The team has come back together from our various training camps around the world, and we’ve rejoined the World Cup here in Otepää, Estonia! This was the site of my first-ever overseas racing trip with the J1 Scando Cup trip (back when it was called J1, that is…I’m old now). It was such a fun experience with amazing people, and it’s what motivated me to keep training hard so I could someday come to World Juniors. So coming back after a few years away from the venue is pretty exciting!
Before you can read any further, you need to please open another window with this song, and read the rest of the post with “Welcome to Estonia” playing in the background. I don’t know what they’re saying except for the chorus, but every time I’ve ever raced in this stadium the fans LOVE this song. They chant it from the bleachers as it gets piped out of the loudspeakers, and now this song has become a symbol of the “go get ’em” attitude you need whenever racing in Otepää.
Before traveling to Estonia I was in Valadalen, Sweden with many of my teammates and my family! My boyfriend made the trip over for a week, then my parents, and it was so incredibly special for me to have the chance to go skiing with them.
Training camp was hard work and also a little nerve-wracking, since it was our last chance to tweak things before World Champs begins! Not that you can change too much at this time of year, but it’s really important not to over-do it and tire yourself out, which is the most common mistake since you get nervous and antsy and just want to ski more and more! Having my family there really helped me focus on quality time and stress less about upcoming races, focusing instead of being happy and hitting each workout the best I could.
Tonight is the techs team sprint, which means nothing less than the BIGGEST TO-DO OF THE YEAR! Techs from every team on the World cup compete and many of them are scary serious about it, holding try-outs the day before. Many of them are past Olympians and World Championship medalists, but let me tell you…none of them have the heart and team spirit that our guys have! I can’t wait to get out there and cheer!
Jessie talks about her post-tour training camp in Italy!
After the Tour de Ski was finished, it was time for some serious rest and recovery! We spent an extra day in Predazzo, the awesome little town near the venue in Val di Fiemme where the last two stages of the Tour race. Then it was time to pack up our bags and drive to high altitude for a week of easy training in Seiser Alm, Italy!
This is quite possibly one of my favorite places in the entire world! Usually, there’s feet of snow, but this year has been quite a hard snow year for most of Europe. Still, they made a 7km loop of man-made snow for us to train on! And, of course, for Liz’s birthday we had to go sledding down the 2.5km track that parallels the ski run down the mountain! Out of curiosity I wore my GPS watch…and found that I got up to 60.2 kilometers per hour! Yikes!
There was a lot of sunshine to be soaked up, and we had a lot of fun! It was good to get back into some normal training days after so many days of race, race, race!
Our hotel is up on the mountain, so every day we either take the chairlift down to town where the XC trails are, or else we ski down! We even tried to run gates on our skate skis….and we didn’t do too poorly, although I imagine metal edges might have been useful!
Jessie talks about getting sick, finding the positive and learning from it!
It’s always easy to be positive when things are going well, but what about when a wrench gets thrown into “the plan”? The last races of World Cup period 1, I traveled to La Clusaz feeling great and fully intending to do some awesome skate racing. Then I got the cold that made it’s way through our entire team (staff included) and wasn’t able to race at all, which was pretty heartbreaking as it was the first time I haven’t anchored the relay since World Champs 2011 and I absolutely live for relay days. I feel like it’s my part to play for the team and not being able to race my heart out for the team that I love made me feel like I wasn’t doing my job, wasn’t fulfilling my role. I felt horribly guilty for being sick and kept thinking “if only I’d washed my hands 31 times instead of only 30, I might have washed the germs off! If only I’d slept another hour…ate another orange to get more vitamin C…” but there’s nothing I could do, and I finally realized that the only way to get better was to let it go and not worry about the things that weren’t going to happen, and instead focus on the things I COULD do to get better!
And you know what? The world didn’t implode, I didn’t die, and things moved along. The relay did great, and SMS team member Sophie scrambled for us. In the end, it was a good lesson that even when things don’t go as planned, it’s not the end of the world and things will get better. And things DID get better!
I traveled back to Davos with Liz and Noah where we lived in a little apartment in town and got to put up a Christmas tree, cook our own food (I was particularly thrilled about this) and generally feel more “normal” and at home than we would have in a hotel.
Although my training wasn’t perfect and definitely not what I had planned before getting sick, it was another reminder that even when things don’t go according to plan you can always make the best of it and find positives in every single workout! And yep, there were many moments where I doubted my fitness and had confidence struggles going into the Tour since I hadn’t raced in a while and didn’t know what would happen. But when I kept finding the good things in every practice session and focusing on all the things that went right, I was able to talk myself into a “can-do, go kick butt” attitude instead of a “I have no idea, let’s just see what happens” kind of attitude.
Now we’re in Val Mustair for the start of the Tour de Ski, and I’m so excited for another tour! I think it’s so exciting to race from day to day, getting to do what we love over and over again. It’s a high-energy, fast-paced way to live and you’re totally exhausted at the end, but that, too, is a great feeling of knowing you accomplished something incredibly difficult. I was really happy with my start to the tour yesterday in the skate sprints, making the final and finishing 6th on the day! (further proof to my skeptical mind that getting sick won’t derail my season). But even more exciting was that we had 4 girls qualify (Sophie, Me, Sadie and Kikkan) as well as Simi for the men, and everyone skied so well. It’s also so fun to have Sverre and Lilly Caldwell cheering us on at the tour – it’s like having our own SMS support crew! They have been amazing cheerleaders all winter long. Speaking of cheering, make sure to cheer loud for our SMS teammates at Nationals in Soldier Hollow this week!
Jessie recaps the first few days of Park City camp
Here we are, at our last group camp of the training season before heading to the races! It’s been a big group here in Park City with the USST, SMS, APU all collaborating for great group workouts.
We began the 2 weeks of camp with a day of Fast and Female and Speed Camp! The girls helped out with the F&F event at the Center of Excellence while the boys lead speed camp at Soldier’s Hollow.
With two weeks to work on hard intervals, long slow distance training and racing at the end of the camp, we’re looking forward to fine-tuning our fitness!
Jessie shares what she does to relax after a big, big camp!
Our most recent training camp in New Zealand was AMAZING! I’m so happy with how the team looks. Everyone made some significant strides in their technique (no pun intended, although classic striding was indeed a big focus). The training that we did included some pretty large volume weeks with racing intensity thrown in there, so it’s just as important to make sure that our recovery after the camp is finished is high quality!
I hadn’t seen my family in Minnesota since May when I left to attend our first training camp of the year, so I was very excited to have four days at home with my parents and younger sister. The first thing I did was run out in the pouring rain to pluck some veggies from the garden for our dinner, and then cuddle with our little dog.
I got to spend an afternoon and evening out on the St. Croix river with my parents (my little sister was at work and unfortunately couldn’t come that day) and we had fun jumping in and going off the slide!
I also went to a play at the Guthrie theater with my family. This is a really fun thing for all of us as my younger sister is really into the performing arts, so it’s something we can all enjoy as a family, just as much as we enjoy skiing together!
While it’s always hard to leave home, I’m excited to return to Stratton to get back into team training, get out in those beautiful fall leaves, and continue to make more improvements before the season begins!
Jessie recaps a few of the team’s strength-focused workouts this week
This week the SMS team has been doing some good work on specific strength. We put in a lot of time in the gym – 2-3 sessions per week, lasting 60-90 minutes, to be exact – but it’s also important to make sure that the gains we make in the gym translate well into our skiing and make us more powerful when we’re motoring up the climbs! So, in other terms, specific strength is working on those muscles we use all the time in skiing, usually by isolating repeating ski motions over and over again. This is different than the strength we do in the gym, where we’re focused on whole-body strength, which helps us avoid injuries and imbalances, work on coordination and balance and train muscle groups that we don’t use as often in skiing. I think it’s important to have a mix of both, so that you don’t end up overworking your ski muscles, but still know how to use them well.
Tuesday the team met up with our SMS junior skiers and a visiting club team from Quebec, and we hammered out some specific strength.
We did single sticking, double poling, and band pulls with a partner. Tough work, but worth it!
We are looking forward to some great weeks of training ahead of us…and some strong muscles to train with!
I hope I say often enough just how much I LOVE my job, and how lucky I feel! The past week of training was hard work, of course, but anytime “going to work” means getting dressed up in spandex and skiing on a glacier for 5 hours, you know life is pretty good.
Life on Eagle Glacier is simple – mostly a pattern of eat, sleep, train and cook food for your teammates. But it wouldn’t be possible without the dedication and hard work of the glacier staff and coaches! Big, BIG thanks to Erika Flora and Dylon Watts for keeping the trails groomed, the Thomas Training Center up and running, and organizing transport! Thanks to Alpine Air Alaska for getting us up and down safely in helicopters even when there was a massive forest fire going on nearby (more on this later!) and thanks to Zuzana Rogers for volunteering her time as a Physical Therapist and keeping us healthy during a big week of training! And, as always, our USST coaches Matt Whitcomb, Jason Cork and Chris Grover were awesomely positive and always ready to help us get one step closer to our technique and racing goals.
This post will also be mostly photos of the week with a few stories here and there. Enjoy!
The trip starts with a helicopter flight that lasts about 10-15 minutes from Girdwood up to the glacier. The Alpine Air Alaska staff are amazing, friendly and extremely skilled! I love looking for bears and sheep on the mountains below as we zip on up.
Landing on the rocks on top of a mountain will never, ever get old or boring no matter how many times I get to go! I still get so pumped up and excited every time!
We all live together in the training center. It’s clean, neat and organized but small with thin walls, so you have to be a super courteous teammate and respect quiet time when people are trying to nap in the afternoon or go to sleep at night! It’s also hard to sleep because when you’re trying to get to bed at 10pm it’s bright daylight outside, so we hang up blackout curtains and sleep with buffs over our eyes.
We take turns cooking and cleaning in groups of 4 up on the glacier. It’s a pretty efficient system! There’s a breakfast crew, a lunch cleanup crew, a dinner cooking crew and dinner cleaning crew and we rotate through the schedule. We all take turns baking fun treats as well since when you’re training 4-5 hours a day you burn through up to 4,000 calories per day!
Most days we go out in the morning and skate (since the snow is firmer in the am) for 2-3 hours, then in the afternoon we classic for 1.5-2 hours. We throw 2 strength sessions in there, 2 speed sessions, and one long L3 interval session in during the week. But mostly the focus is on distance skiing to hone in technique on snow!
Zuzana was doing PT and massage recovery work for us, and she helped me when my knee got sore from overuse (it’s fine now). She has the magic touch!
Erik had a birthday up there (as he likes to remind me, he’s 1.5 months older and therefore I, not him, was the baby of the team for so long. Hah!) and he received an orange pecan pie as well as a chocolate cake! When there’s 25 people to feed one birthday cake just won’t cut it!
Ian Torchia, our newest D-team man, was the MVP of camp in my personal opinion. He broke his wrist a short time ago and although he’s recovering quickly he needed to ski around with one pole all week. But he didn’t even shy away from intervals or doing dishes with the cook crew one-handed! He was super positive the entire time which made him most valuable teammate. But in all honesty, everyone on the glacier was a real champ! It can be tough to stay so positive and contribute positively to the team atmosphere when you’re skiing your brains out and super tired, but everyone handled the load well and it was a super fun team bonding camp.
Simi worked so hard on this new running loop with banked turns, rock bridges and steps! I was amazed! We named it the Happy Trail since everyone was so psyched to have a running loop to add to the places that are safe to walk/run on the glacier!
Our trip back down was a little crazy since there was a huge forest fire in between Girdwood and Anchorage. Alpine Air was busy flying some rescue missions and fueling up black hawk helicopters that were flying ocean water over the highway to dump on the fire, so we waited and hoped that everyone was ok! You feel so removed from regular life up on the glacier so until we started smelling the smoke drifting up, we didn’t even know there was a fire! But everyone was ok, and we made it down safe. Then we waited in traffic for 4 hours, most of it in a standstill on the highway while they let each direction drive along a 5-mile stretch for 30 minutes at a time. We got bored sitting in the car, so we got out and walked for 2 hours picking (and devouring) raspberries along the bike path. Finally the cars started getting up to speed again and we sprinted along, “little-miss-sunshine-style” next to the van jumping in so we wouldn’t slow anyone down! We made it back to Anchorage in time for some late night pizza and a big, big sleep.
I’m now headed to Winnipeg for a week of relaxing and hanging out at the lake with my boyfriend and his family. I’m so excited for a chill week to let all the training sink in and find my happy place!
Jessie recaps a week of training and how SMS gets faster together!
This is not an individual sport that we do. Nobody gets better at something all by themselves. It takes a team of people, a community supporting you, to achieve your goals. And I feel so very lucky to have all the right people in my life!
Whenever we’re training, we get better together. We get faster by working as a team, and it’s fun to know that all my teammates contribute to my racing and I to theirs. So when they have a great day and a personal best, I know that I was a part of that, and they were a part of my best races, too!
In other training news, things around here have been pretty sweet. Still working on my balance and air-awareness (and keeping training super fun) by using the trampoline and foam pit at the school.
I got to jump into Erika and Andy’s pool in their rental unit and finally be the center of a giant donut, which obviously made me quite happy.
We’re still working hard in the gym to get strong…for inspiration, check out the amazing core that Erika is doing here!
And now that it’s getting hot out, we’re cooling off in every body of water we can find post-workout!
My new exciting news is that this weekend, I’m flying to Norway to join the Norwegian National Team in a training camp. I know quite a few of the girls on the team and they are all super nice and fun to hang out with during the winter, so I’m very excited to get to know them better and see Norway in the summertime!
Jessie gives a quick update on how it feels to be back at home in Stratton for summer training!
It’s been a long, long time since I’ve slept in the same house for longer than 2.5 weeks! This feel so weird to me. But it’s also incredibly nice to get settled in to the house so generously loaned out to us SMS team athletes for the summer. I actually fully unpacked my suitcase, hung clothes in the closet (gasp!) and put my own quilt on the bed. I had a realization last year when I was talking with a teammate about moving houses that besides my ski equipment and training clothes, I don’t own any “house stuff” other than my coffee press and a coffee mug shaped like a wide-eyed owl…and now, my own set of sheets/quilt. That’s it, you guys. I’m officially a ski bum for life! And LOVING IT.
To make it feel even more like home, I bought a bunch of adorable little tomato and basil plants that are now potted in various containers all over the deck. And while you can call me crazy for giving them a “growing pep talk” every morning, and doing my yoga with them, Andy took the guitar and sang them a song, so there you have it. More love going to these tomato plants than any other part of the house!
Training here in Stratton is really pretty dialed in. Our team structure is less camp-based and more every day based. We usually train together for the more important sessions – intervals, strength, speeds and long distance skis. Some of the cross training or shorter sessions we might split up and do our own thing, and of course none of us have identical training plans so there’s always an element of flexibility to the schedule! But our SMS coach Pat O’Brien does an amazing job of balancing all our training ideas and creating group workouts that get everyone what they need. And this summer, our USST coach (and my training plan writer and personal coach) Jason Cork is living here in Stratton! So I’m happy to have access to awesome technique advice and training help from these guys all summer long.
Now that everyone is back in town and rested after a big Bend camp, we’re ready for a bigger training week coming up. The days are going to be a highlight reel of train, eat, sleep, repeat. And I’m psyched for it!