We've been in Steamboat for almost a month now, which feels like forever, with as often as I'm used to being on the road.
The first thing I did since getting back was the DU Invite, a nordic race at Devils Thumb Ranch, CO. Cliff, Michael and I drove over for the day to get some experience in a mass start against some tough college racers. In the chaos of the start I ended up breaking the basket of both my poles - but no the tip itself. Fortunately, the trail was so hard-packed that it really didn't matter at all, but I was pretty lucky not to break a pole instead. The so-called "15km" race ended up being a brutal 17 km that took over 50 minutes, which is about twice the time it typically takes to do a 10km. It was really important to work my way up towards the front at the beginning of the race, and although I would have liked to get farther up sooner in the race, I was pretty happy with my performance and ended up 12th. After the race, I talked with a Norwegian who had just got over to attend and race for DU second semester. He was from the city of Trondheim, which has a major jumping complex and program. It turned out that he was friends with a lot of the Norwegian Combined skiers that I've gotten to know while competing. I thought it was pretty wild to run into somebody who knew people that I know from across the world!
I also got the chance to get up on the mountain for a day with Spencer and Tyler. Although the mountain was a little bare by most standards, it's still a blast to be up there on a bluebird day. I learned to tele ski last year, and can lay down some decent turns, but the next day is always a bit of a struggle getting out of bed.
Here I'm racing in the Junior National Qualifier the weekend before last. It was a warm day so I decided to bring out my one-piece lycra suit that I where under my jumping suit.
This last weekend was Winter Carnival, which is Steamboat's excuse to celebrate winter for a week. To an out- of-towner, it feels like New Year's or 4th of July, with parades, a light show and fireworks at Howelson. But to locals, it's as natural as any other holiday on the calender. Saturday we participated in the 100m downtown nordic sprint races and some of the younger skiers stuck around to do the skijoring behind horses next. Later that night, we jumped at Howelsen and put on a show for a crowd. After us, a procession of glow-stick lit alpine skiers ski in unison down Howelsen Hill, and then comes the "lighted man." This is another crazy tradition where somebody skis down the face while fireworks shoot of from his body.
Now we have a few more training sessions before we make the trip back to Turkey for World Juniors. Tomorrow we'll do one more race to keep our body going fast. We head out Thursday, spend one night in Munich, and will be in Erzurum by Saturday night. The week after that should be a fun one!
Where am I?