The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur as I took a trip across the pond to Scandinavia for some pretty epic international races. Lessons were learned, new relationships were formed, and a few toes were frostbitten (YIKES)!
The first stop was at the Junior and U23 World Championships in Lahti, Finland. Team USA arrived a whole week before racing so we had plenty of time to adjust to the time change, learn the race course, and explore the different culture. Some of the biggest differences: the sun rose at 9:30 and set at 3:30, the Finns do not plow all of their roads… and fish and potatoes were served at every. single. meal!
The races soon began and immediately there was success from team USA in the classic sprint. I enjoyed cheering on my teammates for a few days while I prepared for the two distance races to come. Alas, I used their momentum to carry me into the 10k freestyle and 15k classic races where I placed 27thand 23rd, respectively. Although I had been hoping for better results on paper, I felt like I was skiing really well during these races and I remained strong and relaxed. Some days it’s just not enough! But these were the best results I had ever had at an international race, so I was ready to stay positive.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team was absolutely crushing as there were multiple top-10’s and the junior boys took home GOLD in their relay race. It is ridiculous to be down about your own race when there is so much excitement about the US Team’s success!
At the end of the week, most of the team was either heading back to the US for school or joining the US Team on the World Cup. Seeing as how I didn’t quite fit into either of these categories, I took a different route. I made a quick jump over to Trondheim, Norway to join one of my long-time ski buddies Kristen Bourne. Kristen and I trained and raced together in high school and became fast friends at our first Junior National races. After having a successful career at Northern Michigan University, Kristen moved to Oslo to continue her skiing with the Lyn Ski Club. Kristen and I planned to race at Norwegian Nationals in Meråker, Norway and worked together to figure out logistics such as race support, lodging and transportation. To say we faced a few obstacles in our planning would be a drastic understatement. But if there is anyone up for an adventure and a “figure-it-out-as-we-go” mindset, this duo got it covered. To list a few issues: everything was in Norwegian, my international credit card only decided to work some days, the Norwegian Ski Federation was hesitant to allow me to race as I am not “Norwegian,” the bus we depended on to help us travel decided to drive right past our bus stop, we were staying one hour from the race venue and were sharing cars with Lyn Skiers (sometimes they had room for us?)… we were never really sure what was going to work out and what was not.
Dealing with uncertainty; when everything has the potential to go wrong, it’s important to take a step back, look around and appreciate the adventure that you’re on. I had such a wonderful time exploring this new place with one of my best friends. The Lyn Ski Club was so welcoming to me and I met new skiers that share the same passion for skiing as I do. I learned how to be ALMOST self-sufficient at a ski race (Kristen saved me numerous times and Coach Pat even made a last-minute appearance at our skiathlon). I challenged myself to race with some of the top Norwegian ladies and surprised myself at how much I could handle. In the skiathlon I was leading a group of girls fighting for top 10 and still feeling great. Until I hit the transition and experienced a crash followed by equipment issues with a brand new binding that I had not adequately tested and could not clip my boot into my skate ski.
While watching this video (posted on my instagram) is a bit painful, sometimes you have to find the humor in situations that are out of your control. Learning from mistakes is one thing, but dwelling on what could have been won’t get you far. Needless to say, it was an unforgettable trip, but I am happy to be home in the Midwest for a few weeks of Supertour racing.