Sunday, November 18, 2012

LAHTO! (Finnish for "Start?")

Our week in Muonio is coming to a close. We hit the road for a "Lappish road trip" at noon.  We're headed three hours west (by van) to Gallivare, Sweden, the location of the next weekend's World Cup opener.  Now that we've gotten the first races out of the way some of the questions have been answered. Some of the anxiety put to rest.  Our sport is so funny.... we train so much, all the time. But, you never really know what kind of shape you're in until you put a bib on. It's especially nice to put a bib on in Europe where the competition is deep to say the least. 

This week I've had a bit of everything - feeling like crap to feeling decent and everything in between. I'm still waking up at odd hours and my stomach never feels "good" but that is part of living on the road and dealing with an 11-hour time change. I've only been here a week so far so it's good to be patient. However, by the time we finally full adjust it will be time to travel to Quebec and then Canmore. We'll be hoping around all kinds of different time zones! 

Here are a couple of pictures from the week, with captions: 

Traveling with my Tupperware of Brussel sprouts.... one of my favorite foods! 

40 hours of travel got me here - to LAPLAND! 

Living on the road it's really nice to get out of the hotel room and off my skis.  In Muonio we got the opportunity to visit the local middle school and hang out with some Finnish kids.  We told them about the US, where we're from, life as professional athletes & answered their questions.  They were incredibly shy when it came to asking their questions in English but afterwards they ALL wanted our autographs and pictures.  It was fun seeing many of the same kids out volunteering for the race during the weekend! 

 Headed to the school...... 

 With some of the Finnish girls

 We also took the time to visit Juhani and the local Muonio ski shop. Juhani is a friend of Dave Knoop's . Dave travels to Northern Finland each spring for the "Lapponia" a three day stage race across Lapland which features back to back marathon-length races. That might be fun someday! 

 Overlooking the river, presumably by the Swedish border? 

 One thing I love about staying in the Northern regions is that we're often in cabins.  I prefer this style of living to hotel rooms any day. It's amazing what a sink and stove top, let alone a fireplace can do for your soul!  I made a fire this day and accidentally cooked us out of our cabin which had a lack of windows that opened.... whoops! It was worth it though: ) 

 This backpack belongs to a grown man.... the coach of a very, very famous World Cup skier. Eastern Europeans love their animal key chains..... ?!

 This snow man is the signature of Muonio

 Proud of Liz for her second place finish behind Justyna K! AWESOME! 

 Hot Dog ball soup..... but to give Olos (the ski resort here) credit the food has been really good. 

 Here I am during my 10k skate race!  (Thanks to Kikkan for taking the photo and some video as well) 

 US Girls after Sunday's skate race! 2nd, 7th, and 9th!  We're excited and ready for next weekend's kickoff World Cup races! 

 USST girls before our first Muonio ski... in our cabin 

 We even saw the sun here! It does exist.... although the week got darker and darker as we're losing 9 minutes of daylight per day.  That's almost an hour in one week alone! 

 Thanks to Bryan Fish for helping me out with my skis this weekend. I got some great new boards from Salomon.... I'm excited to get them all dialed in! 

In our wax room with the American flag which we hang on the wall in each country :) 

These green bracelets that we're wearing are for Mary, the devo skier in the APU program that was hit by a car earlier this fall.  They read "GO SUPER MARY!"  Mary...... know that each and every one of us is pulling for you!  Word on the street is that you're kicking butt with your recovery!  (Pretty fun that even Aino Kaisa Saarinen - Finnish World Champion and Olympic medalist) is cheering for you too! 

Kikkan showing off the Finnish salad bar

 Bird after this awesome 4th place classic finish. In his own words... the best race he's had in a year! 

 Noah Hoffman (red hat) racing the 15k skate yesterday. 

 Women's skate results.... I'll take it! 

More soon - from Sweden! 
Have a great day & as always, thanks for reading, 
Holly :)