After training almost exclusively alone all summer, I have had and will have more great opportunities to train with other World Cup athletes this fall.
My first opportunity was the U.S. Ski Team camp in New Zealand during the first two weeks of September. After three months and over 300 hours of training alone, it was a shock to have to match my distance pace to somebody else. I think it was very valuable to be pushed out of my comfort zone, whether that meant faster or slower. I also had some great intensity sessions with the other men at the camp: Simi Hamilton, Andy Newell and Ben Saxton.
Four days after I returned from New Zealand, my good friend and fellow World Cup athlete from Estonia, Karel Tammjärv, came to train with me for two weeks. Karel adapted his training to fit my plan. It was super valuable to me to have a training partner who was willing and able to do exactly what my coaches thought was the best training for me. I was quite tired when Karel showed up so I had to reduce my training load for the first three days of our training block. Karel showed up well rested, so it wasn’t ideal for him to start with easier training. I’m grateful that he was so willing to be flexible.
After Karel left I had a week of solo training, which I relished as it was my only solo time for a long stretch.
Beginning this week, the Canadian National Team is in town, and I will join them for a significant number of their sessions. They are great training partners, not only because they’re fun to be around but also because they’re fast. Devon Kershaw is a World Cup winner and World Champion in the team sprint and Alex Harvey, Devon’s team sprint partner, is one of the top five skiers in the world.
A week from today the entire U.S. Ski Team shows up for our last camp of the year. Our camp overlaps with the Canadian camp for a week, and our coaches have worked with the Canadian coaches to plan some joint sessions.
Erik Bjornsen, the only other distance skier on the U.S. World Cup team, will be here for this camp. Because I chose to skip the Alaska camp and Erik chose to skip the New Zealand camp, we haven’t trained together since Bend camp in May. I’m looking forward to training with Erik, and I’m looking forward to racing with him this winter.
After the U.S. Ski Team camp ends on October 31st, I have just under three more weeks of solo time to do my final preparation before departing for the World Cup on November 19th.
The schedule has lined up exactly how I would have written it, and I’m really excited for the race season to test all of the training I’ve done.
Lastly, my coaches and I debated trying to have me get on snow in early November, but we decided to stick with the theme of the year, simplification. Therefore, I will not be adding any extra travel to go skiing. This means I will land in Kuusamo, Finland on Sunday evening, November 20th, without having been on snow since New Zealand, and will race a World Cup the following Sunday, November 27th. It will be a tight turnaround and a completely new strategy for me, but it will be a long season and there isn’t much pressure on the first World Cup. The goal is to be skiing fastest in February.