A Jubilant July
Where did July go?! The month or so since my last post has been just as fun-filled and sunny as the one before, so time flew by and all of a sudden it is August 3rd! Before I recap what I’ve been doing the past six weeks, I’ll give you a little update on what I’m doing and where I am currently. As I look out the window while I write this, it is 5°C and light rain, and 60km away it is -2°C with heavy wet snow falling at Falls Creek Ski Resort in northern Victoria, Australia. Yep, I’m chasing winter all the way Down Under! I arrived here two days ago, after an epic 36 hours of traveling that included only two flights, but one of them happened to be almost SIXTEEN hours! Longest flight of my life, I do not know how I survived. I will be in Australia for the entire month of August, staying with Paul Kovacs (aka PK) and his family, getting some more snow time, a couple FIS races and just having some fun, new adventures.
While it was hard to leave Alaska’s glorious summer, I am really excited to be here and I’ve already had tons of fun. Yesterday we headed up to Falls Creek to ski, and the snow cover was kind of dismal. Until last Monday, the snow was amazing (I hear) and then it rained. Nevertheless, this morning we awoke to see that it was snowing hard and this morning’s ski was in about 8-10cm of fresh snow and it’s continued to snow all day. The forecast says that by tomorrow night, there should be up to 20cm on the ground. Let’s hope so! On the way back from skiing, we stopped by a golf course because there was a group of kangaroos lounging around! WHA?! It was so cool! This group was pretty indifferent to people, so I was able to get pretty close and take some sweet photos! I also had the incredibly strange experience of skiing along today and looking up to see a big red parrot squawking in the trees above me! I’m also trying to get used to driving on the left side of the road (I already failed and almost ran a girl over skiing because apparently direction of travel is also opposite on the ski trails) and sitting in the left front seat of a car as a passenger (almost more unnerving than actually driving on the wrong side of the road). Trying to figure out the Aussie slang/lingo has also been challenging at times, but more often than not, it’s just funny. So here are some pictures from just the last two days, and unfortunately I didn’t take my camera out skiing today, so I don’t have any photos of the ski trails or me on them yet, but they will come soon!
Hot Alaskan Summer
So, as to what I’ve been up to since my last post in June: The weather in AK continued to please, with clouds staying away and the sun continuing to warm, with the exception of a few days around the 4th of July. I spent the last week of June, as well as the last week of July on Eagle Glacier training with APU. Eagle Glacier is an amazing resource we have for summer training, only a 45-minute drive from Anchorage to Girdwood, then a 5-minute helicopter ride to a ridge above Girdwood. We have a bunkhouse on the ridge, and 8km of impeccably groomed trails in the glacier bowl just over the ridge. We spend a week at a time living and training up there, two ski sessions a day of 1.5-2.5 hours each. The June camp consisted of just the APU Elite team, a small 10-person group, which gave us a lot of one-on-one time with Erik and made the living situation much less crowded and a lot more relaxing. The July camp was the third-annual NAWTA (North American Women’s Training Alliance) camp that consisted of the Women’s US Ski Team, a few developmental athletes and a few of us girls from APU, plus a special guest from the Norwegian National Team, Astrid Jacobsen. All told, it was fifteen girls, three male coaches who got more than their fair share of girl talk (Erik, Matt and Jason), two facilities managers (Don and Mikey) and two PT/massage therapists (Zuzana and Michael). Zuzana and Michael work at Advanced Physical Therapy in Anchorage and generously donated their time to come up to the glacier and give us bodywork treatment all week. It was an incredible bonus to receive massage and PT every day and sometimes twice a day. What a difference it made. My body felt so much better after each workout than it has ever felt on the glacier, or pretty much ever, and thus every workout was that much more effective because I wasn’t feeling as much fatigue. I cannot thank them enough for helping us out. We had incredible weather for both camps, with only about two days worth of foggy clouds between the two weeks combined.
In between the two glacier camps I raced the infamous Mt. Marathon Race in Seward on the 4th of July, a 3,022ft peak that races up AND down in under an hour. I went into this year’s race with high expectations, having finished 2nd last year to my APU teammate Holly Brooks, and she wasn’t racing this year. However, there were plenty of other formidable competitors this year, and having trained 20+ hours on the glacier the week before, and not having done too many training runs in the mountains, I didn’t quite meet my goals. I finished 4th, which I was still very happy with. Rain during the few days prior had made the trail very muddy and slippery, and though the downhill conditions were pretty ideal with soft shale to float down, my time ended up being about 3 minutes slower than last year. A huge highlight of the day though, was watching APU University/Junior Team coach Eric Strabel crush the men’s record that has stood for over 30 years. He bested the time by almost 30 seconds to win his second race (he won in 2011 as well).
After Mt. Marathon, I slowly eased back into regular dry-land training for the next few weeks. The free-falling, ripping fast downhill in Mt. Marathon really gives your legs a beating, and I didn’t feel quite normal for close to three weeks. But training still went well, and by the time the dryland week of the NAWTA camp came around before the glacier camp, I was feeling pretty good and had an amazing rollerski speed session with the group that gave me a lot of confidence because I was more than holding my own with the likes of Kikkan, Jessie Diggins and Astrid Jacobsen, all of whom have won sprint gold medals at World Championships.
I also took a brief respite from training to head south to the Kenai River and hit up the red salmon fishing during a prime run. I had a blast reeling in seven beautiful, plump, juicy, shiny fish. I also did an overnight kayak trip in Prince William Sound with my brother and dad. Though it was overcast the whole time, it was a wonderful feeling to get out on the water, away from town and people, just gliding along in the waves and seeing seals, otters, bald eagles, kittiwakes and hermit crabs.
So that’s been my fun-filled Alaskan summer, and I’ll have some more updates about my Australian adventures soon! Happy Trails 🙂