12.19.12 Team Sprint Gold
I got sick in Canmore and had to sit out all of the races, but the weekend before in Quebec was exciting enough to make up for it! On Friday Kikkan Randall and I partnered to race the Skate Team Sprint together – and won Gold! It was the first time a team sprint relay from the USA had ever won before, so we got to celebrate another history-making weekend with the team.
A team sprint is where your starter leg (me) will race the sprint course, which was two laps of the track, and then tag off to the anchor leg (Kikkan). Kikkan would then ski her two laps and tag back to me, and we kept switching until we’d both skied 3 legs of the race (a total of 6 laps!). Since I started the race, Kikkan was the one who had to do the final sprint to the finish and lunge across the line.
The race was very exciting with crashes, tactics and strategies, and people switching positions every couple hundred meters. But Kikkan and I stayed calm and relaxed, stayed out of the crashes, and when the time was right we sprinted around the other racers to take the lead. It was one of my favorite races this year!
The course was extra exciting because the race organizers built a jump into the snow! This was the first time skiers ever had to go over a jump in a World Cup race, and although the jump wasn’t very big you had to be aware and stay light on your feet if you didn’t want to trip. Some of the skiers thought it was “silly” or “annoying”, but I loved it and thought it spiced up the race!
Skiers from around the World:
While skiing in Canmore, I came around the bend in the trail and saw the Norwegian men with their skis and poles off, trying to sneak off the trail. I thought “are they really so tired from training that they’re going to run away from their coach???”
But then I saw the huge deer right on the side of the trail, behind a tree. The Norwegian boys were trying to get close enough to catch the deer! I laughed because it was a very funny sight (and they didn’t end up getting the deer). Later I asked one of them if they had ever seen a deer before and they said that yes, they have deer in Norway, but they had never seen one so tame and so close to the ski trails! I guess we are very lucky here in the Midwest to see so much wildlife that will let us get close.
Another time I was skiing in Canmore, one of the men from the Russian team pulled up alongside me and introduced himself as Nikita Kriukov. He was the winner of the Olympic Gold medal in the last Winter Games that were held in Vancouver, and I was very surprised that he had come to talk to me! Nikita said that he heard the Russian Eurosport commentator say (from an interview I had done this fall) that I didn’t really know any of the Russian skiers and hadn’t gotten to talk with them. Nikita said, in broken but good English, “I here to fix that…now you say you know Russian skier”. We talked about Russia, the Olympics, and the skiing in Canmore. So just like that, now I have a friend from another country!
Many of the Norwegian, Swedish and Russian skiers and coaches came up to me and my teammates while in Canmore and said how much they liked watching the US girls win races, because we are always so excited and happy in the finish pen and on the podium. They said that when we were so happy we cried – that’s what sport is supposed to be like! It should be a big celebration after every race. So it’s fun to know that other countries are also cheering on team USA.
Cool things about Quebec and Canmore:
Quebec City is the closest I have ever felt to being in France while in North America! The Old City is surrounded by a stone wall, and the streets are relatively narrow and winding. The Chateau Frontenac is one of the most beautiful and famous castles in North America and is now a hotel – opened in 1893 and named after Count Frontenac, who governed the colony of New France from 1672 to 1682 and 1689 to 1698.
The mountains in Canmore are some of the most unique looking and gorgeous I have ever seen! The town is small with many tourist shops but also some amazing spots for tea, muffins and hot chocolate. Canadians have a good reputation for being very nice people (like Minnesotans do!) and so walking through town is always a pleasant experience.
I hope you tried last week’s challenge to imagine yourself accomplishing a big goal! I definitely tried it out, and it helped me in the last races. This week’s challenge is another training tip that has helped me out a lot: stretching! It’s important to take care of your body and stretch after a long or hard ski, or race, so that you don’t get sore the next day and so you stay injury free. I know…you’re young, and you don’t need to worry about injuries yet, for goodness sake! But I challenge you to take 10 minutes after your next ski and try stretching – your legs, your side, your back, your arms, your shoulders – everything! Then see how you feel afterwards. Remember to never stretch so much that anything hurts, just so you feel a nice pull.
That’s all for this week…enjoy the awesome snow in Minnesota!
Pictures of Quebec Team Sprints and Canmore Stadium