Hey ski fans! Jessie here, checking in from Rovaniemi, Finland! A large chunk of the US team just landed here for a week long training camp before heading to the World Cup opening weekend in Ruka/Kuusamo, Finland. That’s where Sophie, Simi and I will meet up with Andy again when he travels from Beito! We picked Rovaniemi because it’s Santa’s official airport and village. Just kidding! We picked it because they have a great training center here with 9 kilometers of snow (man-made and saved up over the summer) and they have a big sport hotel with apartments and an awesome gym for us to use.
We always fly to Rovaniemi on the way to Kuusamo, so this year, we knew that we wanted to train somewhere with a little more terrain without having to add a lot of travel. It made sense to end our 25 hour travel day right at 25 hours and save the last bus ride to Kuusamo for next week! It’s been really fun for me to finally see the town that we always drive past but never got to ski in. There are lights everywhere because the sun doesn’t come up until 9am, and it’s dark by 4pm. So lighted trails are a must! There are also Santa things everywhere. Our hotel is called “Santa-sport”, and there are photos of reindeer above the door. It’s a pretty cheerful theme!
As we adjust to the jet lag, it’s easy to get in a rhythm through training. When it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning I just walk to breakfast knowing that I have to be ready to ski and meet my tech to test skis so I can’t be late. And when I get tired in the afternoon I can head out for a shorter training session to stay awake!
It’s been really fun to be on snow again, but for me the best part is seeing all my teammates again and having almost everyone in one place to catch up! I’m really looking forward to the World Cup mini-tour we race next weekend: a classic sprint, 10km individual start classic and a pursuit start 10km race. Keep checking in with the blog to see how we’re training and where we’re at!
Hey SMST2 friends! Thank you so much for donating and helping us get closer to our goal of 100 donors! If you’re reading this and need extra motivation to give $5, think of this: we’re currently stuck at 69 donors. Help us move past this, please. We only need 31 more people to donate any amount and T2 will make sure we can pay our coach a livable salary! (Clearly, this is a really big deal for us). Thanks for helping us get there!
I’m currently out in Park City, finishing up an altitude block of training. I know that my body is really slow to respond to living at altitude, so it’s important for me to stay here for a four week block. That way, I can adapt and get the training benefits when I come back down to sea level oxygen. Last weekend we finished up our big training block with the US Ski Team and many different clubs coming together to push one another. Team camp was such an awesome one this year and it made me so excited for the season, seeing my teammates training so hard and giving it their all! Everyone is looking great and ready to go. And this is the time of year when the excitement to begin racing really starts to ramp up!
With the team split between flying to Finland for the opening World Cup weekend and headed to West Yellowstone for the opening Super Tour weekend, we will have a lot going on a month from now. But for now, there’s just enough time left in the preparation phase for a rest week after our grueling training camp and one more block of training! It’s important to build a base from May until the beginning of November so that our fitness can last us an entire winter and we will still race fast in March. And looking around at my teammates training their butts off, I feel confident that they’ve built an incredible base!
We finished up a really big block of training last week and now we’re headed into some rest before many of us fly out to New Zealand! It’s important to make sure that after training really hard we balance that out with rest, because that’s actually when we’re getting faster. It’s hard to remind myself of that because it’s so counter-intuitive! Having a set period of down time gives our muscles a chance to repair themselves and also helps us stay healthy and away from overuse injuries. And this way, we’ll show up in New Zealand fresh, energized and ready to crush 3 weeks of on-snow time!
New Zealand ia always my favorite camp of the year because it’s so helpful to have so much time on snow without any pressure to be “on” for races. We will have a chance to compete in the New Zealand Winter Games race series while we’re down there, and I plan to race at least a few of them! But for the most part, the focus will be on getting some good hours in on skis, dialing in technique and doing a little ski testing on the side.
So in this week before flying out, we focused on easy volume and while training was still focused, the hours were much less and the interval sessions were also shorter. It was also a chance to catch up with teammates!
Jessie fills us in on the last few days of training
One of the things I love most about training for Cross Country Skiing is that the off season has so many different modes of training! We’ve been roller skiing, running, in the gym, working on our foot and ski agility, biking…and if it gets any hotter I’ll definitely be throwing some swim workouts into the mix. Summer has many opportunities to keep challenging the body with different activities while building a good base with all the long slow hours. Being able to keep switching it up means that you can put in a lot of hours without getting injured (or, you know…bored)!
And we have such a great training group here to keep each other motivated! We’ve had some good group intensity sessions and the team did a time trial last Saturday where everyone got to practice their group skiing and drafting on the flatter sections of the course.
The gym is always packed and everywhere you turn you can see someone working so hard to get just a little bit better and stronger that day. It’s very motivating for both the SMS juniors and seniors alike!
We’ve also been playing around with switching leads as many as 6 times during a 10 minute Level 3 interval in order to keep the train of people moving along. It’s generally a little bit harder to lead since you’re breaking the wind for everyone else, but it’s important to become skilled at skiing in a pack and also leading effectively. So we try to make sure everyone gets better at group skiing during those long threshold interval sessions.
Next week will be a bigger volume week for us which should be pretty exciting!
Jessie shares some awesome workouts the team has been up to this week.
I love getting to train with such a motivated and driven group of athletes! Having a strong team to train with means that everyone has a chance to push themselves to be better every day by finding someone to learn from. We’re all good at very different aspects of ski racing. Some days you find yourself leading the group intervals, and other days you find yourself drafting off your teammates and doing your best to pick up on their technique and copy the things they do well. And this give-and-take makes the entire group get much faster, quicker!
This week we have had some really great quality workouts, including a lot of Level 3 skating on tuesday and the uphill run test on thursday. We saw a lot of PR’s and some of us found new high heart rates for the summer!
But a workout doesn’t have to be high intensity for there to be a huge benefit from training in a group. On the long, slower roller skis we learn from each other by watching and copying subtle little changes in technique. I like to ask my teammates what they’re thinking about when I see them striding really well, for instance. Learning the “cue words” they tell themselves can really help me too, because you never know when someone’s cue word really sticks in your mind and can work for you!
We’re looking forward to one more high-intensity workout and another long slow distance training day before taking a much-needed day to rest and recover!
Hey there ski fans! Jessie checking in from spring break. This is a longer post but if you’re ready for an interesting read with tons of photos, buckle up for the Hawaii trip recap!
When I was in 1st grade, I met Danielle Mangine. We’ve been friends ever since. And although I don’t get to see her or any of my friends back in Minnesota as often as I would like, it’s one of those friendships that just picks right back up from where we left off the last time we saw each other! Danielle is a “yes” person who never turns down a chance for an adventure, which is one of the reasons she’s an awesome travel buddy. So when I called her up in January asking if she wanted to fly to Hawaii for a week of hiking, surfing, and relaxing on the beach (yes, I actually DID use the word “relaxing”!) she said “yes” right away!
With a few months to plan, we got our flights, picked out our AirBnb stay, and then because I’m a nerd I read an entire guidebook cover to cover so we could plot out the best adventures to be found on Oahu. And boy, let me tell you, we packed a lot into that week!
We started off with Makaha Beach. This would later be a really controversial spot for us, but I’ll tell you that story when I get to it later in the week. For now, the beach was amazing! We saw huge shore break with waves that crashed up bigger than me (run away! run away!) and we saw a super cute little turtle just chilling and surfing the waves, “Finding Nemo” style. If he could talk, he would have been one chill little dude.
We then headed to Kaena Point, the North-Western most tip of the island. We saw cool little tide pools, huge waves, a sea arch and a blowhole that made a really funny whistling sound when the waves and wind hit it just right!
The next day, we drove up and down the famous North Shore. Why is it famous, you ask? Because SURFERS LOVE IT! We did, too. We saw the famous Banzai Pipeline where the waves, sure enough, were forming perfect barrels. We saw the beaches where waves in the winter months get up to 20 feet high (yikes!) but they were calm the day we went there. I jumped off the rocks at Waimea Beach, which was super fun and then got turned head over heels body surfing in the huge shore break. We met a big turtle at, (you’ll love this): Turtle Beach. Well named. Then in the afternoon I rented a board and surfed until my arms were sore and I couldn’t paddle fast enough anymore. Also, because I got distracted by some turtles popping their heads up. Those little buggers really are the cutest things ever.
Then we saw the famous Hanauma Bay and snorkeled from one end to the other, and I loved all the fish I got to see!
However…the biggest thing that gets me about Hanauma Bay is that before you’re allowed to enter you have to watch a really cool video about preserving marine life. It’s not hard, you only have one rule: DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING. If you step on or touch the coral you can kill it, which means the fish lose their home and bam! The reef is not as magical anymore. Don’t touch the turtles either- they’re protected and also don’t want to be harassed (I mean, hey, I wouldn’t like being poked either). But what do people do? They STAND ON THE CORAL! This drove me slightly nuts, because most people shouldn’t be that stupid or selfish to kill a reef just for the sake of a cool selfie. Just find a patch of sand to stand on when you need to take a photo or adjust your mask. Or suck it up and wear a life jacket so you don’t have to stand when you get tired swimming. Ok, preacher mode turned back off now. But now, should you ever go snorkeling, you know not to touch anything and we can all still be friends. 🙂
After we stopped for lunch and enjoyed a picture-perfect beach on the east side, it started to rain and we went for a hike anyways in search of a waterfall. The trail was unmarked and covered in mud, and after wandering around in the jungle-like forest we finally headed back to the car, without a waterfall but happily tired from our hike and loving the vines and ferns we got to see. Since we were sweaty and super gross, we went right to the epicenter of people: Waikiki Beach. I’m really glad we were renting a room on the west side because staying in this super busy city would have been a little overwhelming for me (thank goodness Danielle is more city-savvy than I am and could direct me through the traffic!). We had hilarious beach-bum moments as we used the outdoor showers to scrub the mud off and changed in a bathroom stall into our dresses, but then we blended in pretty darn well for the fireworks show and dinner afterwards!
The next day was both the most amazing day of the trip…and the worst (that night). We really wanted to see and hike the Haiku Stairs, which were built during the war up to a huge satellite tower on top of a mountain that overlooks pretty much half of the island. While originally wooden ladders strung up a ridge, they were rebuilt as sturdy metal ones. But the tricky thing is…the stairs are now illegal, with a fine apparently over 2,000 if you get caught. So, I think I’m supposed to say this for liability sake: I’m NOT telling you to go do this hike, and I’m officially not recommending it. Wink, wink. The hike was amazing.
We hiked up the backside, in the Moanaula Valley. It was 5 miles to the top, and a lot of epic climbing up the ridge line. In many places, ropes were strung up as you couldn’t have made it up the steep mud and dirt on just your feet! The flowers and plants were amazing and most of the time it smelled like perfume since it rains so much that it was impossibly lush. Even more amazing: I didn’t get a single mosquito bite! Unlike the plants, however, I didn’t smell that great so maybe that was what did it. 😉
When we got to the tower at the top, it was an incredible view. We have photos, but that somehow never does a place justice. If you want proof of how amazing it is, you’ll probably have to go hike it. Oops, I wasn’t supposed to say that!!! Remember: I’m officially not encouraging people to hike the illegal stairs.
While we were originally planning to hike down the way we came, we met some locals at the top who assured us that the guard would only lecture us at most and that it “wasn’t even THAT illegal anymore. It used to be bad, but not now”. We decided to risk it and took the amazing and crazy 3,920 stairs down. My calves still don’t like me for it.
Nearing the bottom, we were super ready to take off running after the last stair and, with the help of satellite GPS, find our way out of the bamboo forest into a nearby neighborhood (also per recommendation by the locals). But to our amazement the guard thew us a peace sign and winked, and we scurried out of there, our faces bright red. We didn’t look back.
After catching an Uber back to our car, we drove back to Makaha Beach (remember? Surfing turtle place?) to rinse off in the ocean and relax before dinner. We locked our wallets and anything valuable in the trunk, completely out of sight, (thinking it would be safer than having it on the beach when we were swimming) and while I came back to the car to check on it before the sun started to go down, we returned an hour later, while it was still light out. The drivers side window had been smashed and the trunk popped open, with both our wallets gone. This was a serious dent in our vacation. Without getting too far into it, everything is ok now: we have the police on it, they found video of the woman trying to use my credit cards (this woman had probably been watching us pull up to the beach and targeted us because we are obviously not locals), our cards were cancelled and while she stole some clothes and things as well, we didn’t lose things we can’t live without and nobody got hurt. What we DID lose, however, was our peace of mind and trust in the locals, which is a huge shame. Every time we parked the car after that, we cleaned it out entirely and never touched the trunk in case people watching thought we were locking valuables away. We didn’t trust people like I always do, and that bothered me that our vacation had a slightly different color to it for the last few days. We still enjoyed it, and didn’t let it ruin our time there, but it was different. I’m not telling you this for your sympathy (or for your blame in having left anything in the car), but I AM telling you this so if you go on vacation remember that just because you’re as happy as you’ve ever been, there are sometimes people who are bad people and target tourists, and that just plain sucks!
The next days after many, MANY hours on the phone trying to figure everything out with credit cards and such, we still got to hike Diamond Head Crater and see Pearl Harbor. The Arizona Memorial was extremely powerful and it was so humbling and moving to see the museum and learn everything about what happened there. I was really grateful for the opportunity to go see this, and Danielle felt the same way.
After Danielle flew home, I had the next morning to spend before my flight so I hiked to Manoa Falls to see the beautiful 100ft waterfall (and got totally soaked in a really fun rainstorm). Then I went back to Waikiki Beach (the only place I felt safe parking my car in a secure parking garage) and spent my last few hours before I flew home on a surfboard!
When I got home the next morning at 6:15am, I had 30 hours to spend in Minnesota before my flight to spend time with my boyfriend in Boston (finally! YAY!). While I was slightly less excited to finish filing my taxes, I was thrilled to be headed to my end-of-season party that evening, organized by Kris Hansen and my wonderful parents! Huge thanks to Slumberland for hosting the event, and to Salomon, Podiumwear and Swix for providing really cool door prizes…including a new pair of carbon skis – wow!
It was so fun for me to see my home ski community after being gone all winter, to get to meet new people and have a chance to share photos and stories from my year on the road. Thanks to everyone for coming out and sharing your enthusiasm for this sport we all love!
The team has come back together from our various training camps around the world, and we’ve rejoined the World Cup here in Otepää, Estonia! This was the site of my first-ever overseas racing trip with the J1 Scando Cup trip (back when it was called J1, that is…I’m old now). It was such a fun experience with amazing people, and it’s what motivated me to keep training hard so I could someday come to World Juniors. So coming back after a few years away from the venue is pretty exciting!
Before you can read any further, you need to please open another window with this song, and read the rest of the post with “Welcome to Estonia” playing in the background. I don’t know what they’re saying except for the chorus, but every time I’ve ever raced in this stadium the fans LOVE this song. They chant it from the bleachers as it gets piped out of the loudspeakers, and now this song has become a symbol of the “go get ’em” attitude you need whenever racing in Otepää.
Before traveling to Estonia I was in Valadalen, Sweden with many of my teammates and my family! My boyfriend made the trip over for a week, then my parents, and it was so incredibly special for me to have the chance to go skiing with them.
Training camp was hard work and also a little nerve-wracking, since it was our last chance to tweak things before World Champs begins! Not that you can change too much at this time of year, but it’s really important not to over-do it and tire yourself out, which is the most common mistake since you get nervous and antsy and just want to ski more and more! Having my family there really helped me focus on quality time and stress less about upcoming races, focusing instead of being happy and hitting each workout the best I could.
Tonight is the techs team sprint, which means nothing less than the BIGGEST TO-DO OF THE YEAR! Techs from every team on the World cup compete and many of them are scary serious about it, holding try-outs the day before. Many of them are past Olympians and World Championship medalists, but let me tell you…none of them have the heart and team spirit that our guys have! I can’t wait to get out there and cheer!
Jessie talks about her post-tour training camp in Italy!
After the Tour de Ski was finished, it was time for some serious rest and recovery! We spent an extra day in Predazzo, the awesome little town near the venue in Val di Fiemme where the last two stages of the Tour race. Then it was time to pack up our bags and drive to high altitude for a week of easy training in Seiser Alm, Italy!
This is quite possibly one of my favorite places in the entire world! Usually, there’s feet of snow, but this year has been quite a hard snow year for most of Europe. Still, they made a 7km loop of man-made snow for us to train on! And, of course, for Liz’s birthday we had to go sledding down the 2.5km track that parallels the ski run down the mountain! Out of curiosity I wore my GPS watch…and found that I got up to 60.2 kilometers per hour! Yikes!
There was a lot of sunshine to be soaked up, and we had a lot of fun! It was good to get back into some normal training days after so many days of race, race, race!
Our hotel is up on the mountain, so every day we either take the chairlift down to town where the XC trails are, or else we ski down! We even tried to run gates on our skate skis….and we didn’t do too poorly, although I imagine metal edges might have been useful!
Jessie talks about getting sick, finding the positive and learning from it!
It’s always easy to be positive when things are going well, but what about when a wrench gets thrown into “the plan”? The last races of World Cup period 1, I traveled to La Clusaz feeling great and fully intending to do some awesome skate racing. Then I got the cold that made it’s way through our entire team (staff included) and wasn’t able to race at all, which was pretty heartbreaking as it was the first time I haven’t anchored the relay since World Champs 2011 and I absolutely live for relay days. I feel like it’s my part to play for the team and not being able to race my heart out for the team that I love made me feel like I wasn’t doing my job, wasn’t fulfilling my role. I felt horribly guilty for being sick and kept thinking “if only I’d washed my hands 31 times instead of only 30, I might have washed the germs off! If only I’d slept another hour…ate another orange to get more vitamin C…” but there’s nothing I could do, and I finally realized that the only way to get better was to let it go and not worry about the things that weren’t going to happen, and instead focus on the things I COULD do to get better!
And you know what? The world didn’t implode, I didn’t die, and things moved along. The relay did great, and SMS team member Sophie scrambled for us. In the end, it was a good lesson that even when things don’t go as planned, it’s not the end of the world and things will get better. And things DID get better!
I traveled back to Davos with Liz and Noah where we lived in a little apartment in town and got to put up a Christmas tree, cook our own food (I was particularly thrilled about this) and generally feel more “normal” and at home than we would have in a hotel.
Although my training wasn’t perfect and definitely not what I had planned before getting sick, it was another reminder that even when things don’t go according to plan you can always make the best of it and find positives in every single workout! And yep, there were many moments where I doubted my fitness and had confidence struggles going into the Tour since I hadn’t raced in a while and didn’t know what would happen. But when I kept finding the good things in every practice session and focusing on all the things that went right, I was able to talk myself into a “can-do, go kick butt” attitude instead of a “I have no idea, let’s just see what happens” kind of attitude.
Now we’re in Val Mustair for the start of the Tour de Ski, and I’m so excited for another tour! I think it’s so exciting to race from day to day, getting to do what we love over and over again. It’s a high-energy, fast-paced way to live and you’re totally exhausted at the end, but that, too, is a great feeling of knowing you accomplished something incredibly difficult. I was really happy with my start to the tour yesterday in the skate sprints, making the final and finishing 6th on the day! (further proof to my skeptical mind that getting sick won’t derail my season). But even more exciting was that we had 4 girls qualify (Sophie, Me, Sadie and Kikkan) as well as Simi for the men, and everyone skied so well. It’s also so fun to have Sverre and Lilly Caldwell cheering us on at the tour – it’s like having our own SMS support crew! They have been amazing cheerleaders all winter long. Speaking of cheering, make sure to cheer loud for our SMS teammates at Nationals in Soldier Hollow this week!