It’s a whole different ball game over here folks!
Last Monday, I flew through the night, over the ocean and across seven time zones, to arrive in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. I was greeted with brown grass, a gray sky and ice fog. I was also greeted by a group of smiling US Ski Team members and staff, including my SMS T2 teammate, Julia Kern.
Along with the rest of central Europe, Nove Mesto has been having a tough winter with warm temperatures and very little snowfall. They were able to make enough snow to provide a 3.75 kilometer ribbon of snow for skiers to race on over the weekend, so I spent a few days getting to know the course.
I took the first few days to try some new foods including fried cheese, fried cauliflower and goulash. I also did my best to adjust to the new time zone by waking up early, going for afternoon jogs and taking melatonin before bed so I could fall asleep a little faster. By Friday morning, athletes from all over the world had arrived at the venue. I was working with one of the USST techs, Tim Baucom, for the week. Together, we tested skis and kick wax to make sure I would be set up for great races over the weekend. Thanks for the help Tim!
Soon enough, it was race morning and the weekend schedule consisted of a 10k individual skate race on Saturday and pursuit style 10k classic on Sunday. A pursuit means that you take your time back from the winner on Saturday and then start the same time back from them on Sunday. For example, I finished about 2.5 minutes back from the winner during the skate race so I started 2.5 minutes after her on Sunday.
Overall, I was quite pleased with my 10k skate race on Saturday. I feel like I did a good job pacing a difficult course and managed to stay light on my feet through ankle deep, mashed potato-like, icy chunks of man-made snow. I felt strong during the race, but I didn’t feel like I could give it absolutely everything I had and I ended up in 46th place. I was hoping I would be able to make this up the following day by passing a few people in the pursuit race, but I ended up doing the opposite. I didn’t have much fire left inside me on Sunday and despite having great classic skis, I just couldn’t quite keep up with the other girls. I think my body is still feeling the fatigue from such tough racing at US Nationals and when combined with international travel and adjusting to a new time zone, I was not feeling like a superstar.
Looking back on the last few weeks, I think I really emptied my tank during my races at US Nationals. I had to do so in order to qualify for these World Cup races and it felt amazing to do it, so I have no regrets. It’s just taking me a little bit longer than I’d like to fully recharge my body and my head. Over the course of 48 hours while racing in Nove Mesto, I realized a few things. On the World Cup, you can NOT fake it 'til you make it. If you aren’t ready to give it 110% from the gun then you will get eaten alive by your competitors. Even if you’re feeling “pretty good” or if you’re thinking you could “work into the race,” then it’s already too late and you’ve been dropped.
This is something that I’m still working on. At US Nationals, I was ready to give it 110%, not only physically but mentally too. I was ready to send it from the start and be fierce. But I’m still learning how to do that in every single race within a season. And I recognize that if I can only give it 90% on a given day at the World Cup, then it’s not going to be a phenomenal day. And that’s okay! I am honored and grateful to have these World Cup starts and I am ready to learn something from each race. For now, that means training in Oberstdorf, Germany in preparation for a 15k skiathlon this Saturday and a classic sprint on Sunday! So far, I've been enjoying the snow and sunshine! :)