I just finished up my final camp of the preparation period before this new season gets started. Every fall we head down to Park City, Utah, where the US Ski Team is based out of for an altitude block. My favorite part of this camp is that we generally skip the awkward season back in AK where there is just enough snow on the ground that you can’t rollerski, but not enough to be able to ski on. By migrating down south to Park City, we enjoy an extra two weeks of Vitamin D, thin air, and good company.
Making a stop on my way to camp to visit my sister, brother in law, and my adorable nephew.
This year followed the same wonderful trend, except for one little part. Instead of skipping that “half snow” season in AK, we brought it with us to Park City. For the first few days of camp we had to get creative in order to find ways to get our interval sessions and easy distance in. The trails were either covered in snow, or this sticky form of mud/clay that happens in the west. While at first it was frustrating, by the end of camp I loved to wake up to the white ski runs and the crisp air. For whatever reason, I think it put everyone in an awesome place. The smell of winter pushed us a little more in each interval set, and helped us bond as our minds drifted towards our winter goals. Just like my spring epiphany about this new and exciting young team, I was reminded how fun it is going to be this season. Everyone looked amazing, and there was no shortage of motivation and belief.
Feels like winter! Morning views on the way to training.
The US Ski Team girls (minus Sophie Caldwell and Ida Sargent). SIA Nordic photo
Trying out our new suits for the season. We will now being racing in Swix and LL Bean!
During the last couple days of the camp, the coaches put together some practice races for us in order to get our minds ready for the season. I will always remember the first couple years when I was on the US Ski Team, I would fear the practice sprint race at the end of camp. I was terrified of going up against the A-team girls like Kikkan Randall. I was terrified of putting my elbows out and holding space. I was terrified of getting up over my skis, committing to my poles, with the risk of falling down and losing a layer of skin to the pavement. And most notably, I was scared of taking a risk, going too hard, and failing. In the six years since these fears overtook my brain, things have changed enormously. Not only have I learned to take risk, create my own space, and believe in myself, but it is the norm among our younger generation. The USA is no longer producing juniors that fear the fight. These young athletes are quite literally chomping at the bit. They speak about what they want to accomplish, they send it and often explode, and they aren’t afraid to lose some skin to the pavement. It is just so cool to see. I am starting to believe the USA has potential to be a Nordic nation. And to put a cherry on top of this movement, the USA has a bid in for a world cup race in three of the next four years. I can’t even imagine what this Park City practice sprint race is going to look like in four years!
I got to train with some of the young “up and coming” girls from my home town, Movie McCabe and Ella Kuzyk who are already crushing on the international level! How cool! (Bryan Fish photo)
Taking some time to focus not only on the training, but the technique piece too. (SIA Nordic)
The best part of practice racing is reminding yourself how much it hurts to enter into the pain cave. Gasping for air is just a side effect of doing it correctly. (Matt Whitcomb photo)
I am now headed back to Anchorage for three more weeks of training and final preparation before taking off for the season. In case you are curious what some of the final things I will get up to before I say goodbye for five months, here are a few things on my “to do list”.
1) Spend ten extra minutes in bed each morning appreciating how comfortable my own bed is.
2) Put up a Christmas tree, decorate the house, blast Christmas music, wear warm cozy sweaters, and celebrate the holiday two months early.
3) Ship myself a care package to Europe for halfway through the season with my favorite little US goodies. Gum, Coffee, ProBar Gummies, good & plenty’s, and a few more little things.
4) Bake and cook my favorite goodies and meals before being away from a kitchen for the season.
5) Attempt to wear as many different outfits as possible, because soon I will only be limited to two options from day to day.
6) Take a moment to thank my sponsors, say goodbye to my friends, and share some extra hugs with my fiancé.
7) Hopefully do some hot laps on the amazing Anchorage ski trails that I don’t get to enjoy all winter.
Well that list should about make the most of every moment for the next three weeks before I pack up my duffle bag, jump on the plane, and chase after another season of exciting World Cup racing! Thank you to my coaches, teammates, physical therapist, massage therapists and supporters for helping make another successful preparation period!
Until then, if you hear some Christmas tunes blasting out of my home, don’t be afraid to come in and sing along!
At the end of the day, smile away! (Matt Whitcomb photo)