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Whew, we made it! After 27 hours of traveling, 4 flights and a whole lot of time zones, team USA checked into the cabins in Muonio, Finland. We are here training until next tuesday, and the groomed 6km loop of natural snow has been great! While there are a ton of athletes out hammering loops, it’s a large enough area that you can find space to do intervals or speeds without running into other skiers. We are living in these cozy little cottages, and because it’s Finland, each one has this amazing sauna inside! Although I think we use the sauna more to warm up after skiing in the cold dark afternoons instead of how they were intended to be used. More details from Muonio to come soon…but first, I want to fill you in on the busy, fast and extremely fun week I had in Minnesota and Stratton before jumping across the pond!

The first big snowfall for Minnesota! A snowy view up my driveway.

The first big snowfall for Minnesota! A snowy view up my driveway.

I was in Minnesota for only a week, but I somehow managed to pack a month’s worth of things into that time! I led a bounding workout with the Stillwater High School girls team, and played games with the St. Croix Valley Ski Club kids before showing them photos from last season and talking about what it means to be a professional skier.

Some of the Stillwater High School girls after our bounding and running workout!

Some of the Stillwater High School girls after our bounding and running workout!

 

I also had the opportunity to speak at Slumberland Furniture’s conference, and tell everyone how the Olympics went! This was really cool for me, as Slumberland has been my headgear sponsor for many years and it was great to be able to connect to all the stores. I spent an afternoon with the fun crew at Podiumwear, taking shots of the new suits, designing my new line for this coming season and going through the process of making a suit!

Working on the design process with the crazy talented designers at Podiumwear!

Working on the design process with the crazy talented designers at Podiumwear!

And yes, they do have a pinball machine at the Podiumwear factory. So that's pretty cool.

And yes, they do have a pinball machine at the Podiumwear factory. So that’s pretty cool.

One morning, my Dad hauled me out of bed early to help him drag the deer he shot out of the woods. The dogs were going absolutely nuts, it was opening day of hunting season, and we were set up with enough red meat to last all winter long! Although my week was busy I found ways to spend father-daughter time, like field dressing deer, going for roller skis, or reading in the living room with the dogs. And I got mother-daughter time when we went running in the park together, at the gym, and cooking up some delicious dinners! I even got to see my little sister around her busy theatre rehearsal schedule!

Dad and his buck!

Dad and his buck!

The biggest event of all was the Chilkoot fundraiser dinner, which was originally capped at 50 but we somehow managed to squeeze about 60 people into the restaurant for the evening! This fundraiser is important to me because although I am on the USST’s A team, have access to the team’s resources and am mostly funded, there are many weeks in the summer where I am responsible for training costs and the odd non-racing week in the winter when I need to fund myself. Not only did we raise money for my skiing, but the community raised about 1,500 for the National Nordic Foundation as well! It’s really awesome to be able to support and push forward the future of US skiing by lowering the trip costs for junior athletes to compete in Europe.

Giving a slideshow talk about how summer training has gone, and what's up next!

Giving a slideshow talk about how summer training has gone, and what’s up next!

What is really cool to me is that talking about the Olympics with my hometown community was a full-circle moment. Last February, the Chilkoot Cafe opened their doors at 3:30 am (AM!) and 200 people packed into the main dining room. A screen and projector streamed the women’s 4x5km Olympic relay, and everyone cheered and screamed and watched the entire race. I wish I could have been there to see it.

But on November 9th, I finally got to hear the cheer that has been building up and waiting for me since last February. I think the noise shook the building! It was so inspiring. And our relay event at the Olympics didn’t even perform nearly as well as we had hoped! I think that’s what I love about it…at the end of the day, it’s not about cheering for me, or for the US Women’s team. It’s about the love of the sport, about being inspired by it. It’s about watching someone tackle a seemingly impossible task and give it everything they have, win or lose. It’s about community and rallying around cross country skiing. And that is amazing, a truly special thing, and I feel so lucky to be a part of it!

So thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who attended the fundraiser, to everyone who donated to me and to the NNF, and to everyone who follows the sport and cheers us on. You make such a difference! Special thanks goes out to Lee Stylos, Randy Moses and the Chilkoot team for making the amazing event possible! Thank you to Ahvo Taipale for 1,000 matching grant and individuals for matching him, Out There sports for donating gloves for auction, One Way Poles for donating poles for auction, and Ben Popp and the Birkie Foundation for donating as well!

Andy, Ben, Pat, Simi, Annie, Erika, Jessie, Annie and Sophie. SMST2 2014-15 season racers!

Andy, Ben, Pat, Simi, Annie, Erika, Jessie, Annie and Sophie. SMST2 2014-15 season racers!

Then I flew over to Stratton, Vermont to spend a short 3 days with my club team, SMST2. It was great to see everyone one last time before we part ways, with half the team headed to Europe and the other half headed to tear up West Yellowstone. We had another fundraiser dinner the evening before we flew out, and it was such a fun evening of good food, friends, support for the team and a wonderful send-off to motivate us for the next 5 months!

The Marstons won a live auction item - the SMST2 girls team will be cooking dinner for his family and guests this spring!

The Marstons won a live auction item – the SMST2 girls team will be cooking dinner for his family and guests this spring!

I guess there was a lot of salt on the roads because my previously black tights came back from a roll looking like this! Yikes!

I guess there was a lot of salt on the roads because my previously black tights came back from a roll looking like this! Yikes!

The morning that we left it was Annie P’s 22nd birthday, so we played a ton of Taylor Swift’s “22″ song and had a lot of goodbye hugs. It probably wasn’t enough hugs to last 5 months, so I’m hoping we’ll get to see our SMST2 team on the road in Europe this winter!

Birthday hugs for Annie!

Birthday hugs for Annie!

Goodbye kisses for Andy!

Goodbye kisses for Andy!

 

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WHAT?!?!? The season is here? No way. Noooooooooo way. It’s not November….is it?

can't. believe. it.

can’t. believe. it.

It’s ok, though. I’m ready. Ready to hit the World Cup!

Time to go!

Time to go!

So, in a series of images that are pretty much the finest the internet has to offer, I’d love to show you what the next few months of my life will look like!

I’ll have to pack up for Europe. 5 months on the road is a loooooong time, so packing is a really big process. Literally.

It's hard to bring everything, ok? Don't judge!

It’s hard to bring everything, ok? Don’t judge!

Then I’ll show up to europe with way too much stuff. But….I REGRET NOTHING!

Not a thing.

Not a thing.

I always conduct myself professionally in our hotel rooms.

that's me.

that’s me.

The World Cup dining halls are often crowded. People watching is spectacular. It kind of reminds me of high school lunches sometimes….ooooooooh, who will I sit with?!?

Sometimes you can even trade food :)

Sometimes you can even trade food :)

And sometimes, the food is just amazing.

can't even stand it.

can’t even stand it.

Because our girls team is pretty tight, we sometimes usually always try and coordinate outfits.

Sadly, this is kinda true.

Sadly, this is kinda true.

I also get asked why I’m almost always skiing around without a jacket or extra coat on. Well….

I feel ya, Elsa.

I feel ya, Elsa.

When we’re skiing around the World Cup, I always have a moment or two when I’m totally starstruck. It’s not my first rodeo or my first year on the circuit, but I’m still blown away by all of the amazing skiing happening right in front of me!

Wow....

Wow….

Time to race! When it’s time to put glitter on people and braid hair, I will be like:

Yeaaaahhhh...no.

Yep.

Inevitably, some races will go very well. And some of them won’t. And then I’ll be like:

(but don't worry, it's never THAT bad...)

(but don’t worry, it’s never THAT bad…)

And then our coaches will be like:

so get a grip!

Everyone needs a little help sometimes.

Everyone needs a little help sometimes.

Of course, people will anonymously comment on our races, good or bad:

Looking at you, Fasterskier comments.

Looking at you, Fasterskier comments.

But hopefully it won’t ever look like this:

ouch. ouch. ouch.

ouch. ouch. ouch.

And there will be some great races and fun times! And our coaches will be like:

strong work.

strong work.

There’s always the tricky road trips involved with getting from one place to another. Maps can be hard, folks.

Um.....how do we get there?

Um…..how do we get there?

And the twisty roads? Don’t even get me started!

So. Scared.

So. Scared.

So. Carsick.

So. Carsick.

Who knows? I may try and talk people into making another music video. Which means I get to choreograph the dance. Which means I’ll be spending a lot of time in my room like this:

I just need to buy some moon boots first...

I just need to buy some moon boots first…

There’s always a time during those 5 months when spirits are down and people are a little homesick.

No parents?!?!?

No parents?!?!?

And nobody’s doing their laundry. Because there are no machines to be found. Then people start doing this:

sad, but true.

sad, but true.

This is when my role as team cheerleader is pretty important. And a good reminder to everyone:

So get out there and ski!

So get out there and ski!

And if all goes well, we’ll end up looking like Bjornsen when he crossed the line at his first Olympic race ever:

Yeah buddy!

Yeah buddy!

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Canmore camp is over, and now I’m back in Park City for a rest week at some higher altitude. It was such a good camp, getting to be on snow again and dial in some technique ideas before the season starts back up!

A beautiful Canmore sunrise!

A beautiful Canmore sunrise!

We did a lot of volume training just so we could have time to work on our technique and dial in skis, but we also did a classic sprint time trial and a 10km skate time trial.

Matt and Jason waxing up our skis for the classic sprint race/time trial (photo by Noah)

Matt and Jason waxing up our skis for the classic sprint race/time trial (photo by Noah)

Me, getting ready to start the first qualifier of the season! (photo by Cross Country Canada)

Me, getting ready to start the first qualifier of the season! (photo by Cross Country Canada)

The time trials were really fun. I don’t always like change, so I wasn’t super ready for the race season to start up yet. (Can’t we just train all the time? Long roller skis are so fun!) But with the “kings court” style classic sprints where nobody got eliminated but simply moved up a heat or down a heat, everyone got to do all four rounds and we ended up racing with some of the boys. It was such a fun day! It was great to practice going through the rounds, dial in the kick wax and figure out what to do in-between sprint heats.

Liz, Annie, Me and Erika happy to be in Canmore! (this photo was our idea, not Noah's, but I stole it from him)

Liz, Annie, Me and Erika happy to be in Canmore! (this photo was our idea, not Noah’s, but I stole it from him. Hah.)

For the skate time trial, the girls were set to do 4 laps (which was actually more like 7.5km) but Liz and I did 6 laps like the guys. I wanted to get the feel for a real 10km distance, so we just kept going round and round the loop!

Coolest street view in Canmore...the sign says "Walk of Champions"

Coolest street view in Canmore…the sign says “Walk of Champions”

We also had time during camp to catch up with friends. Both Perianne Jones and Chandra Crawford had us over for dinner, and it was so relaxing and fun to catch up and hang out! I basically went around collecting hugs, especially since I won’t get to see Chandra for a while.

The #Annies and Erika dancing it up to a Taylor Swift song before our time trial.

The #Annies and Erika dancing it up to a Taylor Swift song before our time trial.

When Taylor Swift’s new album released during the camp, we quickly had some new theme songs to jam out to. Anne Hart made sure of that!

We had another team thanksgiving! But with chickens. It was tasty. (photo from Noah)

We had another team thanksgiving! But with chickens. It was tasty. (photo from Noah)

Noah always has his camera out taking shots of the team training, whether or not we know it’s happening. I wanted to prove that I, too, could take some candid shots. OH, HOW THE TABLES HAVE TURNED!

Just because.

I think he knows I’m taking a photo of him taking a photo of me taking a photo…

Last but most definitely not least, I want to say a huge thank you to the coaches for all their hard work that made the camp run so smoothly! They waxed up our training and time trial skis every day, organized everything and made it so that we could focus on training hard and resting hard. We got so much out of this camp, largely because of the coaches!

Patrick Moore, aka "Toque", bringing some energy to the scene!

Patrick Moore, aka “Toque”, bringing some energy to the scene!

Matt and Cork, wiped out from a big waxing day!

Matt and Cork, wiped out from a big waxing day!

Gus, showing some style.

Gus, showing some style.

Now I’m off to do a nice easy roller ski! Bye!

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Canmore has been so good to us over the years, and this fall is no exception! The skiing at Frozen Thunder has been great, it’s been good to be on snow with beautiful mountains surrounding the town, and so far camp has been pretty relaxing!

Doing some one-pole drill skiing! (photo by Anne Hart)

Doing some one-pole drill skiing! (photo by Anne Hart)

I really like this on snow time for a couple reasons. Besides the obvious (it’s snow, duh!) it’s better for my technique practice to be on the real stuff instead of roller skis. Having kick wax that is just the tiniest bit slick on purpose forces me to stay honest with my striding, and really concentrate on feeling my foot connect with the snow. Rollerskiing is a great way to train, get fit and keep some technique gains over the summer, but nothing can replace the exact feeling of kicking and gliding!

You know what else is pretty great? We have a patriotic racing suit this year! While pink and black were awesome, they weren’t exactly on the flag, and this year we’re rocking the stars and stripes…bringing back the Olympic suit for everyday World Cup use. YES. I. AM. HAPPY. ABOUT. THIS.

Andy and Ben, sprinting it up and showing off the new race suits for next winter!!! (photo: USSA Nordic)

Andy and Ben, sprinting it up and showing off the new race suits for next winter!!! (photo: USSA Nordic)

 

It’s also funny because some of the bad habits I have on roller skis, like having weirdly hyper-extensive joints and letting my knees come waaaaaaaay out on V1, disappear once I get on snow. It’s like a big boost of confidence….”see, you actually DO know how to ski, it just doesn’t always feel like it on roller skis!”

Anne "Goobie" was standing at the end of the course, taking selfies with every skier to pass by. What a little ray of sunshine!

Anne “Goobie” was standing at the end of the course, taking selfies with every skier to pass by. What a little ray of sunshine!

While we have been taking advantage of the snow and skiing every morning for at least 2 hours, in the afternoons we have been switching it up. Sometimes I’ll ski as a warmup before strength, or we might go for a run, or roller ski as was the case yesterday. We wanted to do some hard, fast double pole intervals, and doing it on the pavement meant we’d for sure not punch through the snow or be in the way of all the skiers, dodging traffic. They were hard, but went well!

Getting psyched up for our afternoon double pole interval set! (photo from Pat)

Getting psyched up for our afternoon double pole interval set! (photo from Pat)

Pounding the pavement! Ida, me, Liz, Peri and the SMS crew! (photo by Pat)

Pounding the pavement! Ida, me, Liz, Peri and the SMS crew! (photo by Pat)

We have been staying in the Rocky Mountain ski lodge, as always. Same apartment, same girls (Liz and Ida and I), same beds. Same bad jokes, same order of waking up (I’m always last to roll out of bed), same departure times to get to the snow. It’s like nothing has changed! Except we are a little bit older, a little bit faster, we know each other even better than we did last year. Which is actually kind of amazing, considering how much time we spend with each other! :)

Simi, hammering out some laps. Also a wonderful mountain scenery shot! (photo by USSA Nordic)

Simi, hammering out some laps. Also a wonderful mountain scenery shot! (photo by USSA Nordic)

To end the post, I couldn’t resist posting a couple more photos I just got from the USST Ski Ball…they were so fun!

The Olympic athletes welcoming committee! :) (photo: Sarah Brunson, USST)

The Olympic athletes welcoming committee! :) (photo: Sarah Brunson, USST)

Bidding on live auction items! (photo: Sarah Brunson, USST)

Bidding on live auction items! (photo: Sarah Brunson, USST)

Jonny Moseley really, REALLY won the costume contest. (photo: Sarah Brunson, USST)

Jonny Moseley really, REALLY won the costume contest. (photo: Sarah Brunson, USST)

 

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Week two of Park City camp has come to a close, and in a very stylish way. Liz and I hopped a flight to San Francisco and attended one of the US Ski Team’s Ski Balls! It was retro ski themed, and we really took it to heart and dressed up. I think it’s a real shame that I missed out on the 80′s. A real shame. Everyone was so generous and supportive of the Ski Team, and it was a blast meeting new people and getting to share ski stories!

My "Punky Brewster" ski ball getup.

My “Punky Brewster” ski ball getup.

The US Olympians at the Ski Ball!

The US Olympians at the Ski Ball!

After cocktail hour and a chance to mingle, make new friends and bid on some auction items, we had dinner and watched David Wise’s Gold medal winning run. He gave a wonderful and inspirational talk, and there was also a live auction on some ski getaways. Liz Stephen spoke about the incredible facilities and staff at the COE that the US team provides for us to train the way we need to train. I had a chance to speak about team and what it means to me, and how our team isn’t just the guys and girls in spandex with race bibs on. It includes coaches, wax techs, the US staff and everyone who supports the Ski Team. It takes really hard work and dedication from every single person involved!

The night ended with a live band, a disco ball and a crowded dance floor. There may have been some fairly incredible dance moves happening as well. John Travolta would have been PROUD.

Liz and I working the floor.

Liz and I working the floor!

The ski team fundraiser was a big hit, and now I get to tell you about my upcoming personal fundraiser! Every fall the Chilkoot Cafe in Stillwater, Minnesota hosts a wonderful dinner fundraiser for me. The money the community raises from this event goes directly to support my travel, lodging and training fees for the upcoming season. I am so extremely lucky to have the support of such a friendly community, and I couldn’t have taken those steps towards the Olympics without the local support! So thank you to those of you who have attended in years past, you have been a big part of my team. Nobody can ever achieve their goals alone, and it takes a mighty big team to get to the World Cups and Olympics!

This year’s dinner will be November 9th, at 6:00pm. At the dinner I am looking forward to being able to see friends and skiers from the community and get to say goodbye before heading to Europe for the next 5 months. I will also be able to share some fun photos and stories of how the summer training has gone, as well as my goals and plans for the upcoming season!

In a fun new twist for the evening, I will also be auctioning off some of my Olympic gear; items from the Opening/Closing Ceremony, and some of the specially made clothing items for Sochi Team USA. They money raised from the auction will go directly to supporting junior athletes who are taking that crucial next step towards international racing. Until we can (finally!) get some World Cups in the US of A, it’s necessary to get to Europe to race on the world’s biggest stage. It’s also important to me to help get these junior athletes there, because people were there to help me out when I was looking to make that jump! Time to pay it forward, people. That’s why I’m willing to part with some of the coolest swag you can get once every 4 years. :)

Here are the condensed details:

The Chilkoot Café and Cyclery in Stillwater is once again hosting a fund raiser dinner for Olympian, World Champion and US Ski Team member, Jessie Diggins, on November 9th at 6PM.  The cost for dinner is $100, all proceeds of which go directly to Jessie to support training and racing expenses.  In addition to an evening of wonderful food and great race stories from Jessie, Jessie will be auctioning off some Olympic gear.  All proceeds form the auction will go to the National Nordic Foundation, to support junior skiers who qualify for international and national racing and training opportunities.  Call for more information or to reserve your spot at the Chilkoot Café, 651-342-0429.

Back to training camp updates! That’s why you read this far, right?

Sophie, Me and Sadie after the time trial workout

Sophie, Me and Sadie after the time trial workout

The team had a 10km time trial in Soldier’s Hollow on the roller ski track, which was a good opportunity to practice pacing at altitude.

Me, getting my serious face on (for once)

Me, getting my serious face on (for once)

Like we did in the spring, Hans, one of the USST interns, got out on my roller skis and practiced his classic technique doing laps of the COE parking lot. The poles were too short for him but he was a great sport!

Hans getting some double pole work in

Hans getting some double pole work in

We did some really hard, hot and dusty bounding intervals down in Salt Lake with the entire crew – there must have been about 40 athletes sweating it out on the trails. I had a rough workout as it was dusty and getting hot, and right in the middle of the set I had an asthma attack. I’ve always had sports-induced asthma, and for whatever reason I have never struggled with it during races or on skis, but sometimes it flares up during hard summer training. I am smart about slowly warming up my lungs and using my rescue inhaler if I need it, but this one caught me off guard. I was suddenly panicked and fighting to breathe while feeling like I was trying to suck air through the tiniest of straws. I was making the worst sort of rasping sounds and then for a while there were no sounds because there was no air, either. I eventually got it under control, and after giving myself a couple extra minutes to slow my breathing down, I finished my interval set.

I’m not sharing this as a pity plea, and I don’t go around thinking “oooooo poor me”, but I’m sharing this because I know a couple young athletes who have asthma, struggle with it during summer training, and are looking for ways to work around it. Sometimes it’s just hard, because there will be workouts when you start to struggle with breathing and as soon as you panic, it’s game over. And it’s important to acknowledge that there will be workouts when it doesn’t go perfectly! But over time I’ve been working on ways to re-focus, keep my mind off my breathing and stay calm when I know I am inches away from not being able to breathe. Sometimes simply counting to 10 over and over during a hard workout or a race can help me stay right in the moment, break down the interval into small manageable parts. Anyone can do anything for the count of 10, right? I sometimes sing (in my head, not out loud) because skiing to the rhythm of a song I’m really into can help me think of that instead of my lungs or how my legs hurt. Yesterday morning I tried something new – I smiled once every minute during an interval. Coach Whitcomb suggested that little trick. Just the act of smiling can help me relax and remember why I’m out here skiing hard, and it’s another way to get my mind off of the sound of my lungs. The biggest thing has been to continue to see an asthma doctor and make sure I’m doing all the little things right – taking my inhaler with enough time before the workout starts, etc. Hopefully if you’re also working to figure out how to get through interval sets with less hassle, this is helpful!

The last workout for me of the Park City camp was 6×10 minute L3 intervals up East Canyon, and a couple hours afterwards Liz and I hopped on the plane to San Francisco!

The US girls team! Me, Sadie, Kikkan, Liz and Ida (Sophie is missing from this photo)

The US girls team! Me, Sadie, Kikkan, Liz and Ida (Sophie is missing from this photo)

The next stop for us is Canmore, Alberta, where we will be training on snow. Cross Country Canada does a fantastic job with “Frozen Thunder”, getting a great track prepared so that skiers can dial in their technique on real skis before heading into the season. I’m excited to see some Canadian friends and take down some laps!

Last but most certainly not least, we have one more important fundraiser coming in hot this fall. Stratton Mountain School is hosting a send-off party and fundraiser for the SMST2 team on November 15th. We also have some exciting news! A generous donor has offered to match all donations up to $25,000 to the SMS T2 team. All donations made to the team by November 15th, 2014 will be matched. Click here to donate or see more details…or to read up on the team’s latest escapades! http://smst2.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/sms-t2-receives-challenge-grant/

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This first week of training camp in Park City has flown by! The first few days were filled with testing at the Center of Excellence (COE) for the US Ski Team. We did our usual tests on the treadmill; VO2 max, sub-max tests to test our our efficiency and technique gains, strength testing, mobility testing, yadda yadda yadda. It’s taken the whole week for me to adjust to living at such high altitude since our condo is at 8,000 ft, and for a while we were all getting the crazy “altitude dreams”! But now I’ve started to settle in and it’s nice to train up high to learn some things about pacing, like we do every fall.

Kikkan and I have some varying opinions on how to dress for fall weather! (photo from Ida S.)

Kikkan and I have some varying opinions on how to dress for fall weather! (photo from Ida S.)

Speaking of things we do every fall…you know what time of year this is? National Nordic Foundation (NNF) fundraising time, that’s what! We are doing the annual Drive for 25, which asks members of the ski community to donate $25 or more to the NNF. This money goes straight to funding their projects which include lowering trip costs for juniors going to international races (like World Juniors and U23s, which I competed in last year). They also help pay for transport, lodging and waxing costs in Europe, which add up to a lot! This link takes you to my fundraising page, where I’m asking you to pitch in any amount of money if you love watching World Cups at 4am. If you love hearing that US skiers are on the podium in Europe. If you think it’s cool that we are starting to become competitive as a nation in ski racing…please help support it! https://support.nationalnordicfoundation.org/fundraise?fcid=353704

My fundraising page:  https://support.nationalnordicfoundation.org/fundraise?fcid=353704

My fundraising page: https://support.nationalnordicfoundation.org/fundraise?fcid=353704

We did some 10km level 3 intervals on the roller ski track at Soldiers Hollow, which was fun because we could play around with pacing and strategy and learn something from comparing the two 10km intervals that we did. We did some nice easy runs and some sprint training. And we’ve hung out together as a team!

Working on my sprint starts! (photo by Pat)

Working on my sprint starts! (photo by Pat)

Anne H and I working on cornering at speed (photo by Pat)

Anne H and I working on cornering at speed (photo by Pat)

 

Simi, Ben, Matt, Grover and Patty getting intense during team game night!

Simi, Ben, Matt, Grover and Patty getting intense during team game night!

The huge group, including athletes from the USST, SMST2, APU, Craftsbury, Sun Valley and the NEG camp did a long classic roller ski up a canyon. It was fun to meet the NEG athletes and ski with them, and the scenery was amazing.

Rolling uphill for a couple hours (photo by Fish)

Rolling uphill for a couple hours (photo by Fish)

Unfortunately, early in the week Sophie tripped and landed on her left elbow and broke it. She got surgery 24 hours later, and with a screw and a pin in it it should be healed in 6 weeks. This is obviously not ideal and painful, but if anyone can get through two elbow injuries in a summer and come out swinging, it’s Sophie! Nothing can bring that girl down! We are supporting her and she has the best attitude, and she is being really smart about training through it and getting on top of PT. Send her your best bone-healing thoughts!

Mary, Me, Sophie and Anne, who found a second "sponge bob arm protector" to hike with in solidarity. (photo from Soph)

Mary, Me, Sophie and Anne, who found a second “sponge bob arm protector” to hike with in solidarity. (photo from Soph)

Coach Whitcomb tying Sophie's shoes. We're taking  care of her, don't worry!

Coach Whitcomb tying Sophie’s shoes. We’re taking care of her, don’t worry!

 

Yesterday we finished off our first week of training with a nice long run. I ran with a smaller group and although the going was slow with the snow, hail and 8,000ft of altitude, we kept trucking along! People peeled off to go meet cars at the bottom of the mountain or go on ahead. Annie Hart and I finished the run together, and it was a 4 hour 15 minute effort. WHOO!

Annie P. showing Mary our running route across the mountains.

Annie P. showing Mary our running route across the mountains.

It needs to be noted that Annie cut her finger in a food processor the night before, got 3 stitches at the ER and still came out for the over-distance workout. Such a trooper. The other challenging part of the run was that we were never quite sure how close we were to the houses, because you could see them across the valley but the trail wound all the way around. So we told stories and bad jokes and time passed by, and we finished without any more injuries to add to the tally.

Aaaaaaaaaand…..Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, everyone! Since I’m now the only resident Canadian on the team, it’s my job to say it! We celebrated last night with the SMST2 team. Every year we have a big Canadian Thanksgiving party, since it’s our last chance to have a holiday together as a team before we split up and half of us head to Europe for the winter. I haven’t had a US Thanksgiving with my family in years, so it’s nice to have this one as a team!

Those SMST2 girls know how to bake pies in style!

Those SMST2 girls know how to bake pies in style! And after running for 4 hours…it’s a welcome treat.

Simi, Annie P, Me and Mary enjoying the unreal sunset! (photo by Patty)

Simi, Annie P, Me and Mary enjoying the unreal sunset! (photo by Patty)

 

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Yesterday, thanks to amazing organizing and hard work from Liz Stephen, we pulled off a record-breaking attendance at the annual Park City Fast and Female event! We had 190 girls out having fun, being active, getting to meet ambassadors from all types of winter sports and hear inspirational stories.

The girls listening to ambassador talks about competing in sport (USSA photo)

The girls listening to ambassador talks about competing in sport (photo from Kikkan)

True to form, I got to run the “Dancing with Diggins” station, but now it should be named “Dancing with Diggins and Hopping around with Hart”, because Anne Hart led the other part of our station, where the kids followed her around a loop and did ploys, lunges, hops and high-skips!

Annie leading the girls in a warmup! (photo by Lauren Fritz)

Annie leading the girls in a warmup! (photo by Lauren Fritz)

In between laps, I would teach a few moves of a dance at a time, and after 15 minutes the girls had learned a new dance and were tired out from all the jumping around! We got tired, too. :) But it was totally worth it! It was really fun to see smiles on everyone’s faces and see girls willing to learn something new and give it a try.

We also did some stretching afterwards! (photo by Lauren F.)

We also did some stretching afterwards! (photo by Lauren F.)

The other stations included ski jumping, snowboarding, mountain biking, speed-skating, biathlon, aerials on the trampoline, and alpine slalom courses.

Girls trying out simulated G-forces in speed skating (photo by Lauren F.)

Girls trying out simulated G-forces in speed skating (photo by Lauren F.)

At the end of the event, we signed the girls posters (and some hats, too!) and got lots of pictures. I hope to see everyone back next year!

Signing event posters for everyone! (photo by Kikkan)

Signing event posters for everyone! (photo by Kikkan)

It’s funny because one day I’m dressed in pink and glitter and dancing around in a skirt, and the next day I’m still dressed in pink but I’m skiing all-out on the treadmill during testing until I fall off. It’s not an either-or situation for me. I don’t have to choose between being girly and loving chick-flicks and wearing pink sometimes or skiing hard and fast. I can do both! And that’s one of the messages I think it’s so important to pass along to young girls in sport…you don’t have to stop being active and competing and going all-out because you’re worried about fitting in at school or looking “girly”. You don’t have to stop trying to win races because you’re worried people will see you as intimidating. You can lift weights and run incredibly far distances and still wear glitter or whatever you want and look cute. Or not. It’s your choice. The point is, it’s YOUR choice, and you don’t have to drop out of sports if you don’t want to.

So! The next day, we started in on our yearly testing. I had a classic max test on the treadmill, and wow did that ever hurt. But Matt and Cork said I kept my technique together for longer than I have before, which is something I’ve been working really hard on this summer: keeping it together even under a lot of stress. So that was a small win for the day! String enough small wins together and it starts adding up to fast racing, and I’m psyched because everywhere I look I see my teammates chalking up more small wins in strength, in technique, in intervals and long distance skis.

There are a TON of balloons in Park City. One landed right outside the COE!

There are a TON of balloons in Park City. One landed right outside the COE!

Camp is just starting so I need to keep my excitement at a sustainable level, but it looks like it’s going to be a great 2 weeks out here in Park City. The sun in shining, the pavement is great for roller skiing, we have a bunch of teams out here to join in some training sessions and the coaches are ready to roll as always. Happy fall training, everyone!

Some poppy fall colors from back out east.

Some poppy fall colors from back out east.

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Ok, people! It’s time to start up life on the road again…the glorified life saga of a ski bum continues!

I'M SO FREAKING EXCITED TO TRAVEL!!! (source: google)

I’M SO FREAKING EXCITED TO TRAVEL!!! (source: google)

This weekend it’s time to pack up my life into a duffel, a ski bag, and a oversize backpack and start going places. From now till April, the longest I’ll be in one place is 3 weeks! And the craziest part? I’m pretty psyched about it! First stop is Park City, for a USST camp, then Canmore to get on-snow at the glorious Frozen Thunder loop. It’s going to be an intense 3 weeks of training but I think we’re all up for the challenge.

As for the last week I’ve spent with the team in Stratton? Well, people have slowly been trickling out as we all have various stops to make on our way to Park City. Annie H and I had a nice few date nights in the house where we made ridiculously nice dinners, watched a movie and proceeded to get ready for bed by 9. We are such a wild and exciting bunch when it’s a big training week!

Sophie and Erika enjoying some of the last hot and sunny days out East!

Sophie and Erika enjoying some of the last hot and sunny days out East!

But, the week before we had Jason Cork join us for some quality training and technique help. It was so great to have him out here! Cork has written my training plan for the last 5 years, and although I work with a lot of coaches and take advice from all of them, it’s nice to have the guy writing my plan out here watching it executed in real time!

Apple picking day! Yum yum!

Apple picking day! Yum yum!

We did some hard bounding intervals up Stratton mountain earlier in the week, and it was the kind of workout that convinces you that your heart is going to grow at least another few mm wider to recover. Yikes!

Erika and I in the hurt locker during some 4min bounding intervals! (photo from Pat)

Erika, Annie and I in the hurt locker during some 4min bounding intervals! (photo from Pat)

The other interesting adventure the SMST2 Minnesotan girls had was the night we had a pet mouse! I named him Frederick but unfortunately he may have eaten something bad for him because he had a very short half-life. He joined us for a while and then we let him go outside, and it was an emotional farewell…until he started towards Annie, then there was a lot of squealing. Videos of our squeamishness can be found on Instagram. :)

Frederick the mouse keeping us company

Frederick the mouse keeping us company

We joined the SMS juniors for a fun over-distance workout that ended in Little Rock Pond…and the water was freezing but I had to go for one last jump off the rocks! We also made friends with a couple out taking their pack-goats for a training hike. That was pretty awesome, and Soph was ecstatic since goats are her favorite animal.

Soph and her new hiking buddy! (photo from Erika)

Soph and her new hiking buddy! (photo from Erika)

Lest you start to believe that all I do is make friends with animals, I should probably share that I had a lot of social time, too. We checked out the Peru fair, and there were SO many people there! The live music was awesome, and it was a beautiful day with all the leaves changing color.

Looking down main street at the Peru fair!

Looking down main street at the Peru fair!

I helped Annie with her thursday baking blog and we made a whole wheat honey loaf. It was very exciting, and like Annie said, she only “kneaded” a little help to make a loaf that would rise to the occasion!

Annie and Erika have a tea break after all that hard work!

Annie and Erika have a tea break after all that hard work!

Ok, time for me to get back to packing and cleaning! Happy weekend everyone!

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Yesterday we did that crazy thing we do every fall: we took a day, dedicated it to massive food consumption, pavement-pounding and scenic hills, and roller skied 100 kilometers. It took us 6:15 hours, and we split that pretty evenly between skate and classic, starting with a lot of double-poling.

Girls house inspiration board as we prepared for 100km of skiing. Quote courtesy of Annie P. and Ernest Shackleton.

Girls house inspiration board as we prepared for 100km of skiing. Quote courtesy of Annie P. and Ernest Shackleton.

As official girls train Kilometer-keeper and self-proclaimed cheerleader of the event, I arrived on the scene appropriately caffeinated. Or not. Perhaps I overdid it. In all honesty, it was challenging to hit the right balance between my usual peppy self to keep spirits up, and knowing when to shut it because nobody wants to chit-chat when they’re skiing into a headwind after already skiing for 5 hours.

Thanks Polar for helping me keep track of how many K's we clocked! (photo by Annie P.)

Thanks Polar for helping me keep track of how many K’s we clocked! (photo by Annie P.)

We had an awesome support crew with us, and I was so grateful to have them! Sverre, Cork and Pat drove the vans, although Pat biked the last half with us, which was awesome. We also had Annie Pokorny’s Dad bike the whole darn thing with us! In cars taking photos and cheering we had Annie P.s Mom and boyfriend, Simi’s Mom, Aunt and Uncle!

Our "before" shot (photo by Annie P.)

Our “before” shot: Annie P., Anne H., Me, Andy, Erika, Ben, Paddy, Sophie, Simi (photo by Annie P.) 

Here are my big mile markers kilometer markers from the event. Some of the kilometers are, quite honestly, wiped from my memory, but the notable ones are still there.

1km: this actually didn’t happen, since we didn’t look at our watches for the better part of an hour. Patience is a virtue.

20km: me excitedly announcing that, at this rate, we would be done in only 5 hours! (sigh). If only. Curse of the eternally optimistic, I guess.

Happy girls! (photo by Sophie)

Happy girls! (photo by Sophie)

33.3km: Me: “you guys! We are already 1/3 done!” Everyone: “yeeeeeeeeeaaaaah! We got this! We sooooooooo got this!”

33.4km: sooooo….how far are we? are we there yet?

The scenic views of the New York roads we were on were amazing!

The scenic views of the New York roads we were on were amazing! (photo by Annie P.)

48km: this was when I was convinced I was having hallucinations. I saw 3 big piles of what might have been salt in a farmer’s field. Me: “uh, guys? does anyone else see those snowbanks?” Everyone: “it’s not snow, Jessie”. Me: “uh…..guys? I think it’s snow”. (insert giggles) “you guys, I’m hallucinating. Let’s go make snowballs”. Everyone: “it’s not snow! keep skiing”!

Soph leading the girls train. Thanks Podiumwear for the sweet tanks! (photo by Annie P.)

Soph leading the girls train. Thanks Podiumwear for the sweet tanks! (photo by Annie P.)

52km: switch techniques! Finally…clean socks, skate wheels, and a mighty quick lunch break! This was also when we did our mental re-set. We just finished a typical weekend over-distance workout. Time to start another, only we pretended we were starting from scratch.

53km: our first skate uphill, where it became shockingly clear that just pretending we were starting a skate OD fresh wasn’t going to work. Tired legs don’t lie, folks.

Sverre making sure we had enough food and sports drink handy! (photo by Annie P.)

Sverre making sure we had enough food and sports drink handy! (photo by Annie P.)

55km: I rapped Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” in my head. It sounded good.

60km: I took down some more caffeine. Good idea? Depends on who you ask…but in addition to the wonderful ratio of about 1 PowerBar per hour I was doing pretty well in the energy department!

Pat, promising us that the headwind we had for at least 70km of the event would turn into a tailwind soon. Riiiiiiiiight. (photo by Annie P.)

Pat, promising us that the headwind we had for at least 70km of the event would turn into a tailwind soon. Riiiiiiiiight. (photo by Annie P.)

63km: dead skunk roadkill in the middle of a downhill. Masterful dodging by Sophie.

65-83km: this was, as the Annie’s described it, “the dark hour”. This was a time of very little spoken words. This was also the time frame when I was a.) most bored, b.) really starting to regret my bad posture and c.) absolutely tired and sick of eating food. True to form, I tried to spark up some conversation in a last-ditch attempt to restore the good mood. When I was answered in single-syllable, single-word answers, I decided to stop speaking. When you’re in a bad place, you just kind of want to be left alone sometimes. Am I right?

84km: we were using “open field technique” IN AN OPEN FIELD. I was very, very happy at this time. Finally, the midwest term for V2-alternate made sense to absolutely everyone.

Pretty! (photo by Annie P.)

Pretty! (photo by Annie P.)

89km: the boys finished. This was in no small way a total slap to the face as we skied by them and watched them drink their recovery beverages, sitting in the sun on the grass. Andy had mapped out a route slightly short of 100km, figuring that since boys are blessed with testosterone and always finish before the girls, they could ski a little over 100 and the girls could ski a little under and we’d all be cool. I was not cool. I was like: “(insert expletive here) no! I am a strong, independent woman and if I am going to ski for over 6 hours I will darn well finish all 100km!” So. The boys finished their 100km and we still had 30 minutes left, and 89 km was the only time I regretted my earlier tirade about finishing the whole thing.

90km: the boys came to the rescue. They leapfrogged us in the cars and along with our support crew they were cheering us on, giving us high-fives and offering up creative feed zone foods and drinks. They were awesome.

99km: this is when I got into my full-on cheerleader mode, and every .10 km we came closer to our goal, I would shout it out. There was a lot of shouting and cheering and whooping as we skied out that last km, which also happened to be on a downhill section so it went by pretty quickly!

100km: we almost got hit by a truck. This was most likely my bad since we were all over the road and I was busy looking at my Polar watch making sure we actually hit 100km (stubborn streak, much?)

100.02km: skis came off, pronto. Food and water were consumed, hugs and high fives were exchanged, photos were taken, and then I laid my head down on my backpack in the van and proceeded to pass out.

20 minutes from home: we get a flat tire. Luckily for us, the coaches still had their wits about them, and Pat, Cork and Ben changed the flat tire in under 10 minutes.

Cork and Pat taking care of business. And taking care of us.

Cork and Pat taking care of business. And taking care of us.

9 hours after we left the house: we returned! What a day! It was a big, successful and tiring event and I’m very glad we did it. It really helps to put things into perspective as well. When you ski three times the longest World Cup race Women get to do, it suddenly makes racing only 30km seem less daunting!

Time to relax and recover! Erika shows her zen mode.

Time to relax and recover! Erika shows her zen mode.

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Mist and fog swirl around you as you rapidly climb the mountain. Your ragged breathing catches in your throat and you think you might throw up. You hear noises behind you – someone yelling at you – you’re being chased! Your lungs are burning, your legs feel like lead and it’s quite possible that they will combust any second. Suddenly, you cannot take another step and you drop to your knees, trying to get your lungs to cooperate. No, this isn’t the set for a horror movie…it’s bounding intervals, and what makes it even better is that you’re doing this to yourself. Ugh!

When you’re training hard, the highs are intense and the lows are really low. Every time I have a set of hard bounding intervals, I’m reminded of how incredibly humbling this sport is. It takes years of countless hard intervals where you’re left hanging onto your poles, ready to keel over, before you start racing well. And yet…without a doubt, it’s worth it. I wouldn’t have it any other way. At the end of the day, when you’ve pushed yourself hard enough, the feeling of accomplishment (and, let’s be real, the endorphin rush) are pretty amazing. That’s why although the worst moments you feel in this sport during training are some of the toughest, the “training highs” in this XC skiing are also some of the best you’ll ever find.

Erika and I bounding up Stratton in L4 this morning (photo from Pat)

Erika and I bounding up Stratton in L4 this morning (photo from Pat)

Last weekend we had one of the best days I think I’ve had all summer. We had a long easy roller ski, and because the pavement was fast and we were fired up, we rolled 55km. Pretty good practice for what’s coming up this weekend, eh? (hint, hint: 100km skifest). We ended the ski at Sophie’s Grandparent’s pond and after a cold swim Pat drove us up the road to his parent’s house. Will and Deb generously hosted us for an evening of fantastic ribs and corn on the cob, and crane rides! Thanks guys!

Perfect weather for an outside dinner! (photo by Annie P.)

Perfect weather for an outside dinner! (photo by Annie P.)

Sophie and Annie share the hammock (photo by Annie P.)

Sophie and Annie share the hammock (photo by Annie P.)

Happy girls after a great ski and a mountain of spare ribs! (photo by Annie P.)

Happy girls after a great ski and a mountain of spare ribs! (photo by Annie P.)

Will O’Brien runs a tree service, and he let us hook onto the crane and ride up all 110ft to the top! The views were stunning and it was such a cool experience.

So THAT was awesome. (photo by Annie P.)

So THAT was awesome. (photo by Annie P.)

Coach O'Brien. Winning. (photo by Annie P.)

Coach O’Brien. Winning. (photo by Annie P.)

View over the house from the top! (photo by Annie P.)

View over the house from the top! (photo by Annie P.)

Ben, Simi, Sophie and Deb watching the crane rides (photo by Annie P.)

Ben, Simi, Sophie and Deb watching the crane rides (photo by Annie P.)

"I came in like a wrecking ball"...(photo by Annie P.)

“I came in like a wrecking ball”…(photo by Annie P.)

I got you, Sophie! (photo by Annie P.)

I got you, Sophie! (photo by Annie P.)

The Minnesota girls having a good little gigglefest (photo by Annie P.)

The Minnesota girls having a good little gigglefest (photo by Annie P.)

It was a great team day of hanging out, having fun, and although we may have considered stranding Ben at the top of the 110-ft crane, we left with the whole crew intact.

 

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