We are staying here in Predazzo, Italy at the same hotel we stayed at for the Tour de Ski and the World Championships last season. It is called Hotel Touring, and it is so nice to be somewhere so familiar. They have lots of U.S. Ski Team swag in their entryway.
Last night two of our friends from Davos, Karin Camenisch and Markus Ljungdahl drove from Davos to Val di Fiemme to watch us race the Final Climb of the Tour de Ski today. The drive should take about three hours, but the weather was atrocious and it took them NINE hours. They arrived sometime after midnight. I am impressed, honored and grateful for their perseverance to come watch us. They stopped by our hotel this morning before the race. Here are (from left to right) Liz Stephen, Jessie Diggins, me, Holly Brooks, Karin and Markus:
We woke to more rain today (or I should say rain that never stopped from yesterday).
It was pouring. If all this moisture would have come in the form of snow we would be buried.
My parents are also staying here in Hotel Touring. It is really nice to have them in the same hotel as us because it makes it so easy to see them. They have a massive window in their room that makes you feel like you’re outside. Here is my dad Mike in front of it:
Just as I was departing for the venue the rain turned to snow.
The venue was a mess. Here’s a lake engulfing the Italian wax truck:
The tunnel to get to the ski depot was almost inaccessible.
The race today, the famed Final Climb, starts at the race venue in the Lago stadium. It is a pursuit start (each athlete starting based on their time behind the leader of the Tour) skate race. It starts with a lap of the men’s sprint course. Then it heads down the Marcialonga trail for four kilometers to the base of the Alpe Cermis Alpine Area. It then climbs over 400 vertical meters in two and a half kilometers up the Alpine run. Here’s a look at the course profile:
I didn’t have the day I was hoping for. I really struggled on the loop around the venue and the trail down to the climb. Two guys who started behind me caught me before we finished the sprint loop. Although it is gradual downhill and easier to follow, I could not stay with them down the Marcialonga trail. They dropped me and put 48 seconds into me before the base of the climb. That is an absurd amount of time for a four kilometer gradual downhill. I believe I am good enough to ski with anybody in the world on that section because I skied as well as anybody on similar terrain two days ago. I struggled on the very soft conditions on the Marcialonga trail. I need to continue to work on that aspect of my skiing. I also learned a valuable lesson about ski testing and the importance of being adaptable. My technicians tested my skis for me this morning while it was still raining. They chose the three best pairs for me to try when I arrived. However, they did that test while it was still raining. When it switched to snow we should have thrown the morning test out and started from scratch because the conditions had changed completely. However, when I arrived we only tested the three pairs that had been good in the morning. We picked the best one, but they were not the right pair for the race. Next time I’ll know better. The responsibility for this lies entirely with me. I make decisions regarding my skis, and responsibility for controlling the process lies with me. I am so grateful to the service staff for the incredible work they have done all Tour in less than idea conditions.
From the bottom of the hill to top I skied better and moved up from 29th to 25th position in the Tour. My time for today only was 27th. I am disappointed to narrowly miss my goal of a top-20 result in the Tour. I finished 1:07 behind 20th place, which doesn’t seem like very much spread over 7 days of racing. Also, 25th is a good improvement over my 46th place finish in the Tour last season. Full results for this year’s Tour are available here.
I learned after my race that my female teammates had a great day. Liz Stephen skied the third fastest time of the day to finish the Tour in 7th position, earning her 6,000 Swiss Francs ($6631). Jessie Digginis finished the Tour in 13th place. Full ladies results are available here.
Because of all the moisture my camera was fogged up at the finish of the race, but I like the way this picture of the men’s Tour de Ski podium turned out:
This evening we celebrated by going out for pizza. My friend from Estonia, Karel Tammjärv, joined us. Karel also completed the Tour.
Karel and I were joined by Liz, Jessie, my parents, Liz’s parents, Matt Whitcomb and Cory Wubbels.
Here are us athletes:
Liz, Jessie and I walked Karel back to his car after dinner. You know you’ve made it when you get your name on a car. Liz and Jessie thought it was pretty cool and wanted to pose as Karel’s groupies.
We walked back through a cool graveyard. FasterSkier.com happened to call for an interview while we were in the cemetery. It was the oddest place we’ve ever given an interview.