Wednesday, February 27, 2013

World Champs and planning for next time....

First things first…. While I haven’t “hit the nail on the head” this week there are many of my teammates who have. The first and most obvious performance that comes to mind is Kikkan and Jessie’s Gold Medal in the Team Sprint; the first Gold Medal for the USA in women’s cross country skiing.  

Yesterday, Liz, “spider monkey” Stephan was a stunning 5th place in the women’s 10k skate and today, the Hoff was 15th in a stacked field of World Cup men….. 

Congrats to all my teammates for performing at the peak of the season when it really counts!  The spotlight is heightened and head-turning performances like these give confidence to all North Americans and provide excitement to our entire “ski nation.”  Because of these results and others, our team is no longer “written off….” We are contenders and other teams certainly take notice.  While Norway is completely “spanking” the rest of the countries in the overall medal count (they have 12, the next best nation, Austria currently has 4!) it’s great to see other people, including US in the mix. The week isn’t done and I have a feeling there is more excitement right around the corner.

As for myself…… here is a little post that I put together for the National Nordic Foundation:
What athletes doesn’t dream of winning? I do. I think everyone does. But the harsh reality of it is that for someone to win, someone has to loose. For someone to absolutely rock, someone has to falter.  For someone to have a good day, another must have a bad. It’s not necessarily pretty, but mathematically, it’s reality.

That said, when someone has “their day” it’s easy to look past all the races they’ve lost, or the crashes they’ve had or the times they haven’t met their expectations. It’s easy to think that it came easily to them. But what about all the roller skis in the rain, the Friday nights in the weight room , the holidays spent in the airport, or the jet-lag that keeps you up when you’re just trying to get to your next race?
Racing calls on polarities and more often than not, it’s an emotional roller coaster. If the hard times weren’t so trying the good times wouldn’t feel so darned good, so accomplished.  While it’s cliché, blood sweat and tears is a real thing in our sport.

I won’t lie, this week has been tough for me. I haven’t had nearly the Championships that I wanted, or dreamed of.  I had hoped for an individual top 15 and today I came up short, crossing the finish line in an unimpressive 27th

The result leaves me disappointed but not hopeless. I have a rolling list in my head of things that I want to do differently, to change next weekend, and more importantly, next season.  

What’s next? Well, tomorrow I’ll cheer on our women’s 4x5k relay as they ski for a medal. I don’t want to jinx us but I promise this is going to be a good race. The men’s relay is Friday, and then the equivalent of the marathon, the 30 & 50K mass start classic races are this weekend.  Also, there is no rest for the weary as Tuesday our team will fly to Lahti for the continuation of the regular season’s World Cups. Funny that one week a win equals a World Championship title and a win the following week is just that, a win.  I’m hoping that I can find something left in the tank and turn in a couple more good performances. 

Team USA Ladies.... 

Having Rob, my husband here has helped immensely. Spending time together…. Imagine that!
Thanks everyone for your cheers and words of support!  They can be heard all the way across the ocean!

Holly :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Davos & ROB!

The Davos race weekend just came to an end and today is the first full day in Val di Fiemme. The sun is out, the weather is gorgeous and of course, I'm not allowed to ski today.... Especially at this time of year, off days are needed but they're not always necessarily fun.  

I was the sole USST member who raced both races in Davos this past weekend while all of my teammates opted to rest up for World Champs.  I've been struggling with some fatigue lately and I felt that I needed to test my race fitness after a period of rest.  Lucky for me I was able to turn in solid results in both the classic sprint on Saturday as well as the 10k skate on Sunday. In doing so, I fulfilled one of my season goals to score World Cup points in all four disciplines: skate sprint, skate distance, classic distance and classic sprint! 

APU Girls with Coach Erik Flora 

 Coach Matt with a van pull of full-sized bike pumps! Everyone that raced at Swiss National Championships got one as the "race present."  They are super sweet.... the only problem is transporting them home! 

Maybe I raced well this weekend because I took some rest ..... or..... maybe it's because Rob is finally here for a visit!  I won't sugar-coat the situation. It's hard to be married and spend months on end away from my husband.  This go-around it had been two months since seeing him last.  Between my lack of a world-wide phone, the 10-hour time difference to Alaska and the simple fact that the Internet crashes everywhere we go, it's the equivalent of a full time job to stay in touch.  He's been working his tail off at home in order to be here and it is SO GREAT to see him.  Even better, in addition to visiting me & watching the races he was able to catch up with an old friend from college who lives in Germany.  While I can't downhill ski with him, Rob and Flo had an awesome time and I was really grateful that he had a ski buddy! 

Rob and Flo dining on Fondue after a "hard" day of skiing! 

 Somehow Rob found this in Davos.... I'm not really sure what it is but he thought it was maybe a playground? 

 The grooming is spectacular in Davos. Here is the Piston Bully literally pulling up to the gas station across the street from our hotel! 

The skiing infrastructure in Switzerland is unbelievable. Davos is a giant maze of trams, gondolas, chair lifts, palma lifts, trains and buses that you can link together for some amazing lines and tours. Here's Rob on the train after some skiing.... 

Flo using the streets of Davos to extend his ski run! 

 I feel incredibly lucky to have the best, most supportive husband in the world. It's corny, I know. But it's true.  When we got married almost four years ago he had no idea he was signing up to be a perpetual "bachelor", spending up to 7 months a year home, alone.  (Five month race season and 2 months out of town @ training camps.)  Rob was actually on the US Ski Team when he was young so it's interesting watching him be pulled into the scene yet once again. It's full circle in a funny but different way.

Here is a picture that Rob took from Sunday's 10k skate race in Davos. The Swiss track is traditionally my favorite as last year it was my top result of the season.  This year I finished 20th which in my mind was decent, yet un-spectacular.  I skied into the race, emphasizing pacing and knowing that efforts at altitude pile up and hit you like a ton of bricks if you're not careful.  The race "feeling" and result was a huge improvement over my mid-season distance racing slump and I hope that I'm returning to form. With just a few more days rest I hope that I can get my level of performance up another level. Time will tell! 

 The USST has been staying at the Kulm since the mid 1980's.  Heinz, the owner, is absolutely fantastic, calling each and every person by their first names the second they walk through the door.  The food is fabulous, the atmosphere exquisite and you can ski in gorgeous classic tracks right out the door!  If you're lucky, Heinz will even bust out his Swiss Alps Horn and play it for you...... 

 One of the best capps in the world at the Klatsch... 

 While in Davos we also celebrated a big birthday.  Erik Flora tried to let it slip under the radar but he had no such luck!  We surprised him with 40 cans of Coca-Cola classic, balloons and a plate full of Swiss chocolate.  Good thing he's doing a lot of ski testing over the next two weeks! Happy Birthday Erik :) 

Literally two hours after Sunday's 10k we hopped in the vans for five hours and drove directly to Val di Fiemme where World Championships will kick off Thursday with the classic sprint.  We're staying in a hotel that we've stayed in the past two years for the Tour de Ski so it feels familiar and comfortable. The Cross Country crew is joined by the Nordic Combined guys and special jumpers so there is a huge USA contingent here.  

A walk in the sun with my music to stretch the legs..... more soon and thanks so much for reading and the supportive words of encouragement! 

Holly ;) 


A couple words to live by..... the same message can be "translated" to other aspects of life beyond sport. Think work, family, friends, goals, dreams, adventures..... 

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Aussie come back!

Couple quick things.... 

When we posted our "Trouble Trouble Trouble" video on Saturday we made a team bet and each individual guessed how many hits the video would get in a 24-hour time period.  Guesses ranged everywhere from 895-60,000 with the median guess being around 2500.  Well, come 9:30am Sunday morning our video had reached over 28,000!!!!!! Incredible. We're not anywhere near the 10 Million that USA Swimming & Call Me Maybe got before London but just wait until next year..... 

Until then, the Aussie team took us up on our video challenge. I believe these guys put this together in just a short, two days time.  If you want to help these guys and their "hits" out, check out Team AUSSIE XC doing Katy Perry, I kissed a girl.... 

In other news which is even more fabulous, my husband Rob is currently enroute to Europe to come for a visit! We haven't seen each other in two months and I can't wait to see him!  Leaving a husband, house, friends, and of course Buggz behind in Anchorage for five straight months is hard, I'm not going to lie. But, the next little bit with him should be great! Hopefully I can put together some good races! 

Davos World Cups coming up this weekend. I'm racing the classic sprint on Saturday and the 10k skate on Sunday - which was my favorite race last year.  

More soon! 
Holly :) 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

trouble tRoUbLe TROUBLE!!!

A little US Ski Team project over the last month :) 

Big shout out to Simi Hamilton for putting the whole thing together! 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

So much about Sochi!

I know, I know.... my blog has been quiet lately but it's not because I haven't been writing. I was doing a "dispath" from Sochi for my home paper, the Anchorage Daily News. And, I just got word that one of my quotes was picked up by the New York Times!  You can read that article HERE. Basically, the Times reflects a lot of the things I said in my own articles, just better :) 

Rather than re-writing or re-posting the entire length of my short articles, I'll simply put links to the Anchorage Daily News website. You can check out the three published articles below: 

Then, I wrote a final, fourth article that I don't believe made it to print:

My last articles have presented some of the hardships of Sochi: the odd cultural customs, the impossible lines & the difficult dietary options.  I think it's about time to note that Sochi is growing on me. While I still have bucket-loads of questions, I can navigate the Olympic venue now better than when I arrived and that was the purpose of this exploratory trip, one year out from the Games.

First and foremost, I cannot BELIEVE the amount of work, time, preparation and DOLLARS (or Rubles!) that are going into making the Olympics next year a top-notch event.  It's apparent that Vladimir Putin & CO are prepared to put on a show for the rest of the World. The Olympics is the most televised event on earth and it is apparent that Russia aspires to impress us by flexing their muscles as the 2014 hosts. They're building high speed trains, new power plants & most relevant to us, the cross country & biathlon venues on the top of a mountain which was just about bare only handful of years ago.  Each night, walking to and from meals I passed by workers of many different nationalities, readying themselves for their 12-hour shifts.  The construction workers were rumored to be anywhere between 40,000-80,000 strong and those working at “Laura” (the ski venue) could be seen as silhouettes on the tops of buildings, roped up, late at night - working in snow storms, under the shadows of cranes and to the beat of jack hammers and big machinery.  It looked like a scene from a movie and I had to pinch myself to realize that what I was looking at was real…. I cannot wait to (hopefully) return next year and see the final product because I know it’s going to dramatic.

 Just a couple of the cranes visible on the way to and from meals... 

Sochi, like Vancouver will have the dichotomy of indoor sports (ice skating, curling, hockey) down low, near the beach (!) and snow sports (alpine, cross country, biathlon, sliding sports) up high, in winter.  I remember hearing during the Olympics in Canada that the weather in Sochi was nearly 70 degrees Fahrenheit the week of the Games!  Sochi is touted as the “longest city in the world” and a popular get-a-way for the Russian elite.  While our arrival was in the dark and we couldn’t see a thing, our departure from the venue was midday. Thus, we were able to see the palm trees from the bus windows and get a (small) sense of the black sea and life off what we affectionately now call the “Rock!” Our trip from the base of the gondola to Adler Airport took nearly an hour and we drove through construction the entire time.  It was enough to make you feel that in addition to your seat belt, you should be wearing a hard hat too!

During our stay many of us made it our personal missions to pick up a few words of Russian.  Just simple things like,"Spacibo" which means thank you or "Dobroe utro", good morning lights up the workers and volunteer's faces when they realize that we're making an effort to reach out and embrace their culture.  

In all, our team spent a full week in Russia.  Yes, we competed, but maybe more importantly, we got a feeling for what it will be like next year when we’ll return with medals on our minds. We’ve slept in the beds, we’ve digested the food, we’ve ridden buses, gondolas, snow machines & electro-mobiles.  Because we are a team that spends so much time away from home I think we’re prepared to excel when things are different than what we’re used too and there is no question about it; Sochi is one of a kind!

Thank you Sochi for showing us a great time & we’ll see you very soon for the 2014 Opening Ceremonies almost one year from today on February 7th, 2014!

Huge, new houses with literally 4x the space that we had in Vancouver.... SAWEET! 

 "Electro-mobiles"  ... Just one of the many forms of alternative, funky transportation

A really friendly volunteer that greeted us upon our arrival... Pssekhako Ridge is the official name of where we were staying

 With USST Men's Coach, Matt 

 Teammates looking at map of surrounding mountains. Kind of looked like Alaska (!) 

Lots of this stuff.... 

Skiing up the biggest final hill into the stadium.... (pic- Sadie)

Jessie and Ida doing contrast baths after races - 4xtimes 1 minute in hot/cold/hot/cold, etc

 Me & Sadie! 

 Sport specific Olympic powerade! 

 No lack of snow in Sochi... in fact it snowed off and on the entire week! 

 The Swedish team enjoying the sunshine for the team sprint final 

 The big screen in the stadium.... 

 Sadie and Ida rocked the classic team sprint by winning their semi final and coming in 5th in the final

 Newell and Simi skied really, really well in the team sprint

Funny picture! 

Today marks exactly one year out from the Opening Ceremonies for the 2014 Olympics.  I have a feeling that the next year is going to absolutely fly by.  

Vancouver Olympic rings - three years ago! 

Have a good one! 
Holly :)