End in Sight (Sophie’s Update)

I’m currently sitting in the Chicago Airport on my way to Spring Series in Fairbanks, Alaska. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of travel and racing and I’m excited to be finishing up the season with my SMS Elite teammates in Alaska. Now back to the last few weeks…

Drammen Sprint qualifier (photo: Toko US/Nordic Focus)

After World Champs we flew to Oslo for the Drammen city sprint. The Drammen sprint is one I’ve really struggled with in the past. It’s a very gradual classic sprint course that favors power skiers and my first few years racing it, I wasn’t even close to qualifying. Last year was my first year qualifying and this year I was psyched to qualify again and make it through to the semis, ending up 9th on the day. It ended up being one of my better sprints of the year, but I know there is still some work to be done on my power striding. It’s an amazing atmosphere in Drammen and I’m happy to feel like I’ve begun to figure this course out!

Another day, another plane

The day after Drammen, a big group of us flew back to the U.S. in order to have a few days at home before World Cup Finals in Quebec City. This is the second year in a row that we’ve ended the season in Quebec City and being able to spend some time at home beforehand is one of the many reasons that makes races in Quebec awesome. There wasn’t a ton of snow at home, but we got a few inches and some cold weather, which left us with just enough snow to do some fun tours around home. I was mostly resting and recovering from racing and jet lag, but it was nice to get out on some of the trails I grew up skiing on. Wild Wings is the nordic center right next to my house and one of my favorite places to ski in the world, so I can always find my happy place on those trails.

Bernie doing some indoor sunbathing when it was freezing outside

 

Skiing at Wild Wings!

 

Back with the kitties! This is Leroy, the king.

On Tuesday we drove up to Quebec City. It happened to be the day of the huge snow storm, so we got an early start in an attempt to race the storm. The first few hours of driving were a little sketchy, but by the time we got to Canada, it was clear sailing. We woke up to winter the next day in Quebec City and began to prepare for the last weekend of World Cup racing. The race schedule for the weekend was a skate sprint on Friday, classic 10km mass start on Saturday, and a skate 10k pursuit start on Sunday. I was looking forward to all of the races because I haven’t done much distance racing this year, and it was a great opportunity to hop in a couple of them.  During my sprint quarterfinal, I was taken out on the final corner by a racer who moved in over my skis. It was a bummer because I felt like I was in a good position to move onto the semis. I’ve had a lot of falls this year and I’m not really sure why, but I’m ready to stay on my feet in sprints next year! It was really cool to see my teammate, Julia, qualify for the heats in her first ever World Cup and have Rosie qualify for her first World Cup sprint heats. Simi had an awesome day and just narrowly missed the podium, finishing 4th for the day. The following two days I felt good for the distance races and had a blast skiing with some teammates and racers from other nations. It was a really fun way to end the season. We had so many U.S. fans come up to cheer us on and make us feel like superstars as they screamed our names all around the course. Quebec City was where I raced my first World Cups back in the fall of 2012, so it’s always going to be a special place for me to race. The venue is amazing and I hope we go back soon!

 

Pretty special to have two of my grandparents, Grandpa and Twinkle, at the races in Quebec!

 

World cup season out! (Gretchen Powers photo)

 

Racing in the skate pursuit (Skinny Skis photo)

 

Teammate hugs with Erika. Psyched for this girl racing her first World Cups! (photo: Dustin Satloff)

 

Testing skis with Matt (photo: Reese Brown)

 

Sodie special! These little girls, Sophie and Sadie, are some of our biggest fans and we hope they can be the future Sodie duo (photo: Gretchen Powers)

So the World Cup season has ended, and we have four more races this coming week. The schedule is a skiathlon on Monday, skate sprint on Wednesday, club relay on Friday, and 30 skate on Sunday. That’s a lot of racing, but the end is in sight and I’m looking forward to hammering this week and then enjoying some April adventures. Thanks for following!

World Champs recap

Sophie recaps the team’s experience at World Champs! 

We just finished the most successful World Champs the U.S. Ski Team has ever had and our SMS Elite team was a big part of that group! If there’s one word I can use to describe the experience, it is INSPIRING. The first race of World Champs was the skate sprint and we had six athletes qualify for the rounds. Four of those athletes were SMS Elite teamers Andy, Simi, Jessie and me. Sim had an unfortunate crash, but Jessie and I made it onto the semis and before we knew it, we were on the start line of the World Champs A Final with our teammate, Kikkan. Yep! Three out of the six women in the final were from the U.S.. That was pretty neat. Jessie and Kikkan went on to place 2nd and 3rd and I was 6th. It was an incredible day for U.S. skiing.

Sophie qualifying for the sprint (Getty Images photo)

We continued to have a strong championships with Sadie and Jessie teaming up for 3rd in the team sprint, Simi and Erik placing 5th in the team sprint, our women’s relay team getting 4th, and Jessie getting 5th in the 30km skate race. I think it’s safe to say that our team is riding a high right now and we plan on keeping it rolling through the rest of the season.

Kikkan and Jessie ski the flag down the finishing stretch (photo: John Lazenby)

We have a city sprint in Drammen, Norway tomorrow and then the four of us will be flying home for a few days to prepare for World Cup Finals in Quebec City. There, we will be joined by a handful of our SMS Elite teammates and get to put on a show in front of our home crowd. We hope to see you in Quebec!!

These dorks want to see you in Quebec cheering!

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)

Start of season!

And the races are off!! The season has officially started for our SMS Elite team. Half of our group raced their first races at the World Cups in Kuusamo, Finland, while the other half raced FIS races in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Back on snow!
Back on snow!

Results are often across the board in the first races of the season, but you have to start somewhere and it’s always good to dust off the cobwebs! That said, our team had some really strong results last weekend even though it was our first week back on snow! In West Yellowstone, KO and Paddy each took the win in the skate distance race and Erika was 3rd. In the classic race, KO had another podium finish in 3rd, Erika was 5th, and Ben double poled the whole race and placed 6th. On the World Cup, Sophie and Jessie both qualified for the heats and placed 20th and 26th. In the 10k classic, Jessie showed that she can sprint and distance ski and placed 13th as the top American for the day.

Jessie racing in Kuusamo (Simi photo)
Jessie racing in Kuusamo (Simi photo)
After racing in Finland, we flew to Norway for the mini tour coming up this weekend. Ski racing in Norway is always a pretty incredible experience. Fans go wild, there are even more fast Norwegian racers than usual, and the delicious food (brown cheese) is something we always look forward to. Tune in this weekend to watch the Super Tour races in West Yellowstone and the World Cup in Lillehammer!
-Sophie
Hi from Finland!
Hi from Finland!

Park City Camp

Sophie wraps up camp with annual send off dinner information!

We just wrapped up our final dryland camp of the training season in Park City, Utah. This means a few things. One, we are tired and ready for a recovery week. Two, that was our last training camp which means less than a month until our first races! And three, our annual send off dinner must be just around the corner and you should come!! I’ll elaborate a little.
(Rollerskiing up East Canyon Liz Arky photo)
(Rollerskiing up East Canyon Liz Arky photo)
Park City camp was fun, hard, and beautiful. We spent two weeks training at altitude and the focus of our first week was volume, and the focus of our second week was intensity (but still a lot of volume). On top of our long workouts and hard workouts, we were also doing several speed and strength session and of course, we threw a couple recovery days in there too. So with the last camp over, we are all looking forward to a little R&R before hopping back into some solid training in a week or two.
Run OD with Jess and Liz (photo from Matt Whitcomb)
Run OD with Jess and Liz (photo from Matt Whitcomb)

Most of us are heading over to Europe for World Cups or out west for Supertours in mid to late November, which means we have less than a month until the season begins! I don’t know where summer went, but winter is just around the corner and we are PSYCHED.

Sophie is pumped
Sophie is pumped

We have our annual send off dinner coming up! This year is will be on November 11th and if you would like to attend, please contact scaldwell@gosms.org for details. We promise delicious food, good company, and a good reason to bring the community together before the season begins. Thanks for following!

Team! Andy, Paddy, Coach Pat, Ben, Simi, Julia, Anne, Erika, Jessie and Sophie
Team! Andy, Paddy, Coach Pat, Ben, Simi, Julia, Anne, Erika, Jessie and Sophie

Sophie’s Hanover Clinic Recap

Over the weekend, we drove north for our second clinic of the summer in Hanover, NH. We had a great turnout of kids ranging from 1st grade to seniors in high school. We introduced ourselves and then split into two group based on age and headed for the bounding hills. DSC_9890.jpg

I was in charge of the younger group (1st-5th grades) with Ben and Julia. We ran the kids through some of our typical dynamic warmup and ended the warmup with some practice finish skate sprints and lunges. We weren’t sure if our kids were going to want to get into the specifics of skiing, but they insisted on leading us to the biggest hill in the woods to practice bounding. After a few laps of bounding and giving them some tips on coordination, we headed to the soccer field for relays. We split into three relay teams and set up an agility course for them. We were satisfied to see the race end in a three way tie before heading in for some video and Q&A.DSC_0001.jpg

After showing them our team video and a couple World Cup sprint videos, we opened up the floor for question time. The kids had some awesome questions that really made us think, and they were rewarded with an SMS hat for asking a good question. I think we could have stayed there for hours, but unfortunately we had to make the drive back home that evening. Thanks to everyone who showed up to our clinic. That could have been the most enthusiastic group of kids I’ve ever worked with!DSC_9944.jpgDSC_0060.jpg

Week one in New Zealand!

Sophie shows us what part of our team has been up to on the Snow Farm.

The majority of our team is down in New Zealand taking part in a U.S. Ski Team training camp for the next two weeks. It’s late winter here in New Zealand, so we’ve been skiing in what feels like late February/early March conditions. With the exception of a windy and rainy day yesterday, we have had mostly beautiful weather and the skiing has been awesome.

At the Bob Lee hut.
At the Bob Lee hut.

So far we’ve been logging a lot of easy distance training, but we did have one day of intensity where some of us did threshold intervals and a few people jumped in the Merino Muster, a 42km loppet race that is held up at the Snow Farm. Jessie and Liz took the top two spots for women and Hoff and Simi took the top two spots for men. They were also the top four fastest racers overall! The rest of us did some fun skate intervals as a group and worked together to push through the strong headwind we were fighting.

Leaning into a huge headwind!
Leaning into a huge headwind!

We have an off day today and we are going to head down into the town of Wanaka to get off the mountain for a few hours. This week we have some more volume on the plan as well as several intensity sessions including a couple races over the weekend. Stay tuned for some more updates and photos from winter in summertime!

-Sophie
-Sophie

Glacier camp and recovery week

Sophie gives her take of the Alaska glacier camp and shows us some fun adventures after! 
After a big week of dry land training in Anchorage, we loaded up the helicopters and flew up to Eagle Glacier for a week of training on snow. This was the third time I’ve been to a training camp on Eagle Glacier and it was by far the best camp I’ve had up there. In the past, I’ve gotten overly excited about being on snow and have tried to ski as much as possible from the start, leaving myself so tired I can barely get out the door to ski by the end of the camp. This year I tried to pace myself a little more, and when I felt myself getting tired mid week, I took an afternoon off from skiing to bounce back. I left the camp feeling tired, but not buried in a hole, and I was able to ski more than I ever have before!
The excitement of riding in a helicopter will never get old

 

Huge thanks to Alpine Air for transporting us to and from Eagle Glacier safe and sound!

One of the reasons this camp was the best one yet was because of the weather we had on the glacier. Similar to our week in town, we didn’t have a single day of rain and saw the sun every day. This made for some slow and slushy skiing, but it was good practice for some of the toughest conditions we see on the World Cup. Our main focus of the camp was to put in a lot of volume and take a step back from intensity. In order to put in a lot of hours, my pace had to be slow, but we had a beautifully groomed 7k loop and plenty of teammates to help make the hours pass quickly.

Jumping for joy
Speed day (Andre Horton photo)

 

Sim skiing out of the fog early in the morning

 

Above the clouds

 

Kiks is BACK!
Final ski of the camp made possible (and enjoyable) by my teammate Ida 🙂

 

A week on a glacier can do crazy things…

Another one of my favorite parts of our Alaska camp was having our guest skier Virgina from Italy join us. She always showed up with a smile and is one of the most kind and positive people I’ve met. It was a pleasure having her at our camp and I hope she will join us again sometime. She even cooked us gnocchi one night, which is not an easy task when you’re cooking for 20 hungry athletes. Putting in a lot of hours on snow also means putting in a lot of hours of sleeping and a lot of hours at the dining room table. The amount of food that is stored and eaten up on the glacier is hard to fathom.

Did I mention we ate a lot?? Huge thanks to our bakers Jessie and the Patterson siblings!

 

Virginia laboring over her Gnocchi

 

A lot!

 

We finished camp, so let’s strike a pose. (Matt photo)

 

Smiling with Liz and Virginia after our final ski. Thankful to have these two at camp. (Matt photo)

We put in a lot of hard work as athletes, but the coaches and glacier staff work just as hard, if not harder, to make the camp run smoothly. We owe a huge thanks to Zuzana Rogers, who joined us as a PT for the camp, keeping us all healthy and injury free. U.S. Ski Team coaches, Matt, Chris, and Jason, APU coach Erik, and glacier worker Dylan worked their butts off to make this camp successful and we are incredibly grateful for their efforts.

Glacier time with Zuz

 

Matt doing some recovering of his own

 

Trails this perfect take a lot of grooming and planning

 

Our home for the week (Andre Horton photo)

 

Zuzana and Matt helping support our speed session (Andre Horton photo)

After two big weeks in Alaska, I was ready for some recovery time. My sister, Isabel, just moved to Flagstaff, Arizona for her new middle school science teaching job, so I took the opportunity to visit her and help move her in on my way back from Alaska. On my recover weeks, I enjoy not following a strict training plan, getting a lot of recovery, but also doing a lot of hiking adventures that get me to some beautiful places at a slow pace. Northern Arizona turned out to be the perfect place to do this with the best company I could ask for!

Found her!

 

She got her name on the door! So proud of this girl.

 

Hiking down into the Grand Canyon

 

Sunset hike in Sedona our last night. One of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever been on minus the rattlesnake and tarantula we saw.

 

Iz climbing up Bear Mtn with Sedona in the background

 

First time to the Grand Canyon!

 

Sister, sister

 

Since Izzy is a rock nerd, she talked me through all there is to know about rocks. Check out that geologic contact!

 

Highest peak in Arizona with our Vermont buddy Nora

Now I am back in Vermont for the month of August before heading to New Zealand for our next USST camp the first two weeks of September. I’m looking forward to being in one place for a month and getting in some solid training at home. HERE is a link from the U.S. Ski Team about my story growing up skiing and my thoughts about what makes a champion. Thanks for following!

(Andre Horton photo)

 

Fun summer training

Sophie recaps the training from June! 

Our first month of June training as a team has flown by and somehow Vermont managed to provide us with beautiful weather for pretty much the entire month! I shouldn’t talk about it too much and jinx it, but I think this is the nicest summer weather I’ve ever experienced.

Ski walking up Stratton with Andy (Caldwell Sport photo)
Ski walking up Stratton with Andy (Caldwell Sport photo)
The majority of us are taking the next week or so pretty easy before either heading to Alaska for the U.S. Ski Team camp or putting in a big volume block back here in Stratton. I will be headed to Alaska on Wednesday and am looking forward to being reunited with my other U.S. Team teammates who I haven’t seen since Bend. It’s always nice to switch up the area where we train and it will be a good opportunity to get back on snow for a week on Eagle Glacier in Alaska. It will be hard to leave behind the awesome training situation we have here, but I know my SMS T2 teammates and Stratton will still be here when we return.
Cresting Stratton on an OD run with KO (Pat photo)
Cresting Stratton on an OD run with KO (Pat photo)
Happy 4th of July weekend to everyone. Enjoy some fireworks and look for us in the annual Londonderry parade. We will be on skis and giving out caaaandy!
Last year's parade!
Last year’s parade!

Girls on the Run, back at home!

Sophie brings us back to Stratton after a busy camp! 

After a busy Bend Camp where we put in a ton of hours on skis, bikes, running shoes, and in the gym, we are all looking forward to a week of recovery. Most of us are beginning to reconvene in Stratton for the summer of training. If people were spoiled by the cool Bend nights, and mild sunny days, it’s time to snap out of it because hot, hazy, and humid Vermont has arrived!

Soph and Annie during a fun crust ski (photo from Bryan Fish)
Soph and Annie during a fun crust ski (photo from Bryan Fish)

The morning after I arrived home, I drove up to Rutland, Vermont to be the speaker at one of the Girls on the Run Vermont 5ks. Girls on the Run is an incredible organization that Erika and I have both had the pleasure of being coaches for in the past. Elementary and middle school girls train twice a week all spring to be able to complete a 5k running race at the end of the school year. It’s pretty inspiring to watch the progress the girls make throughout the spring and to see how motivated they are to do the run at the end of the year.

Running through the heat and humidity! (photo from Lilly Caldwell)
Running through the heat and humidity! (photo from Lilly Caldwell)

Over 1,000 girls showed up to run in Rutland on Saturday morning and we were greeted by 90 degree temperatures and what must have been 100% humidity. The girls were smart about their races, taking their time and drinking plenty of water. It was an awesome event and I’m looking forward to being involved with Girls on the Run in the future!

Made it! (photo from Lilly Caldwell)
Made it! (photo from Lilly Caldwell)

After an easier week of training this week, we will hop back into some more volume training for the remainder of the month. Our next camp isn’t until July when we go to Alaska, so we’re looking forward to being in one place and training hard as a group for the next month!