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Two weeks, two countries, six races, a red bib…and one heck of a finale!

World Cup ’11 wrapped up with 2 races in Lahti, Finland and then the World Cup Finals in Sweden.

Lahti – Distance PR with 11th in pursuit and donned the red bib in the classic sprint for 21st.

Stockholm – Final WC sprint, skied to 10th and held on to 3rd in the overall sprint cup!

Falun – Mini-tour finals, 19th in prologue, 21st in pursuit, 14th in 10k to finish 16th overall. Finished the season in 10th in the Overall World Cup standings.

One more series of races to go before its break time! More coming from Sun Valley next week!!

The Full Story:

It’s been a busy two weeks as the 2011 World Cup season has just wrapped up. Here’s a quick update on how it went…

The first weekend post-World Champs kicked off in Lahti, Finland with a 5km+5km duathlon. It was a challenging course with big steep climbs. I got off to a good start and thanks to some great skis I was able to move my way up through the pack on the classic leg. I continued to ski strong on the skate portion and narrowly lost a photo finish for 10th place. My 11th place was a new personal best World Cup distance performance.

The next morning we contested a classic sprint. After my victory in Drammen, I had retaken the lead in the overall World Cup sprint rankings and so I got to race wearing the red leader’s jersey. Although the course was long and tough, I laid down one of my best-ever classic sprint qualifications in 5th place. Anticipation was high.

In the quarterfinals I was leading my heat halfway through the lap until I struggled to kick up the steep climb and then bogged down with slow skis, lost touch with the group on the downhill and ended up 5th (21st overall). It was a frustrating early end to my day and I dropped to third in the overall sprint rankings.

The final sprint race of the season was just three days later in Stockholm, a 1km classic sprint on man-made snow laid on the steps of the Royal Palace. A pretty sweet venue! I put down a solid qualifying round in 13th and despite landing in a super-competitive quarterfinal, managed to advance to the semis as a lucky loser. In the semis I skied all out to try and hang in the pack, eventually tying for 5th. I didn’t advance to the final but secured 10th place for the day and locked up third in the overall sprint cup. Having never been in the top 10 before, this was a huge breakthrough for me!

From Stockholm we traveled 3hrs to Falun to continue the World Cup Finals mini-tour with a 2.5km classic prologue on Friday. While Thursday’s off day featured impeccable conditions and clear blue sky, race day brought heavy snowfall and temperatures around the dreaded zero mark. Thankfully my skis were great and my body felt strong and I skied a solid lap for 19th place.

For the following day’s 5km+5km duathlon, the sun came back, although the waxing conditions were still challenging. Starting as bib 10 in the 2nd row my race was off to an excellent start when, 500m in I got caught in a crash and suddenly dropped from top 10 to back of the pack. I spent the rest of the race trying to work my way back up and eventually finished 21st.

The final race of the mini-tour, and of the World Cup season, was a 10km freestyle handicap start based on the overall time from the mini-tour. I started the day in 17th place and immediately latched on to bib 16, Marte Kristophersen of Norway. As we skied the two hard laps around the 5km course, we picked up several skiers ahead. Coming over the top of “murder hill” the last time however, my legs gave way and I lost touch with the group. I still managed to finish 16th on the day with the 14th fastest split time. It felt good to lie down in the snow at the finish after the demanding tour and the conclusion of a successful World Cup season!

The icing on the cake was going up on stage for the award presentations for the overall Sprint World Cup. Just a year before I had watched my teammate Andy Newell stand up there getting his crystal medal, and dreamed of getting there myself. It felt great to stand on the podium one more time, accept the crystal medal, and get sprayed by champagne from Petra Majdic’s retirement celebration!

This World Cup season has been my most successful year yet. In addition to the third in the Sprint rankings, I also finished 10th in the Overall World Cup. These overall awards show that my consistency is coming up and I am already getting excited about chasing the crystal globes next season.

While the World Cup season is now finished, I still have one more series of races to do before heading home. I have rejoined my APU teammates for the 30/50km US National Championships races this weekend in Sun Valley, ID and then the SuperTour Finals next week. Five more races to go, time to see what’s left in the tank!

We have the most awesome team behind us!!

arthritis

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