Wonderful Week

Back to blogging…Since returning to Europe from the Olympics I’ve had an incredible week. Taking a week away from the computer was really good for me. When I turned it on this morning I had 166 new e-mails and 100 Facebook notifications. I’m working my way through them all but please understand my delay.

We stayed in Munich, Germany on Monday night. Checking out Marienplatz and Viktualienmarkt was very cool. On Tuesday we caught a train to Salzburg, Austria.

Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg is a gorgeous city. I had so much fun exploring it.

Main Strip of Salzburg, Austria

We checked out the Hohensalzburg Castle on the hill above the old town. It is impressive. Here’s the old track to get goods in and out of the fortress.

Hohensalzburg Castle

There were lots of cool shops.

Tons of Decorated Eggs in Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg is apparently known for beautifully colored eggs.

Colored Eggs in Salzburg, Austria

I did not workout once while on vacation. We hung out in the sauna, explored the city and saw a live music performance. It was a wonderful mental and physical break.

On Friday we flew to Lahti, Finland to return to the World Cup. Since I wasn’t actively blogging I didn’t take very many pictures. Saturday was a skate sprint race which I did not compete in. However, I got to watch my teammates have a career day. Here is Sophie Caldwell (right) racing in the quarterfinals:

Sophie Caldwell in Quarterfinals of Skate Sprint Lahti 2014

Sophie and Kikkan Randall kept advancing through the heats. Eventually they were both in the final, something that has rarely happened, six racers remaining, two Americans. I was nervous watching it. Near the beginning of the race two of the top women fell (but not Sophie or Kikkan). All of the sudden there were only four skiers in contention for the three podium spots. Kikkan made a very decisive move in the back of the stadium to lock up the win. She’s back on top, a place she’s accustomed to being. Sophie was in a drag race for third place and used an awesome lunge at the finish line to take it. TWO AMERICANS on the PODIUM! It is the first time that has ever happened for U.S. women and the first time in over 20 years it has happened period. Sophie is the second American women, after Kikkan, to podium on the World Cup, ever. I am so excited for them.

Sophie Caldwell and Kikkan Randall in Front of World Cup Podium Lahti 2014

Here they are all smiles (Kikkan on the left).

Kikkan Randall and Sophie Caldwell all Smiles after Lahti Sprint Podiums

Here they are preparing for the podium presentation.

Kikkan Randall and Sophie Caldwell Podium Presentation in Lahti Finland

Yesterday it was my turn to race with a 15 kilometer individual start skate race. Lahti did not have much natural snow and the conditions were extremely soft and sugary.

Soft and Sugary Conditions in Lahti Finland 2014

Historically I have struggled in extremely soft conditions. I have trouble skiing relaxed because my go-to high tempo tech just churns the snow and doesn’t help me move quickly. I talked in-depth before the race with my coach Zach Caldwell about new technique cues to focus on in these conditions.

I believe I was able to ski with better technique than I have previously in extremely soft snow. I started slowly, like I did in the Olympic individual start race. At the first split station I was in 70th place. That is probably too slow, and it is something my coaches and I will be discussing before the only remaining individual start race of the year (at U.S. Spring Series in Anchorage, Alaska) and will work on over the off season. I improved throughout the race, eventually finishing in 24th place. Although I know I am capable of a better result than that in a distance skate race, I am happy to improve over previous results in those conditions. I’m looking forward to working hard on my soft-snow technique in the off season.

This morning the team and I traveled to Oslo. At the airport a group of us were picked up by some representatives of our clothing supplier, Bjorn Daehlie Clothing.

Bjorn Daehlie Clothing Picking up U.S. Ski Team

They brought us to the Bjorn Daehlie offices in downtown Oslo.

Bjorn Daehlie Offices in Oslo, Norway

We got to look around and check out their full line of outerwear gear.

Bjorn Daehlie Outerwear Gear

It’s cool to see the same jackets we use on a daily basis in many different colors.

U.S. Ski Team Checking out Bjorn Daehie Clothing

Andy Newell and Kikkan were psyched.

Andy Newell and Kikkan Randall Checking Out Bjorn Daehlie Clothing

We also got to check out their other brands including the hat line Bula.

Bula Company

And the touring ski line Asnes.

Asnes Company Logo

The skis looked sweet and made me want to get into the back-country.

Asnes Skis Norway

They also have the women’s baselayer brand Kari Traa.

Kari Traa Brand

There were lots of bright colored clothes.

Bright Colored Kari Traa Clothes

We were then served a delicious lunch.

Lunch at Bjorn Daehlie Headquarters, Norway

You know you’re in Norway when you’re eating a lox sandwich.

Lox Sandwich in Oslo, Norway Bjorn Daehlie Headquarters

Over lunch we had a discussion about the pieces we’ve been using and what we’re going to get in the future.

Bjorn Daehlie Slide Show Product Review

The whole meeting was a great opportunity for us to hear why we get the things we get and to give feedback on what we like and dislike.

After the meeting we checked in at our hotel here in Oslo. For dinner we had Pheasant, something I’m not sure I’ve ever had before.

Pheasant in Oslo, Norway

It was delicious.

Delicious Pheasant in Oslo, Norway

We knew the birds had been shot because wax technician Cory Wubbels found a bee bee in his breast.

Bee bee in Pheasant in Oslo, norway

At our team meeting this evening, Sophie and Kikkan tried to fool the ladies who didn’t attend the Bjorn Daehlie meeting by telling them some very bright pink suits were going to be our race suits next year.

Kikkan Randall and Sophie Caldwell in Pink Race Suits

I’ll be back blogging daily for the rest of the season. I feel refreshed after my wonderful vacation. I can’t wait to take advantage of my great remaining race opportunities.