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!

Because we didn’t take the secure bus, we had to go through security to get into the venue, but it was super fast and easy.

My technician Patrick Moore was ready with my skis when I got there, and we headed out to test.

Before the start, we each loaded our skate gear into our pit stations. I like to set my skate skis narrow so I can snow plow in around them with my classic skis. When I come into the exchange I take off my classic poles and put them in my left hand and then grab my skate poles with my right hand. I had the 24th fastest time in the pit yesterday, which is pretty good considering that includes some skiing time, and I was not skiing fast.

Here’s Erik just before the start.

Here’s a look at the start pen where all of the athletes gather.

The stands were pretty full for the race.

Caitlin Patterson took some pictures of me during the race.

I was wearing bib 47.

It’s often hard to get good pictures of me racing, so I’m grateful to Caitlin for sending these.

Especially since she raced on Saturday!

After the race I was greeted by massage therapist Steph McKeen. Can you tell I was hurting when this picture was taken?

Before we can leave the finish area we have to walk through the media mix zone where reporters can pull us for interviews.

I got pulled by NBC but I doubt they used the footage.

I was cold by the time I got back to the athlete room, and I didn’t go back out for a cool down. Instead I went back to the Village, showered, went to The Haven for food and then got on the spin bike after dinner.

While at The Haven I heard an interesting comment from one of the sliding sport (bobsled, luge or skeleton) athletes. They were talking about the gym at The Haven, which has a sign over the door that indicates the room is only available to US Ski and Snowboard athletes. The slider said that having a big NGB (National Governing Body) allows us to afford amenities like a private gym. I hadn’t realized how this private gym must appear to the other athletes, and I have never before thought of US Ski and Snowboard as a big and resource rich organization. I always think of them as underfunded, but clearly that analysis is relative. Because of that comment, I’m feeling more grateful for the opportunities that are available to me.

After getting back to the Village I went to the Athlete Lounge to watch the evening events with other athletes. First up was women’s Moguls. It was particularly fun to watch with the men’s Moguls team, who compete tonight.

Unfortunately it was not a good night for the U.S. Women. It was particularly hard for me to watch a friend of mine and medal hopeful, Morgan Schild, get knocked out in the first round of finals after qualifying in the third position.

After Moguls the night got better for Team USA. In the men’s singles Luge, Lake Placid’s Chris Mazdzer became the first American to medal in the event with a second place finish. I got to intently watch with a bunch of his sliding teammates.

They went crazy after he medaled.

I was hurting and sore after yesterday’s race and didn’t sleep well last night. I took today off of skiing. I went for a short jog this morning with Paddy (right) and my good friend from Estonia Karel Tammj√§rv.

I will go spin at the gym this afternoon.

I spent the day doing laundry. The setup here in the Village is remarkably convenient.

Luckily the settings are translated into English.

This Village would be a lot harder to navigate if I didn’t speak English, unless of course I spoke Korean.

Also today I learned how to get guests into the Village because I went through the process of requesting and receiving a guest pass for our team strength coach Tschana Schiller (pictured center with Sophie Caldwell and Andy Newell).

Lastly, for no explicable reason, I let Jessie Diggins paint one of my nails. She was very excited.

The next cross-country race here at the Olympics is the classic individual sprint tomorrow evening. I’m not racing, and I can’t wait to watch. I’ll post more about it before start time tomorrow.