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

 

 

 

 

 

World Champs/Lahti Recap

I apologize for slacking in the blog department- I traveled to Bozeman yesterday and realized it has been almost a month since my last update. I raced at World Championships in Falun and then at World Cups this past weekend in Lahti, Finland. The days have blurred together in my mind a bit- indistinguishable by their cloudy, gray, sleety, klistery nature. Yes, I’ll admit I was pretty jealous of my teammates down in Switzerland and Slovenia posting endless pictures of bluebird skies & scenic mountains- that extra blue perfection. But Scandinavia was amazing in so many other ways; the atmosphere in Falun was like nothing I have ever experienced before, something I will never forget. Take a country where Nordic Skiing is currently the #1 sport and add a World Championship event; I found that blue skies didn’t matter so much when I had 50,000 people out on course cheering me on.

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(I also had one of my best friends waxing my skis and cheering for me; so fun to have mama/coach B in Falun with me!!)

Since a lot has happened, I’ll spare you the details. Here are the 10 things that stick out in my head the most, in no particular order:

1) Breakfast:

Okay, so this picture of Jacko & Tina is actually from Ostersund… but the point is that Sweden really rocked breakfast. As it would turn out I’m a bit of a garbage disposal and enjoyed most meals; however, breakfast was certainly the best meal of the day. Always dependable- great muslei & yog, and the world’s best rolls in Falun. In the words of Xanthea, “YUM!!”

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2) This Haircut:

Phil had been growing his luscious locks for about a year- give or take a month. As much as I loved the utamed Einstein look, it was time for change. Esther gave him this haircut about halfway through World Champs. Unfortunately, it took a while for people to start recognizing him out on the trails. I might argue that his great result in the Lahti sprint could be attributed to the new, aerodynamic cut. After all, it was a whole lot of hair…

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3) Warming up:

As before mentioned, the crowd in Falun was unbelievable. One day there was actually a line of cars for 12k- from the race track all the way back to our accommodation. There were sections at the venue that the Norweigans had rented out and set up tents at- basically giant areas for partying all week. People in Sweden treated World Champs as if it were the Superbowl in the US- an excuse to drink, cheer at the top of their lungs, and be merry. To be honest, I didn’t notice the crowd that much during my races. I really just zoned all the noise out and focused on skiing; it didn’t feel that much different than any other race. What really got me was warming up before races. I have a habit of really sending it during my warm ups; I have to make an effort to go nice and slow for the first 20-30 minutes. I found that near impossible in Falun because of the thousands of people cheering me on up the Mörderbaken (see next). I couldn’t possibly go at a snail pace in front of all these people who were screaming at the top of their lungs for me. It was overwhelming but so incredible to have people that psyched about our sport- something you would never see in the US or Aus. I wish I had a head camera on during my warm up so I could post it on here to show you; it will definitely be one of the most memorable experiences of my ski career.

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(View of the crowd from the stadium, although this picture doesn’t even do the numbers justice)

4) The Mörderbaken:

Translation: Murder Hill. We raced on two 5k loops (red & blue); each had its own version of this hill in it. The base was the same for both the red and blue loops; then they split off on their own wonderful, leg burning tangents at halfway. If you watched the races on TV and saw Therese Johaug jump skate up the entire hill on her last lap of the skiathlon- yes, she was making it look easy. Way too easy.

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5) Gastro:

The great majority of our team succumbed to gastro of some sort. It started out with Cal, who took a cheeky trip to the hospital, and moved its way through the team throughout the week of Wold Champs. I was the last to go down after calling myself “resilient” all week long; I managed to evade it until the last day of World Champs. It really wasn’t too bad as far as gastro goes- but it still took it quite a bit out of me leading into Lahti. It was also my second bout this season, which I am happy to accept as good karma.

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(although maybe the good old stomach bug is just inescapable when in europe)

6) 50 Shades of Grey

Don’t go- do not waste your money. Phil, Cal, and I had been planning a date to 50 shades ever since Uni Games; it is safe to say that’s what they lived for between mid Jan and Feb. We didn’t have the time go until this past week, which built up the excitement even more and more. Unfortunately,  I left the theater with two sad, disheveled boys. On the other hand, the soundtrack is excellent and definitely worth checking out. Beyonce’s remix of “Crazy In Love” is my current favorite song.

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(The boys and I after our last ski in Falun- between the weather and the movie there were too many shades of gray)

7) The team sprint at world champs:

This was definitely my favorite event of the week for a couple of different reasons. The original team was Esther and I; unfortunately she fell ill to the gastro two days before and wasn’t able to recover in time to race. So Casey stepped up to the plate – and she was an awesome teammate! I absolutely loved the sprint course in Falun, especially on skate skis. I had really great 1st and 2nd laps before totally blowing up on the 3rd lap- I think it was the most lactate filled three minutes of my life so far. Despite the pain it was a great experience; I definitely think team sprints take practice, and it was fun to try to hang with the group as long as I could!

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8) Phil’s skate sprint in Lahti:

37th place, 0.7 seconds from top 30. Can’t wait for the announcer’s comments on Eurosport the day he makes the heats. The future is looking bright for Phil; the course in Lahti was the same as the course at the next world champs!

9) The Norweigan wax truck:

The wow factor of this casual multimillion dollar truck never really wore off for me… We had our own, less customized wax truck parked next door at World Champs (thanks to a local team who let us borrow it), so I spent a lot of time checking it out. After Jackson’s last race, he actually took a peek inside (what a hero) and found a bunch of aliens waxing skis. Just kidding, apparently there were just some super high tech benches.

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10) Waffles, every night!

The lovely place we stayed at in Samuelsdal at world champs served waffles at evening snack time every night. With whipped cream, blueberry soup, and jam. As the saying goes: a calorie bomb a day keeps the doctor away!

As far as racing went over the past month, I certainly had my ups and downs. Every race- good or bad- left me with something to take away and help me improve as both an athlete and person. I have so much more experience under my belt than I did two months ago- regardless of where I ended up on the results list.

I am really excited to be back in sunny Bozeman to fix my vitamin D levels and catch up on all the new country music I’ve missed out on over the past two months. Haven’t unpacked yet, but have gone for a fairly naked run and gotten in some front yard tanning. Priorities are straight.

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I am also really looking forward to spring series in Sun Valley; I get to see my APU teammates and hope I can finish off the season on a high note. What I am most looking forward to is my spring trip to Perth; I just booked my ticket this morning and couldn’t be happier to spend five weeks with my family at the beach. And a little sun and salt is the perfect way to recharge before summer training 🙂

-JJ

PS if you haven’t seen this, its pretty funny. Also a great example of the crazy spectators in Falun. There is also a selfie video that the guy took- unfortunately I couldn’t find it on youtube…

We’re Not In Kansas Anymore (Welcome to the World Cup)

Once again, the past couple weeks have been an absolute whirlwind of training, travel, and racing. The first part of my Swedish adventure has provided me with only a handful of decent photos unfortunately, but with countless new experiences and lessons. Like this disappointing one- every morning I woke up and went to the kitchen to see this box of oats that clearly said “Marvin Gaye” on it. When I get that feelin’… nope…

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The Uni Games crew met up with the rest of the ausxc contingency in Gronklitt, where we had a 10 day training camp. The skiing was absolutely spectacular- plenty of snow and about 80k of groomed trails to cruise.

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Last Thursday, about half of us headed to compete at the World Cup in Ostersund. On the way we stopped to get the ever famous gigantic chocolate balls; we figured they would keep us fueled throughout the weekend. Best decision I’ve made recently; Finn definitely regretted only getting a mini ball, which sadly only lasted him about ten minutes.

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It was about a five hour drive north, so we were surprised to find far less snow than in Gronklitt. In fact, there really wasn’t much at all. I guess most of what was on the trails was leftover from last year (they store it over the summer months) and almost exclusively man-made. All this wonky weather is certainly keeping wax techs on their toes (let’s count our blessings though, since who knows where our sport will be in twenty years…). If I hadn’t been so overwhelmed by my first world cup experience, perhaps I would have taken a photo of the crazy snow conditions (or lack thereof). Unfortunately I was so busy trying not to plant a pole between my legs in front of the big wigs that it never crossed my mind to do some documenting.

It was Xanthea and I’s World Cup debut, and it would be an underestimation to say we felt a “little” out of our element. We did a reasonable job keeping our cool until race-prep on Friday, which was potentially the most stressful two hours of my life (or at least the trip) so far. That is saying something since ten days prior I had been a part of a near-fatal incident on the escalator in which a woman toppled head-first, backwards, over me and my bags. Anyway, there are a lot of words I could use to describe the sprint course, but let’s just say it was different. So incredibly different than any course I’ve ever skied before, and it was pretty much my worst nightmare in a nutshell: two laps, two herring bone hills, and one sketchy downhill corner. All this through deep, sugary, snow. And the cherry on top- the circus of World Cup skiers previewing it ALL at the same time- since I wasn’t already intimidated enough! I felt like a total spud getting in everybody’s way, and by about the fifth time around the course I actually wanted to start crying. Our wax tech Matthias told me that if I looked anymore confused, someone was going to ask me if I needed help. I took that as my cue to take a few deep breaths, head to the distance course, and stride it out on some normal terrain.

Here is a vid that pretty much sums up the course:

Turns out Xan had a pretty similar experience- falling on the sketchy corner in front of some exceptionally speedy skiers. We got back to the hotel and drowned our sorrows in our chocolate balls. Funny thing is though- later that night we found out that pretty much no one was psyched about the course. It truly was unique- like nothing seen before on the world cup- and we were all on the same boat. A couple of inspirational speeches later from our awesome coaches and we were feeling (almost) okay about the next day.

In the end the classic sprint didn’t turn out to be half as bad as I had expected; I stayed on my feet and off the reverse podium. The best part was that it totally broke the ice for the next day. I was calm, collected, and actually excited to start the 10k skate. I was less intimidated and more focused on racing- doing what I was there to do. I saw my coach, Erik Flora, before the race and he said, “You know Jess, the best part of today is that it’s just another race”. He was totally right, it was just another race- World Cup or not- and all I had to do was go out and ski like I normally did.

After the race on Sunday we headed off to Falun for World Championships! My experiences this past weekend really helped prepare me in terms of what to expect and how things will be run. My first race is on Thurdsay- a classic sprint, and then I have another four races spread throughout the next ten days. Meanwhile stay tuned into Eurosport to watch these two rock our new headbands in the team sprint Sunday:

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Cause we all know the key to success is a great hair day!

-JJ