Sven, Ski for Women, and EUROTRIP!!

Sven, Ski for Women, and EUROTRIP!

BIG news! In ONE week, I will be landing in Munich, Germany, embarking on a three-week race trip in Europe! This will be my first ever trip to Europe and I am beyond excited. The trip is organized by the US Ski Team Development coach and we will be competing in races called OPA Continental Cups. OPA Cup is basically the equivalent of the US Super Tour race circuit. But the OPA races are significantly more competitive than the Super Tour because they draw some of the best skiers from all over Europe and are pretty much the most competitive races below the World Cup level. Sometimes World Cup regulars even jump into races, raising the bar up even higher. They will be really good experience to race against really fast skiers and see where I stack up. Results will be listed here: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/disciplines/cross-country/results.html and you just look for the location.

We will be racing in three different countries over three weekends! From Munich, we will drive to Feutersoey, Switzerland for the first weekend of races March 3rd and 4th, then drive nearly 1,000km to Rogla, Slovenia for races on March 10th and 11th. From there we’ll drive another 350km or so to Toblach, Italy for OPA Cup Finals March 16th-18th. After the last races, we’ll drive back to Munich to fly back to the US. I will be flying straight to Vermont for twelve days to race Super Tour Finals and the US Distance National Championship. Come next Sunday night, I will say goodbye to Alaska for five weeks! I still can hardly believe that I’m actually going. I never gave much thought to actually going to OPA when we first got the trip information, but eventually I decided that there isn’t a better time for me to go race in Europe. I’m skiing well, I’m healthy, I am still job searching for the time being so I wouldn’t be missing anything, so there is nothing for me to lose. Yes, the trip is not cheap, but why pass up the opportunity to get experience racing in Europe. You never know what might happen next year. Not to mention the locations of the races are all in really cool places. (Don’t worry if you don’t know where these places are…I didn’t either. See map below)

Did I mention that I am extremely psyched for this trip?!  If you’d like to help me out on my trip, see my “About Me” page for support info!

Closer to home, I have done a couple local races in the last few weeks. On Super Bowl Sunday I did the Alaska Ski for Women at Kincaid Park. I was really excited this year that I was going to be home for it because I haven’t been able to participate since I was a freshman or sophomore in high school because I was always gone for other races. The SFW is first and foremost a wonderful fundraiser for several non-profit organizations the help women and children that have been victims of domestic violence and abuse. Beyond that, it is apparently the largest women-only ski event in the country (which is pretty cool) and has evolved into not only a fun dual-event race if you desire but also a giant costume party. I’m terrible at costumes (for any occasion) and so I am always completely blown away at the amazing, complex, beautiful costumes that people come up with. This year brought out a herd of giraffes and a multi-tentacled octopus as the best in show.

The costume winners!

The Kraken! Photos by Jan Hazen.

The other cool thing about the SFW is that you can pair up and get a team time/ranking. I entered the mother/daughter division with my mom and we skied the classic race. Since it was the day between the first two UAA races, I used it more as a ten-minute race prep workout. I started pretty casually, not exerting myself beyond a medium L3 pace and 1k in I already had a substantial lead. I won by over a minute, which gave me time to ski back and finish with my mom too. I wish I’d had a better costume, but I did get to wear a cool pink sparkly sequined cape on the podium in front of the entire costume/party wave at the start line! To my disappointment I didn’ t get to keep it.

The start. Me in pink and polka dots!

Podium glamour shot. Photos by Jan Hazen.

Mothers and daughters! (left to right) Erin, her mom Barb, me, my mom Cindy, Annie’s mom Barb, and Annie.

I also did an Anchorage Cup race yesterday called the Sven Johansson (named after a prominent local skier who became an Olympian in the 50’s) aka the “Tour of Kincaid”. It was a 30k skate race. I was worried about how my calves would hold up in such a long skate race, but I had no problems! Must be all that deep-tissue wonder work J The conditions were pretty much PERFECT skating conditions: firm but just slightly giving snow and wonderfully groomed. It was pretty fast too. It was also one of the hardest races I’ve done. Not because of the length necessarily but because of the terrain. Kincaid has a lot of hills. And we skied pretty much all the hard ones. And they pretty much all came in the second half of the race! Brutal.

At the start of the Sven 30k. Sarah is bib 99 right behind me. Photo from Jim Singleton. 

I ended up skiing the entire race with my teammate Sarah Cresap, who had way faster skis than mine, but also had a great race. It was nice to have someone to trade pacing with and make me push harder. I was hoping to drop her in the last 10k because I was stronger on the climbing sections, but her fast skis kept up with me and it came down to a sprint finish. Because I knew her skis were faster I just tucked behind her on most downhills and into the stadium for the finish, and then came around and outsprinted her for a one-second win. Strategy helps! But the pain (fun?) wasn’t over yet… About 30 minutes after I finished I had a major post-race bonk. I carried a water bottle with sports drink during the race, but it was a formula without sugar. While I was fine during the race, afterwards my blood sugar crashed so low that I started getting dizzy, tunnel vision and shaking. Fortunately I didn’t pass out, but I have never had such a horrible post-race bonk. 30 minutes, 2 Cokes, 4 chocolate cookies and 2 slices of pizza later, I was feeling significantly better. I did feel slightly nauseous and had a headache later that evening, but I cured that by following my coach’s advice to drink dark beer (I had a porter) and eat ice cream (Ben & Jerry’s Half-Baked). Seriously! It was a super fun race though, and was good prep for the 30k skate at Distance Nationals at the end of March in Vermont.

So, some rest and training this week and then off for a Euro adventure!! I’m not sure what the internet situation will be like across the pond, but keep checking back for update on my trips/races!! Thanks!

Happy Trails!!

Also, a couple more pictures from the UAA mass start classic race, from Laura Gardner.

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