddos and my grandmother.
IMG_1800
New Years Eve fireworks in the city.

I was lucky to have good snow this year because the past few years have looked pretty grim. My family and I went on a few long skis into the Czech Republic since we were skiing right on the border. I also managed to jump in with German national team skiers for some intervals which was really fun! I think it is always interesting to see what other teams are doing and to switch it up and train with other skiers. I was happy to always have a training buddy.

IMG_4300
Striding and gliding through the Czech Republic with my sister and her boyfriend.
IMG_8330
Intervals with Katharina Hennig und Julia Belger from Germany!
IMG_1734
First tracks with my sister.
IMG_1751
Skiing with my mom and my sister.

Unfortunately I caught a cold at the end of the holidays, but thankfully the Tour de Ski has begun and I have been entertaining myself by watching our team crush it! Sophie found her way back onto the podium in the first stage of the tour, finishing 2nd in the skate sprint in Lenzerheide, Switzerland followed by Jessie right behind her in 5th (after a broken pole in the quarterfinal and final)! Simi just missed the semi final and ended up 15th with Andy right behind him in 19th. The following day Jessie raced to 7th place and Sophie had a really strong distance performance finishing in 21st place! But the excitement does not end there…on the third day Jessie also found her way back onto the podium in 3rd place of skate pursuit race. After the first three days of race, they traveled to Oberstdorf for an off day and then were greeted by a big storm on race day so the sprint had to be cancelled after the women’s qualifier! Keep an eye out for Jessie and Paddy since they are the two skiers from our team left in the tour. There are only 2 stages left and she is sitting in third place overall and Paddy has been fighting a cold but is coming on strong now.

To Davos!

For the last five days, everyone has been walking around with a little more spring in their step. We arrived in Davos, Switzerland on Monday, greeted by four feet of cold, dry power on the ground, and nearly 8 hours of uninterrupted sunshine during the day. Twelve hours before arriving in Switzerland, we left a cold and dark Scandinavian winter, and the change in environment from Norway to central Europe was welcome to say the least. But anytime this team gets a chance to put on a race bib, we don’t squander that opportunity. We saw some amazing races from many on our crew while we travelled along the Arctic circle in the first two weeks of the World Cup circuit from Ruka, Finland to Lillehammer, Norway. The 18 hours of darkness a day and sub-zero temps certainly didn’t catch us off guard. Jessie and Sophie both started with a bang, racing to top-10 finishes in the classic sprints and the 15 km skiathlon in Norway, respectively. Julia settled into life on the World Cup with some gutsy and hard fought racing in Finland, while Andy skied one of his best distance classic races ever in Finland. My own personal start to the season has been a rocky road so far. I’m finally starting to feel somewhat normal again after battling what was most likely salmonella poisoning or an E. Coli infection. Fifteen pounds lighter, my body can really move up those hills now!

Race prep, getting ready!

But back to the task at hand… Tomorrow kicks off the first skate sprint of the year. It’s a Davos staple. The course is fast and fun, with some technical corner skiing and always lots of rowdy European spectators on the two-lap course. It’s been 10 out of 10 skiing out there all week, with fast snow, crunchy corduroy, and waves of Vitamin D coming out of the bluebird skies. Tomorrow will be a little different, with snow expected all day (it’s already snowed about 8 inches since this afternoon), and frigid temps forecast for the whole day. But that’s part of ski racing. Planning and hoping for one thing, and then having to perform in something totally different. Keeps us on our toes! Since Davos is at altitude (it’s actually at the FIS limit of 1500 meters), most of our training this week has been pretty low key and focused predominately on long, slow distance. Which has given us all some amazing opportunities to get tons of kilometers in on the endless supply of tourist trails up the sunny valleys that are guarded by some of Europe’s most rugged peaks. I can’t remember the skiing being this good in Davos, especially in December, in the last 5 years.

Long morning ski

Sunday’s races include a 10 km skate individual for the women, and a 15 km skate individual for the men. As a team, we pride ourselves on skiing parts of this course better than any other nation on the World Cup. Specifically, the downhill. The 5 km lap consists of a 3 km climb, a 180° corner, followed by a 2 km “working” downhill (meaning you certainly can’t just sit in a tuck and expect to have a good race, you have to attack the entire downhill). Since our team is comprised of some of the best downhill cross country skiers in the world, it’s normally an area that we tend to crush everyone else on. So if you’re following along this weekend, either checking results over your Sunday morning brunch or waking up at 4 a.m. to live stream the race on NBC Sports, be proud knowing that we’re there attacking the course in it’s entirety better than anyone else out there.

Team training!

Thanks for checking in and I hope that wherever you are in the world, the snow is starting to build up on your local ski trails just like it’s doing here in Davos!

 

Lessons from the Word Cup

This is Julia checking in from Davos, Switzerland! I am currently experiencing Period 1 of the World Cup for the first time and I have learned so much already! I am very grateful to have many of our SMS T2 team on the road with me, showing me the ropes and offering familiarity. My biggest goal while on the World Cup this period is to gain experience and learn as much as I can.

IMG_1250
Watching and cheering on Jessie and Sophie in the heats in Lillehammer!

Here are some things I have learned so far:

  1. There are no slow starts on the World Cup, everyone charges all out from the start  to finish. You have to give it your all.
IMG_1258
Sadie and Jessie charging to 3rd and 6th place!

2. Even the fastest skiers ski really easy on easy days. Walking uphills on training days is encouraged, especially on the hilly courses.

IMG_E1320
Skiing very easy on our first day in Davos at altitude.

3. The courses are far more hilly than most of the courses in the U.S.

IMG_1209
The Lillehammer courses are some of the hilliest courses I have seen.

4. Team walks/jogs are a great way to get to know the town and shake the legs out in the afternoon.

DSC_5279
Strolling down the scenic main street in Lillehammer.
DSC_5308
I accidentally found myself in the middle of a parade.

5. Staying on top of body care is super important, whether that is stretching, rolling, working with the PT, or ice bathing. A healthy body makes a fast skier!

IMG_1259
I will take this kind of ice bath any day 🙂

6. HAVE FUN! Do little activities that make you happy on the road.

IMG_3869
A few Canadians and Sophie and I went on incredible ski from Lillehammer to Sjusjøen and back.
IMG_1213
Team jam sesh. 
IMG_1335
The sunshine in Davos for sure made our whole team happy!

This weekend Sophie, Jessie, Simi, Paddy and I will be racing in Davos, Switzerland for the third World Cup weekend while  Erika, Annie, Ben, and Katharine will be racing in SilverStar, Canada this weekend!

Snow Skiing in Forêt

Our team headed up to Forêt Montmorency, Canada to ski on snow for 4 days this past week. Forêt lies 1 hour north of Quebec and they make snow late winter and save it so that they can roll it out in October. Even after some heavy rain, they still had the full 2.1 km loop to ski on!

IMG_3648.JPG
Sophie was pretty excited.
fullsizeoutput_7d33
…and Pat might have been even more excited!
IMG_0832
We even got some natural snow too!

With the first races only 18 days away, getting on snow as much as possible is very important. Although it we had a “wintery mix” almost every day while were there, the skiing was quite good for October and we were able get in high quality speed and interval sessions. Nothing beats snow skiing, that is for sure!

IMG_3645.jpg
Kelsey joined us for the week and the rain suits were an important thing to pack.

Most of us are finishing our last intensity block to get the engine revved up for some racing. I even got the chance to put a bib on and do a rollerski race run by NENSA in Stowe, which was a great opportunity to put a bib on and remember what racing feels like. We are excited to join the SMS juniors for one last week of training by jumping into some of their time trials as part of their nationals week simulation before we head to Europe/ Yellowstone!

fullsizeoutput_7d2e
Toasty fire + bananagrams + team hang out = bunker life
IMG_0835
Excited to be back on snow (and to have stayed nice and dry).

Don’t forget to donate (and pack those outlet converters)

unnamed-2
Steffi Boehler Photo

I’ve been home from Park City camp for just 24 hours and I have a slightly embarrassing secret to tell all of you. I’ve already started packing for Europe. Am I losing it? Going crazy!? It could likely be the case but I can tell you two things that I’m absolutely certain of.

1.)  I’m beyond fired up to start the season.

2.)  When you’re about to tackle 5 months of travel and racing, it takes a lot of planning.

So this is why I already have my wind briefs folded up, counted out the exact number of socks to travel with, and have already started taping up race skis for the long flight to Norway.

A list of the slightly less obvious things I need to remember include: boot dryer, hand warmers, yack tracks, head lamp, heart rate monitor batteries, pillow, cliff bars, protein shakes, stretching cords, outlet converters, 5 packs of cold ease, 4 bottles of hand sanitizer, 3 bottles of cold FX, 2 packs of ear plugs, and everything in 1 duffle bag under 50 lbs. Phew…

unnamed-1
Taking a selfie, trying to remember if he forgot anything irreplaceable in the remote European town

The point I’m trying to make is that life as a skier takes a lot of planning and successful seasons don’t just happen but revolve around a lot of details in order to run smoothly. This is why myself, and the rest of the SMST2 team couldn’t be more grateful to everyone who has donated to our Fundraising Challenge! You are not only helping support our team for the coming years, but are also allowing us to focus on what really matters instead of worrying about if our budget will last the season.

Coach Pat has been on the phone for weeks ordering the appropriate wax, booking reservations, and getting our ducks in a row. Even small donations go a long way and go directly to helping the SMST2 team successfully travel to all the Olympic qualifying races and provide piece of mind as we try to navigate this exciting winter together.  Thanks to everyone who has been a part of our fundraising effort!

Now I can’t promise I wont forget my boots to at least one practice this winter, or leave my phone charger in Estonia, but I can promise that thanks to your generosity we can be more focused than ever on making it a historic year.  Thanks so much for your support!

unnamed
Matt Whitcomb Photo

Preparing in Park City

Ben updates on his thoughts during our annual Park City Camp!

It’s cold in Park City. Not a snatch the air from your lungs cold, but a type that means you’ll wake up to a frost coated front lawn each morning. Of course, all that frost evaporates when the sun creeps up from behind the mountains. It’s not a lasting cold, it’s a warning. In the words of literally every character on Game Of Thrones: Winter is coming.

pcfrost

Yes Jon Snow, we know, winter is coming, which means that skiers everywhere are entering the final stages of preparation for racing season. But what if I don’t feel ready? It’s in this final stage of training that I feel most often the creeping doubt that I might not have done enough. It’s when I get an urge to cram extra training in. It’s something like the fear that enters your brain the night before a final exam.

That feeling of not knowing is why I believe in the power of sport to transport us above and beyond all of the levels to which we so often reduce it. I can frame this upcoming season in terms of fitness, in terms of strength, in terms of results, in terms of recovery — and thinking in all those terms can be helpful and enlightening. All those things will make contributions to what this season will become. But when that perfect race comes and your boots seem to fit just right, it doesn’t feel analytically finite. Maybe that’s just endorphins messing with brain chemistry, I don’t know. But it feels like a miracle that has nothing to do with a training log.

100575_G08_W01.jpg

Do you think Alex was counting his yearly hours right here?

 

But if the racing season can feel so dislocated from preparation, then why am I worried about whether or not I’m ready? Maybe it’s because that the struggle at this time of year isn’t to ready yourself further. Maybe it’s to recognize that you won’t feel ready until you do the dang thing. No matter your natural talent, practiced skill, or earned experience, you won’t know the truth until you toe that first starting line.

That doesn’t mean that training or preparation should ever stop, it’s just that believing this is remarkably freeing. If you can admit that you won’t ever feel totally ready, you don’t have to ask yourself about the specifics. You’re only left with one choice: Do I want to try? Or don’t I? That decision should be much easier to make.

simi copy

A Taste of Winter– Park City Camp

We are out in Park City, Utah for the last dry land training camp of the year. Although this camp is earlier than usual, we have been given a taste of winter that is just around the corner. It has snowed up on the mountain most of the days we have been here and sometimes even in town! The running has been especially scenic with the fall foliage and snow. I know that the snow has made me especially excited for the winter! We have also all enjoyed the cooler temperatures after some very hot late summer days before we left for camp.

fullsizeoutput_7cd2
Running in the snow!
fullsizeoutput_7cd3
If you can’t tell, I am pretty excited for winter just around the corner!
fullsizeoutput_7ccf
Fall foliage + snow = 🙂

It is really fun to have such a big training group between the U.S. Ski Team and club teams—there is always someone to train with and learn from. This is one of my favorite camps of the year because it is the last time everyone is in one place training together before the racing season starts to kick off. Training camp is a great time to go head to head not only with our own teammates, but also skiers from other teams.

22137234_10159406978590092_4359556173802738777_o
Rolling with a group of skiers from other teams.
IMG_3373
Jessie, Liz, Erika, and Steffi (a skier on the German national team) out on a run.
fullsizeoutput_7cd7
Annie and loving the aspen trees.

Last night I was lucky enough to get the chance to go to the Wasatch Speakers Series in Salt Lake City to see Dr. Gupta speak on the topics of media and health. As a neurosurgeon and reporter for CNN, it was very interesting to hear about his experiences reporting on natural disasters and health epidemics, both things that have been extremely prevalent in our world lately.

IMG_0584
Dr. Gupta answering questions from the crowd.

Today is our mid camp off day before we kick off another week of intense training. Look for more updates to come from camp!

fullsizeoutput_7cd6
Uphill rollerski intervals on the treadmill with Pat. 

Striking the Balance

Going into this training year, I have made recovering from training a primary focus.  I’ve been carefully monitoring my resting heart rate and HRV scores, ensuring that I spend at the minimum 8.5 hours with my eyes closed every night, and have been very on top of proper hydration and nutrition.  I adjust my training based on these numbers and feelings, and for the most part it has rewarded me with higher quality intensity sessions and an easier time cutting half an hour here and there with the added verification that yes, my body needs that.

fullsizeoutput_576
Stoke so high I couldn’t even smile naturally

However.  As I recently discovered in New Zealand, sometimes it is all about finding the right balance of listening to your neuromuscular system and listening to your heart (and sometimes both).  New Zealand was absolutely amazing, as I’m sure all of the SMS T2 blog readers have ascertained.  There were days when my neuromuscular system was not recovered, but the thought of shortening a session was simply out of the question.  Like the crust cruise day, where we skied for 3.5 hours in the morning, and then come evening the light was perfect and the classic skiing sublime…so against my neuromuscular system’s wishes I headed out for the most peaceful classic ski of my life.  I paid for it the next day by setting a new recovery low, but then balanced it out with a day of less than 1,000 steps, and the next day popped right back up into optimal recovery.

IMG_0141It is incredibly easy to get caught up in the science and numbers of training.  But at the end of the day (in my unscientific opinion), it is how you are feeling about what you are doing that really matters.  That’s not to say ignore data, but rather keep it in line with the other things that can’t be quantified.  Was the extra afternoon session what I needed physiologically? Probably not.  Did it ingratiate me a profound sense of peacefulness and love of skiing? Yes.  Will that feeling help me when things get painful? Yes.  I’ve figured out how to use data as a helping hand instead of an end all be all, and it has been the best.

FullSizeRender 36
Sometimes recovery is napping with the bulldog on the floor.  This was after Pudge and I both had pretty hard workouts.  One of us did 30 seconds on 30 seconds off for 30 minutes, and the other walked with speeds for 3 miles.  I’ll let you be the judge of who did which.

It took me until today-8 days after arriving back from New Zealand- to feel like my normal self (and for my recovery scores to put me in a comfortable and safe training zone).  Putting that amount of load on my system put me into a bit of a hole, but with the proper encouragement to “relax harder,” I’ve entered into the Fall with a renewed sense of energy and excitement for the season ahead.

IMG_0212 2
Relaxing and recovering also included some oatmeal raisin cookies.  After the hard workouts, at least one or two of these was required.

 

I’ve begun my journey west a little earlier than my teammates, but am excited to meet up with everyone in Park City in about a week.  We will have another big block of training then, and then begins the big rest before the real deal season begins.  Thanks for following along!

IMG_0291
And after a week at home, I’m now in Rapid City visiting my boyfriend Thomas. Some of my favorite trails in the world are right outside his door, and this morning I crushed a half marathon on them 🙂 Happy Fall!