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Wild Rumpus Sports
 

Kuusamo to Lillehammer

It’s been a busy week so it wasn’t easy to get a blog update in but here is a quick recap of what the US crew has been up to here on the World Cup.

IMG_2687EBJ getting in some training in Finland before the Ruka Tripple.

Ruka was pretty epic this year. The past two seasons I really struggled in the sprint there for whatever reason. Could have been because we were coming into the season too flat, maybe it wasn’t enough of on snow time, but after a few years in a row of struggling to break the top 25 I nearly swore off Kuusamo last season hoping I would never have to come back again.  Of course that bitterness tends to fade and of course 12 months later I found myself at the start line of one of the toughest sprints of the season in Ruka.

This year was different though and I tried to plan ahead as best I could. I spent the last few weeks training more intensity and working more on steep striding so I could be in a better position to compete against all the best sprinters in the World. More than any specific result it really feels good when your training pays off, when you put your mind to something and it works out. So I was stoked to feel strong on that terrain and give a good shot at the podium.

As you guys might know this isn’t the blog to tune into for a full race recap of the weekend. I’d just rather not bore everyone with a play by play of race day… In fact I can’t even remember it on occasion, which I think is a good thing. Something I have discovered over the years is that my best results are the ones I think back on the day after and wonder “what the hell happened out there” you can’t remember the tactics, you can’t remember who was in your heats, and you almost can’t remember the pain of racing up the final hill. Thats a good thing.. It means I was 100 percent in the race zone, which is a place I plan of being in a lot more this season. Just 100 percent focused on getting across the finish line first and nothing else.

12308423_920004474753417_7370593600577147712_nBeing in that kind of mindset is a really fun way to race. So I will say for sure that Ruka was fun! and I was happy to get back into the finals and post a better result than in any race last season.

On Monday we loaded up the big World Cup transportation bus at 5:30 in the morning and had a 3 hour drive to the Rovaniemi airport. Kuusamo airport is a little bit closer but since we had flown into Rovaniemi initially on our way to Sweden, we had to back track a little bit. In general the travel day was long but relaxing and we were in Lillehammer in time for a jog and dinner.

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Looking down on the city of Lillehammer

Monday also happened to be my Birthday, which can sound kind of depressing to be stuck traveling on your B day but every year my teammates make November 30th a pretty fun day for me no matter where we are! I feel pretty lucky to have so many friends/teammates around so its actually a pretty sweet gig to have a B day while on the road. The day was highlighted with the arrival at the Hotel Raddison here in Lillehammer which is possibly one of the best food stops on Tour! It’s a serious buffet situation here with salmon, crab, all kinds of different fish and fresh veggies. The massive dessert buffet is something we always look forward to here and was only sweetened by the birthday candles Liz scrounged up and the usual barrage of ‘old man’ jokes that can be expected when you turn 32.

A lot of our fellow World Cup athletes were able to go home for a few days after Ruka but for those of us who were in Lillehammer 5 days early we got in some really fun skiing. Our first morning here a big bus picked us up along with the German team for a day of skiing up in Sjusjøen. It was the first time we had seen direct sun light in a while and it’s always an inviting break to be able to ski on something other than super steep and difficult race trails. Up in Sjusjøen we toured around for a few hours, many of us double-poling out on the Birkenbiner trail.

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sunny days and festive walks down main street here in Lillehammer

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First Sadie, me, then it was Rosie’s turn to experience a B day on the road. The girls actually came up with a really fun idea though,  to have a water color painting class here at the hotel. Caitlyn rounded up some waiting supplies in town and arranged for the hotel to open up one of their conference rooms downstairs. Some people were better at following instructions than others but it was a pretty hilarious time. One of the things that I think is amazing about this team is that when we do something like this everyone jumps in… athletes, coaches, and techs all experienced paint class together.

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Who’s is best?? of course it turned slightly competitive.

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Once the races drew closer we started having a lot more training sessions at the venue up at the Lillehammer Olympic stadium. The trails here have been re-done in the last few years and they are pretty exciting but also incredibly tough. The big climb on the main race loop is a serious one… it’s over 4 minutes of straight uphill at a fast race pace which is pretty unusual even on the toughest courses. It will make the 30 kilometer skiathon a pretty epic race for the dudes this weekend. I’ve spent the last few days preparing for a relay spot on Sunday. I was able to get in some tough skating intervals on Thursday in preparation for next weeks important sprint races in Switzerland, but also some good classic practice and some pre race intervals this afternoon in the dark.

I will suit up tomorrow morning for the first leg of the 4×7.5K relay. Lets do this!

 

 

 

 

 

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