January recap from Europe

Sophie recaps her month of January

I recovered from my Christmas cold just in time to start the Tour de Ski. I did the skate sprint and the classic 5k and they were both solid races. I had a great qualifier where I qualified in 5th, but just missed making it into the semis! The next day was a fun 5k classic mass start. I don’t think I’ve done a 5k mass start since I was a junior, so it was a little hectic, but pretty fun. After Val Mustair, the sprinters packed up and headed to Toblach, where we would spend the majority of the next two weeks before the sprint World Cup weekend. We took three days the following weekend to head to Planica, Slovenia for an OPA Cup sprint and distance race. I really love that area in Slovenia. It is in the Triglav National Park, set at the base of the Julien Alps. I was psyched to take the win in the skate sprint and think I had some extra motivation that day from watching my teammates, Jessie and Sadie, get 1st and 3rd in the Tour de Ski 5k skate.

Hanging with Ides between heats at the OPA Cup

 

Skate sprint in Val Mustair (Nordic Focus/Toko US photo)

 

Cooling down with Breck in Val Mustair

 

Sim and I both took the wins in Planica and here we are with our head coach, Chris Grover, at the awards ceremony

 

Slovenia was a little chilly, so Ides and I embraced comfort over fashion in an attempt to keep ourselves warm

There wasn’t much natural snow in Toblach, but the area did an incredible job of laying out man made ribbons of snow throughout all the valleys. There were probably 30kms of trails when we arrived and about 60kms of trails when we left. Unfortunately, two days after we got back from Slovenia I came down with a pretty nasty stomach bug. I’m really scared of throwing up and haven’t thrown up from a stomach bug since middle school, so it caught me a little off guard and came on fast, but one hospital trip and a couple days of rest later, I was feeling okay. It took a little while to get my appetite fully back, but by the weekend I was feeling healthy enough to race. I was pleasantly surprised to have a decent qualifier in the sprint and then felt better in my quarter final and moved onto the semis. In my semi final, Kikkan rode up a little hot behind me on the first down hill and ended up tangling in my skis and we both fell. Luckily I only broke a ski and neither of us were injured. I was pretty bummed because both sprints that I’ve made it into the semi finals this year, I’ve ended up on the ground and missed a chance to move onto the finals. Every once in awhile, falling is part of ski racing, but I’m thinking I’m ready to be finished with falls for the year. Anyway, the real highlight of the day was watching Sim ski a brilliant race and get 2nd in the Toblach sprint for the second year in a row! The next day was a team sprint, where I didn’t have a lot left in me, but the team sprint is always a fun event to participate in and I’m looking forward to doing another one in Korea next week.

Recovering from the flu on a field trip with my parents 😉

 

Skiing around TOblach with one of our techs and my friend, Andrew Morehouse

 

All smiles after Sim’s 2nd place!

 

Sprint heat in Toblach

 

Sprint qualifier (Marcel Hilger photo)

 

Team sprint (Marcel Hilger photo)

 

Hot air balloons everywhere!
After Toblach, we traveled to Ulricehamn, Sweden. This was a new venue for the World Cup and it did not disappoint! Ulricehamn is a town of 8,000 people and they sold 50,000 tickets for the weekend of racing. The volunteers could not have been friendlier, the tracks were great, and the fans were psyched. There wasn’t a sprint last weekend, so I was mostly training in Ulricehamn, but we had eight healthy girls, so we were able to start two relay teams on Sunday and I skied a skate leg on our second team. This was only the second time ever we’ve had enough girls to start two teams and it was made extra special because it was our supertour leader, Liz Guiney’s, first weekend of World Cups! On Monday morning, we loaded a bus and drove to Falun, Sweden. This weekend I will do the skate sprint in Falun.
Training in Ulricehamn (Simi photo)
We’re over halfway through the season and the second half tends to fly by. We have a lot to look forward to in the next month and a half. After the races this weekend, a small group of us will fly to South Korea for the Olympic test event. It will be a quick trip, but I’ve never been to Asia before and think it will be quite the experience! After that, we head to Valadalen, Sweden for a little training camp before the World Cup in Oteppa, Estonia and World Champs in Lahti, Finland. After World Champs, I will do one more sprint in Drammen, Norway before heading back home because World Cup Finals have been moved to Quebec City!! We will  be in Quebec City racing from March 17th-19th, so if you had fun cheering at the Ski Tour Canada last year, come do it again in March. Thanks for following!
Ready for the races! (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)
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