Tuesday, April 8, 2014

John Hale Photos

John Hale, a local photographer sent me some awesome photos from the last week of the season. Here are a few. Thanks John!

Friday, April 4, 2014

White House

I am headed home now on a plane for the final conclusion of the season.

One of the privileges we get from being an Olympian is the President Visit to the White House at the end of the season. This year, that meant jumping on a plane back across the US  only three days after finishing our season. With such a tight turn around, I almost passed up the opportunity. Now, as I head home from one of the most memorable two days, I am incredibly thankful I made the right decision!

The two days started out with a visit around DC checking out the Supreme Court, the many buildings and halls, and then an opportunity to sit and speak with Senator Patty Murray from Washington, who I learned grew up right outside Bothell, where my dad grew up! Following that, Erik and I got to meet up with Lisa Murkowski, whom we met last fall for our Olympic send-off in November. It was nice to connect with her again, and listen in on one of her court hearings. 

Erik and Torin K. 

Following our day of exploring and meet and greets, we got all dressed up for a fancy evening in the Warner Theater that began with a "red carpet entrance", and then a filming of an awards show "Best of US" that NBC will be showing later this week.
The Red Carpet
Best of US Awards Show
All dressed up!
The second day was just as fun packed as the first, and included some nerves! We began the morning with a march across the front lawn of the White House for "Let's Move" a program against fight against obesity that Michelle Obama is pushing to encouraging kids to get out, be active, and healthy.
Headed to the White House :)
The march
Let's Move!

The Diva Mikaela with her Vegetable Torch!
Following that we had a tour inside the White House that ended with the "big president visit". As I was waiting in line, watching Obama shake each individual athletes hand, I started getting crazy nervous. More nervous then my first race at the Olympics!! This was arguably the most powerful man in the world I was about to have a conversation with! It's funny, I was so nervous, I honestly don't even remember what I said to him! What struck me was how personable he was, asking each athlete a little something about themselves! Then, I moved on to Michelle ready to shake her hand, only to be swooped in for a big hug! A hug from the first lady! Neat!
Waiting in line with anticipation!!
A talk with the Obama's
After meeting each individual athlete, the Obama's went on to give the Olympic group a little talk. They thanked us for inspiring a young generation with our healthy lives and determination. They laughed at us for being crazy "flying down mountains on lunch trays, and flinging ourselves into the air doing god knows how many flips and turns, etc.". They finished by encouraging us to keep believing, keep picking ourselves up and trying when we have setbacks, and keep representing our country well in an event that shows the world we can be one! It was an inspiring talk, and something that I will certainly remember forever! 
Taking flowers from the White House for souvenirs.
Checking out some other athletes gold medals.

I am now headed back to Anchorage, ready to be home, and ready to take some time to catch up!

The Pentagon, just outside my hotel window.
Exploring the super nice DC Subway.
Thank you USOC and Washington DC for such an awesome opportunity these last two days. That was fun!!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spring Series

Spring Series has wrapped up here in Anchorage, making for the end of the 2013-2014 season. It was an incredibly fun season, it couldn't have ended better!

The last time I raced in Anchorage was 4 years ago when I was trying to qualify for the Vancouver Games. It was a different world, I had a different home, I was in a different place, and I didn't come close to making my Olympic goals. So, to come back to Anchorage, and race at what now feels like "home" was so much fun. In these last three years, it has been so much fun becoming a member of APU and this community! People are so excited about skiing here. They love it, and they support their local crew so well. All four races, I couldn't believe the amount of people that showed up, and the noise level of the crowd. It was often louder than the cheering I heard at the Olympics! So, to be included in that excitement, and hear my name being cheered on, it meant so much!
ADN photo- Celebrating Sophie's birthday right as she crosses the line
Rob Whitney photo- having a little cheer with the girls after our last sprint of the season.
ADN photo- some awesome cheering on the sidelines!
Spring Series was a little shorter this year than normal, thankfully! We are always so tired at the end of the season that each additional race after World Cup Finals gets you closer and closer to the bottom of the tank! This year the race set up was 10k skate, classic sprint, team relay, and then ending with a 30k classic.
Rob Whitney photo from Team Relay
The first three races were held out at Kincaid. With the low snow year, there wasn't much snow left out at Kincaid, but the organizers did an awesome job of making it work! There was enough snow to ski on, and we had a great time racing on the old World Cup Trails. Even though I am now living in Anchorage, I have skid very few of these trails; only because I spend my entire winter in Europe racing. But I quickly grew familiar with them, and really enjoyed them!
ADN Photo
ADN Photo
Along with the rest of the field, I managed to scrape out enough energy to have four good races. It started with the skate race; that aside from taking a fall on one of the icy downhill corners, it went really well. The second race was a classic sprint, which was fun to have a sprint off with the local favorite, and best sprinter in the world… the one and only Kikkan! The third race was my favorite, the team relay. It was a new event this year; two boys, two girls. The first two legs were classic, and the final two were skate, all 5k legs. The APU Team entered 6 teams into this event, and landed two of them on the podium! My team made of Reese, me, Erik B and Kikkan was lead out by Reese making a break from the field early on in his leg. It was so much fun getting decked out in APU spirit… yellow and blue sparkles, face paint, hair gems… you name it! There was some fun trash talk between the teams, and it turned out to be a ton of fun! Since many of the World Cup Skiers are from different clubs, there were some good teams out on the line!
ADN Photo- Tagging off to Erik in the Team Event
Skiing around at our "Ski With the Olympians" Kids event
Fasterskier Photo- Sprint Podium with the APU Bear!
And then the final day was the 30k classic… a race I have suddenly started to enjoy. Ever since being a young junior, I was often steered in the sprinting direction. Since joining APU, I have started trying to train more for distance racing… but I would have never guessed I would ever do well in a 30k. After Holmenkollen this year though, I decided I really like the format of a 30k. You go out hard… and see how absolute long you can hold on to it. I think it is fun to test your body… see how deep you can dig into the pain cave. So, I have been looking forward to this 30k at spring series, in my hometown for the past month!
ADN Photo- 30k race with Lizard
ADN Photo- celebrating across the line!
After deciding there wasn't enough snow, the 30/50k got moved up to Hilltop, on the Spencer Loop… an infamously hard course…. harder than 95% of the World Cup Courses I have skied. The thing about Spencer is it keeps climbing, and climbing… and climbing! It is not very forgiving! So, as I was skiing around it the day before the race… all I could wish for was that we took it out at an easy pace and didn't start going crazy until the last 10k. Well, come race day… that idea lasted no more than 10 mins into the hour and 30 min race! Once it started, I wanted to go! I wanted to see what I could make of each ounce of energy all of us had left! It turned into an incredibly fun race! The first lap, there was a group of 4 of us. The second lap there was a group of 3 of us, and then for the final lap… it was a group of two of us… just Liz and I… both working together, but also trying to beat each other. The whole 30 kilometers, I was smiling inside. I was having so much fun! There were so many people out there cheering, I was racing on one of the hardest courses of the season, I was skiing alongside my teammates using teamwork to push ourselves…. and all I could feel was this feeling of celebration. As I crossed the line, I was swarmed with emotion! I was so happy! Winning a 30k National Championship race is one of my larger accomplishments in my career… and to be able to do it in Anchorage, on Spencer Loop!! One thing is for sure; I am going to enjoy bounding intervals there a lot more this summer when I have flashbacks!
Todd List photo from the 30k
Travis Rector Photo Credit
So now, the season is over, and it's time to rest, relax and reflect a little! It has been such a fun season, and so many good times! Thanks Anchorage for welcoming me home with so much excitement, and thanks James Southam, APU and all the organizing committee for putting on such a great event here in Anchorage!! And thank you to everyone that has made this year possible for me! I can't say thank you enough!