Simi explains why we all love the Swiss Alps
It’s much more motivating to ski fast when you have three things on your side: 1. Momentum. 2. Sunshine and fast snow. 3. Camaraderie. Fortunately for us, we’re finding all those things on our 3rd World Cup stop of the season.
We arrived in Davos, Switzerland after an interesting first two weekends of racing over here in Europe. Because we wanted to limit our time spent on the road this year (it’s hard living out of a duffel bag in 13 different countries for 5 months straight), most of us chose to come over from the States just a few days before the World Cup season kicked off in Ruka, Finland. We had some strong performances there, but I think we all came away feeling like none of us had truly skied to our potential. For me, personally, it was tough watching the races out our living room window both days as I caught a virus while travelling over. But as a team, we overcame that feeling of coming up short, and refocused our attention to the Lillehammer, Norway mini tour weekend. Ratcheting up the psych we came into the second stop of the season with more energy and grit. For many, this was when all cylinders started firing. Jessie, especially, had an incredible string of results, skiing a hard-fought classic sprint, winning the next day’s 5 km skate race, and finishing the mini tour in 8th overall. Other stand-out races from the weekend included Sophie, Sadie, Ida, and Erik Bjornsen all scoring points in the classic sprint, Liz skiing a gutsy 5 km skate race to nail a top-25, Noah snagging a top-30 in the 15 km classic pursuit, and Sadie finishing the tour in 11th overall. Having come off an entire week off, I struggled through the Lillehammer weekend feeling flat with low energy. But Davos is a new chapter in the World Cup book, and I can tell you without a doubt that we’re all feeling the positive vibes from knowing this team is one of the fastest in the world. So that’s the momentum side of the story, but there’s more to racing fast than just being part of a team that knows it can achieve anything on any given day.
Davos, famous for its blue bird Swiss Alp days, immaculate course preparation, and just good, comfortable living in general, is a favorite of ours. When we haven’t been down on the race trails testing skis and pushing hard during interval sessions, we’ve been soaking up Vitamin D on the deck of our hotel (The Kulm, where the US Team has stayed for the last 30+ years), savoring thousands of calories of home-cooked meals, and stretching our legs on the streets of a beautiful mountain town that many of us have come to regard as our home away from home. The Swiss Army has been working around the clock for the last several weeks getting the race trails prepared to perfection during an abnormally warm fall and start to winter in central Europe. The 6 km race loop winds its way up and down the Fluella valley on a perfect, 1-meter-deep ribbon of clean, fast, and firm snow. During the countless loops I’ve already skied this week, my mind has had a habit of wandering to the flowy single track that can be seen criss-crossing beneath the platform of snow. It’s fun to think about how awesome the trails around here would be on a bike, but it’s also a sad realization that we can even recognize that in December in a region of the world that historically receives ample amounts of snow before December.
And as for camaraderie, the team is thriving like we always do. It’s become a custom of ours to do something fun as a team before people split off to different parts of the world for Christmas break. Tonight, we’ll unveil portraits that we drew of teammates, techs, and coaches after drawing names out of a hat. When you get picked from the group, you have to guess which portrait is yours, and then determine who drew you. I’d say that at this point in our careers, we’re all pretty good ski racers, but I have a feeling that our artistic skills may be lagging a little behind what we can do on a pair of xc skis. Then again, I could be totally wrong. We’ll just have to wait and see. – Simi