PyeongChang Day 11

I wanted to title this post with a number to highlight that I’m only halfway through my Olympic experience. Today is my Day 11. Closing Ceremonies happen on Day 22, and I will depart Korea on Day 23. This is an amazing experience that I am fully appreciating, but it is also a long trip.

Yesterday evening was the Olympic Classic Sprint. Team USA had some really impressive performances, but we did not win a medal. Jessie Diggins was our only skier to reach either the men’s or women’s final, and she finished sixth. We were not favorites to win a medal last night, but we were certainly medal hopefuls. My sense is that we, as a team, are building towards a historic result and that we’ll see it in the next 11 days. There are four more cross-country races for each gender at these Olympics. We will be medal hopefuls in the women’s 10k, women’s relay, men’s team sprint and women’s 30k and we will be medal favorites in the women’s team sprint next Wednesday, February 21st. I cannot wait to race and to watch and to continue to be a part of this team. Racing kicks off again tomorrow with the women’s 10k.

It was cold and windy last night, and my teammates and I watched the sprint from the Village. We could even watch the qualifying round, which was a rare treat because it’s not usually televised. Here’s Sadie Bjornsen starting her qualifier.

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Sprint Day!

Today is one of Team USA Cross-Country’s best opportunities for an Olympic medal. The Olympic Classic Sprint starts in half an hour with qualifying at 5:30p.m. Korean Time (1:30a.m. Mountain Time and 3:30a.m. Eastern Time). The energy has been high around here all day. The sprinters are nervous, but I believe they are super ready. I cannot wait to watch. Information about the broadcast schedule for today’s race is at the bottom of this post.

I didn’t ski yesterday. Instead I jogged to The Haven with Liz Stephen. It was cold and windy and we were mostly running on busy roads. Honestly it wasn’t that pleasant.

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PyeongChang Skiathlon

Yesterday’s race was very disappointing for me. It was my first race of the Olympics, the 30K Skiathlon. I have felt good for the last week and thought I was setup to have a good day, but my body didn’t respond the way that I hoped it would. The pace was hot from the beginning, and I struggled in the classic portion to ski relaxed. The conditions were tricky with windblown tracks and icy corduroy, and I didn’t handle them well. I got dropped by the lead group early and continuously lost time on my way to a 54th place finish.

After the race I was feeling disheartened, frustrated and inadequate. I felt confused about why my coaches and I have been unable to replicate the best-in-the-world skiing that I did in 2014, despite trying everything that we could think to do. I felt like I don’t deserve to be here and that I am an imposter for writing this blog and pretending to be a successful Olympic athlete. I even felt guilty that my sister is coming to watch my next race when I’m skiing so poorly.

As the evening went on, I started to lift my chin up, put things into perspective and move on. Letting go of disappointment is something that I have worked on for much of my career. There were times early in my career when I would hold onto bad races for many days. Not only does being upset drain all of my energy, it also makes me super unpleasant to be around. As of this morning I had not fully let go of yesterday’s result, but now, at 3:30 in the afternoon (23 hours after finishing yesterday), I feel great, I can’t wait for another opportunity on Friday, and I am so psyched to be at the Olympics! I am proud of myself for letting go of the race.

My biggest goal for these Olympics is to live them, be present and take it all in. I can only accomplish that goal if I don’t get stuck in disappointment.

Also, there was one big reason to be excited about yesterday’s race: my teammate Scott Patterson finished in 18th place, only 1:08 behind the winner. That is easily Scott’s best result of his career, and he becomes one of a very select group of US men’s cross-country skiers with a top-20 finish at the Olympics. I was so excited, and super impressed, when I saw his result after I finished.

Like me, my teammates Erik Bjornsen and Paddy Caldwell were disappointed with their results, but I have full confidence in them and know that it will only get better from here for all three of us.

I think I can take some credit for Scott’s result because I convinced him to jog to the venue with me instead of dealing with the crowded buses. The extra-long warm-up must have worked for him!

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Race Day in PyeongChang

Race day! I’m feeling good and can’t wait to get started. Today’s race is the 30K Skiathlon which includes 15K classic technique, a pit stop to change skis and poles and 15K skate technique. I will be wearing bib number 47. It is a mass start and the gun goes off at 3:15pm Korean Time (11:15pm tonight (Saturday) Mountain Standard Time and 1:15am Eastern Standard Time). At the bottom of this post I have included details about how you can watch including tape-delayed coverage Sunday US Time on NBC.

My goal for today is to ski with high energy but also to push hard when necessary. I want to ski aggressively and show that I belong here. My best Olympic finish is 24th place, and I believe I can improve on that result.

Yesterday the cross-country events kicked off at the Olympics with the women’s skiathlon, and American Jessie Diggins put on an impressive show. It looked like she was struggling early, but she was characteristically tough as nails and fought like crazy to a fifth place finish, the second best US Olympic result ever and the best for women. She was so close to making contact with the group of second through fourth place finishers, and I believe Jessie is going to take a step onto the podium sometime in the next two weeks. I am inspired by her racing tenacity and want to emulate it today.

My teammates and I did our pre-race ski as soon as the women finished their race yesterday. We didn’t want to miss watching the second half of their race, so we decided to take an earlier shuttle to watch from the athlete lounge at the venue. The race started while we were on the bus, and it was nice to have the TV that allowed us to watch.

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PyeongChang Opening Ceremonies

The Olympic Opening Ceremonies are so cool, and I can’t believe that I’ve had the honor of walking into them twice as a member of Team USA. Last night was perfect, as was my experience in Sochi. I feel so lucky to have these opportunities. Thank you to everyone who has helped me get here.

I want to say a special thank you to my parents. They have been a stabilizing force in my life forever. As I have matured, I have become aware that my parents put up with the worst version of myself. I take advantage of them, I don’t communicate as well with them as I do with others and I don’t show them my appreciation for everything that they do for me. As I’ve gained this awareness, I’ve tried to do better, but I often find myself falling back into old habits. I know that they’ll read this, and I just want to tell them that I think they’ve done a perfect job of parenting and that even when I don’t show it, I’m so lucky to have them and grateful for everything they do. We made a decision as a family for them not to come here to Korea. It is expensive and requires a lot of time away from work and from their new farm in Montrose, Colorado. I would rather spend that time with them adventuring in the desert this spring, which we are planning to do instead. It would be nearly impossible and very stressful for me to spend any time with them here in Korea.

On the other hand, my sister is going to come next weekend. I will hardly see her, but she is going to watch the 15K and the relay if I am on the team. She is traveling with a friend and will be entirely self-sufficient. They are coupling this trip with some time powder skiing (hopefully) in Japan.

Last night’s excitement started with a dress up party in our apartment. Erik Bjornsen made the hard and personal decision not to walk in the Ceremony because he felt it was the best thing for his performance at the Games. Although we missed him last night, I highly respect his decision. He still participated by helping us look sharp. He even laced up Paddy Caldwell’s boots.

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PyeongChang Day 6

My apologies for the lack of creativity in naming these posts. Honestly, I have limited time this afternoon before Opening Ceremonies tonight, and I need to publish this before I leave so I can go to sleep as soon as I get back.

We’ve made it to the start of the Games! So sweet to be here. My plan for this evening is to do the same thing that I did in Sochi: walk into Opening Ceremonies with Team USA and then walk out without ever taking a seat. I will come straight back to the Village and get ready for bed. I’ll be excited to watch highlights of the show on YouTube tomorrow. Several of my teammates are on the same plan as me. It’s really nice to have the compromise option to walk and then leave because it allows us to participate in one of the highlight Olympic experiences without getting to bed too late or spending too much time out in the cold. (The ceremony this year is in an open-air stadium. Luckily, it is significantly warmer (around 30°F) than it has been the last several days.)

Yesterday, Paddy Caldwell and I did a skate intensity session. It was my first time going hard since being here, and I felt surprisingly good. After some easy skiing, we did a 5 minute threshold warm-up interval followed by 6×2 minute hard intervals. We were both at max by the last interval. It was a great session, really fun to be out there with my teammate and a good wakeup for my body. It was my first time testing our Olympic suits. I like the way they look!

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PyeongChang Day 5

Part of my commitment to soaking in this experience at the Olympics in PyeongChang and to living in the present involves really embracing the lifestyle that will help me race fast. Ironically, that means embracing boredom and simplicity. Although there is so much attention and excitement around the Olympics, it is ideal for me to reside in a bubble that is free from distractions and extremely relaxed. It’s hard for me to fully articulate this concept, but, in trying to share my real Games experience through this blog, I want to share this sense that living in the present and taking in the whole Games really involves the most simple life. Here are the only things that matter on my to-do list every day:

  • Do the prescribed training (at most 90 minutes a day)
  • Eat 3 relaxed healthy meals
  • Get a massage
  • Spin and stretch

Anything else I choose to do on a given day needs to be relaxed, low energy and cannot detract from the important items above. Hopefully that explanation makes sense. I think it’s a really unique time in my life to have the days be so incredibly simple.

I have also been thinking about why I have chosen to blog again during these Olympics. I feel like my motivation this year is a little simpler than it was from 2012-15 when I blogged daily. I am blogging during these Games because I recognize that I am incredibly privileged and lucky to be here, that very few people have this opportunity and I feel that I owe it to the community to share this with all of you. I am only here because of this community. Additionally, I think noteworthy experiences in general are better when shared. You all are making my experience better by coming along on this journey with me. Thank you!

Speaking of sharing the experience, my wax technician at these Games is the amazing Patrick Moore. Patrick is a volunteer technician and has joined our staff at major Championships for many years. I have worked with him previously, and it has gone really well. Patrick is also good friends with my coach Zach Caldwell, who manages my fleet of skis. Zach is in Vermont and not coming to the Olympics, but he is advising Patrick from afar.

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Olympics Day 5

I have gotten amazing feedback on these posts. Thank you all for the messages. It makes me feel incredibly special to know that I have the support of such a large community.

Many people have asked me which races I’m doing here at the Olympics, so I have updated the events page on this site with my race dates and times. I am only guaranteed starts in the first two races, the Skiathlon and 15K. I need to ski well in each of those to get a spot on the relay team and a start in the 50K. I am feeling good and can’t wait for my opportunities.

In the US, NBC is live streaming every race (and Olympic event). They are also broadcasting races on their networks. This press release has all of the info you need to watch and everything is available at NBCOlympics.com.

Among the feedback I’ve received has been some very helpful answers to my questions. I got a translation for the text on the banner hanging on the first tower in the Olympic Village. Here is what I received:

“The Republic of Korea remembers the sweat you have shed.”

More freely: “The nation will not forget your hard work.”

(I take it that is geared more toward the facility construction teams than the athletes.)

I have also been asked several times how I’m going to get everything home that I’ve received at the Games. Luckily, the US Olympic Committee (USOC) will ship it for us. They have a station after closing ceremonies for us to pack boxes with everything we don’t need for the remainder of the season. I believe they put it all into a shipping container and then mail it from the US. In Sochi it took a couple months to receive the box. There’s a rumor going around that they are limiting us to one box each. My hope is that a.) that’s not true or b.) it’s a REALLY BIG box.

I have also been asked if the spartan rooms here in the Village, with unfinished kitchens, are similar to what we had in Sochi. Our duplexes in Sochi were definitely nicer and more finished than these apartment buildings, though if I remember correctly we didn’t have full kitchens there either. Also and importantly, there were 3 Villages in Sochi (there are two here) and ours (the Endurance Village) was the smallest and by far the nicest. I had a very different Olympic experience in Sochi than many athletes from other sports.

In that vein, now that I’m here in this large Olympic Village, I am realizing that my experience in Sochi, in a Village with only cross-country skiers and biathletes, was much more like a typical World Championship experience than a typical Olympics. This year, I’m enjoying meeting athletes from very different sports than mine.

We are living here in PyeongChang in the Mountain Village. All of the athletes who compete on snow, plus all of the sliding sport (bobsled, luge and skeleton) athletes, are in this village. All of the other ice sport athletes are in the Coastal Village, 40 kilometers from here.

Many athletes and teams have chosen not to stay in either Village. I know some of the most famous athletes from the US, including Mikaela Shiffrin and Shaun White, plus the entire US Alpine Speed Team and the Norwegian Cross-Country Team, are living outside the Village.

The temperature has continued to be cold here. It was again around 0°F this morning, but it looks like it’s going to warm up and get into a nice cycle with highs around freezing point and lows around 15°F. It can be quite windy here and there aren’t any trees around the course for protection, so it may feel colder. Luckily, it is forecast to be in the upper 20s during the Opening Ceremonies on Friday night in an open-air stadium, though we do have heated jackets just in case. I am planning to do like I did in Sochi: walk in the ceremony but then leave on the early bus without watching the show. I race two days later.

On a totally different note, I received this cool text on my international calling plan this morning.

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PyeongChang Village Life

With so much new stuff from Olympic Processing, I spent my morning getting organized. I took tags off the items that I will wear during the Olympics and made them accessible. Everything else I left in packaging in the duffle bags to be sent home for later use or for giving away.

In addition to the gear I acquired yesterday, there are additional items in the room that we can use and (presumably) keep. One such item is the custom Olympic comforter. (My “little sister” Lindsey Adams put my one from Sochi to good use when I brought it home.)

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