Sunday, August 23, 2015

Norwegian Summer Adventure

The crew heading out for a run with the Fonna Op (uphill running race) course in the background!

My last minute travel to Norway for the USST Camp and the Toppidrettsveka Rollerski Race Series was a fantastic decision. Throughout the summer I have only been able to train with the other ladies on the US Ski Team or the US Ski Coaches at "Official Training Camps." With only one camp on U.S. soil so fat this year in May (with a lot of testing thrown in) I was down to less than a week of technique and opportunities to be with the team. Brian and I made a big effort to live part time in Park City this summer (I was there for over 9 weeks!) but without official camps I found myself training mostly with the Local Wasatch Junior program and the Nordic Combined Team (both of which were awesome!!!).  I have an entire season on the World Cup this year and lots of technique to work on so the only option was to travel across the pond to Norway. Originally I was very nervous about the costs (especially since Brian and I had invested so much to be in Park City for so long and because I am on the B-Team) but thanks to the National Nordic Foundation and Brian's awesome ability to find flights, I was able to make it work out perfectly.

Psyched for the opportunity to do some intervals with someone! Liz and I did an L-4 skiathlon workout on the trails in Knyken!
The races here in Norway were also an important opportunity for me to participate in. With only 7.5K of skating in the 4 day series I knew I would have my work cut out for me racing against so many top athletes in classic skiing. I soon realized that my fitness is great right now (it can always be better but there is still time before the season starts!) but my classic technique needs quite a bit of work. My double especially was a huge limiting factor for me on the last day of the event. I found myself with plenty of energy and power but no way to transfer it to the endless flat double poling on the course. I hammered the steep uphill on every lap only to lose contact on the gradual ups/ downs and flat sections. When I looked at my watch after the race my average heart rate was only 156bpm, considering I did get it up to a max of 185bpm in the race it was obvious I was loosing a ton of time when I couldn't use my legs to propel me. Luckily we had a great PT named Laurie who was with us the entire time and she pointed out some major posture issues I need to correct in my double pole so that I can transfer my power much better and ski much faster. I have a lot to work on between now and the season but I am excited to get going. 

I am a master at taking my own lactates now!

We started out Classic Skiing and then switched to skating.

Feeling strong on the skate portion of the workout.
The other days of racing were a bit of a mixed bag for everyone on the team. It seemed as though everyone had a least one good race or event! My highlight came in the second half of the Skiathlon when I was able to hammer on the skate leg and have the fourth fastest time of the day behind Weng, Johaug and my teammate Liz! I was able to move up to 11th in the race but my poor first lap of classic required me to pass almost 20 people throughout the race. In my own defense (and the rest of the US Team) we were told to start conservatively on the first downhill and not leave our starting position until the bottom of the course. I was already put on warning for turning a bit too aggressively (Skating too many steps) in the Classic Sprint so I was really trying to follow the rules. Apparently no one else listened though and I soon realized what a mistake I had made when I was in last place at the bottom of the course. Lesson learned!!!

The first day of competition was a 5K uphill run followed by a classic sprint in the afternoon. It was a long day but I think I nailed my energy and recovery perfectly! The uphill run started off a bit slow for me but by the steep middle of the course I was feeling great and was able to pass about 10 girls. I was reeling in the next group of 4 women as we neared the top but was unable to close the gap before the finish. I ended up 9th (quite a ways out from first) but not too far from top 5!

The afternoon Classic Sprint was a race I was not too excited about because I have never been a strong classic sprinter but it was a good practice event and a bit of a mid-season reality check. I felt good but realize that I need to start focusing on shorter and harder classic double pole intervals. I feel like my strength is good but my stamina in double pole is really lacking and combined with the above posture problems I have no chance against the top women in the world on a fast flat course right now. I did make it into the rounds which is a first for me over here in Europe and quite a bit different than in the US. It seems as though the rounds in the US are usually really slow until the final 100 meters. Here and on the World Cup the women take it out hard from the gun and keep pushing up until the end. I much prefer going hard from the gun but I need to be able to get going at the speed first.

Fun to have fans over here in Norway!

Sophie after crushing her Classic Final!

Classic Sprinting in Aure

The start!

Just a few of the fans in Aure

Outside of the races I had a lot of great training opportunities with my teammates along some of the most beautiful roads I have ever skied on! The Vistas were filled with fjords, lakes, mountains, cute Norwegian houses and lots of farms with sheep and cows. Occasionally we found ourselves skiing alongside the cows and hoping they didn't do anything crazy at the last minute!

Sophie unimpressed by the cows

The cows checking Jessie out post workout

The final day of the races were held in Trondheim (downtown) and the crowds were amazing! over 50,000 people watched the races!!! That just blows my mind! Skiing is HUGE here!!! It was awesome to be recognized and asked for autographs and photos while I was walking down the streets and cheering for the U.S. boys!

We spent an extra day in Trondheim to ensure we are recovered before we head back over to the US! Luckily Connor Boldger from Wisconsin is working at the Olympic Sports Lab and Complex here in Trondheim so he gave a running tour through some trails and bogs and let us into the training facility to use the weight room!
The running crew overlooking Trondheim

Norwegian bogs and fjords on our run!

Walking into the Norwegian equivalent of the COE (this one is open to the public which is really cool!)

The GIANT treadmill at the training center

The camp is now over and I have one more day of exploring on my own before I head back to the US (tickets were way cheaper on Tuesday for me.) I am really excited to get home and see Brian and my Husky and sleep in my own bed. I am also excited to get to work on the second half of the preparation period before the first World Cups start in Kussamo in late November!!!

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