We started our time in Norway with five days in Hafjell, a world renowned venue for Nordic skiing. Hafjell lacks competition trails and we were the only nation there allowing us to adjust to the time change in a stress free environment. My pictures do not do the scenery justice but the best way to describe Hafjell is that it makes you say, “this is why I ski.”
The view from our hotel room and the average ski trail in Hafjell.
After our time in Hafjell we moved on to the race venue, where nearly every team was staying in the same hotel. This being my second junior worlds I felt more confident than last year, however it is hard to not get intimidated when the best nations and athletes in the world are surrounding you.
The first race of the week was the 30k skate, a race I had been looking forward to for over a year. I felt confident in my distance ability and I knew this race was most likely going to be my best result of the week. The first third of the race was all about keeping my equipment intact and staying relaxed as the course was narrow and the field was competitive. As people began to string out in the next 15k I settled into my groove and held a position between 15th and 12th. Coming into the last 5k I found myself sitting in 12th with tenth just within sight. One of my biggest goals this season was to qualify for the US ski team, a top ten at junior worlds would accomplish that. Knowing what was on the line I pushed hard and reached my dream.
Finishing in 10th. Photo by Steve Fuller
As much as I wanted to celebrate this milestone I had to remain focused for in less than 24 hours I would be back on the starting line leading our relay team. Last year I was on our relay team that finished 8th, a fairly disappointing result but I knew this year would be different. I knew my relay leg was going to be challenging with the fatigue from 30k the previous day. However, there was nothing more I wanted that day than to win a medal. I was able to stay in the lead group on my leg and tag off in the top four teams. As soon as I recovered from my finish I was up cheering for my teammates as each one put out exceptional efforts to win us a bronze medal, barely missing the silver by less than a second to the Norwegian team.
One of my proudest moments. Photo by Steve Fuller
After having such a great start to the week I struggled to refocus for my last race three days later. Small things added up and I ended up feeling fatigued and slow for my sprint qualifier, costing me qualification for the heats by less than a second. Finishing 34th, this was certainly a disappointing end to the week but it serves as a good lesson for future championship weeks. Regardless of my last race I could not be happier with how this week went and would like to thank everyone who reads this for their tremendous support.