Sunday, January 11, 2015

US National Championships

This past week was the US National Championships in Houghton, MI. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan (or "Da UP" is one of my favorite places after living there for 5 years while I attended Northern Michigan University. The snow was plentiful and the people extremely friendly! I have been excited for these National Championships for a few years now!

Another perk of having the championships in Houghton is that Brian and I can drive to them rather than fly like we usually do! We spent Christmas in Hayward so it was only a 3.5 hour drive for us! The drive is beautiful and both ways we had good weather and good roads!

We rented a small house near the ski trails and I enjoyed catching up with everyone who I hadn't seen in months! The races were held on the Michigan Tech trails and feature some of the best courses I have ever skied. The terrain is great and the grooming even better! Each day brought a number of challenges with cold, snow or wind and each day the volunteers and staff at the venue rose to the occasion and delivered a great event!
Skiing the courses with the LNR ladies!

The week started with Team Gregg's favorite event the distance skate race! This year the races were 10K for women and 15K for men. The women skied a 5K lap while the men skied a 7.5K lap. Brian went first and I dropped him off while I went home and rested up before my own race. I watched both the live feed and the live timing tirelessly while he was racing. I truly feel that I get more nervous for his races than my own lately!!! Although Brian was feeling good he didn't have the race he was hoping for. Any number of factors could have been the reason but he was quick to put it behind him and help me with my race!

Looking so professional!
For my race I was faced with a dilemma that I haven't had before with my Madshus Skis! I couldn't decide which pair to race on. Usually I am very good at knowing and feeling my fleet of skis and can pick my race pair in a matter of minutes! This day however, I was having a really hard time. Brian helped and after almost 30 minutes we had both decided on a great pair! We worked with our home club Loppet Nordic Racing and it was fun to train and warm-up with my teammates for the first time all season! Brian was a huge helped by giving feedback to LNR and making sure all of us ladies had lightning fast skis for our races.

The LNR Ladies after an amazing day of racing!
The Loppet Nordic Women crushed it in the skate race taking 3 of the top 30 results and placing all 6 ladies in the top 50 in the Nation!!! The most amazing part of our results was that 5 of those girls (obviously not me!) are still juniors!!! I was so proud of how fast these girls skied and was honored to represent such a great club with a 1st place finish! I love what the Loppet Foundation does throughout the year and throughout the Twin Cities and I couldn't be more thrilled to partner with them!

Excited about my 5th National Championship!
For the next couple of races I had to sit on the sidelines. With my realization that my shingles virus had got the best of me this fall, I wanted to be smart and not push my system too much. I sat out of both the Classic Sprint and the Distance Classic races. I love to race and this was a very hard decision! Instead I turned my attention to my husband and teammates and spent hours running around in the snow at the stadium making sure they had everything dialed in for their own events! I love how much Brian and I help each other. On the day of his 30K I was up early to ski and then went out on course and helped him with feeds (drink station!) and extra poles. On the day of the sprint I ran around with extra coats and help dial in the race skis  for all the starters! Needless to say, although I did not race myself, I was pretty exhausted at the end of the day!

I did race the Skate sprint and had a blast all day long! Since LNR left Brian and I asked my Alma mater Northern Michigan University for wax support! I was psyched to work with my Collegiate coach once again!
Don Hurst! NMU's first XC Ski Coach! Still out at the races cheering and bringing us Wildcats good luck! 

 Both Brian and I had great qualifiers with him getting 7th and myself winning! The rest of the day went by very fast and as soon as Brian was knocked out of his heats he joined me to help with my races! I was able to ski strong all the way through the day and ended up 2nd overall! My skis were ridiculously fast and I cannot thank Sten, Hokken and all of the athletes on the NMU squad for helping out Team Gregg!

2nd place in the Skate Sprint

Brian and I stayed in Houghton one more day so we could have dinner with the Michigan Tech Ski Team and join the Women's Team in a fun filled day with the local community! This year was primarily focused on girls but we are excited to spread the word and get more boys involved next year! Brian had a blast hanging out with Blizzard the Michigan Tech Husky mascot! Over 20 girls came out for the event and we had over 10 ladies helping out from the University! We spent the morning playing games, do skits, skiing and playing ski games, eating healthy snacks, taking about and sharing our goals in life and answering questions about what it takes to be successful either in sports or school (our Both!).

I have to send a huge Thank You out to Deedra Irwin (who also qualified for U23's, Alice Flanders and Amy Haggenmiller for all of their awesome support and help with organizing such a successful event!

Playing Ninja and Wah! Both new games for me :) I am excited to play with with the youth at the Boys and Girls Club back home in Minneapolis!
The Michigan Tech Women's Ski Team with me!

Everyone with Blizzard!!!

Brian and I are now back in Hayward preparing for our next set of races and planning the rest of our year!

No comments: