After a long travel day starting at 3:55 in the morning, I am back in the East after racing World Cups in Lahti and Falun. Rewinding a bit, after a Christmas I luckily got to spend with my fiancé Kameron and her family in the U.P of Michigan, I put in a good block of training at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center and looked forward to heading back to Europe for more World Cup racing after a disappointing race in Davos. With a negative COVID test in hand and traveling with teammates, the trip to Lahti was smooth and uneventful. Upon arriving, we got whisked to the venue for an immediate antigen test to enter the World Cup bubble. After clearing that test, we were free to leave our hotel rooms and continue preparations for the races. The week flew by with some mid-week intervals to wake up the body after traveling and a good pre-race intensity with all of the guys racing the skiathlon the next day. We practiced our transitions from classic to skate, an always awkward thing to do quickly, especially when your heart rate is sky high.
I unfortunately had a terrible race the next day, as my body did not respond and I got dropped off the back of the pack early on in the race. It was disappointing, confusing, frustrating, and depressing all bundled into one but I took the time to be upset and all of the above and then looked ahead to more racing in Falun next weekend. We arrived in Sweden on Monday and welcomed the sun we had not seen in a week while in Finland. With the biggest contingent of racers (22) the US had throughout the winter, COVID precautions became a priority. We stayed in groups of 3 in cabins and limited time inside other teammates cabins, always with a mask. Team meetings were held outside, which made for a funny sight as 22 Michilen Men in puffy coats and puffy pants got their pre-race instructions while trying to stay warm in the 0 degree cold. The day before my race, I watched as my roommate Gus Schumacher got 9th in the skate race, a super impressive result with a full Scandinavian field. Along with Scott Patterson, they were the only non-Norwegian and Russians in the top 15! Not to be outdone, Jessie went ahead and won the whole dang race in a ridiculous battle with Johaug that left us all fired up. Race day came with subzero temps, face tape, and Vaseline slathered on to protect from the cold. I had a good start and avoided a crash on one of the first downhills by inches that took out 3 of my US teammates. After that, it again all went downhill as I couldn’t keep the pace of the pack and suffered into the finish from there. I was again very disappointed in not performing up to my expectations or standards. I had a good long talk with my coach Pat about the rest of the season and am back out East to hopefully get some answers as to why my racing has been so subpar via some blood tests. My next races will be 50k marathons in the Midwest, including the Birkie!
Thank you NNF and all those who support American skiing, we could not do it without you!
Pre-skiathlon training with the boys.
A frosty morning in Falun with Adam.
I am currently in Falun, Sweden. I raced in the World Cup classic sprint on Sunday January 31st and now I am preparing for next weekend’s World Cup skate sprint in Ulricehamn, Sweden. After that JC Schoonmacher and I will fly to Vuokatti, Finland for Under 23 World Championships. Whew that was a lot of logistics, no worries if you lost me back there. Long story short, I am in the heat of my ski season with lots of races to be excited for. Last weekends sprint in Falun went well for me, but I still hope that this is a stepping stone and that I can continue to get faster each weekend. I have been focused with my training and preparation since finishing period one and I believe I have done a good job to do everything I can to race my best this month. I don’t know yet what “my best” will be results wise, but I do know that I am pumped and excited to put down my very best effort. I feel especially lucky to have opportunities to be racing at U23s and World Cups given this unprecedented year with the pandemic that has cancelled domestic super tour races. I am grateful for supporters like NNF who have made it financially feasible for me to be racing internationally for weeks at a time, because the costs add up pretty quick. For every individual racer, there are a multitude of expenses and logistics that have to be arranged to get the skier to the start line, and NNF is helping me and other athletes headed to Under 23 and World Junior Championships to cover some of those. Self funded athletes from the US have to cover their travel and room and board. Often times that also includes travel and room and board for your ski tech that will be waxing your skis. I am thankful that the not-as-fun logistical part of my job of figuring out how I will pay for everything has been sorted out so that I can now focus on racing. I am pumped to represent the US and proud to be racing with such a strong group of American skiers. I believe the US athletes competing at U23s and World Juniors are showing up with incredible potential and a special energy that brings smiles and confidence to the the start line. I believe in our team and I am excited as ever to kick things off. Thank you to everyone who has donated and supported the National Nordic Foundation because you have helped us to have this opportunity to make you proud.
Me and Sophia Laukli skiing the courses in Falun before the start to the world cup weekend. PC: Jack Novak
Me warming up for a world cup. PC: daily skier.com
Me racing in Anchorage before heading to Europe. PC: Joan B. Darnell
January was a tough month physically and mentally. We had lots of racing, training, and international team selection take place. After three back to back weekends of racing, my body is very ready for some recovery. I get to be home for a few weeks now which I am really looking forward to.
A few weeks ago, the Pro Team and I competed in Utah at what were likely the most competitive races of the season. It was a classic sprint the first day on a different course than what we had raced two weeks prior when I had won.
Going into the weekend, I had tweaked my neck a bit and was feeling a bit under the weather, however, I was not going to let that discourage me. I was still elated to be putting on a bib and racing around the three minute long sprint course. It was what I had trained for and what I love to do.
At the end of it all, after lacking the extra punch I needed through the second half of the course, I ended up in 7th place on the day, just a couple seconds from the podium. It wasn’t what I expected or wanted. Regardless, I am so happy to have raced and given it my all.
As of now, I have been named an alternate for two upcoming world cup races. However, it looks like no one is planning to decline and I will, unfortunately, not get the starts.
Looking back, had I been just 1.12 seconds faster in the sprint in Utah, I would have beaten Peter Holmes who is now starting in those very same world cup races. It is tough being so close but encouraging to know that in my first professional season, it came down to only a second. That is an easy second to gain over the next year of training.
The weekend after, we got to race in Vail, Colorado and this past weekend, we raced at home in Bozeman. I live only a couple blocks away from the ski trails, so both mornings I walked to the start from my front door 🙂
On Sunday, we did a skate sprint qualifier and I ended up winning!
Looking forward, we have a few more weekends of racing on the calendar. Despite not getting to race world cups, it looks like I will make it to Europe after all.
The Pro Team is planning to travel to both France and Slovenia for two weekends of racing. Things are changing frequently, but I am excited by the prospect of racing overseas. I will be sure to keep you posted and take lots of photos.
Thank you for making all of this possible! I hope that you’ve been enjoying my updates 🙂
On my way to the skate sprint victory.
You can probably see the pain in my face from Saturday’s skate 10k.
I am happily back to training with races on the docket for this weekend after contracting COVID in early January. I have done several interval workouts, and two solo time trials against me, myself and I (I won in case you were wondering). I have about 5 back to back weekends of racing planned for February and the beginning of March, with one or two races or local time trials planned. I am focused on putting my best foot forward in order to be in the running for World Cup discretionary starts in March. Here in Anchorage we are having a great winter and so finding the joy and fun in training each day is easy. With some of my teammates, I have also been able to do some adventure skis in the mountains of Anchorage which remind me to live in the here and now, and be grateful for living in such a beautiful place.
I am Leah and hope you all have been enjoying the winter as safely as you can. I started off the season, ok I was named the 1st alternate to U23’s which is exciting but also disappointing. Due to the lack of races in the USA, I have enough connections in Norway that I decided the best thing for my racing and happiness this winter was to head over the pond and spend the winter racing at the highest domestic level. Norway, as we all know, is the heart of nordic skiing. I have been here for just over two weeks and it has been everything and more. I feel so lucky because I am experiencing a very snowy, sunny and cold Norwegian winter. The trails are endless and fun and just really go forever.
I am starting in the Norwegian Cup races in Forde next week and will most likely do the ones after that as well. I’m really looking forward to these races because of the high level and just feeling fortunate to participate. Until then, I am just going to be skiing all the trails (in my puffy because it is so chilly) and drinking good coffee with good people! Skål!
A pre-race day at Holmenkollen
A TT with Team Elon (A professional team in Norway)
A “Blue Hour” Ski
Hey Everyone, JC here. I’m currently on a bus heading from Falun to Ulricehamn, Sweden. I just wrapped up an awesome World Cup weekend in Falun where the US had some incredible performances. Most notably was Jessie Diggins holding off Therese Johaug in the 10k skate race to take the win and make a statement that the yellow leaders bib belongs to her this year. I was rooming with Luke Jager and Logan Hanneman in Falun and since we didn’t race until Sunday, we had a great time watching the other races on live TV. Watching our teammates do so well got me super pumped up to get out there and do some sprinting so when Sunday came, I was ready to roll. We raced a classic sprint on the same course from the 2015 World Championships which I’d say is one of the tougher tracks I’ve gotten to race. It has one monster of a hill with technical downhills and tight corners that don’t offer a whole lot of rest. I ended up having a solid qualifier, racing into 11th place. I was pretty happy with that start since I hadn’t qualified for the heats in my last World Cup classic sprint in Ruka. I still wasn’t satisfied with that qualifier and wanted to make it through my quarterfinal to keep the racing that day going. The quarterfinal didn’t go as well as I got 4th in my heat and didn’t move on to the semifinals. I was in a good position to move on heading up the last hill but ended up getting a little boxed in and dropped back a couple places. I still had a good opportunity coming into the finish, but I couldn’t capitalize and make up what I lost. I was really bummed to not make it through but there are some positives I can take away from it. I feel like I am skiing more relaxed and confident in the heats than I was earlier this year and I think I’m closer to breaking through to the semis. I still need to learn when to burn my matches and make my moves, but I think that will come with experience. Luckily, I get another chance this weekend in Ulricehamn in a skate sprint. After that I’ll head to the U23 Championships in Vuokatti, Finland where I’ve got some big goals, I’m ready to hunt down. The fun part of the season is just getting started!