I have to admit I don’t follow World Cup cross country ski racing very closely when I’m not travelling the circuit. When I wake up on race day I’m eager to look at results, but I don’t get up at all hours of the night to watch the races. I’m interested in the races because I want to see my teammates achieve success; my teammates’ and friends’ results are much more important to me than knowing who won the race.
It’s been a tough first half of the season for the U.S. Ski Team. There have been plenty of high spots but more than our fair share of disappointment. I have no idea why we have struggled as a team, but I know our training and preparation was good. I believe we can be great during the second half of the season, especially at the World Championships, the most important race series of all.
I believe the start of this turnaround, of some positive momentum, is Liz Stephen’s 5th place finish in the Tour de Ski, which ended Sunday. The Tour de Ski is the biggest event every year on the World Cup calendar, excluding the Olympics or World Championships. It is the most prestigious event, it pays the most prize money, it is the event that showcases the best all-around skiers, and it is the event every great skier wants to win at least once during their career. Liz’s result represents the best ever finish by an American, man or woman, in the nine year history of the Tour de Ski.
I am especially impressed with Liz because, like me, she isn’t a great sprinter. She was consistent, top 30, in every stage except the sprint, and she made up a ton of time and places with two great stages on the final two days. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend watching the video from Universal Sports of Liz on the final climb. You can see it on USSA Nordic’s Facebook Page here.
One of my biggest career goals is to win the Tour de Ski. I am gaining a ton of confidence from Liz’s great result. I’m excited to watch my teammates continue to improve and build on Liz’s result as the season progresses.
This morning I did my first hard (level 4, race pace) intensity session since hurting myself. I did 8 by 4 minute intervals on the SkiErg. I did my warm-up, cool down and recovery between intervals on the spin bike. My technique coach Zach Caldwell was able to watch my last four intervals via Skype. The session was really hard but good. I got faster throughout. Here’s my data for the session:
|Interval #||Time||Pace (per 500 meters)||Average HR||Max HR|
My heart rate was a little lower than I’d like to see, but the intervals were only 4 minutes long so there wasn’t a lot of time for it to come up. Zach had me go all out for the final 20 seconds of the last interval. During that 20 seconds, my average pace went from 1:52.8 to 1:52.1. I’m happy with how the session went. I’ll be doing a lot more hard intervals in the coming weeks as my volume of training decreases and I try to peak for the World Championships.
This afternoon I went for another ski. After yesterday’s 20 minute double pole session, I was cleared to ski for 30 minutes toady. Since my pursuit boots hurt me yesterday because they pressed into my ankle, I tried my classic boots today. They were 100% pain free. I forgot at times while I was skiing that I’m “injured”. It was awesome.
I again skied at the Gold Run Nordic Center. I tried a new part of the trail system that I’d never skied before. It went up the valley above the golf course.