One month and two days and I'll be en route for Finland. It's that time, when winter is right around the corner and the excitement is becoming more real than ever. We're 40 days from the opening World Cup. Five jump sessions on plastic, one more hard intensity week, four plane rides, five Sunday NFL countdowns. And then our time begins.
But... as any good sport psychologist will tell you, stay in the present and focus on the tasks at hand. I've been working hard getting ready for the season with my teammates, and we still have some work to do before we're ready to go.
Last week, we flew back from Slovenia, where we spent two weeks in a final prep camp. Somewhat unusually, we spent the entire time in one place, Ratece, Slovenia, just below the famous Planica jump venue.
In Planica, we trained on both the K95 and K125 jumps, although, if we wanted to, we could have jumped on any of the five other smaller hills with plastic in the facility. We also drove to nearby Kranj, SLO, to jump their K100, and over to Villach, Austria's K90. Both of those jumps were within 40 minutes of us, so we really had no need to move around from hotel to hotel like we typically do in Europe.
In addition to jumping venues, the surrounding Julian Alps area offers unlimited terrain to explore. We hiked up to the Tromeja (triple border) of Italy, Austria and Slovenia. Later in the week, we ran and hiked up to another peak across from the Planica jumps. The weather didn't cooperate with many clear days, but once we got above the fog, the panorama views of the mountains were worth the effort. For a couple interval sessions, we rollerskied up a pass where we had to navigate some tricky cobblestone switchback corners. Amazingly, none of us broke a pole either session.
While we were in Villach, we skied on the rollerski track at the bottom of the jumps. We also drove up to a rollerski track in Pokljuka, Slovenia, where they hold a variety of races, including a World Cup biathlon races every winter. Rollerski tracks offer two main benefits: no cars, and the undulating, punchy terrain of a real XC race course. We're lucky to have Soldier Hollow's rollerski track to ski at in Utah. But like ski jumps, every course is different, and it's better to ski on different terrain.
Our time was really productive for the whole group. Everyone was healthy and in good spirits - even the rain didn't bum us out much. We had three juniors along: Grant Andrews, Somer Shrock and my brother Ben. It's always great to mix younger and older athletes, and in this setting, where their were only a few juniors, they learned from us and integrated even more than usual.
After the camp, we didn't waste any time before getting right back into training. We flew back Monday, got home Tuesday at 1:30 am, and were right back at jumping Wednesday and Thursday. On Saturday, I ran and hiked up to Mt. Timpanogos. I've been wanting to get to the top of "Timp" for a while, and finally got out and made it happen. By the end of it, I even tired out Roxy, my usually tireless Springer Spaniel. She recieved quite a few impressed comments from the hikers that we passed along the way. For me, it was a 14 mile day, with a little under 5000ft of climbing. Roxy probably did double that.
Today is an ever important rest day, the first one I've had without travel in a few weeks. This time of year, recovery is as crucial as anything. Coming up, we'll have a busy week of training, then a fundraiser in Steamboat and two rollerski races with the US XC Ski Team the following week. Hopefully we'll show them what Nordic Combiners are made of!
After that, on November 7th, I'll be home for Out There with Adam Loomis. If you haven't already, check out the Facebook event page. It's going to be a fun day, with a youth workshop first, then a silent auction, media demonstration, stories and more in the evening. Hope to see you there!
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