2.23.16 Last Weeks in Europe
This past week we’ve had three very exciting races in Sweden! We first flew to Stockholm for a city sprint, like the one I told you about in Drammen, Norway. They closed off streets and laid down snow, with banners and fences all along the side of the course. But what made the Stockholm sprint extra special was that it went around the Royal Palace! We got to race right in front of the palace, then they spread snow up and over the steps to form a hill so we went up one side, back down and around the palace, and then up the other side in a “U” shape. There were royal guards in uniform guarding the course, and the King himself handed out medals to the winners. That’s a pretty cool race, and I wish we had a race like this back home. Can you imagine if we raced around the White House and the President of the United States came to watch and hand out the medals at the end? That’s what it was like for the Swedish skiers racing in their home country.
After we finished racing, we got right onto a bus and drove three hours to Falun, which is the Swedish city where the World Championships were held last year. I have very happy memories from racing here, since it’s where I won my silver medal last winter! I also really like the race courses so I was happy to be back. Our first race was an individual start classic 5km, and our second race was a mass start 10km. So it was important to stay clear of traffic and be smart about passing people like we talked about in the training tip from the last blog! I had really great races all weekend and I was so happy to be feeling good and staying healthy.
Now I’m in Lahti, Finland for the last weekend of World Cups in Europe…and then I get to go back to North America! I haven’t been home since November, which seems like a very long time ago. I’ll train for one week and then fly to Canada, because the last 8 World Cup races of the year are in a tour format all across Canada, kind of like the Tour de Ski because we race day after day. While we are in Finland, we are staying in a little resort village called Vierumäki about 30 minutes away from the ski venue. Next winter, the World Championships will be held in Lahti and they’re planning to make this little village the athlete village! So we are testing out the living spaces and food arrangements this week…and it’s been very nice.
Skiers from Around the World:
There are a lot of kids that ski in Sweden, and like Norway, cross country skiing is one of the biggest and most followed sports in the country! While I was in Falun, I stopped by a kids snow day event where hundreds of kids your age came to try ski jumping (on a very small jump for the beginners, of course!) ski through an obstacle course and cheer for the World Cup races. I saw a lot of skiers out having fun with their families and enjoying the snow, even when they were falling down in the obstacle course! It reminded me of my MYSL days and that everyone around the world learns how to ski the same way.
Your training tip for the next week is to stretch when you’re done skiing! It can feel really good after a long ski out in the woods to spend 5 minutes loosening up, so that you aren’t as sore the next day and don’t injure your muscles. When you’re young you don’t need to stretch as much because you’re naturally more flexible, but it’s good to try now and then so it’s not such a crazy adjustment when someday you DO feel like you need to stretch! So after your next ski, spend 5 minutes and try things like touching your toes, twisting side to side to loosen up your back, pulling one foot behind you when you’re standing to loosen up the front of your legs and lunging to loosen up your classic skiing muscles.
Enjoy the rest of the season!