1.20.14 Tour de Ski and Italy
Hello MYSL Super Skiers! I’m writing to you from Italy…land of fresh pasta, gelato, sunshine and Dolomite mountains!
The last post I wrote to you was about where I was during the Holidays and how I spent Christmas break in Davos with my ski family. But the day after Christmas, the next adventure began! I bet you’ve heard of the Tour de France…but did you know that there is a Tour de Ski as well? It is made up of 7 races, over 9 days, in 4 venues spread out over 3 countries.
It’s so much fun, but it’s also such a huge challenge! They add up your time from each race, and bonus seconds are awarded for winning a stage. The key to winning the Tour is racing well day after day, and staying positive and finding good energy even when you’re tired.
Here’s what it was like racing the Tour: we began in Oberhof, Germany. The first day we raced a 2.5km skate prologue race, and the next day we raced a skate sprint. The night of the skate sprint, we drove for 5 hours to get from Germany to Switzerland, to a beautiful town called Lenzerheide. The next day was one of our two rest days, and we were able to ski the course and see the new venue. Day 4 of the tour we raced another skate sprint, and day 5 was the 10km classic race. By this point I was starting to get tired, but so was everyone else, and many people (the sprint specialists) had dropped out of the tour. We packed up our bags again, and on day 6, our second rest day of the tour, we drove to Toblach, Italy. On day 7 we raced a 15km skate race, and only two hours after the race we were in the car, driving to Val di Fiemme, Italy. Val di Fiemme is the same venue that Tour ends at every year, and by now I know the trails much better! Day 8 brought a 5km classic race, and the last day was the infamous climb.
To imagine skiing up the Alp Cermis climb, first picture Afton Alps, Trollhaugen, or the biggest Alpine ski hill you have ever skied. Skiing up the Cermis course is like skiing up 5 Afton Alps hills stacked on top of each other. It’s huge! The feeling of lying in the snow at the top…knowing that I finished my goal of the Tour, and finished in 13th place, and got to do the whole race series with my teammates, was such an incredibly good feeling. It made the whole experience worth it! About 80 women started the tour, and only 46 crossed the finish line at the top of Alp Cermis, so it’s definitely not an easy challenge, but everyone at the top has big grins on their faces.
Q&A: I got so many great questions from you guys! I’ll keep answering more with every post.
Q: How much sleep do you get a night?
A: I try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night since a good rest is critical to skiing fast, and feeling good!
Q: How do you get down from Alp Cermis?
A: That’s a good question! This year, we changed into dry clothes and snow pants, and stayed at the top for an extra couple hours to cheer for the boys during their climb. Then, most people take the gondola down, but since our coaches had driven up in a car, we just drove back down the mountain. I wouldn’t recommend skiing down it on cross-country skis! A lot of the fans hike up the mountain, and then take the gondola down.
Q: What do you do in between sprint heats?
In between the qualifier and the first of the heats, the quarterfinals, I first cool down a bit, then try to sit down and relax, since we usually have 2 hours in between. I start warming back up about 40 minutes before the first heat, and then if I make it into the semifinals, I just jog or slowly ski around. I don’t have to do much warming up after the first race of the morning, because my body is already fired up and ready to race!
Skiers from Around the World:
Cool things about Oberhof, Germany: Oberhof is a huge biathalon site. Biathalon is the sport where you skate ski and shoot a gun at targets at certain points in the race. In Germany, Biathalon is one of the biggest sports, and most people watch it on TV and follow their favorite athletes, the way Football and Basketball are so big in the United States. Oberhof also has the ski hall, which is basically the biggest refrigerator in the world! They make snow indoors, and because they keep it so cold in the long above-ground halls, there is skiing even in the summer! The hall has 1.2 kilometers of skiing, so if you want to ski for a couple hours you’ll find yourself doing many, many laps! Luckily they play music so it’s not boring, but it’s definitely much more fun skiing with friends while training in the hall!
Cool things about Lenzerheide, Switzerland: Lenzerheide is only about an hour away from Davos, where I was for Christmas break with my teammates! Lenzerheide is a beautiful town tucked into the mountains, and while we were there, there was plenty of beautiful clean white snow everywhere. Nordic walking is very popular for people on vacation, as is Alpine skiing and cross country. But I think the best part about racing in Switzerland is the Dario Colognia fan club. Dario is a very good and very famous Swiss skier, and his fan club carries around the biggest cowbells you’ve ever seen! They are probably 2 feet tall and very heavy, and make a tremendous clanking noise every time the fan club moves around the course!
Cool things about Toblach and Val di Fiemme, Italy: Of course, Italy is very famous for having good food, especially pasta and gelato (like delicious, creamy ice-cream). While we were in Italy we had lots of yummy pasta dishes, and since we always stay at the same hotel, the staff likes us and we like them too! Did you know that in many countries, especially France, when you greet someone instead of shaking hands it’s custom to kiss on each cheek? You actually kiss the air next to their cheek, but it’s definitely a very different way of greeting than we are used to at home.
Training Tip: A huge advantage during the Tour de Ski is being able to use positive self-talk; telling yourself that you are an awesome skier and that you CAN DO IT! Something that I did at the start of each race was tell myself “I got this, I can do it”, and sometimes I even said it out loud! I think it helped a lot because it helped me to believe in myself, and relax when I was nervous. So my tip for you for the next week is, before every ski, and especially before a race, take a second to stop and tell yourself in your head (or out loud!) that you are a super amazing skier, and you are going to have a really good time skiing. Maybe it sounds silly, but I can promise you that it works!