Directly after US Nationals I flew with Nick and Caitlin to Dresden, Germany for the city sprints there that weekend. It was a fair amount of travel covering 10 time zones. I did the best I could with recovery, trying to sleep, and taking jogs in the city to prepare my body for the races and I think it went pretty well!
Jogging around the city was really fun and interesting because we could see so much old architecture and history just next to our hotel.
The city sprint atmosphere is just such an incredible experience. It is putting the sport of nordic skiing completely outside its element. The energy of the city and fans in Europe is really exciting, and fun to be around. It also feels cool to show nordic skiing to many people who possibly wouldn’t witness it otherwise. Dresden as a city seemed incredibly welcoming and friendly to the athletes and the event, and they pulled it off very well!
I felt like I did as well as I could in the sprints. I qualified 49th on a very fast, flat skate sprint course in under 2 minutes! The team sprint was fun and exciting. I drafted Klæbo and skied behind Pellegrino during the first two legs of the sprint. I know they were holding back but it still was an incredible and rare experience that felt surreal.
After the fun and fast racing at Dresden we drove to Ramsau, Austria for a short training camp before the classic races in Planica, Slovenia. We had some great skiing and beautiful views in Ramsau as always!
After some weight lifting and classic intervals in a snowstorm we drove to Planica, Slovenia for some World Cup classic races. I was rooming with legendary sprinter Logan Hanneman who was there for his first World Cups!
The classic sprint did not go as well for me as I would have liked, but Logan crushed it and qualified 35th in his first World Cup race! The 15km classic went a lot better. The course was extremely hard I thought, with very long gradual climbs and some fast corners on the descents. Luckily we got some new snow before the race and it stayed cloudy on that day so the snow didn’t change too much and we had solid kick (thanks Nick!) and the corners were not super icy. The longest climb I think was about 6.5 minutes of almost all-out effort on race skis! I did pretty well with 46th place.
After Planica we were off to Seefeld, Austria for my last World Cup races before flying home. Both races were skate, a sprint and a 15km mass start! We were lucky to have amazing warm and sunny weather to enjoy the Austrian mountain views.
The skate sprint race did not go very well for me. My quads loaded so fast with lactic acid and I felt like I was barely moving, not to my surprise I did not finish very well. However I focused on recovery and preparing for the 15k skate the next day. Mass start races are always fun and exciting, but with 100 men at the World Cup level, they are a whole different experience. I tried to command my space and not get pushed around too much, but also played it a bit conservative because I was not going to risk a broken pole trying to pass one guy in the first 3k. I was yoyoing off of the back of one of the chase packs that Paddy was in, but I couldn’t quite stay in the draft on the downhills and flats. I felt quick on the climbs though and had a lot of fun skiing around world cup skiers.
I am now back at Craftsbury, getting ready for some races in the midwest and the Birkebeiner!
To those of you wanting a full update, I was not selected for the 2018 US Olympic team. I did not get the results, and points, that I needed at US Nationals to be ranked on the list high enough to be chosen as a distance skier for the Olympics. As frustrating as it is to have one mistake ruin a dream as big as the Olympics after a relatively consistent season, that is what our current situation is with qualification criteria. I am not mad at the people who beat me at the important races and who get to represent the US, they did what they needed to do in the current situation to qualify. Thank you so much to all of my supporters who helped me get to this point in ski racing!