Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hello from Finland

Beautiful ski at Moraine Lake Rd. in Lake Louise with Emily Nishikawa.
I know I have been to Europe a number of times before and even raced in a number of World Cups in the past...but for some reason this year feels different. I think the biggest difference is that I usually have a really solid start to the year and by the time I have qualified to compete in Europe I am a bit tired and not at my best anymore. The tough part is qualifying to get to Europe and still saving some in the tank to perform well again and again over here!

That being said, these are by far the hardest World Cups of the year with over 100 athletes starting sometimes. The fields are not only big but they are also deep, with many of the host nations bringing a large contingent of highly competitive athletes just off the National or World Cup team who are still plenty fast!

My last day in Canmore was filled with waxing and packing! I have a lot of new Madshus skis this year and I made a huge effort to put as much wax as possible in them so that they were ready to race once I got to Europe!
Beautiful View from the Wax Cabin #5 we rented all month.
My awesome Madshus fleet!
Team Gregg is psyched to have amazing support from Toko. We usually start with warm soft (like NF red and NF Yellow) waxes to saturate the bases and then add the LF Toko Blue to harden the bases up and get them ready for early season dry cold snow!
Skis are looking nice and shiny.
I was able to put multiple layers in all my skis and zero (same wax on all) each pair before I left. This was how much wax I had left at the end of my month on Frozen Thunder!
My travel started out by saying goodbye to Canmore, AB after a month of skiing on Frozen Thunder. I decided to try and estimate how many laps I skied while I was there and how many kilometers total I got in. 250 Laps of a 2 kilometer loop = 500 K. That is being a bit conservative as I was there for 30 days, took 4 days off, and averaged about 12-15 laps per day! So the real number is more like 750 kilometers!!! Which can make you pretty dizzy after a while. I was impressed with my own ability to get up every morning and get after each session with as much enthusiasm as the first day on snow. I must say that having such great company from the numerous athletes also training on Frozen Thunder made a huge difference! So many awesome people invited me to join them for workouts and each day felt like I had tons of people to ski with!

Olympic Biathletes Rosanna Crawford (Chandra's sister) and Brendan Green with myself (missing Brian) all represent Vector 450, a supplement to help build immunity.
After finishing my last ski I packed up the rental car, returned all the borrowed items and took off for Calgary. My flight was early in the morning and I didn't want to be rushed so I booked a hotel in Calgary for the night. It was a great way to get a good light sleep, I LOVED the pillow so much, and start the trip as fresh as possible. When booking my tickets to Europe this year I knew I was going to stay in Canmore until I left and Brian was able to get me trip that actually came through Minneapolis. We were even able to get a ticket with a 5 hour lay-over, usually not a good thing, which allowed me to leave the airport and go home for a bit. Initially Brian was supposed to be in Washington but changed his ticket last minute which meant he could pick me up and drop me off at the airport!!! We had a wonderful lunch date and a nice visit before we each started our fall/ early winter racing tours (Brian is headed to West Yellowstone).

We are going to miss each other this next month!
My flight across the ocean was awesome because I had an entire row to myself, which meant I could lay down and sleep the whole way! I was a bit tired from the early morning so sleeping was no problem. The flight "flew by" (HAHAHA) and I was in Paris before I knew it. Connecting through Paris is a bit of a hassle but I made it through what seemed like 3 security check points and onto my Finn Air flight to Helsinki soon enough. The third flight was also smooth and relatively quick with the addition of blueberry juice for all on board! I have really learned to appreciate all the little cultural specialties more since I have been traveling with Brian. I used to try and stick to my typical diet and meal options when traveling to avoid changing to many things, but Brian always seems to love trying new things and I am glad he convinced me to as well!

My new friends from China and Finland on the flight to Helsinki.
In Helsinki I met up with Brian Fish (who is over here as Reese Hanneman's and my coach and wax tech for period one) and the rest of the US Ski Team for our last flight to Roveniemi, Finland. Again the flight was easy and I enjoyed meeting a couple from Cleveland who was bringing their 4 children to Santa's Village in Roveniemi (the home of Santa Claus) for a visit! Talk about dedication and an awesome trip for their kids!!! Once in Roveniemi we still had a 3 hour drive to Mounio but I fell asleep and can't say there was much to see as it was already pitch black outside.

The rooms in our Cabin at Olos are very comfy and warm.
This morning I awoke once again excited to ski on a man-made loop (this time it is about 4k!). I am pretty happy to report that I am feeling good (I am a bit jet-lagged) but really looking forward to my final workouts before my first race in a little under 2 weeks at the Kuusamo venue a few hours from here. I am alone in my cabin now, but Kikkan Randall and Jeff Ellis will be joining me on Thursday. The food is good, the beds are comfy and the darkness doesn't seem so bad. The skiing is excellent and it is great to be working with Brian Fish again on technique and ski selection (My classic skis were flying this afternoon).

The ski tracks are right outside my bedroom window. 

Reese wondering how his bag drawstring got caught through the whole in his tip???
Stay tuned for more frequent updates and photos from my first time starting on the World Cup tour!

Fasterskier did an article about me heading to the opening World Cups too. You can read it here.

Also, if you didn't know I like to spend my time drawing...you can see how I put it to use when working with the kids at the Jerry Gamble Boys and Girls Club.

Face paint medium! 
The requested Yoshi was a big hit!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Training in Canmore on a budget!

For the past two weeks Brian and I have been living and training in Canmore, AB. We flew here straight from California and hit the ground skiing the very next day! I love those kinds of seasonal transitions. We are lucky enough to be able to buy a $10,500 house in Minneapolis which allows us flexibility when the racing season comes to leave for extended periods of time. We have great friends and a wonderful support crew who watch/ stay at our place and take care of Lahti, our husky, while we are away. We could not do what we do without them and we will always be willing to return the favor someday!

Another way Team Gregg makes the most of our traveling and racing is finding really great deals along the way. Brian (and his twin brother Chad) are masters of airline travel. We make the most out of every mile and credit card perk we can so that our travel days are smooth and super affordable.  We also tend to get great deals on rental cars but it is getting trickier with all of the skis and equipment we travel with. Now we like to make it a game to see how many pairs of skis, luggage bags, giant carry-ons and Costco groceries we can fit into our compact rental. So far it has worked every time :)

Once we get to our location I like to pride myself on finding great deals for lodging. Brian also likes to comment that if I book the place to stay and it is small...I won't complain ;) This training camp is a perfect example of this! I found an apartment studio room for us to rent for $36 a night! That's about a 1/3 of what most places cost in Canmore!!! Yes it is small but we are pretty good at living in small places and by European standards it is quite large! We really enjoy staying with families when we travel but a month can get a bit long with two athletes so we try to break it up between hotels and homes.

Secret closet to store skis! 
Drying laundry AND making dinner in the bedroom!

We stopped at the local thrift store and bought a pressure cooker pot and a crock pot!

We don't go out to eat so we save a lot of money and I think we eat healthier too!
Laundry time and all out of Team Gregg clothes :( 
 Since we are here in Canmore for so long we decided to rent a wax room for Team Gregg. Thanks to a generous donation we were psyched to have a place to change, wax and spend time between long training sessions!
Team Gregg's wax room! Thank you sponsors!

We had a few less World Cup wax techs than the US Ski Team (about 5) but we put in the hard work and feel great about our new fleet of skis so far!
Brian skiing with the mountains behind him. (Noah Hoffman photo)

We have been skiing a ton. Brian got in over 24 hours last week and I was able to get over 24 hours this week.

Not all of the training has been on snow. I love running on the World Cup Cross Country trails and the Canmore Nordic Center! 
We have also been rollerskiing a bit!
Continuing to build on our strength, power and speed thanks to Matt at Horsepower Strength!
 One of the best parts about being in Canmore is the number of new training partners I get to train with. There are so many talented athletes in the area that I never seem to have a hard time finding someone to join for an Over distance ski, an afternoon run or a hard interval set!

Three time Olympian in Biathlon Zina Kocher!

Rocky Mountain Racer and World Cup Skier Andrea Dupont!

Olympian Biathlete Rosanna Crawford lending a hand to first time skier Emma!

Happy for some fresh snow!

Tonight Brian and I had a fun date night! We joined fellow Loppet Foundation Member Katie Bono, who is now a big-time climber here in Canmore, and her boyfriend Cody at the Banff Film Festival. We watched a great film about Alpinist Jeff Lowe and his battle with technical terrain as well as his current battle with ALS. I loved the film and it was great to have Jeff Lowe appear in person at the end of the film!

Less than 4 weeks until Team Gregg's first official races of the season. I am lucky that I missed the Olympics so that I was able to secure the World Cup start rights for this fall through the overall Super Tour leader. Obviously Brian wasn't so lucky ;) and he has to start his season in West Yellowstone and shoot for the period 3 start rights we both had last year! We are both feeling great and looking forward to the season!