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Saturday, March 31, 2007

No 30km

Sometimes your body just decides for you when your season is going to be over. I went to bed last night not feeling very well and with a sore throat and woke up this morning feeling worse. So I'm not racing tomorrow, that's it for me for this season.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The first Pursuit of the year

...and one of my last races. I'm about ready to be home again and done with the ski racing scene for awhile.

Today was a 7.5km classic and 7.5km skate. I don't know whether to give the race an overall thumbs up or thumbs down. Some things went really well and then some things went really poorly. I finished in 8th and I never expected to finish that high up in a 15km at U.S. Nationals. True, the field wasn't very big, but it was all solid skiers. I had a good classic leg, staying 4th or 5th the entire way and coming in with the leaders but I had a bad skate leg. My shin muscles totally gave out on me and I had a hard time even staying on my feet. I'm not sure how I made it to the end of the season and am having this kind of supporter muscle problems. Definitely something to work on for next year. That was frustrating because the rest of me wasn't tired for the skate leg and I wasn't breathing hard.

And then my most embarrassing ski moment occurred during the race today. Compton and I were number 2 and 4 so our exchange areas were right next to each other and I thought real hard about which box to go into when I came into the exchange and decided to go into the wrong one. Then I had my skis and poles off before I figured it out so I grabbed my skis, forgot my poles, and hopped over into my area. Then I got my skate skis and poles on okay. Unfortunately, when I grabbed my classic skis to take them out of Compton's exchange area I took one of her skate skis by mistake. So I basically screwed up Compton's exchange completely. (Sorry about that, Caitlin.) Definitely NOT a moment I'm proud of.

Dasha Gaiazova and I... one of my new friends this year! Dasha's website is DashaGaiazova.com, her season concluded today with a stellar third place in the pursuit!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Fatal Flaw

I've realized Presque Isle's fatal flaw. The one thing that makes it not a place I would be interested in living. It's the same reason the biathletes don't like to race here: the WIND. It's been incessantly windy for the past couple days, making me cold despite the sun and warm temperatures. Other than the wind, Presque Isle and surrounding area seems like an awesome place to be a skier.

I also practiced an exchange for the pursuit tomorrow... and almost fell on my face because my klister immediately sealed like glue to the mat. I'll have to think up a solution before tomorrow. Maybe a track of snow inside my exchange zone to ski in on and then have my skate skis on the mat. Or maybe I'll just leap onto the mat and land exactly where I want to take my skis off. We'll see.

Final Team Sprint of the season

There's really only two things worth mentioning about the team sprint relay last night: The warm-up and my one pass. We had semis and then six teams in the final, each race consisted of two 1.1km laps for each skier, for four laps total.

I don't know how Compton warmed up for the semis, but I went down to the bottom of the course and cheered for the middleschool racers. I feel like I ski a lot and I never get to watch citizen or kids' races. So standing around felt like a better use of my time. And then to warm up for the final Compton and I hung out in the ski hut and watched from the window. We thought about going out to ski but it was wicked windy so we decided to stay warm inside and Compton sketched my face. I'm not sure if these were the most preferred warm-up methods, but they seemed to work since Compton and I won the race.

In Compton's first lap of the final, she got blocked a little and Dasha Gaiazova got a pretty good gap on the field. For the first time, I was a little concerned. Brittany Webster was skiing anchor for the Canadian team and I was pretty sure that I could outsprint her, but maybe not if I had to make up too much time on her first. So when Compton tagged me, I took off to chase Webster down with the goal of getting a gap on her so I would have less work to do on my second lap. Right when I was about to pass her she fell at the bottom of the downhill and I flew past. I skied the rest of that lap feeling a little guilty because she fell where no one was watching and I knew that everyone was going to be really impressed with how much time I had put into her and I didn't actually deserve it.

Compton also reminded me that she had to dodge a snowmobile during the semis. For some reason the groomer decided to do groom part of the race course in the middle of the race. So there were other eventful thing s going on. Afterwards there was a pasta feed and awards at the High School (we were racing on the High School's trail system). I thought it was pretty fun to be a part of a race where we weren't the big deal... sure our race was supposedly the main event, but everyone there cared way more about the middle school race than the elite race. I enjoyed just being a guest in the Aroostook ski community.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

TAMC Races

I found out what TAMC stands for: The Aroostook Medical Center, and they're being big sponsors of these races. Apparently. Here's our race schedule:

Wednesday 5pm Skate Team Sprints at Caribou High School Venue
Friday 11pm 10km/10km mst pursuit at Nordic Heritage Center
Sunday 9am 30km mst skate at Nordic Heritage Center

The men race 30km at 9 on Friday and 50km at 11 on Sunday.

The venue here in Presque Isle is pretty amazing. There's really nice permanent wax cabins for each team and a nice lodge in the stadium. There's even stands in the biathlon stadium, which is unusual to see in the U.S. They held World Junior Biathlon Champs here last year so it's a nice Biathlon venue also. Makes me want to pick up the ol' Anshutz. Actually, there is a rumor that there's going to be a try-biathlon day sometime this week where the club will bring out some biathlon rifles and let us try shooting, so that will be a fun taste of another sport.

I'm getting a little apprehensive the long races coming up. The sprint is an exhibition-just-for-fun race and not actually part of US Distance Nationals. (Although, aren't all races just for fun?) It will be interesting to see how (and if) I survive the long races... I haven't exactly been doing a whole lot of distance training lately! I'm planning on hanging out in the back of the pack and enjoying the ski.

Monday, March 26, 2007

some spring crust skiing

We went crust skiing on the lake this morning and took a day off from skiing on real trails and race courses. The snow was so icy and fast that I didn't notice that I hadn't scraped my skis. Not scraping my skis is something I haven't done much of this year. (Are there too many negatives in that sentence?) When I was skiing in college, I hardly ever scraped my skis-- too much time. I would put a layer of wax on when we got back from skiing to keep my bases nice and saturated but wouldn't bother to scrape them. The snow in the Pacific Northwest is usually abrasive enough to take most of the wax off in a few minutes of skiing. Just one of the many differences between my skiing this year and when I was in school. I think that whether or not you scrape your skis before training is pretty inconsequential.

But back to today... the skiing on the lake was awesome, wicked fast. It's sad to think that the days of skiing for this year are rapidly drawing to an end. I intend to enjoy this last week of skiing and racing!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Goodbye Canada

I was sad to only be at Canadian Nationals for such a short stint. It's not as fun to go to races when you show up the night before and leave right after the race. I was really looking forward to getting to hang out a little more with some N.Americans. I wanted to go ski with the Fast and Female group Saturday morning when they were hosting a women's ski and hot chocolate drinking session. Now, however, I am in Presque Isle, Maine and looking forward to a more chill week and getting to reconnect with the American ski scene.

Actually, we're staying in a cabin/house (up here they call it a "camp") in Caribou that the Maine Winter Sports Club hooked us up with. Like everywhere I've been staying lately, it has it's pluses and minuses.

-it's a huge house (esp. compared to the little euro hotel rooms I've been staying in)
-we each get a bed
-it's on a gorgeous lake
-there's a huge kitchen
-laundry machines

-40min away from the race venue
-poor cell phone service
-no internet

And it's nice to be back with the CXC Team. Matt Liebsch flew home yesterday and Compton flies in tomorrow but everyone else is here: Garrott Kuzzy, Brian Gregg, Bryan Cook, Andre Watt, and Bryan Fish. Gregg and Kuzzy spent the morning trying to hoola-hoop, do handstands and handstand push-ups, jump rope with the hoola-hoop, pull-ups on the edge of the loft, and otherwise be ridiculous.

Okay, now Gregg and Kuzzy are practicing for their upcoming Challenge-- 3000 sit-ups, 2000 push-ups, 1000 pull-ups. So they're doing 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, & 15 sit-ups every ten minutes for the next hour... the pace they'd need to maintain to finish the Challenge in 3 days.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Quebec, Canadian Nationals

Deep breath and 25hours after leaving the Scandic Hotel in Stockholm I made it to our condo in Mont St. Anne, Quebec. But traveling woes are not interesting for me to reminisce on and neither are they interesting to read about.

So I picked the wrong skis in the qualifier. When I had skied the course before it closed, the tracks up the first hill were really glazed and I thought they'd get even more glaze-y. So I picked a sticky ski. But by the time I raced the tracks had been kicked out from people haring boning and weren't glazed at all. So I almost fell on my face. I guess I've got to learn not to make these mistakes. I qualified in 10th, over 13 seconds back from the winner, Perrianne Jones. I hoped that it was mostly due to the slow skis and that I'd be able to move up in the heats.

Then we had an excellent lunch provided by the race and drove back to our condo where I was looking forward to a serious nap before the heats at 4pm. Shortly after arriving at our condo, we got a call from Linda making sure we were leaving that day. Oops, I guess someone put the wrong date down on the reservation. So instead of napping we had to pack up the condo where the boys had been living for a week already and load everything into the van (not Tiny, Tiny is dead, we're in a van of Andre's). We did manage to get in a short nap, from which I did not want to wake up.

Back at the venue and I was pretty tired so I told myself that I just had to race the quarterfinals, just one itty-bitty short race, I could handle it. I'd worry about the semis and finals when we got there. Dasha Gaiazova and I dropped the other girls in our quarterfinal and advanced. Dasha's been dominating Canadian Nationals thus far so I was reassured to be able to keep up with her in our quarterfinal. In the semifinal, I had significantly faster skis than anyone else (I don't make the same mistake twice in the same day) and pulled to the front in the downhill and lead into the finish from there. I was a little worried that I was using too much energy since there was a wind, but still managed to advance to the A Final just fine.

(course: up1, down1, flat1, dow2n, up2, flat2, down3, finish)

By this point I'd regained my energy and was ready to hit the A Final hard. I suspected that I could win. I followed Chandra Crawford up the first hill, struggling a little to get kick on my slick skis. Then down the first hill and onto a flat. I had planned on staying in second until the second long flat, but Chandra started to slow down on the first flat and I was worried everyone else was going to swarm around us and I'd get stuck in back. So I went around Chandra and tried to get a gap so she couldn't get a draft off of me. It was early in the course but I went for it and hoped I could hold it. And I did. As much as I enjoy winning, I did recognize that it was too bad that a Canadian didn't win Canadian Nationals, oh well, foreigners win US Nationals too. I did wear my Canadian hat between heats though because I like Canada!

And now, after only one night in Mont St. Anne and one night in Quebec City, we're off to Presque Isle today.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I'm back at the hotel watching every single heat false start at least once on Eurosport. Kikkan and Newell were the only two Americans to qualify and neither of them made it past the quarterfinals.

Right now, for me success is qualifying for the heats. Tonight... not a success. I think that there's something to be said for failure though. I am for sure more determined right now to work hard this summer and come back faster next year then I was this fall when I was winning races. Failing makes you question what you're doing more than success possibly can. As long as that questioning ends with you still believing in yourself and what you're doing, I think it's good. My experience on the World Cup this season has been incredibly valuable. Now I know first-hand how fast I have to be. I may not have had any super good results but these World Cup starts are crucial for my development as a ski racer and I trust the experience will pay off in the future.


Now I'm in Sweden. Life moves fast and sometimes I get a little confused about the rapid changes in surroundings. Stockholm is a gorgeous city and it was nice to get to walk around and experience it. Ski racing isn't all about skiing, you know, you've got to live the rest of life too. Shortly after this photo was taken we ran into the Koos family. I was psyched to see some people from home (well, Leavenworth and Wenatchee are pretty close to each other).

Kikkan found a lion in downtown Stockholm. I tried to convince her to climb up onto one of the horse statues, but she balked.

On Tuesday we went into Stockholm to hang out and checked out the Vasa Museet. The Vasa was a huge warship that King Gustavus Adolphus had built in 1628. Then it left the dock. Then it sunk. Oops, that's embarrassing. In 1961 is was hoisted out of the ocean depths and restored and now there's an entire museum dedicated to it.

Kikkan playing dice with some of the crew members of the Vasa.

Newell hanging out with his new (wooden) friend in the Vasa museum.

Monday, March 19, 2007

From U23s to Stockholm

Don't worry, I made it to our new hotel. And shortly after arriving Kikkan walked in! What a pleasant surprise, I thought they were going to be staying in Oslo until tomorrow. So we wandered around the oldest and largest IKEA in the world which is across the street from our hotel and then met the guys for dinner in our hotel. (The guys = Chris Grover, Chris Cook, Andy Newell, Torin Koos, Phil Bowen.)

So now it's a another group, another venue, and another race, still the same game.

The group at U23's was awesome. There was a lot of energy and a lot of excitement. I was sad to see everyone leave this morning. Most everyone flew back to the states today, a few stuck around in Europe for a spring vacation. I'm already looking forward to Spring Series/Distance Nat'ls when I get to see a lot of the ski racing community again. And I never thought that I'd say that I'm excited to go to Presque Isle, ME. I guess it's more important who's around than the actual location.

Arlanda Airport, Stockholm

Hmm... I'm in the Arlanda Airport in Stockholm, Sweden. Grover said he would arrange "official FIS transport" for me since the US team doesn't get in until Tuesday but, um, I haven't seen any FIS people around. So I had to sign onto the internet to find out what hotel we are staying in and then I decided to make the most of my 40SEK/30minutes-of-internet-access and write a blog. Now though, at least I know where I'm supposed to go and I just have to figure out the cheapest way of getting myself + luggage there. This is the kind of solo-I-have-no-idea-how-this-is-going-to-work-out-but-I'm-confident-that-it-will travel that's been missing so far on this ski trip.

...ohh, update, a man just walked over to me with a sign that said "Royal Palace Sprints." It looks like the official transport was just a little late today. Damn, I was looking forward to an adventure in Stockholm. I suppose it's probably better to be sheparded though and save my energy for RACING on wednesday. Having to figure out a few travel glitches is invigorating, but having to figure out a lot gets really draining really quickly. I should have known that things would be well organized- Chris Grover doesn't let things slide.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Feeling Fast

I did some double poling intervals today up at the training venue above Valbruna. I had a lot of fun doing them because I got to pass people. I don't know if this makes me totally shallow and maybe I shouldn't admit that I derive pleasure from double poling past people skating, but I do. There were a couple factors making this a completely successful endeavor.

1) It's Saturday and there were lots of middle aged Italian men out skiing.
2) The racers out skiing were mostly just skiing easy.
3) The "hill" I was on was really gradual so I could go pretty fast.
4) I was almost at the high point on the trail and it's pretty much gradually uphill from the trailhead to where I was, so people were getting tired and ready for a downhill.
5) My intervals were only 60seconds.
6) It was sunny.
7) The mountains were gorgeous... I picked the most beautiful spot on the trail.

So I got to feel like a rock star passing people almost every interval and it kept the workout fun (and kept me from slowing down).

Friday, March 16, 2007

Gorgeousness, all around

The Forresta di Tarvisio is incredibly gorgeous. It almost makes me wish I was done with racing for the season so I could wander around the mountains all day and not have to worry about stressing my body. I have been on some good too-long runs... and it's probably a good thing that I don't have a bike here, otherwise I would just ride off and explore and never come back. I almost didn't come back from my run yesterday afternoon. There's a paved bike path that runs through Tarvisio that I was following. It kept bringing me to more and more beautiful or interesting areas- small villages, waterfalls, orchards, forests, caves. I kept telling myself that I needed to turn around- I hadn't really meant to run for so long and the sun was setting and all I had was a T-shirt and shorts- but the next corner continually seduced me. I finally turned around when I found a cave to crawl into- that halted my momentum and I ran back after that.

I hope I get to come back to this area sometime with a bike and during a high volume training week!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The awesome coaching staff (plus me): Pat Casey, Ali Deines, Amy Caldwell, Reid Lutter, Randy Gibbs, Laura Valaas, Matt Whitcomb, April Milan. Andrew Johnson is also here helping with waxing. I don't know where he was at the moment- probably out doing something useful like testing skis while these slackers where hanging out. Just kidding, all of these guys have had to work really hard this week. Especially with races every day for seven days straight.

Mikey Sinnot (black suit) in his sprint quarterfinal. Mikey skis for Dartmouth. Sorry about all the different suits. I know it makes it really hard to figure out who's who in the pictures. Basically we have a bunch of different suits because Speedo is the clothing sponsor for USST so they make the black one-piece suits... and one-piece suits in dark blue with red under the arms. But a lot of people don't like those suits so Reid Lutter made suits for all of the U23/jr athletes which are purple. And then a lot of people wear old USST suits also. So yeah, sorry. (photo credit: April Milan)

Elisabeth Haberman finishing her debut international race... and passing number 67 while she's at it! Elisabeth skis for UAF. (photo credit: April Milan)

Morgan Smyth, looking dynamic in the classic sprints! Morgan skis for Northern Michigan University. (photo credit: April Milan)
Getting flowers from none other than Gabriella Paruzzi at the flower ceremony after the sprints! Thanks to Amy Caldwell for the photo.

Sadly, I don't get to start any of the other races at U23's so my next race won't be until the World Cup classic sprint in Stockholm, March 21.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

U23 Classic Sprints

As much as I enjoy competing on the World Cup level, it was nice to be back in a field where I got to race the sprints through to the final. No matter how illustrious the field, I'm never satisfied with only racing once or twice and watching others continue to the finals. But today, at the U23 World Championships in Tarvisio, Italy, I made it through to the Women's A Final.

The course was deceivingly hard. There was one gradual hill out of the start and then a long gradual down back to the finish. Sounds easy, but it ended up not allowing for any rest because the downhill was too shallow to tuck. Yesterday while previewing the course I tried double poling the hill to see if I wanted to race on skate skis. I decided that it would be better to stride for me. When the sun started really hitting the course (about 10:30am) the snow started breaking down and turning into slush pits. So when we skied yesterday afternoon, it was slow and soaking.

This morning for the qualifier I felt confident, confident in my skis, confident in myself. I was seeded 12th and I wanted to be top 5 in the qualifier. I took some quick strides to get up to speed and then double pole into the base of the hill. Then quick, springy strides up to the top. There was a flat spot on the top of the hill that was SLOW but I made it through and hit the downhill, taking the best line, staying where the snow was fastest, and double poling hard all the way into the finish. A pretty solid ski, but only good enough for... 12th. I was disappointed. At least I get another shot at the course in the quarterfinals, I thought.

I checked back in at the wax cabin after a short cool down. The other girls racing for us had done awesomely-- Lindsay Williams qualified in 9th and Morgan Smyth in 11th. Back in the wax cabin the coaches recommended that we switch to skate skis because the course was slowing down so much that they thought having the extra speed on the long finishing downhill would be worth the extra effort of double poling up the hill. Sounded good to me, so I confirmed which skate skis I wanted to race on and went out to the van to nap in the backseat until it was time to warm up again for my 12:15 quarterfinal.

Smyth raced in the first quarterfinal, getting a slow start double poling while all the other girls strode of the start line, but coming around them by the finish to advance to the semis. Williams and I were in the fourth quarterfinal together. Surprisingly, all of the other girls were rockin' the classic skis. Also surprisingly, I had no trouble keeping up with them on the uphill, only one Estonian girl had a gap at the top and I caught and passed her on the downhill to win my quarterfinal easily. Williams was a close third but not quite fast enough to be a *lucky loser.

My semifinal was a not stellar. I started out double poling and a girl cut into the track in front of me, except she wasn't actually ahead of me so she skied over my ski and we went for a couple of double poles with out skis entangled. And then I got disentangled and moved into the next track over. Then I saw her moving over again and this time I jumped out of my track before she could take us both out. Except I had moved into a track behind another girl who was really slow going up the hill. Arghh. At the top of the hill I was in fifth and sick of it, so I passed everybody. I thought I could ski away on the downhill because of my faster skis. But I was wrong and everyone drafted off of me until the finish where I got passed by two girls. The Estonian passed me right at the line and the announcer actually announce me as finishing second and then said that they would have to check the video. I don't know why they don't just ask the athletes. We both knew who crossed the line first. But anyway, now I was sitting in third waiting to hear if I would be a lucky loser. Smyth also finished third so we were both in the same boat. At least we knew that at least one of us would get to race the A Final.

I made it into the A Final, Smyth into the B Final. Grateful, I swore not to repeat any of my previous mistakes. Smyth rocked the B Final and had a photo finish and barely got beat out to take 8th overall. I picked the far right lane so I wouldn't get cut into again (there was a left hand corner at the end of the straight away). It gave me a clean start as all the other girls immediately moshed into the left-most lanes and I moved over at my leisure, getting a good skate push in with each lane change. I was more relaxed on the uphill now that I knew I could keep up with the striders and came over the top in sixth. This must change, I thought, so I started moving around girls and making my way up. The Russian girl was out to fight and throwing elbows and going out of her way to cut people off. Wow, maybe you would be faster if you stopped wasting energy trying to take the rest of us out. So I was glad to get firmly in front of her. Coming through the last flat section I was in the second row of a block of four. And happy to be there. There was a slight headwind and I hardly had to work (well, you know, considering it was a sprint race) to keep up. There was one 90° corner before the finishing straight. I made my move on the outside and went around all but one girl. Booked it down to the finish but couldn't catch her. Second place, and I skied the race well, so I was pretty pleased!!

*lucky loser: The current sprint format is 5 quarterfinals with 6 racers in each heat. Top two from each heat qualify for the semifinals (that's ten athletes). Then the next two racers with the fastest times also qualify (for a total of twelve). Those two "lucky losers" could have each been third in their heat or they could have finished third and fourth in the same heat, it's strictly off of time. Then there's two semifinals with 6 racers in each. The top two from each semi final move on to the A Final along with next two "lucky losers" with the fastest times. The remaining six go on to the B Final.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Tarvisio, Italy

Tarvisio is probably one of my favorite places. This area in general, at the boundaries of Austria, Italy & Slovenia, is absolutely gorgeous. Huge craggy mountains, adorable towns nestled in the valleys, sunshine, snow. Well, actually there's no snow in Tarvisio and they had to move the races up the valley to another ski area, but I can imagine the snow here. Ahh, I'm happy to be here- it totally makes the time spent traveling worthwhile.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Lahti Photos

Sapporo Photos

Compton and I dragged Kikkan into a boutique and insisted that we dress her up. Pleased to say that I picked out the outfit for her... I think I did a good job, don't you?

Big coats were in, so we added one to the ensemble. Big coats, high heels & short skirts, yes, in winter.

Kikkan's brother Tanner has his own line of apparel, Nanuq of Alaska. Maybe he taught her how to be a fashion model. Then again, maybe not.

I guess what a big deal World Champs was didn't really hit me until we started mobilizing as a group. We filled several truckloads worth of gear the night before we left to be driven down to Tokyo since our flights from Sapporo to Tokyo couldn't handle the load. This is only one small pile of gear, the piles extend down the sidewalk, into the hotel and fill the lobby. It was like Strega-nona's spaghetti.

The mad chaos of transporting gear continued at the airport in Tokyo.

Lahti Skate Sprints

I skied poorly today. I made mistakes and in this field, this year, I don't have any room for mistakes. So I finished the qualifiers in 44th. Oh well, I'd rather be here, even if I'm at the back, than anywhere else.

I did get to watch Kikkan win the B Final with style. She got shut out in the finishing stretch of her semifinal which was sad to watch. But you can read her RaceTails on her website and get her account of her racing today!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Mikael Agricola

There's a contemplative statue of Mikael Agricola in near our hotel in one of the many parks in Lahti. Never having heard of Mikael Agricola before (well... have you?) I was curious to find out who he was and why he deserved to be memorialized in statue form in Lahti. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a direct connection to Lahti (as far as I found), but he is a pretty cool Finnish dude from back in the day.

If Mikael's (1510-1557) surname reminds you of the word "agriculture" that's because it means "farmer" as he took the name when he started his academic career after the vocation of his father. I don't know why we ended that tradition, so many good names came out of it like Cooper, Baker, Smith. And now we'd have even sweeter names like Joe Epidemiologist, Henry Marketing Strategist and Jane Analyst.

Apparently Agricola was around when Sweden and Finland were kind of the same entity (I think I need to brush up on my Scandinavian history) because Gustav Vasa, King of Sweden made Agricola Bishop in 1554. Agricola was a big fan of Martin Luther and the Reformation (finally, something we know about already!) and thus became the first Lutheran Bishop for Finland. But I'm not really into the religious aspect of his life.

Agricola is known as the "Father of Finnish written language" because he played a huge role in standardizing written Finnish. I think he was motivated to do this because he wanted to translate the New Testament into Finnish (so maybe we do care about religion), and the New Testament is his major translation. In order to translate the bible Agricola had to make up a bunch of words so he's also the coiner of many Finnish words currently in use. But all of this makes me wonder why Finnish didn't have an established written form by the time Agricola showed up in the early 16th century? Doesn't that seem a little late to be getting these kinds of things nailed down? What were the Fins doing while everyone else was writing history books and studying Aristotle?


I've been sequestered in a single on the sixth floor for a couple days while Kikkan finishes recovering from her cold. Which is great. I approve of isolating sick people. But... The hotel we're staying in is pretty small, only 18 rooms per floor and six floors. There's a couple of teams staying here and each of us basically has our own floor. The U.S. team is on the fifth floor; the Russian team is on the fourth and sixth floors. Worse, my room is at the end of the hall as far away from the elevator as possible. So every time that I go into or out of my room I have to walk past all of the Russians' rooms. The scary Russians with their mullets and techno music. eek!

On another note, I was skiing today (imagine that) and there was an extension cord being pulled across the trail on one of the small downhills into the stadium. And it was being actively pulled so it was a little bit off of the snow and moving. When I saw the obstacle I thought, "ooh, I'm at a World Cup... I can't stop for this." So I jumped it. The moral of this story is: You need to practice jumping things at ski practice.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Finally, Lahti

After almost 29 solid hours of traveling, kikkan and I passed out in our tiny dorm-like room in Lahti, Finland at 2:30am this morning, 9:30am Sapporo-time.

Despite my short time so far in Lahti I've decided that I really like it. Some things I've found so far on my wanderings:

Huge moose statues
A window display dedicated to the skier Saarinen
A craft store with a whole section of ribbons
A bakery
Excellent chocolate selection
A large ice skating area
Huge ski jumps
Playgrounds everywhere
Ski area within walking distance
Muesli, yogurt and lingonberries for breakfast
Skis in people's cars

Basically, Lahti is moving right up on my list of favorite cities.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A sprig of bamboo marking the course.

The warm temperatures recently have created a sickly sheen of repeatedly melted and refrozen snow over the landscape here. It feels like spring with temperatures well above zero and slushy, wet snow. Which means, to me, that it's time to move to colder latitudes. Perfect timing, because tomorrow I fly up to Helsinki Finland. It's been a good stay. Particularly because, moments ago, Kris Freeman finished a really exciting 50km classic race in 12th place. It's been thrilling to be part of the US team here and to be involved in this amazing event. I've been impressed with how much effort goes into an event like this, both from the organizers and the teams. No one hears about the support staff, you only hear about the racers. But the support staff basically enable us all to race to our potential. I managed to take some photos of a few of the people we have keeping the US Team running. It's hard to get pictures of these guys because they're never sitting still.

I don't know if these guys went to school to learn how to stand around and look intimidating, but they sure do a good job of it. From L->R: Aaron Saari, Physical therapist. Per Erik Bjornstad, wax tech. Roar Lillefjell, wax tech. Luke Bodensteiner, USSA god. Patrick Hammer, team, um, meteorologist. I haven't actually met Patrick yet, he just flew in a day ago or so, but I hear he's the meteorologist. You can tell Norway brought a big cheering crowd in the background.

Per Erik Bjornstad, wax tech. Per Erik is super nice and fun to talk to.

Randy Gibbs, wax tech. Randy did most of my waxing on this trip and did a spectacular job; I'm looking forward to working with him again at U23's soon.

Matt Whitcomb, Continental cup coach. Matt has beautiful eyelashes. And that's Compton's comment, not mine.

Pat Casey, Continental Cup coach. If Pat wasn't, you know, married already I'd have a huge crush.

Compton, Kikkan & I wandered into downtown Sapporo yesterday. We didn't get very far from the train station though because we were quickly sucked into the underground shopping center. Not that any of us are big shoppers, but there was so much stuff to see that we were kind of dazed. We did get Kikkan dressed up in a trendy dress and jacket, sadly I was taking pictures of her with her camera, not mine, so you may continue never seeing Kikkan in a dress because I doubt I'll be able to convince her to email me one of the photos. Compton and I did find these sweet necklaces that we *almost* bought. And by "almost" I mean there's no way I would ever actually spend money on such an atrocity!

There's signs up for the FIS World Championships all over the place!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Media Gauntlet

After finishing, I think I’ve mentioned this before, each athlete has to wind through the media gauntlet, a channel that goes down and back and down again where the reporters lurk in order to get interviews and photos. Of course, to me it’s merely a hassle and the last thing I want to do after me race is wind through a maze. Especially right after a race when I feel more like curling up in a corner and puking. But then I made it past the media and looked up with dismay to realize that I still had to walk the entire length of the stadium. But then, as I started walking, some of the crowd reached out to give me high fives and to say good job. I was like, wow, these people are all totally psyched to be here and excited to watch us race and to have us walk by after our race. And then I started smiling and it wasn’t such a long walk.

Sapporo2007, 4x5km Relay

I’d completely forgotten how much fun relays are. I do sprint relays all the time now but there’s something special about the 4-person distance relay. Even more so when you’re racing it at the World Championships. Kikkan scrambled for us, but Virpi Kuitenen decided to go from the gun. And this girl can move fast when she wants to. So she had a gap on the field by 100m and totally gapped everyone by the first hill. Um, wow. So the field got stretched out quickly because everyone tried to keep up with her. Kikkan skied her leg in the second pack and tagged off to me in 9th place. I settled quickly into a trio with two other girls, and skied the entire 5km with them. I had a little bit of a struggle to keep up with them on the climbs but on the flat and downhills I didn’t have any problems. I’ve been kind of disillusioned with the women racers here. I didn’t expect them to be snowplowing on the downhills, but many of them did. Kikkan and I were joking about how much time we could make up on the downhills today. Now I need to keep improving my uphill skills.

After two 2.5km laps I got to hand off to Compton. It was fun to get to hand off to her in a relay at World Champs! Then Sarah Konrad took the anchor leg. We ended up in 14th and the Finnish team won with a nice margin. Germany overtook Norway in the stadium right before the finish- pretty exciting stuff. If you look at the times you’ll notice that Finland only won by 12 seconds but that was because she was pausing to wave and pick up a Finnish flag and not rushing.

The US is not fielding a men’s relay team tomorrow. Compton races the 30km classic on Saturday and Southam, Flora, Freeman are racing the 50km classic on Sunday.
Compton likes to arrive at the venue ridiculously early. I don’t know why I let her poor judgement influence me but I do and today we were up at Shirahatayama two hours before race start (2.5hrs before Compton’s start). Since there was hard core flouro action in our wax rooms we set up shop in the hallway. Then we were beset upon by this guy, Boris Kazmin, who insisted that we come into his wax room across the hall where it was warm and spacious. He was coaching the Israeli team but was Russian and living in Russia on the Kamchatka peninsula. Or so we thought. He only spoke a few words in English and we don’t speak Russian. I found it a pretty entertaining multicultural experience. Boris was very nice and helpful, even holding our boots in front of the heater to warm them up for us before we put them on. It was fun to try and communicate with him.

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