exciting times

The past month has included some of the most memorable moments of my ski career to date. While at home in Anchorage, I had my best ever result at US Nationals. At the world cup in Dresden, Germany, I scored the presidential suite and spent almost a week living like a queen. My teammate Barbara and I made the team sprint final, which is the first time that’s been done by an Australian team. Phil also made history the day before when he qualified 27th, which was followed by a historically awesome cheering session during the heats for the rest of us. I fell in love with Slovenia, despite having some of the toughest races of my life (that’s how you know she’s a keeper).  I was officially named to the Australian Olympic team, and nine other athletes I train with in Alaska were named to the US Olympic team. With these announcements, I have felt so much love on social media and community support that my heart could burst. All this, and I know the next month will bring even MORE incredible experiences.

Here’s some photographic evidence (because if its not on instagram, did it actually really happen?):

ANCHORAGE:

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all smiles after the 20k at USN. Somehow I managed to keep up with these speedsters for the better part of 20k and finished 4th! Little do they know I took a shortcut through the woods. Fooled ya!

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Frankowitz and I after the race. She was runner up AND qualified for the olympics. But more on that later

DRESDEN, GERMANY:

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After 20 hours of travel, I was picked up in this super fancy car (that I didn’t actually realize was that fancy, my bad) and greeted with patriotism and champagne. THANK YOU, Dresden.

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I was then given the ultimate surprise- taken up to the presidential suite, which I called home for the next week. I spent most of my time ordering room service and watching TV while I bathed (kidding, I also did some skiing). All this was because I was the first athlete to arrive! I was told Carlos Santana will be staying there later this year, so I left him a note hidden in the bedside table. Pen pals?!?!

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I had two extra days in Dresden before the team arrived to help me get over jetlag. Luckily, there was tons of amazing architecture to check out.

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Being a city sprint, there wasn’t much snow in Dresden. They made this 1k loop two days before this race by trucking in snow from God knows where, because I certainly didn’t see much on the plane ride in!

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The lux life paid off well; Barbara and I managed to sneak into the last lucky loser spot of the team sprint final after getting 6th in our semifinal. We were also able to dry our clothes/boots in between the heats in our personal sauna (life really hasn’t been the same since).

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Barbara and I after the race. Time to collapse on the California king bed and order some room service.

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I had some amazing cheerleaders in Dresden- Martin and Marion- who brought the WA flag with them, took lots of photos, and kept me fueled with much coffee and cake. Thank you guys!!!!!!!

PLANICA, SLOVENIA:

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By far the most scenic back drop to any race I’ve ever done. Also by far the hardest courses!

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I wasn’t kidding when I said I fell in love with Slovenia! I have never seen such beautiful mountains and crystal clear lakes. Here we are at Bled, with the castle that supposedly inspired Walt Disney.

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Pictured to the left of the castle- a little church in the middle of the lake. I plan to swim out there upon my return!

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More Bled

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Touristing with the crew

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Water so clear I had to stop myself from jumping in! There is nothing I love more than a frozen swim to rejuvenate, but I was advised otherwise. I also found a couple trout that I plan to come back and catch when I visit in summer- Slovenia 2.0.

SEEFELD, AUSTRIA

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Racing in the same courses world champs will be on next year. Photo credit to @bildbryan

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More glorious views in Seefed- topped off with much bronzing time on the deck

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more sunny seefeld

Next stop… Pyeongchang, South Korea!!!!!

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All of these amazing experiences were topped off by being named to the Australian Olympic team last week. YAY!

On top of me being named to the Australian team,  APUNSC qualified NINE athletes for the US Olympic team (that’s almost half the entire cross-country team!). Here‘s an article that talks about this accomplishment, along with a video of Dan Sullivan honoring our team as Alaskans of the Week. I am so proud to be part of such a dedicated team. We train together almost every day- pushing each other when it counts and learning from each other’s strengths. It is so awesome to see hard work paying off as so many people achieve their goals. However, I am equally as proud of those teammates who fell short of their goals and just missed the cut- because I know that they too have what it takes to make the team. As much as I would love it to, life doesn’t always deal everyone a winning hand, and some amazing skiers won’t be competing in Korea- so make sure to keep an eye on the rest of the APUNSC crew racing domestically during the Olympics!

I am especially psyched for my teammate Rosie, who made the US Olympic team this year. Rosie and I have trained together for the past 6 years, and to be honest, if you told both of us we were going to the Olympics back then- we probably never would have believed you. We have been through all the ups and downs of training and racing together- pushing each other in training and motivating each other to keep going when the road to retirement beckons. She somehow always finds the energy to cheer for me during intervals- and even races (I can attribute many of my second winds to her). One time, she sang Fort Minor’s “Remember the Name” to me at the end of an OD, which was quite literally the only reason I made it to the top of the canyon. She has the world’s fastest L3, can go uphill like there’s no tomorrow, has the most effective snow-plow I’ve ever seen on rollerskis, and could probably also compete in the baking olympics. ALL that, and she’s also an amazing friend! Here’s a little throwback, cause its Thursday:

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Rosie and I before we placed 5th and 6th at NCAAs in the 5k classic. Still a miracle to this day.

 

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At the top of hyalite canyon after one of our epic ODs, which we can attribute the majority of our athletic success to

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On Canada day, the most important and respected holiday of the year

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Collecting the essentials from Costco between training sessions

On a final note….I have always known that I am lucky to be traveling all over the world and pursuing ski racing, but this past month made me feel extra blessed. Despite the highs and lows of racing (and sometimes it feels like there are plenty more lows than highs), I always have something to be excited about. Whether its amazing new scenery, delicious pizza, crystal clear water (seriously, Slovenia), cappuccino dates, roadtripping with the boys (so much roadtripping), bluebird skiing, or a fantastic result by myself or a teammate- I am constantly surrounded by the opportunity to experience new things.

As I head into the Olympics, I hope to have some breakthrough results for Australia. I would love nothing more than for my years of training to culminate with some of the best performances of my life. After all, that’s why we do this sport- to set goals, work towards them, and reach them. But I also know that sometimes (often), we fall short of our goals, and for that reason-  I am equally psyched about the every day experiences I will have in Korea. That way, there is always something good to look back on- regardless of my racing expectations. Meanwhile, I am already anticipating bedazzled busses, feeling extra tall, and lots of kimchi.

-JJ