Olympic 50K

It’s Sunday morning here in Korea. The Olympic 50K was yesterday afternoon, and I feel like I got hit by a truck.

In the race, my teammate Scott Patterson skied to an absolutely remarkable 11th place finish. This is the best ever result for the US in the Olympic 50K! The previous best was a pair of 13th place finishes from Bill Koch in 1976 and 1980. I am blown away by Scott’s performance. In all three distance races at these Olympics he has set a new personal best performance. I think he has surprised even himself with these results, and I know he is stoked. I believe this could be a breakthrough that helps him gain the confidence to consistently be one of the best skiers in the world. I am certainly excited to see how his career progresses.

(I was actually getting updates during the race of how Scott was doing. Hearing that he was fighting for a top-10 was awesome and motivating.)

Here is Scott getting interviewed by NBC after the race.

He had some friends cheering him on.

They brought “Scott Heads”. The picture they used was taken of Scott after he’d spent a week in the desert without showering.

My race yesterday was better than my other three at these Olympics. I had a great start and moved up into the top-10 (after starting 42nd), but the pace near the end of the first lap and on the second lap felt really fast to me. (Each lap was 8.3K. We did 6 of them.) I knew I couldn’t sustain it for 50K. I got dropped out of the top-30 on the second lap, and I settled into a group that was skiing a pace that was sustainable for me. There were actually some really good skiers in our group including Finland’s Matti Heikkinen, Germany’s Thomas Bing and briefly Andrew Musgrave from Great Britain.

Our group was constantly changing. Guys got dropped, we cought some guys in front and a couple people skied away from us. For the most part I was moving up on laps 3, 4 and 5. I used my two ski exchanges after laps 2 and 4, and therefore I had great skis on laps 3 and 5 before they slowed way down as they got dirty. Going into the last lap I had a chance at being top-30, but my skis were starting to slow and I couldn’t quite close. I ended up 33rd.

My energy in the race was good but not great. My legs were hurting during the first two laps but then they felt great after I settled into a sustainable pace. From lap 3 on, I was having some muscle spasms and my quads, abs and triceps were all threatening to cramp, but nothing fully locked up during the race.

I fed well during the race. I took a liquid feed (Powerade for the first 25K and then flat Coke for the last 25K) an average of once every 4K. I also took two Cliff Gels. I think all that sugar was necessary to stop me from bonking.

After the race the entire US Olympic Cross Country team came to the venue for a team photo. Unfortunately it was super foggy.

The women’s team took a photo after the full group one.

Tom Kelly, the Vice-President of Communications at US Ski and Snowboard took the shot. (Not the version above which is from my phone.) Tom followed through on his promise to dye his beard pink for a cross-country medal.

Last night a bunch of us went to the USA House, a US Olympic Committee facility designed for athletes, staff and donors to celebrate. It was fun and social, but my body was hurting and I didn’t stay too long.

On a different note, I was honored to be featured on the Olympic Channel Instagram account along with Spain’s Imanol Rojo after the finish of yesterday’s race.

Today is the final day of the Olympics. This afternoon is the women’s 30K classic mass start, and then this evening is the Closing Ceremonies.

I am very excited to share that I have been given starts in the next two weekends of World Cup races. Next weekend I will do the 15K Classic Individual Start in Lahti, Finland, and the following weekend I will race the famed 50K at Holmenkollen, Oslo, Norway, which is a skate mass start this year.

At 4a.m. tomorrow I will board a bus to the airport to fly to Moscow and then Helsinki.