It's Thursday evening as I write this, and in less than 24 hours I'll be aboard a plane to Finland for the World Cup Opener in Ruka. The last few days before leaving for the season are always a bit of a whirlwind of organizing, packing and last minute tasks.
I came down with a bit of head cold yesterday morning, which wasn't ideal timing, but better now than in a few days. I forced myself to stay in and rest, and with a couple easy days ahead, I should be ready to go by next week. The upside is that I finally got everything organized and had time to sit and write a blog update.
Going back a few days, I had a great trip back home the weekend before last. I usually don't make it home more than once or twice a year, so any chance I get is a treat. This time, I went back to run a small clinic and bring the ski community together for an evening. Bjorn, the owner and organizer of Out There Nordic (ski shop and team), suggested I do this and was instrumental in making it happen. We held a silent auction as a way to raise funds to help with my travel and competition expenses, and I was amazed at how generous supporters were with donating food, auction items, time and energy to make it happen. The best part, though, was just seeing how excited everyone was about skiing and following their dreams. Eau Claire's local ski jumping and cross country programs are gaining momentum quickly. It was cool to bring together members from both clubs into one setting, which unfortunately doesn't happen as much as it should.
For the training session, I had a mix of young nordic combiners, ski jumpers and cross country skiers. Although ski jumping and cross country skiing generally require very different training, I enjoyed demonstrating that we can do exercises to make you better at both sports, such as mobility, speed, balance and agility work.
I'm really glad that I had the chance to make this happen. It means a lot to hear from people who are following my journey, and I hope I can inspire others to dream big as well.
I also made time for a few other activities while I was home: a trail race at Lowes Creek Park, rollerskiing with a couple Eau Claire skiers, and I checked out the new plastic ski jumps!
This summer the Flying Eagles ski club just finished putting summer jumping on the Mt. Washington hills that I learned to jump on. This project has been in the works for a while, but to come home and see it as a reality was awesome. On Friday night I had the pleasure to watch some of the local kids jump - their fifth session of the week - not bad for a week in November!
No rest for the wicked though, and after a few days, I was on a plane back to Salt Lake. To my amazement, shortly after returning home, the weather changed from "it's never going to be winter," to "yes, winter is here!" over the span of a night. Per usual, our team got out as soon as a the snow accumulated and skied in a track on the public golf course. Thank goodness they let us ski there - because a few inches of snow wouldn't be enough to ski anywhere else.
Although I hadn't been on snow since the beginning of April, the feelings come back pretty quickly. Our team doesn't make glacier trips a priority in the offseason, with the need to get to different jump venues and competitions being more pressing. If we had unlimited resources and time, it would certainly be worth it. But after just a day or two on snow, I feel like rollerskiing translates right into the real thing.
Last weekend almost everyone in town with interest in getting the jumps open came out for a big work party to snow in the K90. It was certainly worth while though. After we snowed it in, the coaches and hill crew stayed into the night and cut a beautiful track. We got on the hill 3 days this week - just enough to have the feelings back before heading to the big old Kuusamo!
Stay tuned for more! I'll try to get an update before the competition gets rolling next week. If not, we'll be underway next Friday.
You can look for startlists and results here: http://www.fis-ski.com/nordic-combined/events-and-places/calendar/
Also, new this year, NBC sports is going to be live streaming all of the Nordic sports World Cups! The news just broke this week, so we'll find out more soon, but here's the link to access the live streaming. (Be warned, early mornings might be necessary to watch if they don't have a replay option).
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