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…

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