Minneapolis & US Nationals

Before heading to US Nationals in Houghton, I spent a few days with my teammate Rosie Frankowski in her hometown of Minneapolis. I was pleasantly surprised by my introduction to the midwest; Minneapolis was one of the most gorgeous cities I have ever been to.
There are lakes, bike paths, and sculptures everywhere (well, at least the places I went ;)), and amazing shopping too. Rosie took me on a tour my first day; here are some photos from our adventures:

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It was super cold in Minneapolis and we had to seriously bundle up for our training. I absolutely loved the trails there, and since it was only a 5k loop goomed, it was social hour- it seemed like every nordie in the city was out skiing!

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Huge thank you to Toko US for keeping my fingers warm. Best lobster gloves out there!!

We headed off to Houghton last Thursday with the team. It was an epic drive through snowy, windy,  cold, weather that took almost eight hours. Houghton has been a winter wonder land ever since- it has snowed almost 20 inches since we’ve been here! But at least there is snow, so no complaints!

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(Most of the women’s contingency on the only warm day since we’ve been here.. and even then it was pretty cold!)

So many awesome things have happened during senior nationals so far that I started keeping a list to keep track of them all.  And keep in mind this doesn’t include all the things that have been fabulous on a daily basis, making the trip an absolute walk in the park: never prepping my skis (I’m talking no scraping travel wax, no applying training wax, nada!), never having to cook a meal or do dishes (HUGE thanks to Jim & staff at the Library for the awesome catering), great team meetings including inspirational stories from Coach Flora before every race, having amazing skis every race (thanks to the waxing crew for all their hard work), and concerts every night by the APU Band (guitars, recorders, pill bottles for marimbas, and any other instrument under $10- you name it, we got it…). So here are all the things I found extra worthy of telling the world about so far this week:

1) French toast for breakfast every morning. And its the good kind (if there were a bad kind of french toast).

2) I learned how to French Braid. The morning before the 10k Skate race we had a couple hours to kill so I decided to re-tackle my braiding skills, which up until now have been fairly limited. I had an epiphany and managed a perfect (well, almost perfect) braid my first try- something I have literally been trying to perfect for the past two years. That’s when I knew I was destined to have a good race that day. And all week now, I’ve been rockin’ the french braid.

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3) I had my first top 5 distance result at US Nationals. In fact, I had my first top 15 result (previous best being 16th place) ! I totally shocked myself in the 10k skate race with a 5th place finish, just 0.6 seconds out of 4th; I felt absolutely awesome and had probably the best race of my life to date. I started hard and was able to catch the racer who started in front of me, superstar junior Katharine Ogden, and skied the next 9k of the race with her. She pushed me all the way to the line, which was definitely very helpful mentally in the such cold conditions (I couldn’t feel my toes and fingers at the end of the race).

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(Me starting the 10k- totally bundled up. Photo cred: skinnyski.com)

4) APU Nordic Ski Center Women had 3 girls in the top 5, and 5 girls in the top 12 in the 10k skate. Domination Station!

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(Chelsea-2nd place, Rosie B. 3rd Place on the podium after the 10k skate race)

3) Dirty Dancing, on of my favorite movies of all time, was on TV the night before the classic sprint. Nobody puts baby in the corner:

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4) “It’s Raining Men” was blaring in the stadium before the start of the classic sprint qualifier. Sarah, DJ Franks, and myself had a brief dance party, which probably looked a little something like this:

5) I qualified in the top 10 for the first time at US Nationals. I had a 9th place qualifier in the classic sprint, which was epically long. It was absolutely blizzarding out and super cold, so the course was incredibly slow. On top of that, the course was already on the long side, so the qualifier ended up taking me 5:24. That’s up to about 2.5 minutes longer than some sprint courses. Yikes. I didn’t ski the heats as well as I would have liked and wasn’t able to move past the quarter finals (a hurdle I am hoping to jump on Saturday’s sprint), but my qualifier was good enough that I was still super happy with the day of racing!

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(Drying our clothes out before the heats. Cold, humid weather means a lot of clothes!)

6) You can keep your race skis on wherever you go- across the road, to the wax hut; in fact, you could probably ski from the hotel to the race venue. There is literally THAT much snow here.

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(Although the weather HAS made for some sketchy driving… team selfie while we waited in the road for visibility to clear so we could keep driving)

7) HOT TUB. I hate saunas, but love hot tubs. I have been soaking after every race and it feels pretty darn good.

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8) Masses of Honey Stinger- thanks for the fuel this week! The caffeinated Ginsting gels are amazing and a must-have before every race. & if you haven’t tried their waffles, get on it! Definitely the best energy food out there by a long shot.

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In a couple hours we start the 20k mass start classic race, and on Saturday is the skate sprint. The team will drive back to Minneapolis on Sunday and I fly out that night to Munich. So far life on the road has been great and I can’t wait for what the rest of my journeys have in store. Update on the rest of the races at Nationals next time! Thanks so much for reading!

JJ

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