The past couple weeks have been a whirlwind of racing and travelling. From Russia we flew to Germany, drove to Austria for a few days of training, drove to Czech Republic for a weekend of races, drove to Poland for three more days of racing and then drove back across Czech Republic, Austria, and Germany to Davos, Switzerland where we are currently calling home. There is a weekend off from World Cup racing so we have a week and a half training camp in Davos and time to settle, unpack, fight off the stomach bugs that have been plaguing or team, and maybe even do some laundry. Looking back I realized since the Muonio races way back in the beginning of November, I have only had one weekend without a race and that was Christmas! The alpine sunshine is going to be just the ticket to recharge the batteries and get fired up for the last month of racing! Here are some pictures from the last couple weeks.
Nove Mesto, Czech Republic is the site of next year's Biathlon World Championships and was a great venue, one of my favorites this year. The trails were super fun with some big hills and fast twisty downhills. I'm always surprised with how poorly many of the World Cup women ski downhills and there were some sketchy descents in the mass start races and snow plows and non-snow plowers converged.
Parts of the Czech Republic reminded me a lot of Vermont with big fields and rolling hills.
I was pleasantly surprised with the Scandinavianesque ski trails which linked all the towns in the region. It wasn't something that I expected to find in Eastern Europe. Hopefully next time I'll have a few more days to explore the double classic tracks snaking through the woods.
The first day of racing in Czech was a 15km mass start and it was a pretty tough day for the team. We were all feeling worked over after the hard day of racing but we have an awesome atmosphere on our team right now and we were easily able to put that race behind us and get fired up for RELAY DAY! Glitter, face paint, knee high striped socks, and lots of energy for Sunday's race!
Relays are the most fun races but I also get incredibly nervous for them! All my butterflies came out with a vengeance as I tried to focus on skiing a smart race. Here I am skiing with Germany and Sweden. Andy Newell photo
Holly skied a really strong scramble leg and tagged off to me for the second lap. I skied with a pack for the first lap of the race and then moved up a few places on the second lap trying to gain every second I could before tagging Liz. Pete Vordenberg/NNF photo
Liz and Jessie both hammered out awesome skate legs. We all got lots of TV time thanks to our socks!
Jessie skied the whole race with Charlotte Kalla, the Olympic champion from Sweden. There was a very exciting sprint finish for fourth place but after the photo analysis we ended up in 5th place. If you take out Norway's second team which was also on the podium, that would have been a sprint finish for third! Watch out Sochi!
We were ecstatic finishing area and were way more excite than the winning teams. Vibeke Skofterud who skied on Norway's winning team even asked if she could take a picture of us while we were celebrating.
The next stop was Szklarzka Poreba, Poland.
Kowalczyk is queen in Poland. They didn't even televise the men's sprint heats preferring instead to do a race analysis of Kowalczyk's sprint during that time. The cheering was insane from the very enthusiastic fans, some of which even hiked 10km up a twisty, snowy mountain road from the town to the race venue.ng 10
The stadium and finishing area
The first day was a skate sprint. The snow was super squirrelly and slippery and trying to stay on my feet was enough of a challenge so I failed to qualify for the heats. The fast snow made for an exciting day of racing though. Kikkan fell in the final, was off the back of the heat, but caught back up and still ended up on the podium! So impressive!
The President of the Polish Radio was amazed by her "bravery" and gave her this giant rock to show his admiration for getting back up and keeping going. It weighs close to 50lbs and is going to be lots of fun for her to bring home to Alaska
The next day was a 10km classic and rain, snow and zero degree weather made for super tricky waxing conditions and a lot of herringboning at the end of the race. It was a good day for me though and I scored my first World Cup distance points. Vordenberg/NNF photo
The last day of racing in Poland was the World Uphill Trophy. I was feeling pretty tired from the day before so I skipped racing but still skied to the top to cheer on the team. It was an insane race up an alpine area with 500 meters of elevation gain. The trail was so steep that I was considering even doing some side stepping to make it to the top. Mother Nature didn't make it any easier with huge snowdrifts, wind, snow, and all the other elements. The conditions were so crazy on top that I accidentally skied off the course without realizing it.
Liz was the first to the top but the race was up and down so she lost a few places with her tuck snowplow. Andy and Tad both really went for it on the downhill and made up a lot of time until they each had to dig themselves out of the fences. I was very impressed with all of them though in this insane race!
And now we are in Davos with lots of sun, snow, and stinky cheese. I wish I could send some of this snow to Craftsbury! Andy Newell photo