(It should be noted that it's taken me a FULL WEEK to publish this blog because of the non-existent and/or slow internet.......Such is life in Europe, on the road!)
Here are some pictures from the past week.... you may notice that there is no skiing in any of them. That's because I took the post-tour recovery week away from skiing and "went to the country!" Dear friends from Anchorage live in a small town called Polcenigo, about 2.5 hours by car from Predazzo. I rehabbed there last year after the Tour and it was fun to return this year for my "recharge." Going back almost felt like returning home or at least as close as I'll get to a "home" for some time. I knew where they kept stuff in their cupboards, I recognized my running routes, and even re-connected with some of their friends I had met previously. As an added bonus this year I had my passport (last year it was shipped to the consulate in order to get my Russian Visa) so I could get onto the Aviano Air Force base where Kathy works at the elementary school. This meant I got to do an International school visit (!) as well as use the gym and shop at the commissary. I stoked up on ground American coffee and my favorite, SALSA! It was wonderful and therapeutic to have my own bedroom, wake up when I wanted to wake up, eat when I wanted to eat, wash dishes & feed their cat. Its funny in that the things you miss while over here competing are all the things that you either take for granted or despise at home. Think, dishes!
Kathy & Bill
Years ago when I was the coach at West High School I actually coached Kathy & Bill's kids, Will & Mary. Kathy was also in my Anchorage-based women's only ski group. It's been super fun to see how this friendship has come full circle. Little did we know seven years ago that we would be hanging out in Italy together! Thanks SO SO much for the hospitality you two!
When in Italy, make Pico de Gallo!
Train station near their house
While in Polcenigo I got to do some cross training including a great bike ride with Bill. We biked to the nearby market in Porcia to pick up some fresh veggies, figs, olives & tomatoes. On the way home was a mandatory espresso break. One interesting fact I learned is that if you take your coffee standing up (at the espresso bar) it's cheaper than sitting down. Italians love to pound an espresso or capp on the go!
This is the lunch I made for us when we got home. It was outstanding.
One of the many nativity scenes in Polcenigo.... It's called "Prescipe" (sp?) and it's an Italian tradition. Think Gingerbread houses + Christmas lights on steroids. Everyone makes really ornate scenes near their houses and in Polcenigo they are so good that it's a walking tour... people come from all over to see this....
One afternoon Bill and Kathy returned home, independent of one another. They both came carrying the same thing - a bottle of red wine and girl scout cookies purchased on base! Girl Scout cookies always bring back memories for me as I sold thousands of them when I was young. (I earned my way to horse camp for free by schlepping thin mints....)
I absolutely loved hanging out with the cat seeing that I miss my own, Buggz! This is Killer and here he is, displaying a very happy head shake!
Bill at the local market, across the street
A favorite, local coffee shop. Fun fact - did you know that you will pay less for your espresso if you drink it standing up at the bar as opposed to sitting down to drink your coffee? Check out the helmet on top of the Vespa!
Here is your typical Italian toilet... Needless to say, I am NOT a fan of this. What boggles my mind is how do 80-90 year old Italians squat down over this thing to go to the bathroom? This kind of set up definitely necessitates some flexibility and strength.
Kathy spent time working as a cook at a remote lodge in AK... she is a great cook!
These lemons are at the market but it should be mentioned that Kathy & Bill have a lemon tree in their garage!
During my visit to Polcenigo I was able to make a school visit to Aviano Elementary. Aviano is a NATO base meaning there are Italians and Americans working on the same base. There are upwards of 9,000 Americans living and working here.... "Ally" (#35/left) recently moved to Italy from Alaska! Her parents worked on Elmendorf! These girls conducted an interview with me and filmed it to show on the school news show. We also got to film an endorsement for their "Kid Fit Seminar" coming up at the end of January! One of the downsides of being on the road all winter is that I don't get to have enough interface like this. It was really fun to do an International school visit. Thanks for having me Aviano Elementary!
A couple years ago at Oslo World Champs I distinctly remember having a conversation with a retired athlete. This athlete was on "vacation" with their family and was a spectator in Oslo. This athlete raced for over 5 years in Europe, on the World Cup. They told me how much fun they were having and that they saw more of Europe on a one week vacation than they had during the FIVE YEARS of competing. I made a mental note of this and vowed to myself that I would make a concerted effort to actually "see" some of Europe during my travels for racing. Now, this is pretty hard because while on the road we're fairly focused. When we aren't traveling, training or racing we're resting and recovering. Also, the small things - laundry, Internet, getting something printed, sending a postcard - all this stuff takes about 5x the energy that it does in the states... Things aren't open, the Internet doesn't work... you don't know where to find something and when you do, you have to get there yourself.
Anyways, Venice is an hour train ride from Polcenigo. I went for an evening last year with Kathy and Bill and this year Kathy and I decided to return for the afternoon. "When in Rome, right?" It certainly takes effort to get to a place like this and I can't do it often but it's energizing for me to see something else and to do things that are completely non-ski related. Here are a new pictures from our afternoon in Venice. Thanks to Kathy for joining me!
Venice is known for 2 things - beautiful glass work and lace. This American flag is actually stained glass and the "stars" used to be glass Cocacola bottles!
Saint Marc's Square....
Thank you so much Kathy & Bill for your hospitality!!!! It was a great mid-winter visit!
Liz & Jessie after our laundry mission in Predazzo....
If you're curious to read more about the Tour de Ski I wrote an article for the National Nordic Foundation titled, "The Good, the bad & the ugly" You can find that HERE if interested.
Otherwise, we're currently in La Clusaz, France. It's my first time in France and it's certainly meeting and perhaps, exceeding my expectations. There is tons of snow and we're up in the mountains. Yesterday our hotel staff brought us a gorgeous cheese plate for dessert. There are races this weekend, then we have a training camp nearby in Les Saisies, France - the site of the '92 Albertville Olympic Games. After that we're SOCHI bound for the pre-Olympic World Cup!
Thanks for reading and thanks for the kind words of support! Have a fabulous day,