exciting times

The past month has included some of the most memorable moments of my ski career to date. While at home in Anchorage, I had my best ever result at US Nationals. At the world cup in Dresden, Germany, I scored the presidential suite and spent almost a week living like a queen. My teammate Barbara and I made the team sprint final, which is the first time that’s been done by an Australian team. Phil also made history the day before when he qualified 27th, which was followed by a historically awesome cheering session during the heats for the rest of us. I fell in love with Slovenia, despite having some of the toughest races of my life (that’s how you know she’s a keeper).  I was officially named to the Australian Olympic team, and nine other athletes I train with in Alaska were named to the US Olympic team. With these announcements, I have felt so much love on social media and community support that my heart could burst. All this, and I know the next month will bring even MORE incredible experiences.

Here’s some photographic evidence (because if its not on instagram, did it actually really happen?):

ANCHORAGE:

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all smiles after the 20k at USN. Somehow I managed to keep up with these speedsters for the better part of 20k and finished 4th! Little do they know I took a shortcut through the woods. Fooled ya!

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Frankowitz and I after the race. She was runner up AND qualified for the olympics. But more on that later

DRESDEN, GERMANY:

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After 20 hours of travel, I was picked up in this super fancy car (that I didn’t actually realize was that fancy, my bad) and greeted with patriotism and champagne. THANK YOU, Dresden.

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I was then given the ultimate surprise- taken up to the presidential suite, which I called home for the next week. I spent most of my time ordering room service and watching TV while I bathed (kidding, I also did some skiing). All this was because I was the first athlete to arrive! I was told Carlos Santana will be staying there later this year, so I left him a note hidden in the bedside table. Pen pals?!?!

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I had two extra days in Dresden before the team arrived to help me get over jetlag. Luckily, there was tons of amazing architecture to check out.

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Being a city sprint, there wasn’t much snow in Dresden. They made this 1k loop two days before this race by trucking in snow from God knows where, because I certainly didn’t see much on the plane ride in!

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The lux life paid off well; Barbara and I managed to sneak into the last lucky loser spot of the team sprint final after getting 6th in our semifinal. We were also able to dry our clothes/boots in between the heats in our personal sauna (life really hasn’t been the same since).

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Barbara and I after the race. Time to collapse on the California king bed and order some room service.

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I had some amazing cheerleaders in Dresden- Martin and Marion- who brought the WA flag with them, took lots of photos, and kept me fueled with much coffee and cake. Thank you guys!!!!!!!

PLANICA, SLOVENIA:

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By far the most scenic back drop to any race I’ve ever done. Also by far the hardest courses!

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I wasn’t kidding when I said I fell in love with Slovenia! I have never seen such beautiful mountains and crystal clear lakes. Here we are at Bled, with the castle that supposedly inspired Walt Disney.

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Pictured to the left of the castle- a little church in the middle of the lake. I plan to swim out there upon my return!

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More Bled

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Touristing with the crew

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Water so clear I had to stop myself from jumping in! There is nothing I love more than a frozen swim to rejuvenate, but I was advised otherwise. I also found a couple trout that I plan to come back and catch when I visit in summer- Slovenia 2.0.

SEEFELD, AUSTRIA

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Racing in the same courses world champs will be on next year. Photo credit to @bildbryan

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More glorious views in Seefed- topped off with much bronzing time on the deck

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more sunny seefeld

Next stop… Pyeongchang, South Korea!!!!!

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All of these amazing experiences were topped off by being named to the Australian Olympic team last week. YAY!

On top of me being named to the Australian team,  APUNSC qualified NINE athletes for the US Olympic team (that’s almost half the entire cross-country team!). Here‘s an article that talks about this accomplishment, along with a video of Dan Sullivan honoring our team as Alaskans of the Week. I am so proud to be part of such a dedicated team. We train together almost every day- pushing each other when it counts and learning from each other’s strengths. It is so awesome to see hard work paying off as so many people achieve their goals. However, I am equally as proud of those teammates who fell short of their goals and just missed the cut- because I know that they too have what it takes to make the team. As much as I would love it to, life doesn’t always deal everyone a winning hand, and some amazing skiers won’t be competing in Korea- so make sure to keep an eye on the rest of the APUNSC crew racing domestically during the Olympics!

I am especially psyched for my teammate Rosie, who made the US Olympic team this year. Rosie and I have trained together for the past 6 years, and to be honest, if you told both of us we were going to the Olympics back then- we probably never would have believed you. We have been through all the ups and downs of training and racing together- pushing each other in training and motivating each other to keep going when the road to retirement beckons. She somehow always finds the energy to cheer for me during intervals- and even races (I can attribute many of my second winds to her). One time, she sang Fort Minor’s “Remember the Name” to me at the end of an OD, which was quite literally the only reason I made it to the top of the canyon. She has the world’s fastest L3, can go uphill like there’s no tomorrow, has the most effective snow-plow I’ve ever seen on rollerskis, and could probably also compete in the baking olympics. ALL that, and she’s also an amazing friend! Here’s a little throwback, cause its Thursday:

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Rosie and I before we placed 5th and 6th at NCAAs in the 5k classic. Still a miracle to this day.

 

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At the top of hyalite canyon after one of our epic ODs, which we can attribute the majority of our athletic success to

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On Canada day, the most important and respected holiday of the year

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Collecting the essentials from Costco between training sessions

On a final note….I have always known that I am lucky to be traveling all over the world and pursuing ski racing, but this past month made me feel extra blessed. Despite the highs and lows of racing (and sometimes it feels like there are plenty more lows than highs), I always have something to be excited about. Whether its amazing new scenery, delicious pizza, crystal clear water (seriously, Slovenia), cappuccino dates, roadtripping with the boys (so much roadtripping), bluebird skiing, or a fantastic result by myself or a teammate- I am constantly surrounded by the opportunity to experience new things.

As I head into the Olympics, I hope to have some breakthrough results for Australia. I would love nothing more than for my years of training to culminate with some of the best performances of my life. After all, that’s why we do this sport- to set goals, work towards them, and reach them. But I also know that sometimes (often), we fall short of our goals, and for that reason-  I am equally psyched about the every day experiences I will have in Korea. That way, there is always something good to look back on- regardless of my racing expectations. Meanwhile, I am already anticipating bedazzled busses, feeling extra tall, and lots of kimchi.

-JJ

 

 

 

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Sunspiration

sunspiration [sun-spuhreyshun n]: 1. the positive vibes one gets when the sun comes out after a long period of absence. Generally accompanied by extreme productivity and feelings of “crushing-it”.

2. The reason you couldn’t get a parking spot at Glen Alps (or any trailhead) every time the sun came out this summer.

3.  What reptiles most likely experience after laying in the sun.

4. The story behind most of the photos in this post and the explanation for the lack of clothing (a frenzy to get tan).

Since its safe to say summer is officially over, I figure its about time for a recap of training- and all things between. As the leaves turn red and my skin turns white, I start to anticipate the racing season. Although it was a short- and not very sweet- summer, I don’t want to talk too much smack.  The current cold, rainy trend that has occupied most of the summer could in fact make for an incredible winter. I even heard on the radio (so it must be true) that Anchorage is going to have a “mild winter with lots of snow”. With US Nationals here in January, we could definitely use a good winter. This is especially important because everybody is still traumatized from being severely frost bitten last time nationals were held here. This was followed shortly after by a flooded stadium for Junior Nationals two months later. So, I think it would be bad karma to emphasize the fact that this summer has been less than ideal.

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I had planned to go get buff at the gym this day, but ended up bailing and running up Mchugh instead. If its one thing I’ve learned this summer, its to always take advantage of sunshine!

Instead, I’ll thank the weather gods for the few blessings they did provide. Most importantly (and miraculously), was the high ratio of shorts skis to pants skis during our August glacier camp. This camp is notoriously the rainiest, windiest, coldest camp of the summer; however, this year we were blessed with blue skies and sunshine. Some of the more tanning- dedicated athletes on the team were spotted skiing in their underwear on multiple occasions. You could even smell them coming- thanks to accelerator gold tanning oil (this is actually a huge bonus because when its sunny out you can’t just stop to pee anywhere you like- normally you can hide in the fog). This camp embodied sunspiration at its finest; I think everyone trained twice as much just to be out skiing in the sun.

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Mr. July , this time a little more risque

Speaking of the glacier, we had three amaaazing camps up there this summer. Not that this is a huge surprise, its always awesome up there- but something about this year was particularly magical. Maybe it was Scotty P’s incredible post-nap baked goods (seriously, he could charge $ up there and we’d all be broke), but I had some of the best afternoon classic sessions of my life. In my opinion, there is something truly special about classic skiing on the glacier; when your skis are good, the track is fast, and you just ate three fresh baked pretzels, its not uncommon to feel totally unstoppable. Its during these skis that I feel like I make the biggest gains in technique and transition skiing. In the winter I tend to be more concerned with going easy during distance sessions, and my skiing can become sluggish . When I hit the afternoon glacier groove, I have more energy than during the winter, and each motion over the entire course is more valuable .

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THE GROOVE

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STILL GROOVIN

I have more of a love-hate relationship with skating on the glacier; V1ing through sloppy, slow snow, isn’t exactly my idea of a party… but in the end, skating still has my heart. Lucky for me- because of a few set-backs in my running, I was forced to participate in “skate camp”, which has consisted of copious amounts of skate rollerski intervals. At first, this was quite possibly the worst thing I could imagine, since running/bounding is my favorite mode of summer training. But by the end of Skate Camp, I started to realize that it was actually one of the the best training blocks I have done in my life, and I am excited to see how it translates into skating on snow this winter.

 

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when the skating looks like this though, its pure bliss

 

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Too busy tanning to catch our helicopter off the glacier. Whoops!

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the one time I did actually do bounding intervals we made sure to match

When the temperature rose over 60 degrees F (15 C), I succumbed  to heat stroke and had to take full body ice baths in the creek (aka the world’s best bathtub). On these days I would recall training in Bozeman- when Rosie and I would run out of water and stop to fill our bottles out of people’s sprinklers on their lawn. Although I might be a lot less bronze now, training in the heat is actually REALLY hard!

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heat stroke 2017

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the cure

Running less also gave me the opportunity to mountain bike and swim more often- two of my other favorite activities. Also, mini triathlons at the gym are great when you’re injured (30 min swim, 30 min spin, 30 min on the uphill treadmill- plus time for two whole episodes of American Ninja Warrior for entertainment!). I rode Devil’s pass with David, Kate, and blaring speakers intended to ward off bears. The only downside to this was when a great song came on,  we had to sing- or, when it was really good, we would stop and have a dance party. We might have expended too much energy on our vocal cords/ grooving- out instead of riding, and it ended up taking a little longer than expected. Thanks to Beyonce though, we didn’t run into bears!

 

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cruisin

 

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smilin cuz harry styles started playing

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thanks to Oakley children’s glasses, I can now see in the forest as well as David! Perks of a small head.

My recovery weeks have been full of fishing, which has now become my 2nd favorite off-week activity (behind slinging lattes).  David and I had a a very successful haul set-netting at the mouth of the Kasilof River. He also taught me how to fly fish, and I have transitioned my skill set from salmon to trout, even though I never thought I’d see the day I participate in catch and release fishing. Now, I am totally addicted to the thrill of getting locked, and it is not uncommon for me to out-fish David (in both size and number). Just your classic Obi-Wan/Vader scenario.

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Bringing in our salmon (65 total!) from our nets on the Kasilof

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Reds on the Russian River

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my first silver salmon on bird creek

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Trout fishing onTroublesome Creek

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floating the Kenai- thanks to our awesome friend Patrick for taking us!

Other exciting summer news included the arrival of my new favorite running partner, Kip, who traveled all the way here with SQ and JY. Although he might be the only living organism that is more scared of bears and moose than me, he is the best little runner to have by my side.

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peak bagging

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& soon he will be pulling me… ski-joring this winter!

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and pulling chelsea too!

The biggest highlight of my summer was the arrival (by bridge) of my cousin Emma, who made the journey all the way from Darwin- land of the crocodiles. Staying true to tradition, we experienced reversion, giving us an average combined age of approximately 12 years.  Highlights from her visit included multiple bear encounters, a Ben Harper concert, a massive discount at Banana Republic, gourmet nachos, and too much pineapple cider. She must have brought the warm weather with her too; I even got participate in my all-time favorite activity during her visit- swimming in the ocean.

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LOOK CLOSELY: this is from one of our most intense bear encounters- from back to front: Mama and cub, Pete the legend, and David, with the safety OFF the bear spray

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whole gang hiking flat top (we got a parking spot!!!!)

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& at moose’s tooth

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inexplicable strangeness

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SWIMMING AT BELUGA POINT. BLISS.

So now that all the summer fun is winding down, it feels like racing is just around the corner. Commence the season of lots of hard intervals, timetrials, and leaves covering all the cracks in the road so I fall on my face twice as much as usual while rollerskiing. The APU gang heads to Park City in about ten days for an altitude camp before the final push into November. Hopefully we will return to winter wonderland so I can get a couple weeks of on-snow training before heading off to Europe for the real deal!

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Classic timetrialin’ last week. Thanks to super speedy coach extraordinaire Lauren Fritz for the pic!

Until next time!

-JJ

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bye bye summer!

 

 

End of season wrap-up

With the season well and truly behind me, there are a few final thoughts I wanted to get down before they escape me. Racing finished almost two months ago in Fairbanks for spring series/US distance nationals. Since then, life has been a whirlwind of power runs (my favorite spring activity), crust skiing, and pulling shots at the Dot. All of a sudden training season is upon us, and I haven’t even had a chance to write about my final races!

Before Fairbanks, I traveled to Quebec to compete in World Cup Finals. These races weren’t part of the Australian Team plan, but lucky for me, I was able to get support from the APU staff that was working with the US Ski Team for the week. APU had five athletes qualify to compete in Quebec (in addition to the four that are already on the US Ski Team), so we had quite the contingency there! Unlucky for me though, there was a massive storm that affected the east coast of the US/Canada on the day I was supposed to fly.

Canadian reunion with my APU ladies

I was notified that my 8PM flight out of Anchorage was cancelled that morning, and spent the entire day in a panic trying to reroute it. I basically turned into Karen from Mean Girls; just call me weather woman.  I attempted to track the storm in an effort to figure out which airport I could fly into that would remain unaffected by the weather. Turns out, this was impossible- this was no 30% chance its already raining– it was blizzarding literally EVERYWHERE… something like 800 flights were cancelled in the US alone. Long story short, I was put on at least 7 cancelled flights, had one plane turn around because the weather was too bad to make an approach, had to sleep (for all of 30 minutes) on the floor of Toronto airport surrounded by hundreds of other stranded passengers (there were NO hotel rooms available in the Toronto airport area), stood in line for 3 hours (from 3-6am) only to be told I couldn’t get on a flight to Quebec until Friday (which was two days later, and AFTER the first race of the tour…and if you don’t start the first stage, you can’t start the second), and eventually caught a train to Quebec (that had two stops and took 12 hours…longer than air travel from Anc-Quebec should have taken) because the roads were closed so renting a car wasn’t even an option! Well, long story not so short, which is quite fitting with my travel experience. If I hadn’t discovered Pilot Coffee Roasters, a small coffee shop in Toronto train station, its possible I would have given up entirely and headed home to Anchorage. That cappuchino was a life saver.

The only photo that exists from my travel. Blanket and inflatable pillow courtesy of Canada air

There is a point, beyond complaining, that stems from retelling my travel woes. By the time I made it to Quebec, I was the most tired I have ever felt after travel. I got to my hotel at about 11pm and had to wake up the next morning to do race-prep, which was to be followed by three super hard tour stages. I awoke groggy, dehydrated, achey, and miserable- feelings that all haunted me during my ski that morning. It was hands down the worst I have ever felt the day before a race, and I grew increasingly concerned about surviving the weekend. By some miracle, however, I woke up the morning of the sprint feeling like a new human. Somehow, three days of travel and countless crying breakdowns along the way were just what I needed to have an amazing race. I ended up in 32nd place in the skate sprint- just 0.3 seconds out of top 30/qualifying for the heats, which is by far the closest I have ever been (with the exception of in Korea). While I was bummed to be so close, I was equally ecstatic that making top 30 in deep World Cup now felt like a tangible goal for next season. The next two stages of distance races also went really well for me, and on the last night I got to celebrate with delicious stuffed crepes (that I still couldn’t order in French, even after six years of studying the language…yikes).

I have no explanation for David’s knife

Having three of the best races of my entire season after such horrendous travel was a really valuable experience overall. It made me realize that “feeling” the worst doesn’t always translate into racing the worst; in fact, it can mean quite the opposite. I also won’t stress about long travel in the future, as a) nothing can ever be as bad as this experience (unless the plane crashes, fingers crossed) and b) if anything, it seems like a little forced break from skiing mid-season can actually be pretty restful… even if its spent in an airport with no sleep. Sometimes our poor,overworked bods just need a break!

Another highlight: watching David race AND score world cup points!

 

ladies hitting the town

After Canada, I headed back to Alaska for spring series. Multiple consecutive years of racing on alternate courses/ venues due to lack of snow made Fairbanks feel like a dream come true. The skiing was amazing, AND the sun was (mostly) shining- two things that rarely come hand-in-hand at spring series. The first half of the week was awesome for me; I even had a fleeting 7.5 kilometer long career as a classic skier in the skiathlon, where I somehow managed to ski in the top five. Like I said, this career was short-lived after I experienced an epic blow-up in the classic leg of the relay four days later. I was right back to being a die-hard skater. But hey, it was fun while it lasted!

Its pretty cool how they let 5th graders participate in the team relay! Just kidding! She may be short but she’s a speedster!!!!!

Sprint relay heats at 7 pm in the land of the midnight sun!

Unfortunately, by the time the 30k rolled around, I had succumbed to some sort of stomach bug. I raced anyway, thinking it might go away, but then spent the entire race feeling like I was going to vomit. The voice in my head told me I wasn’t allowed to drop out since it was the last race of the season, so I sucked it up, then went home and watched an entire season of Sex and the City in the fetal position. It was a fairly anticlimactic end to my season, but then Big ditched Carrie on her wedding day and Samantha got diagnosed with breast cancer, so things were put into perspective for me. Life isn’t so bad; in fact, I had the best season of my ski career by a long shot- complete with performances I didn’t even believe I was capable of. Because of that, I am inspired to train hard all summer in preparation for the Olympic year, which brings me to where I am now.

Psyched for spring time!!

Although summer hasn’t quite gotten its act together yet (well, it started to, but then I got snowed on twice last week), I have already been training hard with my APU sistas for the past month now. I am motivated to improve upon my results from last year, and my goals for next season fuel me during every workout. Now all that’s missing is the sun, and sweet little Kip, who is currently en route all the way from Perth (with SQ and Jeff) to save me from crazy moose on my mountain adventures this summer!

Some pics from spring adventures:

Sunset hikes

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Many crust skis where rock skis are required

Slush relays at rabbit lakes; I only fell over a dozen times in the space of about half an hour

Even fit in some downhill skiing at Alyeska- mama Backstsrum coached me all the way down the South Face and now I’m hooked on corn skiing!

Bundled up after racing Knoya ridge… although it doesn’t look like it in this picture, we got snowed on and nearly blew off the mountain!

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New home decor brought back from the Brooks Range by yours truly

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my favorite running date on my favorite trail

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Supporting David when he won the Pride of Alaska award, even though he didn’t mention any of us in his acceptance speech

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This one of lil’ kipper, who rips on the mountain bike trails, is actually from two summers ago. Can’t wait for him and the rents to get here 🙂

-JJ

You’ve got me feeling emotions

Since my last update, I raced a world cup in Estonia, had two jam packed weeks of racing at World Championships in Finland, discovered my natural talent for bowling, flew home to Anchorage, and last but certainly not least- Justin Bieber turned 23 (this feels like yesterday)! It has been a pretty awesome couple of weeks- by far my best international racing experience to date. As is always the case, it was a learning experience; each race served as an opportunity for improvement as I attempted to build upon my strengths while not making the same mistake twice (although that’s definitely easier said than done sometimes). After all, if my hair-tie never fell out in the race that I’ve come to refer to as the “great Canadian 30k sufferfest that was actually just a sprint”, I wouldn’t carry not one, but two hair-ties around my wrists at all times on race day in case of emergency . Yeah, back to the hair falling out thing again, but really… that is the absolute worst case scenario in a race (just ask Cam McDermott!).

Anyway, here are the most important lessons I learned over the past couple weeks. Some pertain to racing, while others just serve as useful guidelines for everyday living.

  • Human strength alone is not sufficient to hurl a shopping cart into a frozen river. Sometimes you gotta get crafty in order to achieve your goals. Exhibit A:
  • Team sprints are really hard. Okay, so I already knew that- but this past one served as a reminder. I was lucky enough to have Kat as my teammate, who was incredibly enthusiastic going into the race (in general she is pretty awesome like that). It was also her first ever team sprint, and I think she (like many of us) really focused in on the concept of “sprinting” rather than the fact that we had to do the course three times each.. with pretty much no rest between. Like the hardest intervals of your whole entire life. As it would turn out, there is a reason they use distance points to seed team sprints rather than sprint points; its pretty much the exact opposite of the 100m dash. Anyway, in true sprinter fashion, Kat went out like there was no tomorrow- skiing a truly impressive first lap. But when I entered the ski zone after my last lap, Randy, our head wax tech, said to me, “Kat is in a world of hurt..”. Then Paul, another one of our techs says, “I think I saw some tears”. So I am just thinking, “MY POOR BABY” and can completely 100% sympathize, because that is EXACTLY how I felt during my first ever team sprint. I was totally unprepared for the pain- thinking it would just be another day of fun and games- when really, its the complete opposite. So, needless to say, Kat suffered a pretty brutal blow-up, but I was so incredibly proud of her and the effort she put forth during that race. It takes guts to put yourself out there like that. It takes even more guts to keep pushing when you have nothing left, and when you feel like you are going to die a horrible death- drowning in a sea of your own lactic acid. Moral of the story is, team sprints are hard.. especially your first ever one- and I think we did a kickass job, epic explosions and all.

    Behind the scenes of post race fatigue

    My baby!

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    Two of our techs, Randy and Bryan. We would be nowhere without them! Photo credit to the lovely Lauren Fritz.

  • It really doesn’t matter what everybody else thinks. Now this one needs some explaining. Our team’s goal going into relay day was to finish the race. This is because the relay is on a 2.5k course (so each person does two laps)- meaning that it is relatively easy to get lapped out if you aren’t superhero status- feeling like a world cup winner, on your A game, you get the gist. Two years ago, I had pretty much the worst racing experience of my life (minus the Canadian hair-tie sufferfest) when I got our relay off to a terrible start at World Championships in Falun. We were lapped out so quickly we were unable to start our 3rd skier, and I felt like a total failure for letting everyone down. This time, I was put into the fist leg again, and I had horrible deja vu to Falun. My (super positive, as always) thoughts before the race were something along the lines of, “Welp, I am going to screw this up for us again!”…it was pretty nerve-wracking.  Anyway, I skied my leg, and it was THE hardest thing I have done in a long time. I have never seen a race go out so fast or had my entire body flood so quickly. After taking a solid (super solid, like far too long) breather lying in the snow, I sulked off to change my clothes and fought back tears since I totally thought I blew it for my team- yet again. When I pulled it together and came back out to watch my teammates, I saw that Aimee was skiing like a total boss. I realized that she hadn’t lost all that much time, and in fact- neither had I. Then Barbara went out for her skate leg and also skied like an absolute champ. Going into the race, we had instructed Kat (our fearless anchor) that all she had to do was go balls-to-the-wall for 2.5k- as long as she stayed ahead of the first place team, she could literally keel over, have a snack, take a breather, fist pump, whatever- and then crawl her way though the 2nd lap if she wanted. All she had to do was not get lapped. Barbara, Aimee, and I watched nervously on TV as Marit Bjoergen powered her way around the course- not far behind Kat (who was also flying, yeah girl!!). When she made it through the stadium, and the three of us were absolutely ecstatic in the finish zone. The other teams were looking at us like, “What the heck are these girls on about? Screaming their lungs out for last place?” (well actually, we weren’t in last because Ukraine got lapped out). When Kat crossed the finish line, we rushed out to her with the Aussie flag to celebrate; it was one of the proudest moments of my athletic career. Usually only the winning team has a flag at the finish, so to everyone else it probably looked a little strange. But we were the first Australian relay team to finish in something like 25 years- and we were too pumped to worry about what everyone else thought. Everyone one of us put forth an awesome effort in a situation where literally every second counted, and I am so proud of what we were able to accomplish because of it.

    That moment when you realize you’re going to finish the race!!!

    !!!!!!!!!!!

  • Cheese loading is just as effective as carbo loading. The placed we stayed at in Lahti had an endless supply of gourmet cheeses at dinner time.. I personally ingested numerous wheels of brie during my stay. And I was actually racing faster at the end of the 10 days than at the beginning… so it must have been a pretty effective method of fueling.

    the nightly spread

  • Speaking of which, sometimes you ski the fastest when you least expect it. Leading into the championships, my highest expectations were in the skate sprint- the first race. Although I did well and was reasonably satisfied with my performance, I was definitely left wanting more. But that’s how it goes; things don’t always go as anticipated, and the stars definitely don’t always align when you want them to. I put the least pressure on myself for the last race of the championships- the 30k skate- and it turned out to be my best performance. As I generally do in long races where I fear the bonk, I started out pretty chill- but soon started to have those once in a blue moon feelings- where you just feel freaking AWESOME and nobody can stop you. I kept passing people throughout the race (which pretty much never happens to me), and I ended up in 33rd place- a result I definitely think was obtainable in that event (no matter how much brie cheese I ate the night before). More exciting news on that day- my APUNSC teammate Chelsea Holmes skied an absolutely incredible race. She ended up 13th overall, and she was only 10 seconds out of top ten… or something crazy like that! SO proud of her!!
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    Skate sprint prologue; credit to the lovely Lauren Fritz

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    Caitlin and I working together in the 30k; credit to the lovely Lauren Fritz

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    Bout time for some hesburger!

  • There’s nothing better than fast food after a race. I actually hate fast food (special thanks to the book Fast Food Nation)- until after I race- and then all of a sudden nothing sounds better than coke, fries, and a mcflurry. Kat and I indulged ourselves at Finland’s finest fast food joint, Hesburger, after the 30k, and it was truly glorious. The only bummer was the exceptionally small portions; as hungry ladies fresh from the US of A, we were surprised to find that you can’t get Supersized globally. So I stole the rest of Kat’s fries.

    right before I ate the rest of her fries

  • These “towels” that they have in the showers… yeah, they are not towels. They are for sitting on in the sauna. Figured that out upon awkward entry (complete with shameful looks) into the sauna the next day. Whoops. Also, bring your own towel to the pool in Finland, people.

    also not for use as makeshift mini skirts/ crop tops

  • Bowling is not a good pre-race activity. It can make you really sore, and you feel like your arm is going to fall off in the morning.

    But we went anyway!

  • It is really difficult to un-cancel credit cards. I lost my wallet less than 24 hours before my flight and had to spend my last night feverishly searching for it (I even retraced my steps at 1 AM and groveled around in the snow- fairly ineffective method in the dark in case you are wondering). When all hope was lost, I cancelled my cards- only to relocate the wallet in a snowbank about 15 minutes before my shuttle left. At that point, it was too late- all my cards were cancelled and so I essentially had no money. In the end it was okay because I got to fly first class, where I was well supplied with free waffles and wine (and everybody knows that’s all you need). It was truly miraculous that my wallet didn’t suffer the same tragic fate as my lululemon vest; next trip, I vow to keep better track of my stuff!

    luxury travel!!!!!!!

  • Kat Paul is the world’s best roommate and I will miss her terribly. Especially this.
  • There really is no place like home. I am now enjoying a quick stop (one week) at home before heading to World Cup finals in Quebec. I love traveling and seeing new places, but I also appreciate being able to hermit it up at home (loud music, endless episodes of Friends, scented candles, walking around naked- the works). Anchorage has also been experiencing an incredible winter- I’m talking extra blue kick wax, perfect tracks, corduroy, bluebird skies, and EVERY trail in the entire city groomed to perfection. The trail running is also amazing right now; all of the trails are packed, and they aren’t icy either. I have been running on the Turnagain arm trail in the afternoons to my (2nd) favorite lookout, where I take in the view of the inlet/mountains. There, it hits me just how lucky I am to call this place home.
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    It was sad saying bye to this awesome team. I can’t wait for a whole new set of adventures next season with them!

    shameless selfies cuz its so nice out!

    -jj

PS: Shoutout to Lauren, who came to Lahti and was the ultimate cheerleader (and took many of the photos in this post). I could hear her during every race, which was really special because its not every day you have friends on course cheering for you when you’re overseas. She even came all the way out to Vierumaki to go on a painfully slow recovery ski with me; she didn’t even desert me when her hands were so cold all her fingers nearly fell off!! True sign of a good friend!!!!!img_2384-1

 

 

Pyeong Chang & Estonia 

Two weeks ago, I left Anchorage and headed for Pyeong Chang, South Korea- the location of the next winter Olympic Games. It wad pretty cool to venture somewhere entirely new; as awesome as Europe and Canada are, I was really excited to trade in sauerkraut for kimchi and experience a different culture. Although it was a quick trip, it turned out to be one of the best experiences – both racing wise and culturally- that I’ve had in a long time. Here are some highlights:

Going from average height to B.F.G. status. Sinks literally at knee height in public restrooms.

What is this, a sink for ANTS?!

MTV pimped out every ride with bedazzled steering wheels, colorful curtains, neon lights, and wifi!


The hotel provided extra ammeities that included a bathrobe, slippers, a hedge maze, a glamping village, and last but certainly not least- the light tunnel of love.



Sunshine!!!!! Although the first half of the season brought lots of snow- by the time I got to Korea I felt like it had been an eternity since I saw the sun. The Vitamin d was much appreciated. And now I look much less like Casper the friendly ghost.

Phil and I stoked about the sunshine!

Pk, Valerio, and our kick ass techs Paul and Randy – who provided us with awesome skis all week!

World Cup points! A lot of World Cup skiers decided not to attend the races in Korea due to the long travel; as a result, the field was very weak (perhaps the weakest World Cup field in the history of ever). BUT lucky for me, a World Cup is a World Cup- and I scored not one, but seven points! The coolest part of this was getting the chance to race in the sprint heats after qualifying in lucky number 30. Of course, I made some mistakes (couldn’t decide if my poles should be inside or outside of the start wand- had to look at everyone else to figure this out which you can see here, skied outside of the v boards while going Mach 10 on a tricky downhill corner- convinced I would get DQed before even finishing the race, the list goes on…) but overall it was an awesome experience that helped me realize some of the areas I need to work on in classic skiing. Luckily, the lovely Liz Stephen was in the lane next to me and was able to inform me that the camera was on me (on tv is always seems so obvious!)- or else the following photo of me smiling wouldn’t exist. Way to help a sister out.


The classic sprint was followed by a 15k skiathlon and a skate team sprint- making for three super intense, tiring days of racing. This was especially true because next year’s Olympic courses are super tough; they have done an awesome job with the trails and I hope to get the chance to return next year! Especially so I can search for my lululemon vest- perhaps the most perfect item of clothing I have ever owned- that was stolen / lost / abducted / blown away. Meanwhile, I hope whosever arms it blew into is appreciating it even half as much as I did. Tear.

Paul and I at the airport with the Olympic mascot- Soohoorang

After another time zone, or two, or three (but it’s ok cause I got upgraded to bussiness class for my flight), I am now in Oteppa, Estonia preparing for the last world cups before world championships start in Lahti, Finland next week. I raced in Estonian national championships this past weekend, which was an awsome opportunity to preview the World Cup course in a speedy manner. I managed to win the sprint qualifier- on a course that I love- so I am feeling pretty fired up about racing next weekend.

I got third in both races, and now my room looks extra lovely decorated by flowers!

Luckily, the next couple days will be pretty relaxing leading up to this weekend’s races; I have my dear friend Kat here to do all the mundane tasks life throws at me-like straighten my hair and push me on the swing. She has also done more heroic things, like save me from potentially rabid one-eyed dogs, which there seem to be an abundance of in Estonia. Kat starts her first ever World Cup this weekend, so wish her luck. She is a total rockstar and will do great!! She also shouldn’t have left this photo on my phone.



Happy V day people!! May it rain beautiful men for all.

And remember, love actually is all around us. 💙

-jj

Summer Training Update

After a successful end to my season at the Tour of Canada and spring series in Craftsbury, I jumped straight into a busy spring full of studying, working, crust skiing, and power-hour runs (also known as Kenya runs). I was fueled by delicious coffee (quite fittingly, often Kenyan coffee), and somehow spring transitioned to summer, big-volume summer training began, and summer turned into rainy, late-summer. Soon it will be fall, which means racing season is right around the corner! Here is a little update on what I’ve been up to, along with a few reflections from the end of the racing season 🙂

Tour of Canada

The most awesome experience of my athletic career to date. With 8 races in 12 days and a whole lot of travel in between, it was by far the most physically and mentally taxing period of racing I’ve ever done. But I loved every minute of it- even when my hair tie fell out and I medusa-ed the classic sprint. I had an incredible support crew that made finishing the tour possible, which was one of my main goals at the beginning of the season. Racing in Canada got me totally inspired for next season- particularly for racing World Cup. Even though its the toughest field I race against, I am excited to see the gains I can make as the hard work pays off!

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racing in montreal

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the whole ausxc crew

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Check out Randy’s hops!!!!

 

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APU had 8 athletes racing in Canada. Go team!

Craftsbury

For me, the highlight of spring series was this tag:

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Followed by this finish:

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…skipping over the pain cave in between. Its fun getting to experience more of a “team” atmosphere on relay day; the extra pressure from teammates is stressful, but it can also foster extraordinary performances (& face painting, as shown below)- like our awesome APU podium takeover :).

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#notapprovedbyanycandidatesandtheirparty

We actually competed in a 5th race, the cheering marathon, after our 30k. In the sunny slop the boys had to race in, they certainly needed it!

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Chels and I taking our cheering seriously

Spring/Summer Highlights

In May, I officially graduated with my second undergraduate degree in counseling psychology (yay!). I am done studying for the next couple years, but still have plans to pursue physical therapy in the future. If that doesn’t work out, I might become a bar tender; I had my first gig at our annual spring fundraiser & had a blast!

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Pouring beer and wine was kinda like making coffee – minus all the crazy requests I get!

We had tons of crust skiing, which served as awesome base training. Once the snow melted, we started more structured training. I have been loving the mountain running this summer- the APU women’s team embarks on a new over distance mountain run almost every weekend. I have also done a couple mountain races- Bird Ridge, Knoya, & Alyeska mountain run. The coolest mountain moment of my summer was watching David make Alaskan history with his Mount Marathon win. Not only did he win, he broke Kilian Journet’s (one of the best mountain runners in the world if ya didn’t already know) course record from last year..and he did it all wearing nothing but Hawaiian lululemon board shorts. If you’re interested in a pair, which after watching this recap & this cute interview you probably will be, you can get some here. Don’t miss out, they’re on sale!

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Awesome crust skiing but not so awesome back country- avalanche danger was pretty high this spring!

 

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Lex with the double photo bomb during a crust cruise!

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Spring jaunt up bird ridge

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Fav summer workout- run to Rabbit lake followed by a very serious yoga sesh & a dip

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Watch out for creatures- you never know when your shoe will fall off, a moose will charge you, and your toe will fall off

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On top of Ptarmigan peak with the ladies

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With our ribbons after bird ridge race. David and Scott both broke the course record! Legends!

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& of course- plenty of roller skiing!!

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David racing Mt. Marathon; photo cred Charlie Renfro

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PUMPED after David’s incredible race

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Party parents celebrating David’s Mt. Marathon victory

I have also been to three camps on Eagle Glacier, where I have done some of the most valuable training of my life to date. APU has an amazing set up on the glacier- we fly up in a helicopter (thanks to the amazing pilots at Alpine Air) and spend a week skiing on a perfectly groomed 5k loop for a week. It is the quintessential Nordie lifestyle- eat, train, nap, eat, train, sleep- repeat. I was particularly blessed to be able to spend two of the camps rooming in the loveshack with Becca, where we reached new levels of napping, training hours, and even took home the gold in the banana bread competition (sorry Banana Boy).

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Landing on the glacier

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We love the youngins that come up on the glacier with us- I am always impressed by how hard they train! Watch out easterners, she’s gonna be fast this year 🙂

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Rule of thumb: Kettle chips before strength, strength on the conex

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Luvshack4lyf!

 

 

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Laps on laps with my super speedy teammates

The team is currently getting a bit of R&R after our completing our last glacier camp of the summer. David and I are working on filling the freezer with juicy blueberries as we roll into fall and our next training block (because you can never have too many blueberry muffdogs and sconers for fuel). I have also been lucky to spend the summer hanging out with my wonderful parents, who are in AK for the summer. They share my deep love for Moose’s Tooth pizza, espresso, and hipster cocktail party radio with me- so we have been having a splendid time together.

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David is the master harvester- he literally picks at double my speed!

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Family in Seward

Meanwhile, I have been getting pretty inspired watching the Olympics. Especially this girl, who I think we could all learn a less or two from. I think she might also come from the same lineage as Frankie; as you can see, they share a lot of commonalities:

SWIM-WORLD

Fu

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Frankie

V is for Victory!!!!!!!!!!!!

-JJ

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Car Concerts, Cash $$, and Salty Solutions

In honor of all the exciting things that have been happening lately, I am jumping back on the blog train. Or maybe just so I can have another avenue to express how AWESOME it is that DAVID WON THE BIRKIE!!!! No actually, I have been up to some pretty cool things too 🙂

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What a cutie!

But first, let me just say how great it is so see someone you have watched work so hard to achieve their goals- and then to have it actually happen. David pulled some pretty sweet moves the other day and I am totally inspired. I don’t think I have ever been so psyched to see someone win, even if I did accidentally hit snooze and miss the whole thing (the replay was pretty cool, too- you can watch it here: https://vimeo.com/156182805 (22:03, the sleeve pull up)

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Luckily this did not happen to David

Anyway, besides living vicariously through Birkie participants, I have been having a training camp in Anchorage in preparation for the world cups in Canada. I leave in just four short days ( yikes!) and will be representing Australia for the first time this year! There are eight races over the course of 12 days- starting in the East and finishing in Canmore. I am getting pretty excited, especially considering the momentum I have been picking up over the past couple months of racing.

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Snazzy new outfits from Salomon and Borah making us feel extra cool

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On the road to SV in the midst of a sing-a-thon

My results have gradually improved throughout the season, which started off with some Supertour races in West Yellowstone and Sun Valley. I came back to Anchorage to race the Besh cups, where I had my first back-wrenching, lat-crushing, but totally exhilarating experience with double poling a race. It was a classic sprint, during which I definitely stalled out once or twice… but my fear of rolling back down the hill didn’t come true- and now I look at every classic race with a new perspective. Arms, shut up!

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Besh Cup podium- followed shortly after by Mooses Tooth

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I got to spend xmas with the backstrums, the best 2nd family I could ever hope for!

I then headed to Houghton for US Nationals, which wasn’t quite as bright and shiny as last year, but definitely a step up in performance from the early season. I managed to pull of another speedy skate sprint qualifier- just half a second from the win. Oh yeah, and APU had about a whole bunch of podiums too, because, well, my teammates are awesome.

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The sun came out in Houghton!

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Tuck Credit: Rosie Frankowski

After Houghton I came back to Anchorage yet again before heading to the east cost for some more Supertour races. The first race was a skate sprint in Lake Placid, where I had another great qualifier and ended up 4th overall- my first time racing in the A final on the Supertour! It was also my first cash prize, and let me tell you- the $$ addiction is real. Now every time I race, all I see is Franklin. Just kidding.

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Reverse podium in the A final

The next day, I warmed up to classic distance racing (traditionally not my jam) with my best classic 10k result ever the next day. The following weekend we headed to Stowe and Frankie fulfilled her lifelong dream of visiting the Ben & Jerry’s Factory. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough snow to race at Trapps, so the races were moved to Crafsbury. That ended up being totally awesome though, because we got to play music on the 50 minute drive there everyday. Packer (guitar), Lex (mandalin), David (marimba), and I (vocals) really nailed Taylor Swift’s Blank Space by the end of the week.

The 5k skate in Crafstbury was super fast- less than 12 minutes. I had a great race, finishing just 0.1 seconds from the podium. The next day, I revisited the double pole, and was joined by the rest of my teammates. It was a 10k, and we were the only four girls in the race to try it. This time, I think I bit off a little more than I could chew- but it was totally wroth it for the experience.. and the bad ass points.

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LEG CRAMPS 101 (r. frankowitz): Always carry salt packets in case of emergency

Back in Anchorage I have been putting in some serious hours on the gerbil loop at Kincaid, and loving every minute of it. Even though it hasn’t snowed in almost a month, the NSAA has managed to make and groom 4k of perfect, race-ready trails. I would be ecstatic if Jonas 3.0 decided to make its way up to Anchorage before May, but if not- I’ll survive 🙂

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There have been some glorious days at Kincaid.. this was taken with an iphone, which almost never does the mountains justice. But it was just THAT gorgeous out.

In other news, since my last update, I have embarked upon some other non-nordic related pursuits. Since August I have been working at Steamdot Coffee, where I have been filling my head with coffee knowledge and learning how to pour Tulips, slowsettas, and other unidentified soy and non-fat objects. I absolutely love working there, and we seriously do have the best coffee in town. If you haven’t tried it, stop by and I will make you the best latte of your life- I promise! I also have been taking classes at APU towards a second undergraduate degree in Counseling Psychology. I always regretted not double majoring at MSU, and now I am getting the opportunity. I will graduate in April, but since I can’t seem to stay away from school- I will definitely be going back to learn some more (PT, PA, open to suggestions?) after I finish ski racing.

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Could be yours!

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Needless to say, I have been super busy- but one thing I realized since leaving the NCAA is that I thrive on busyness. With so much on my plate, I sometimes feel like I don’t have time to breathe- but I am totally loving it. When I leave on Friday for Canada, I will gone for a month. I will spend the first two weeks in Canada, and for the second two I will head back down to Crafsbury for Spring Nationals. I am really excited to join my Aussie teammates for some racing at the next level, and to bring it home at spring series with my favorite blue army. Most importantly, to put to use my years of quality high school French in Quebec- Salut tout le monde!!

-JJ