Christmas has gone and passed, along with our little break from the World Cup. I’m now in Switzerland gearing up for the second period of the World Cup which starts with the Tour De Ski.
The first period of the World Cup, which consisted of two weekends in Scandinavia and two weekends in Central Europe, came to an end right before Christmas. I had mixed feelings with how it went. Part of me is really happy and relieved with my racing but the louder voice in my head is slightly disappointed and very hungry for better results. I had one race in Lillehammer that I can hang my hat on. It was in the 4x7.5 km relay, most people don't check the individual leg splits, but I had the fastest second leg against some of the best classic racers around. It's hard to describe the way I felt during the race, what I think happened was that all the factors came together on that day and I felt light, quick, and in control the whole race. A third of a way through my leg I realized I was feeling great and my skis were equally as good, I knew that even though some of the guys around me had groupies and cars with their names on them, today was going to be MY day! I was handed off in 15th place, in a pack of about five guys. I skied away from all of them and was able to pass a few more teams and hand off in 5th place. We held that position for the majority of the race but got eaten up by a group just a couple kilometers from the finish. It was possibly one of the best races of my life and close to being a historic day for the U.S. Men. No matter what the end result was, it felt awesome to be competitive with the best in the world.
The snow situation in Europe right now, if you haven't heard, is very sad!!! There is almost no natural snow anywhere. Skiing on white little paths in the woods was the theme of the first period, I kind of forget what skiing in real winter conditions feels like. It sounds like all the snow has landed in Western U.S. Luckily the race organizers at all these venues work their butts off, so we haven't had any cancelled races. Also on the bright side, the mountain running is amazing!!
Over Christmas break I was able to visit my girlfriend, Marine, in her home town, Villard De Lans, France. It's located in the Vercors, near the big city of Grenoble. I’ve spent a fair amount of time there in the last few years in both the winter and summer. I’m starting to feel very comfortable there, almost like my second home and it's quickly becoming one of my favorite destinations. We had a great time celebrating Christmas with her family and just relaxing and enjoying the holiday season!
While I was there I competed in a night race that was held in town. The atmosphere was great and the competition was super fun! It was nice to be back in a low stress race where people were just there to have fun and nobody really cared about the results. Reminds me of when I was younger and I used to travel around the PNSA with my family. Of course, once I toed the line, the competitive side of me kicked in. There were still probably 10 or 15 pretty strong guys going hard. I was stoked to be competing for the win and to come out on top. The guy in second has become a good friend and training partner of mine, he has a strong resume including a medal in the last Olympics and World Champs.
Thats it for now! Thanks for reading, and like always THANKS SO MUCH for the support!