Second week of May and we’re getting back into the swing of things! Last month I treated myself to a vacation. Although I travel the world and don’t work a ‘typical job,’ I rarely get to see the places I travel to and often am sitting in a hotel room, recovering for my next race or training session. In April, I sat on the beach, indulged in many sweets, and traveled as a true tourist. I didn’t think about skiing and I only exercised when I felt like it. I allowed myself to take a big break from the sport and completely reset. I also gave myself the time to reflect on the past whirlwind of a season it had been, continue to process the fact that I missed an Olympic goal, and think about what my next goals could look like.
After Spring Series in Whistler, CAN I traveled to Negril, Jamaica with my mom and aunt for a girls trip over an extended weekend. I had never been to the Caribbean so I was in awe by the blue water and tropical climate. I went from 30 degrees and rain to 80 degrees and full sunshine pretty quick which meant a lot of sunscreen.
We walked along the beach every morning, chatted with the locals, ate fresh papaya and tried various types of jerked meat. We also spent a lot of time sitting on the beach, reading our books. After four days of this I started to get quite restless as I am not one to sit still for too long, but it also was such a great break from the usual business of the ski life. Alas, by the time we departed the island I was ready to get back to a bustling schedule.
I spent about 48 hours at home before departing for another trip, this time to Europe. Despite making the travels across the pond many times, I had never been a tourist in Europe until this spring. I met my boyfriend, Thomas, in Geneva where we traveled into the Swiss Alps to meet friends for some mountain adventures. We went backcountry skiing, Nordic skiing, hiking and biking. The town of Bagnes, SUI sits in a valley right below Verbier Resort. With access to great skiing up high and summer conditions down low, we had the best of both worlds. We even attempted the sport of water foiling, which is a mix between surfing, skateboarding and pogo sticking. Our mornings and evenings were spent doing activities while the afternoon was usually dedicated to work. I couldn’t take 4 weeks off from work so continued to work for my part-time job remotely throughout the trip. Luckily, there was always something to look forward to at the end of the day!
On Easter, we continued our travels down to the coast of Italy to a town called Portofino. We stayed at an agritourismo - a little farm up on the hillside that harvested olives and honey from their beehives. Thomas decided in March that he was ready to run a 50k in May, so we also incorporated some running during this part of the trip, exploring the little peninsula during an 18 mile run.
Exhausted from the run, we were ready to get back to tourist life and hopped on the train toward Florence. On the way, we made a pit-stop in Pisa to get some tasty sandwiches and capture one of more basic photos I’ve ever taken in my life. Such a cool town though!
We made it to Florence and immediately I was taken away by the cathedral, art and food of the city. I don’t think I can pick a favorite place during this trip, but Florence is definitely one I want to return to. Two days was not nearly enough time to see everything, although we did get around the city quite a bit.
We explored the Florence cathedral, baptistry, basilica de Santa Croce, basilica de San Lorenzo, saw the David, and strolled around the gardens. Also, Florence seemed to have a gelato shop every third shop on the street so we had our fair share of gelato too.
I was feeling overwhelmed by the art and history in the city. It had been a while since I had taken a European history class and although Thomas knew a fair amount Da Vinci and Michaelangelo, we decided to do some learning too. We found a podcast on Spotify by Dr. Rocky Ruggiero, an American professor who has lived in Florence for the past 15 years running study abroad programs. Ruggiero has over 200 podcasts about the buildings, cities, frescos, and other renaissance-related cultural items. His podcasts walked us through the mosaic in the Florence baptistry and the story behind the famous families buried in the Basilica de Santa Croce. His podcasts were both informative and humorous and I highly recommend them for anyone exploring central Italy in the future.
From Florence, we hopped on yet another train toward Venice where we met Thomas’s mom and her friends who were showing their art at the Venice art show. They say never visit Venice when it’s raining. The first day we were on the island it rained the entire day, but we made the most of it! We were told to get lost in the city and we definitely did that. We ate fresh seafood and listened to more of Rocky’s podcasts. Finally, we went to the art show at a palace on the Grand Canal, which exhibited artists from all over the world.
A quick trip to Venice was all I needed as I felt myself bonking from all the frescos and mosaics. They were absolutely gorgeous, but over a week of museums was enough for me. From there we traveled to Tuscany where we visited the cities of San Gimingano, Sienna and Pienza. San Gimingano is considered the Manhattan of the Middle Ages with numerous towers built throughout the city. Siena seemed to have been lost in my history textbooks so I was fascinated to hear how much of a thriving metropolis it had been as a rival of Florence back during the Renaissance. Meanwhile, Pienza brought us some of the best cheese and wine I have ever had.
While in Pienza, we were surrounded by three other smaller towns that were known for their Pecorino cheese and Nobile wine. Still prepping for a 50k coming up, we explored these towns during a 16 mile run through the countryside of Tuscany.
We capped off our travels having eaten more cheese, pasta, pizza and gelato than I had in a while. Although, I think my favorite food by far was the fresh focaccia. Cripsy, oily and salty, just what I was craving after our big adventures!
This vacation was everything that I needed at the end of a busy season - it gave my mind and body the time to rest and relax, which it was craving in March. During our last little stint in Tuscany we had a rainy day. I suddenly found myself feeling restless and anxious to get out the door. I was craving exercise and didn’t care that it was cold and rainy. I took this as a really good sign that I had spent April doing exactly what I needed to do. I was recovered and antsy to get back to training. I started craving endorphins and the structure around a training plan. Although I was sad to be saying goodbye to a European vacation, I was also very excited to be getting back to the US to start the new training season.
I spent one week at home in Minnesota visiting with friends and family and slowly starting to get back into a ‘normal’ routine. A few days ago, I traveled out to Bend, OR to meet up with my SMS teammates for our first training camp of the year. We will spend two weeks training on snow at Mount Bachelor in the mornings and biking and running on the trails in Bend in the afternoon. The training in Bend is so much fun and typically brings us spectacular spring days, which leads to the perfect way to kick off the training year.
Despite not making the Olympic team this past year, I’ve continued to have more fun with this sport than I had in a really long time. I’m loving my teammates, excited to continue working with Coach Pat O’Brien as well as our new head SMS coach, Perry Thomas (whom I trained under during my senior year at UVM). I am looking forward to the upcoming goals I have set for myself, despite them being scary and full of challenge. Play time is over, time to get back to work!
As the ski racing season concludes I feel exhausted, exhilarated, still heart-broken, yet inspired. This winter really has been a roller coaster; the lows of missing an Olympic team and getting sick with Covid were unpleasant, but the highs that I experienced in recent weeks gave me something to hold on to.
After returning from Europe at the end of January having recovered from Covid, I didn’t know what to expect from myself both physically, mentally and emotionally regarding ski racing. There were no more Olympics to qualify for and my body felt exhausted. However, being in New England for eastern Supertours felt like home and I was able to relax, look forward to the racing with few expectations and enjoy the little moments.
Making my way to Lake Placid after international travel had me anxious about racing in frigid wind chill temps around -15 Fahrenheit and nervous about what type of shape I was in. To my astonishment, the cold kept zero spectators from the venue and I was blown away by the turnout of ski fans cheering on the hills! I didn’t have the best sprint qualifier, but used the energy from the crowd to have fun in the heats and made my way onto the podium - a pleasant surprise! The following day was a skate 10k mass start and again I found myself nervous, not sure if my fitness would hang on for that long of a race. I was timid at the start of the race and let the lead pack ski away from me. However, halfway through the race it hit me that I was racing scared and that I had absolutely nothing to lose at this point. I started really going for it, dropped the chase pack and made my way around the technical, twisty course, just feeling good be outside, surrounded by friends and family, ski racing. In the final half kilometer I had one of those magical moments in athletics that I will carry with me forever. I was in second place by 20 seconds feeling content with that. Coach Pat hollered at me that I could win. My first thought was, ‘no way - that’s not possible,’ my second thought was, ‘hells yeah I’m going to try!’ With what felt like the entire New England ski community cheering for me on the final hill I made a move that carried my speed all the way to the finish and crossed the line in first.
Feeling jubilant after racing in Lake Placid I was no longer anxious or nervous about another supertour weekend in Craftsbury. My brother was racing at the UVM carnival and my parents had made the trek from Minnesota to watch. Similarly, I found myself running into friends and ski family over the weekend, all of whom put a smile on my face. This relaxed, positive energy that I felt from the crowds carried me through another very fun and successful weekend of racing.
Surprised with my own performances on the supertour, I wanted more. I traveled to the Midwest with my parents to prep for the Birkie. I skied with friends, did intervals with local athletes, raced the Mora Vasaloppet and continued to feel energized by the people around me. I will admit that is was difficult during these weeks to watch the Olympics progress, something I'd spent the last decade dreaming about, but that doesn't mean I held back in my cheering from afar. It was amazing to see Team USA perform so well at the biggest stage!
Birkie Fever just might be the death of me someday. I can’t help but let it get to me! With that, I’m guilty of spreading the contagious energy. Teammate, Lina, and boyfriend, Thomas, both flew into town for their first Birkie experiences. I still can’t decide if I had more fun racing and partaking in Birkie festivities, or watching them fall in love with the event. Thomas completed his first cross country ski race as he skrrtted his way through a jigsaw of Korteloppet skiers and ended up second in his wave. The shot of blue liquor that he took on Lake Hayward was part of the experience, but Thomas admits he might not need to repeat that in the future. Lina broke a pole in the first 100 meters of the Birkie, having to fight her way back to the pack over 50k. The girl still crossed the line with the biggest grin on her face and has already agreed to coming back for more Birkie weekends in the future!
Meanwhile, I cherished every person cheering on the course. Even after dropping my feed bottle at OO and facing many ‘close call’ moments of losing the lead pack including a crash 3k to the finish - I felt strong and happy to be there. The roar of screaming fans hitting me as I raced up and over the bridge onto Main Street will never get old. I’ve experienced some impressive crowds on the World Cup but nothing can beat Hayward, WI on Birkie Saturday.
At this point, Vermont and Minnesota feel like home to me. I have a community in both states and appreciate everything that they bring to me. They make me feel loved and support me no matter what the goal. Coming home from Europe this year had me feeling immense gratitude for not only my close support system, but the entire cross country skiing community. The excitement around the sport that I felt in Lake Placid, the love that I felt in Craftsbury, and the FEVER that I felt in the Midwest this winter, all reminded me how much I love the sport. During one of my darker moments along this journey, the people around me pulled me up and left me feeling happier and more excited about pursuing my athletic goals than I think I’ve ever felt.
I ended the season with a trip to race the sprint World Cup in Drammen, NOR, then to Sapadda, Italy for Europa Cup Finals, and finally Spring Series in Whistler, CAN. Some of these races were amazing (like winning in Italy) while others were bleak to catastrophic (nearly last in Drammen and exploding a ski binding in a crash in the 45k at Spring Series). Despite this continuous rollercoaster ride, I couldn’t help but find myself smiling through it all and having a blast with my teammates, friends, coaches, and supporters.
For now, I’m going to take a BIG rest in April before I stoke the fire again for next season. :)
Lately, I’ve been doing my best at rolling with the punches. Although, I can’t help but admit that I’m starting to feel a little beat up from the past month. I had very high hopes for this year and as the summer and fall progressed I gradually believed more and more in those hopes and dreams.
Unfortunately, those hopes did not turn into reality for me and I came shy of making the Winter Olympic team. I wrapped up the Tour de Ski feeling like I had been stung by a bee. I was a bit numb as I was grasping what my World Cup results did and didn’t mean, but there was nothing I could do about it. I knew it would take time to process and I wanted to allow myself the time to lick my wounds.
However, the ski season was far from over and I thought I had a chance to still make something out of it. I looked ahead to future World Cup races in Les Rousses, FRA, scheduled for 10 days after the tour. Rather than booking it back to the US for the remainder of Nationals and a Sun Valley supertour, I held out for international race opportunities.
It was convenient (and exactly what I needed) to spend the week after the Tour with my boyfriend, Thomas, in Northern Italy. We went alpine skiing in the Dolomites, tried our hardest to find the best croissant available in the Sudtirol area, and I slowly began to accept the heartbreak of not qualifying.
Just as I was getting excited to race in Les Rousses, we heard news that the World Cup had been cancelled due to the covid situation in France. I still had the chance to fly home to race in the supertour in Sun Valley, but there was another WC race opportunity that looked promising the following weekend in Planica, Slovenia. I decided to continue with my plan to prep for international races and took a mini trip to Seefeld, Austria to get back into training.
Accepting another cancelled race I did not feel fit for travel with my current health situation. Still feeling pretty sick I went to get a second PCR test four days from my original… this one came back positive. Just what I needed. As it sank in that my body had been fighting Covid and that the bug I had stayed safe from for almost two years finally got to me, I accepted defeat. I was feverish, had a horrible sore throat, congestion, cough, body aches, just about the whole package aside from losing my senses (although maybe I did metaphorically).
Looking ahead at the timeline, it would appear that I would make it out of quarantine just in time for my sister and her husband to travel over to Europe for a ski vacation/honeymoon trip. Marit and Nick planned to drive straight to Toblach, Italy for a few days before racing the Dolomitenlauf Marathon race in Obertilliach, Austria. With no other races on the calendar for me and feeling very unsure as to how my body would feel post-covid, I decided this would be a great way to get excited about skiing again and just have fun with it. Sometimes you just need to do what’s best for the ski soul!
Marit, Nick and I had some spectacular skiing in Toblach and feasted on charcuterie boards, pizzas and so many espressos. We were scoping out the marathon scene and waxing our skis up for the exciting weekend. Just as Thomas drove into town to join us the day before the race, we received news that the race was cancelled due to Covid. That night, I poured myself a nice glass of wine.
Feeling utter frustration with the outcome of the last four weeks and the toll that Covid took on my body, it’s been really difficult to remain focused on the ski season. I feel like every time I get excited about a new race, schedule, or plan, something blows up in my face to inhibit it from happening.
I do admit that I have been skiing in some pretty incredible places the last few weeks and have had access to delicious food and views. As a competitive athlete though, this is far from how I wanted to be spending my January. I am not sure what else my body has in store for the rest of the season, or what the season will look like, but I am trying to take it one day at a time and get excited about whatever opportunity comes my way. I’m doing my best to remain positive and get excited, but I’ve had to reset my mind on realistic hopes and expectations for the remainder of the winter. I’ve had some amazing support the last month from friends, family and sponsors reaching out to share their love and it has been much appreciated! The emails, texts and phone calls have helped put a smile back on my face and I’m ready to use that energy and encouragement to give whatever I have left for the remainder of the season. Thank you!! Being back in the US just for a few days now I already feel happier and more optimistic that there are great things yet to come this winter. Here goes nothing! In the meantime, I will be cheering (yelling) at the TV screen while I cheer on my teammates and the rest of Team USA as they compete in Beijing. I am so proud of our SMS squad, Jessie, Julia and Ben, for making the team and can't wait to see what they have in store for us! LFG USA!!
Slowly, VERY slowly, I am beginning to recover from the Tour de Ski.
Six races in eight days in three different countries is no easy feat. When you’re bouncing up and down from altitude, driving 2-5 hours between stages, moving into new hotel rooms, forcing yourself to eat more pasta and bread… It's quite an experience!
Overall, I am super proud of the fact that I made it to the top of Alpe Cermis in the hill climb of the final stage, but it took some work to get there.
I spent Christmas week in Switzerland with my boyfriend, trying to adjust to the time zone and the altitude. It mostly consisted of easy skiing, giving my body time to adapt to the new environment, but I also threw in a few baby intervals to help wake up the system. During the rest of the day when I wasn’t skiing, I tried to stay off my feet and continue to fuel for the upcoming races. I got pretty excited in the local bakery, tested out some fondue, and enjoyed roasted chestnuts and hot chocolate on Christmas day. All week, I was trying to reach a tricky balance of resting from travel and prior to the tour, while also hitting a few hard workouts so my body would be primed and ready to go. Meanwhile, I was trying to enjoy the holiday season! At the moment, I felt like I was doing everything I could to reach that happy balance, but in the end I’m not sure if I did.
Along came the 10k classic in Lenzerheide and I went out with every intention of having a great race. It was nuking snow so I hopped behind two girls who were lapping through and held on for as long as I could. Turns out the altitude came back to bite me on the second lap and I definitely lost time in the last few minutes of the race. Again, I felt okay during the race, but I knew I had more in me.
After two races in a row we had a day off. We packed up our bags, said goodbye to our first hotel and drove 2.5 hours to Oberstdorf, Germany. We went straight to the venue, ate lunch, sat around for a bit and then went out to walk around on skis on the race course. After 45 minutes, we all called it good and drove to our new hotel to unpack and settle in.
The next day, the women had a slow morning as we twiddled our thumbs for our 3:30pm race. The sun had been out all week and it was about 50 degrees when we made the drive to the race venue, preparing ourselves to race in a foot of slush. To our surprise, the race organizers decided to salt the track the previous night, giving us an exciting ice rink to skate around on. The 10k mass start went out fast and I felt like I had a pretty good start considering my FIS points put me toward the back of the pack, but again I just didn’t have quite the energy to hang on as long as I would have liked. This pattern continued the rest of the week. Feeling pretty reasonable during my warmup and while testing skis, but when the gun went off I just felt like my body was drained.
I did my best to get through the classic sprint in Oberstdorf and prepare for the 10k classic in Val di Fiemme, Italy. Unfortunately, I was pretty devastated during the second to last stage when my body said it wanted no more racing. During each stage during the Tour I approached the race as a new day and went out with everything I had in me. Slowly, I watched as my hopes and dreams of scoring world cup points and therefore maybe qualifying for an Olympic team, dwindled away.
All summer and fall, I felt like I was in the best shape of my life. I hit each interval session pretty hard, was consistent with strength and prioritized rest and recovery; I was feeling better than I ever had before. I was thrilled with my opening races of the season and felt like I had so much more to give for the winter. I was put in a tough position when I had to decide between racing World Cups during the Tour de Ski or staying home and racing at US Nationals. Both presented pathways to qualify for the Olympics, which I truly believed I had a good shot at. Both options presented challenges for me in terms of racing at altitude. I had to gamble on what I believed would be my best route.
I’m not sure what happened between December 12-27. Something went wrong. I didn’t have the same fight and fire in me during the Tour that I was used to feeling when racing. The night before the final stage of the Tour I was asking myself what could have happened. At that moment I was pretty ready to give up. Instead, I fell back on my support system. I cried on the phone to my sister, asked for advice from old teammates who had been in similar situations, and read through emails, texts and messages that friends and family sent my way. Whatever was left inside me, these people were able to muster it out for one last climb up a mountain.
Despite wanting to take a break multiple times during the climb (including when an athlete right in front of me stood up and stopped moving), I kept putting one foot in front of the other and made my way to the top of that mountain. It was far from beautiful, but when I crossed the line and heard that two fellow Americans had just placed 5th and 7th, I put my own sorrows away for a moment and felt pure excitement for them.
I’m not sure what’s next for me, aside from a few days off from skiing. I know I haven’t lost all that fitness I was feeling a few weeks ago and there’s definitely plenty of fire left inside me, I just have to find it. I’m taking the time to process and lick my wounds. I am also feeling extremely grateful for the incredible support from those near and far. The encouraging messages I have received from my community have helped wipe away tears and put a smile on my face. To my sponsors, family and friends, THANK YOU!
In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy the sun, snow, and beautiful mountains that currently surround me in central Europe and allow myself a few ‘soul days’ to work on the healing process.
The season has officially started and it’s been a wild ride so far this winter! After wrapping up a great camp in Canmore, Alberta with my teammate Lina, we flew to the Midwest on Thanksgiving day to join my family on the Birkie trails in northern Wisconsin for more skiing.
Lina and I had a really fun time in Canmore. We kept each other company around a 3k loop in town during the week. Over the weekend, we drove one hour north to Lake Louise where there was impeccable natural snow with over 30k of skiing and beautiful scenery! We got comfortable with skiing on snow again and hit a few hard intensity sessions in preparation for upcoming races. We wanted to make the most of our time in Canmore, without hitting it too hard considering we were jumping to altitude. In eight days we managed to get four interval sessions in, two strength sessions, and kept the overall volume of our camp at a reasonable level (about 18-20 hours).
This productive camp allowed us to enjoy some rest over Thanksgiving weekend as we joined the Midwest crew for the Turkey Birkie. By the end of the week we were loaded up on stuffing and pie - just in time for our SMS teammates, Ian and Bill, to join us with Coach Pat.
I wasted the week between supertour races at the family cabin in Cable, sitting around the fireplace, baking cookies and working from my computer during the afternoons. By Friday morning, I was refreshed and excited for more races! On tap, we had a 15k skate mass start, classic sprint and classic 10k individual start race. There was a pretty technical downhill with a 180 degree turn at the bottom that led you straight into a wall. After a minor crash on this turn during the 15k, I walked away pleased with my result and the way I skied there rest of the race, but still feeling like I could achieve more.
I brought confidence and calm energy into the classic sprint day. Although classic sprinting is my biggest weakness as a skier, I recognized that I had been working hard all year on my double pole and knew I could rely on it during the race. After a successful qualifier I did everything I could to rest between rounds and conserve as much energy as possible. I sat in my car, brought a chair out to our team wax bench, went inside for a few minutes, event spent a few extra minutes in the bathroom just to give my legs a break whenever I could! That same technical turn from my crash the day before was constantly in the back of my head, but through the rounds I remained calm and confident around the corner and was able to power my way to the finish line in first. Finally, all of the little variable had come together for me on the right day!
With all of the cheering from the midwest ski community and the comfort of staying at my family’s cabin I know I had the best home-course advantage anyone could ask for. I took full advantage of this opportunity and felt so grateful for the support by everyone out there.
Not once during the two weeks of racing did I add up, look at, or even think about the supertour points that I was accumulating. I knew that the supertour leader at the end of period 1 would be offered start spots on the World Cup, but my plan was to head to US Nationals after Christmas no matter what. I didn’t realize that going into the last 10k in Cable I was just one point behind the leader for overall points, I hadn’t even considered the thought. It didn’t matter to me. It wasn’t going to change the way I was going to race. I didn’t need more pressure or stress. All I could do in that moment was give each race everything I had and thinking about winning wasn’t going to help. My college coach at the University of Vermont, Patrick Weaver, once advised me that you can never expect to win, you have to want to win. On that day in Cable, I don’t think I even wanted to win. I wanted to challenge myself to race as hard as I could and I knew I’d be proud of the result no matter what.
With all of that being said, I finished the racing as the supertour leader, meaning I was offered to race the Tour de Ski for USA. I recognized this, but still assumed I’d head to Utah. There is a whole slew of criteria for qualifying for the Olympics and going into the season I believed my best bet was to do so through races at Nationals. As I pondered this though, I realized that racing at Nationals might not be enough and that the Tour de Ski might be my only pathway. I also knew that the Tour was an incredible opportunity and has always been something I’ve wanted to compete in. After a solo run in the woods and a serious chat with my coach, I had booked a flight to Italy! As another one of my coaches, Ben Husaby, once said, ‘the plan is always changing.’
I’ll be spending Christmas week skiing in Italy and Switzerland as I adjust to the elevation and time zone in Central Europe. I’m equally as nervous and I am excited for the opportunity to race in the Tour and am looking forward to what the rest of the season holds.
So it’s been a minute... oops! This fall sure has flown by and I can’t believe I’m already back on snow. Last time I checked in I was just returning from an on-snow camp in Oberhof, GER and now I’m checking in from a pre-season camp in Canmore, CAN. Don’t worry there was plenty of rollerskiing in the middle there. We had two other SMS T2 team camps this fall; one was a mini camp in Lake Placid while the other was a two week trip to Park City.
The remainder of September was packed with some pretty solid intensity training. Getting into the morning training routine, followed by work in the afternoon and an evening training session made the weeks fly by. However, I was sure to get in a few last fun adventures before it was time to get really serious.
In early October my teammates and I flew to Park City, UT for an altitude camp. Altitude is an intimidating place for me but I’ve been challenging myself to improve this weakness and visit the high mountains somewhat frequently. I was grateful for the opportunity to jump in with the national team during this two week camp - we packed in plenty of intervals, speeds and time trials.
I was feeling a little anxious about the time trials as I’m still not super comfortable with pacing at altitude. I somehow managed to flood my legs in the first 400 meters of the skate sprint which made it tricky to rebound for the rounds, but this was a great learning experience! Meanwhile, in the 10k classic time trial I wanted to start off a little more conservative. I’ve had my fair share of blowing up at altitude and once you go over that line I know it’s near impossible to come back. This strategy seemed to have worked okay for me as I was able to carry good energy throughout the entire 10 kilometers, but maybe had a little too much left in the tank at the end. Another good opportunity to practice for racing at altitude.
Despite some of the photos, Park City threw in some curve ball weather days with snow falling early in the camp and making it difficult to rollerski. Although, it was exciting to see some of that white stuff fall in October and got me thinking of the race season. Alas, I needed to rest and recover after a hard two weeks at altitude. At the end of camp I made a quick trip home to Minnesota to see friends, jump in a rollerski clinic with Gear West and spend quality time with my family.
Returning to Vermont after almost a month away was nice, although I seemed to have just missed peak foliage season (one of my favorite parts about living in Vermont). Stick season came fast but we made the most of it with some fun time trials, last few days of mountain biking, and a team fundraiser!
After a few more weeks embracing stick season I started looking at the upcoming forecast, keeping my fingers crossed that I would see a snowflake icon. Sadly, the weather was not looking great in Vermont or the Midwest and I started getting antsy to find snow. With races happening the first weekend in December I wanted to make sure I was prepared to be in the best position possible to perform well. My teammate, Lina Sutro, and I talked to Coach Pat and made some pretty quick travel arrangements to head up to Canmore, Alberta where there is currently a reliable 3k track of man-made snow.
Despite this being such a last minute decision, I really think Lina and I nailed it! Although we missed quite a few other American teams who had been training here earlier in the month, we arrived just after a fresh snowstorm. We are now switching between skiing in town on the 3k track and driving one hour north to Lake Louise for over 30k of freshly groomed natural snow. We're halfway through our week-long training camp up here and getting ready to kick off the racing season back in the Midwest!
And just like that, it seems as though summer has come to a close and winter is just around the corner. After putting in lots of summer volume hours and hard intervals on rollerskis, my SMS T2 teammates and I took a trip across the pond to prep for the race season. We traveled to Oberhof, Germany for a nine day training camp, skiing on snow in a 1.6 kilometer tunnel.
Before we left Vermont, we capped off our summer training with a few last adventures in the east. This meant a couple of big days in the white mountains and long threshold sessions. We also started incorporating a lot more speed and power into our training to get tuned up for fall intensity.
As we made our way to Logan International Airport, we made a pitstop in the suburbs of Boston to visit a few local ski groups. First, we joined the Eastern Mass X-Country Junior team (EMXC). We had the opportunity to chat with the skiers about training, racing, fueling, college and all things related to life as a ‘professional athlete.’ This team of high school skiers was looking fast when we went through roller ski drills with them, practiced race starts and striding speeds.
The next morning, the SMS T2 team stopped by the EMXC BKL practice (Bill Koch League). Working with skiers age 6-13, we split up into two groups. I spent the morning chasing around the younger crew during games of Sharks and Minnows, Ships Across the Ocean, and Capture the Flag. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that we needed the kids to remind us the rules of these games, but in the end we had a blast!
I think I can speak on behalf of the entire team that we had a great time working with the junior athletes in Boston. Reflecting back on my own experience at that age, whenever Jessie Diggins or Kikkan Randall would show up for an outreach event I turned into a total fan girl. They inspired me to chase my goals and crazy dreams and it’s wild to realize where I’ve ended up because of it. Anytime I have the opportunity to potentially encourage younger athletes to get after it, I’m all in. It’s been fun to have little events like this sprinkled throughout our summer because we weren’t able to safely hold anything last year.
After running around in the hot sun and humidity, we were ready to find a cooler climate. We hopped on a flight to Munich and drove another 3.5 hours to arrive in Oberhof, Germany, home to the LOTTO Thüringen Skisport-Halle. Jet-lagged, we rolled into Oberhof submersed in a cloud, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to run in 48 degrees and rain. The refreshing temps allowed my teammates and I to cool off and start wearing more layers, because the following day we jumped into an ice box.
The 1.6 kilomter tunnel features a loop plus a horseshoe. When open for two-way traffic you can get creative with your ski course, but on average one loop takes about 7-8 minutes. When you step into the tunnel, it feels like you’re stepping into an ice rink with temperatures kept around -4 celsius. Although seven minutes can feel both like an eternity and as fast as a blink, we kept each other company during our big training block and were giddy with excitement to be on snow.
We spent the first few days doing drills and speeds to get accustomed to skiing with long skis again. By the third day we had company from two of the local German National Team skiers, Antonia Fraebel and Victoria Carl. They joined us for a threshold workout that made a 2.5 hour ski in the tunnel fly by! We managed to do a few double sessions in the tunnel, although the running trails near town were so fun and the local team was gracious enough to let us access their gym. In the final few days of training we capped off our camp with two more hard interval sessions that left me feeling good and hungry for more. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of going fast on real snow to get you fired up for ski season!
Oberhof isn’t known to have the nicest weather, so we were all surprised when the sun came out halfway through the camp. The town really started showing off for us and we hit up a few of the tourist attractions nearby. It was extra special to have a few visitors stop by as well. Two of my old teammates from UVM are from Germany and both made the trip to see us. All together, we had quite the crew of Catamounts out tromping around the German forrest. It meant so much that Juri and Mara took the time to come say hello. It definitely makes me appreciate how much this sport can grow your community internationally and you can find friends in any little pocket of the world.
When we weren’t training, I ran around town trying to find wifi so I could keep up with my part-time computer job. Later, we made some delicious team dinners to enjoy outside and went for sunset walks around town. During our one afternoon off during the camp we went to play mini-golf at the local amusement park. Everything on the golf course was ski-related. My favorite stop on the course was at the mini ski jump, launching our golf balls into the air and around a few corners, I'm sure ski jumping is just as easy...
Finally, during our last training session on snow I started to get bored of the seven minute loop. Just in time! We spent our final evening with the German skiers and coaches as they showed us what a German BBQ looks like. We enjoyed Thüringer Bratwursts, mustard, sauerkraut and fresh brews, and had a great time sharing experiences with them.
After many hours of travel to get back to Vermont, it feels good to be back in the Green Mountain State. The leaves are just starting to change colors and temperatures are cool and fall-like. I'm excited to build on the work and progress I made in the last nine days to have a very productive fall. Soon enough, we'll be back on snow!
This summer has been one of the most productive summers I’ve had! At least, that’s how I feel as of right now. Of course, I won’t really be able to understand or reap the benefits until this winter. I’ve been prioritizing quality over quantity, pushing the extra intensity sessions and backing off on the volume. Rather than filling in afternoon sessions with extra recovery workouts, I’ve been taking them off to do yoga and rest for intensity the next day. It’s really nice to feel so great during training and oftentimes I want to continue rolling with the momentum I have. However, I think it’s easy to get lost in this and push yourself past the point of productivity. Similar to the way we force ourselves through the pain of one more interval, sometimes you have to force the rest and recovery even though you don’t want to.
A few weeks ago, I traveled out west for a mini-vacation. I didn’t worry about hours, intensity or strength and just got outside when I felt like doing so. This was hard to do because I felt like I was leaving behind quality training with my teammates in Stratton and missing out on key workouts. Although, I recognized that I had been working really hard for six weeks and need to take some time to absorb the load. After five days of vacation mode, I was feeling happy, fulfilled, and eager to get back to work!
There are pros and cons to staying in one place all season to train. If you stay home, you get consistent and quality training without the stress of travel or finding new training locations. However, you can also get bored from doing the same workouts in the same places, which can sometimes lead to feeling 'flat.' As an athlete living at sea level, it also prevents you from learning how to train/race at altitude and vice versa an altitude athlete might lack speed and fast twitch muscles if they never visit sea level. After my vacation, I met my SMS teammate, Lina Sutro, in her hometown of Carbondale, CO for a mini altitude training camp.
For eight days, we stayed with Lina's family in Carbondale and focused on quality over quantity. I managed to squeeze in 4 intensity sessions: classic speeds, skate threshold, a skate sprint workout and classic time trial. These workouts were very hard and I knew it was best to not push volume and prioritize recovery, something that is extremely important at altitude. When Lina and I weren't training, we put our feet up to watch the Olympics, work on our computers and visit with friends.
On my final day in Colorado, I figured it was okay to do one big adventure to appreciate the beautiful mountains and end the intensity camp with a final push. I unplugged from my phone/music and enjoyed an epic solo day in the gorgeous Maroon Bells-Snowmass mountain range.
Lina and I lucked out and just happened to be in town during Carbondale's Mountain Fair; a collection of local musicians, artists and foodies coming together for one of the first big gatherings I've been to in over 16 months! It was so fun to spend time in the Roaring Fork Valley and I'm so appreciative of the Sutro family for being such welcoming hosts. Thanks to them, I was able to have a very fun and productive work trip.
This year, US Nationals are at altitude in Soldier Hollow, Utah, which is why I think this trip was extremely important for me to travel out west to practice working hard with little oxygen. Even though it wasn't long enough of a camp to get an 'altitude boost' I still found a lot of value in feeling how hard I could push myself at altitude without blowing up. This is something I've struggled a lot with in the past, having always lived and trained at sea level. I've never been super comfortable training or racing at altitude, but I'm thinking little camps like this are a great step in the right direction for me and feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to make it work!
Now that I’m back east and settled down after a few weeks of travel, I’m ready to dial back into training with my teammates and hopefully pick up right where I left off.
I’ve been back in Stratton, VT for three weeks now but I feel like I’ve been here for so much longer. In a good way! Training has been fun, work is going well and I’ve been able to find fun ways to get my east coast life going again. I feel like last year all socializing and activities were put on pause. I forgot how much can be going on when the world is open again!
Before I could unpack my belongings and fully move into a condo with my teammates, Julia and Lina, I hit the road again. This time, just for 24 hours. Teammate, Katharine Ogden, proposed the idea of running the Presidential Traverse in early June and although this probably wasn’t the best athletic decision after sitting in a car for two days, I couldn’t resist the adventure. Last year, I ran the Presi Traverse for the first time. I went into it with so much hype built up in my head about how long and technical it would be and that the challenge would leave me very beat up after. This was pretty accurate last year. The 19 mile point to point in the heart of the White Mountains contains almost 8,000 ft of scrambling vert and is no easy feat. Yet, I somehow felt more prepared for the effort both mentally and physically this year, knowing how to fuel during/after, recover later and feeling excited to catch up with my teammates during the 6.5 hour run. This growth is something that's really cool to see as I develop as an athlete!
The weather wasn’t the most ideal, with 45-50 mph gusts of wind on top of Mt. Washington. This couldn’t bring down our spirits though as we just kept chugging along, taking breaks to top off our water and purchase snacks from the White Mountain huts.
Back in Stratton, I finally unpacked everything and got started with more ‘normal’ training. The smooth pavement and hilly roads around here are always so much fun to train on! I was also very excited to help celebrate three of my teammates as they graduated from college. Lina Sutro was a teammate of mine at UVM and graduated this spring. I’ve been counting down the days until we could finally be teammates once again! Meanwhile, Katharine and Julia both plowed through their degrees at Dartmouth in an impressive fashion as they navigated through various terms of skiing, school and breaks.
In just my second week in Vermont, the team packed up again for a mini training camp at Green Woodlands in Lyme, NH. I had never been to Greens before but was absolutely blown away by the 23,000 acres of wilderness and miles and miles of mountain biking and running trails at our disposal. Typically, it’s rather challenging for our entire SMS team to coordinate schedules and all come together in one place. As soon as the idea of a Greens camp was mentioned though, we all made sure to be there. Bob Green was the most welcoming host and invited us to stay in cabins in the middle of the property, with a gorgeous, self-sustainable, renovated barn right on the lakefront.
For 3.5 days, the team skied, ran, biked, swam and kayaked as we unplugged from our digital devices and tuned into our beautiful surroundings and each other’s company.
After some big days at camp and a lot of training for the first two weeks being back in Vermont, I was pretty ready for an easy week! I used to dread easy weeks or days off from training. I would get restless and bored and feel lazy for not doing anything. I’ve always recognized that they’re important if you want to absorb any of the hard work you’ve done, but have never had a great outlook on them. More recently though, I get just as excited about the easy periods! In part, it’s a time that I can catch up on work. Sometimes it’s hard to train 20+ hours a week and work 20 hrs, while also prioritizing recovery, nutrition and body care. Luckily, my work is flexible enough that I can transfer around some of my hours from week to week. Also during easy weeks, I try to get away from Stratton to either visit friends/family or plan a fun day in the mountains. After spending a couple of down days around Stratton, hanging out at the regional U14/U16 camp, and putting my feet up, I made a trip north!
This past weekend I raced in the Catamount Ultra 25k running race in Stowe, VT. I’ve always been a skier AND runner, and love incorporating more running into my training. In previous years, I jumped into a lot of running races whenever I could, but last year this wasn’t super easy. Being back in a starting gate with so many runners and feeling that type of adrenaline and excitement in the middle of the summer was something I really missed. Although the race course was BRUTAL and slightly longer than what I’m used to, I had so much fun being back in that setting and I’m really looking forward to more opportunities like this.
Aside from all of the training and work I’ve done the last few weeks, I’ve also been able to celebrate and spend quality time with friends and teammates. We’ve had three graduations, three birthdays and Swedish Midsummer festivities. My teammates went as far as throwing me a surprise birthday party, which I was so oblivious of leading up to the reveal, I’m almost embarrassed. How did I not see all of the clues? Regardless, we’ve had cake, flowers, balloons and many, many laughs.
It’s only been three weeks in Stratton, yet I feel like it’s been a whole summer! Things are going well in Vermont and I can’t wait to see what other shenanigans I can get up to the next few months.
After a much needed spring break out west, I feel like I’ve had one of my best starts to the new year of training. Realizing what makes me truly happy while skiing and chasing athletic goals has allowed me to prioritize the specific opportunities that the lifestyle presents, which also make me smile the most. That being said, I kick-started my spring training in the mountains, surrounded by sun, snow and some of my best friends!
I returned to Bend, OR in early May. I spent my summers in college training in Bend with the Bend Endurance Academy and have the fondest memories of training and working hard there, while having the absolute MOST fun! This is exactly the type of atmosphere I am trying to channel this year so when a group of my girlfriends proposed the idea of an ‘active work vacation’ in Bend, I didn’t hesitate!
We spent the mornings driving up to Mt. Bachelor to ski, mountain biking on the local trails, or running up to beautiful waterfalls. We would return back to our Airbnb to crank out hours of work, looking up to crack jokes with each other or offer to make another pot of coffee. We had the goal of being done with work around 4 so we had plenty of time for afternoon activities too. Sitting amongst these ladies I found myself inspired to broaden my horizon and think about what else I could really accomplish in life while I’m training as a skier.
I overheard Zoe Snow make badass work calls as she led her team as a project manager. Zoe is one of the initial employees of an extremely successful startup company, Trusst - an app that provides affordable and effective mental health care to adults right from their phone. Meanwhile, Taryn Hunt-Smith was across the room ferociously writing down her thoughts and life story while she applied to med school. Not only a genius, but a rockstar mountain runner for Salomon who can scramble up and over rocks like a mountain goat. Sitting next to me on the couch was Abby Drach, doodling with intent on her iPad as she worked on the next product launch for her own business that she just started this past spring, Indura Athletic. Abby is a local Minnesota skier who brought her creative talents to a sewing machine last summer making cute, athletic face masks. Quickly becoming a sensation over Etsy and filling orders across the world, Abby decided to follow her true passion with clothes and launched her women’s athletic clothing line just a few months ago. Indura fits all shapes and sizes and makes a woman feel empowered in her own body by the way Abby designs the apparel. Always cute and always comfy, Indura Athletic collides functionality with self-empowerment. I absolutely adore everything Abby has created so far and know she's just getting started!
As I saw these women work fiercely around me, I pondered at the idea of stepping up my own game. I’ve been working for a startup company, LandTrust, for two years now, but I feel like I haven’t really been fulfilling my potential. Yes, I’ve been trying to be laser-focused with my ski career and prioritize recovery between training sessions, but I also know that I am the type of person who thrives with balance in my life. These ladies have inspired me to raise the bar as I continue to chase my ski dreams, but also prepare for life after skiing (whenever that may be) and reincorporate other types of goals into my life.
After working hard all day, the ladies and I would find ways to get outside again in the afternoon. We frequently found ourselves wandering around town and landing a spot at one of the many renowned Bend breweries, ordering pizzas or tacos and enjoying time with other friends who were in town.
I was so sad when it came time for my friends to fly back home, but they left me feeling energetic and ready to go. This soft approach to training and playing outside slowly ignited the fire inside me and I spent the next few days incorporating more structured training into my routine. Soon enough, my SMS T2 teammates arrived in town for us to join the national team training camp for a few weeks of on-snow training. Junior and elite skiers from all over the country trickled into Bend for this camp so I immediately found myself surrounded by more friends. The big volume days of training seemed to fly by as we all chattered for hours skiing in outstanding spring conditions at Mt. Bachelor. Many of us hadn’t seen each other in over a year due to the pandemic, or if we had, we socially distanced and were unable to really spend quality time with each other. It seemed as though everyone couldn’t stop smiling about the fact that we were all back together, fully vaccinated and having fun once again!
I continued to spend my afternoons working from the couch or kitchen table, attempting to achieve maximum recovery while simultaneously completing work projects. I was staying in a condo with my teammates Bill, Ian and Will, and we spent our evenings either watching basketball games or making our way through Marvel movies. Again, everyone seemed to be much more relaxed and playful than we had last year. We felt safer, more confident and optimistic in the future, and excited for the potential we all had for the next year.
I decided to leave Bend camp a few days early as I had been there for 3.5 weeks and had a VERY long drive to make my way back east. Luckily, I had the perfect pitstop in the middle visiting my family in the Midwest. Spending a weekend at our cabin in Northern Wisconsin I got my lake fix in. We spent hours fishing and kayaking, reading and puzzling, cooking and eating, and ending our days with bonfires or movies. This type of peaceful getaway with my family is another aspect to my life that brings balance. I value my family so much and my mom and sister are two of my best friends. Without being able to easily see them last year unless I quarantined on either side of a trip, I felt like a piece of my world was missing just a little bit. Not anymore!
We returned to the Twin Cities for a whirlwind week. With temperatures reaching a high of 97 degrees most days, I got my training done early in the morning, frequently meeting up with more friends to get a social hour or two in simultaneously. My sister and her husband just bought a house so we spent the hot hours of the afternoon moving furniture and boxes across the city, ending the day with summer BBQ’s. Attempting to get ALL of the work done, make ALL of the appointments, see ALL of the people and do ALL of the activities, I was pooped by the end of the week. Just the way I wanted to feel! I packed up my car one last time and drove east with a heavily caffeinated, very full heart.
Having returned to Stratton, Vermont just one week ago, I feel like I have finally found that balance in my life that I was seeking all of last year, but was never really able to find. If you had asked me mid-April if I was excited for the upcoming year, I would have said no. If you had asked me mid-May if I was ready to get back to Vermont for training, I would have said no. However, during my drive from Minnesota to Vermont, I felt butterflies in my stomach once again. As I drove up and over the rolling, lush green mountains of New England, I felt like the state of Vermont was giving me a welcome-back hug. And I felt very, VERY ready to be back. :)
Professional skier, traveling the world, exploring the culture, racing my heart out.