Photo © Vianney THIBAUT/NordicFocus
The post tour life was a sweet one, involving some feelings I donʼt get to experience very often. The race fatigue, both mental and physical, made for a really nice feeling of earned recovery in Seiser Alm, Italy. It was hard to leave, but once I arrived in Lahti, I felt ready to hammer again. The weather wasnʼt great, but I think that helped me get back into the race mindset. The first day I just skied long around the easy trails, which are super nice and wooded. The next day was already pre-race day for the skiathlon, so I tested skate and classic skis and did some intervals with gear transitions in the middle (the skiathlon is an event where you ski a classic course, switch skis and poles, and go immediately into the skate course. Ours was 15k of each technique). It was fun to practice this, and I felt good being back at sea level for the first time since Ruka in November!Race day I started testing skis 90 minutes before my race, because my wax tech Karel needed time to prepare 2 pairs of skis. These guys work twice as hard on skiathlon days! Karel nailed the skis, and I was psyched to have confidence in them. I was lucky to be starting bib 12 (!) in this mass start, based on my World Cup distance points, so I had a good spot for the beginning of the mass start. In Lahti the courses have really steep climbs and descents, so big packs tend to “accordion” a lot where they spread out on downhills and bunch up at the beginning of the uphills. This makes it way easier to ski near the front versus the back. My main goal for the classic was to ski as relaxed as possible without losing the group, and the group mostly stayed together so this worked out well. I had to fight to keep my spot a little bit but generally it wasnʼt too bad.
I had a solid transition, nothing special, then the leaders put in a hot first skate lap. I wasnʼt able to match that pace and fell back to the next pack. Scott Patterson and I then worked together to keep our pack moving. I didnʼt have too much energy to really push our pace, but I spent some time up front. The finish was super fun, within our pack there were a few attacks, starting about 1.5km out. I ended up getting blocked a little on the last uphill, but made a good move into the Lahti corner to gain 2 spots. I was really happy with being able to ski strong and with good energy this whole race, and ended up only 1X40 behind the winner!
The next day was a 4x7.5km relay, and I went on leg 2 (classic). It was a lot of fun to get the Jessie treatment with face paint and socks, and do my first World Cup relay! Our team had a bit of bad luck with an ill-timed pole break on the first leg, so I got tagged 1X40 back, and skied mostly alone. However, itʼs still fun to put on a bib, and relays are always a good time! After that race, we were done in Lahti,and traveled to Falun the next day.
In Falun weʼre staying in cute little cabins with bunk beds, and weather and snow is great! Today I did a speed/interval session to get ready for the distance races Friday and Saturday. It was a short L3 warm up, then 2 sets of 6x15-15, 4x30-30, and 2x60-60 (being seconds hard and seconds off). Then I did a 5ʼ L3 cool down to clear some lactate. It felt good and fast and Iʼm looking forward to the weekend!