Eyes on Slovenia

Andy shares his goals and plans for the upcoming World Cup races in Slovenia

    With the Tour De Ski wrapped up the SMST2 skiers have some slightly different goals for the coming week.  Sophie, Simi, and I had planned on pulling out of the Tour De Ski at least by the 5th stage in order to prepare for a big sprint only weekend in Slovenia on January 16th and 17th. We have been camped out here in Toblach Italy while the hard-core Tour finishers traveled on to Val di Fiemme for the finial two stages. It was hard to see them go but we cheered our butts off from the other side of the TV screen.

            For some athletes this week will be all about recovery and refueling after the epic 8 stage tour, but for us sprinters we are on a slightly different plan with our eyes already focused on a big sprint weekend just a few day away in Slovenia.  Racing 4 or 5 races in a row is no easy accomplishment either so our first few days here in Italy have been filled with a lot of rest and enjoying some good food here at the familiar Hotel Dolomiten.

Great view from the deck of the hotel we're staying at.
Great view from the deck of the hotel we’re staying at.

For many athletes the Tour de Ski marks the end of a very busy period of racing and also a period of big goals and big accomplishments. It truly was an amazing 10 days of racing for our USA squad, so it can be expected to have a sense of coming down after such a exciting week of travel.  It can also be easy to turn off mentally after such a physically demanding week, but this is a situation us sprinters are prepared for. I believe the saying is ‘the show must go on’ and the World Cup is no exception.

Ready for more sprinting!
Ready for more sprinting!

            Head coach Chris Grover has stayed with our sprint group here in Italy and has been helping us make sure we get the most out of our mini training camp.  In order to not let our bodies wind down too much after all the Tour racing it’s important we get a little rest here in Italy but also keep up with some intensity and training.  Our time to regroup will be after this period of World Cup racing ends two weeks from now in Nove Mesto when everyone will then get a weekend off.

            In order to keep the body primed for this weekend I have been getting in some consistent L4 training since my departure from the Tour. It’s been great to have some world-class race courses and conditions here in Toblach to practice on, including quite a few tourist trails to ski on during easy days.  A more typical training schedule has also made it possible to get back into the gym a few times and rebuild some strength before these important full World Cup point sprint weekends.  There isn’t a ton of natural snow on the ground but that also makes for some fun running so we have been getting out the door for some cross training too. After so much skiing sometimes its great to head out on a run for a change of pace.

Fun single track running.
Fun single track running.

            This week will be greatly enhanced by the addition of some more SMS skiers coming to Europe like Erika Flowers! Erika will be flying over to do some training in Italy and will also travel with us to the Slovenia race weekend in Planica. It will be awesome to have some fresh faces including some more American super tour leaders who will get some of their first World Cup starts of the season. Look for some big results during the skate sprint on Saturday and Skate sprint relay on Sunday.

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