I’m sitting in my room, listening to the sounds of shoveling from the deck below, where staff at Hotel Kulm are preparing the outside seating area so that holiday Gluhwein can be served to guests after dark. I just love staying at this hotel and living in Davos, and our team is often asked why, when we travel all around the world, do we love this little ski town so much? I think it has to do with the feeling of independence we get here, because public transport on the bus and train system is so efficient. Any time I want, I can get a ride to town and wander around, coming back on my own schedule. And as subtle as that sounds, it’s actually a pretty big deal because when I’m on the road for 5 months (and really, most of the summer, too) I’m often not on my own schedule, and need to figure out rides with the few team cars, if we have them in that country. In years when the snow is really good, we can also ski right out the door of the hotel…no joke, the trail goes right into the garage. So we can ski anywhere, anytime! Add that to the fact that the hotel staff is so kind, and treats us like family as we stay here year after year. Heinz, the owner of the hotel, remembers all our names and even what kind of coffee we drink every morning!
Of course, this year the snow situation is a little different. There wouldn’t be enough to race on, but the organizing committee here in Davos is working round the clock to get snow laid down on the 5km race loop. They have been trucking it in, and all along the venue you can see army trucks and men in uniform laying down snow. Pretty sweet that the army’s top job this weekend appears to be making the XC races happen. Priorities, people!
Our first few days in town, we skied on a smaller 1.5km loop of the race trail, farther up the valley where it’s colder and in the shade. It was pretty busy there, and doing intervals was quite fun because I was always dodging traffic and never alone! There is also a small loop on the golf course, on the opposite end of town, where we skied for some easy, low-key distance training yesterday. I had on my rock skis, so I went on a little solo mission up Dischma, the sunny valley. I skied on a thin layer of snow over grass up, up, up the valley, and came bombing back down, jumping and dodging rocks and bumping over the grass rollers, whooping the whole way down. It was awesome!
Perhaps the other reason I love Davos so much is because this is where the team does our holiday celebration together, since it’s usually the last stop where we are all together before some fly home and the rest of us split up for Christmas. We have a Secret Santa, where you pick a name and find a small gift for that person, but you also have to write them a poem. Then you sneak down to the lobby, place your gift and poem in the pile, and after dinner we all gather in a meeting room we call “the hot room” because, you guessed it, it gets really hot in there.
Each person finds their gift, and has to stand up in front of the team and read the poem written for them, and often they are funny, embarrassing, or just super cute. After everyone has read them, we go around guessing who our secret person was! This year I had Peter Johansson, our Swedish wax tech, who wrote me a lovely poem and got me the book I am Malala, which I am really looking forward to reading! I drew Bryan Fish’s name, and in a addition to a slightly embarrassing poem I got him his favorite candies and a lime green pair of glasses and tie, so he has a waxing uniform to wear for the weekend!
I think Simi won the day, however, with his hilarious and creative poem presentation for Grover. Grover, being our head coach of the USST, just loves his powerpoint presentations and pre-race meetings. So Sim got ahold of the FIS team captains meeting presentation and put in his own words and version of the pre-race meeting. We couldn’t stop laughing!
I would also like to say a big thank you to Frederica “Fred” Manning, our massage therapist for this week through next weekend! She bring so much positive energy to the team and we are so lucky to have her each year in Switzerland! This weekend we also have some awesome guests with the team: Liz Arky and Levi Hensel, who are both helping the team with marketing strategies. Liz is also the newest member of the USST board, and to have her here cheering us on is such a motivational boost! And last but not least, Peter Johansson’s son Robin is also here in town, and it was so cool to meet him and have him, Liz and Levi get to know the team better at the secret-santa poem party!
Before JP got to town, I borrowed his travel guitar from the cargo van and was practicing my music on Sadie, Liz and Sophie. The “Sodie” room (Sadie + Sophie) has a stage, so it was a fun setup!
Tomorrow we will race a 10/15km classic individual start, and Sunday is the skate sprint. I am looking forward to a fun weekend, and another chance to challenge myself in classic racing!