During the end of the ski season I traveled with a strong US contingent to the OPA Cup races in Europe. Our first stop was Cogne, Italy for two races: a 15km individual start classic race and then a 15km pursuit style skate race. While we were acclimating to both the European time change and the moderate elevation, I did not feel very good racing in both of the races, but the skiing and views were breathtaking and absolutely worth it!
After Cogne we traveled to La Fèclaz, France for a one-week training camp before the OPA Cup finals being held in Spain the weekend after. We had amazing skiing, fun times, and got to practice speaking a bit of French here and there. The training went really well including getting lost on our first day in a mild rainstorm. We finished the camp with a fun classic mass start race competing against a strong crowd of French junior skiers, one of whom I heard won Junior Worlds if my memory serves me right! Eric Packer, Adam, and I skied together (unfortunately Ben Saxton was taken out on a sketchy turn by one of the juniors halfway through the race) and finished relatively at the same time.
The final destination was Baqueira Beret, Spain up in the Pyrenees mountains. The nordic trails were etched in the side of very large sweeping mountain tops that hosted a vast array of alpine ski trails and long chairlifts. It was around 6000 ft so pretty high and acclimating took a few days. The races there were in the format of a mini tour so we completed a skate sprint, 15km mass start classic and then a 15km pursuit start skate race. I just barely qualified for heats, had a rough 15km classic, but finally felt good for the 15km skate race, where I had 12th time of day and finished 19th overall I think in the mini tour.
After the OPA Cup races I flew back to the US to prepare for my twin brother’s wedding! Unfortunately the flights were getting canceled due to weather in the east (no surprises there) so I actually flew directly from Newark to Denver instead of stopping off in Vermont. The wedding itself was easily one of the best moments of my life. The weather held out and was gorgeous the day of the wedding, the food was unbelievably good, the bride and groom were as perfect as could be, the music was phenomenal, the company and dancing was incredible. I don’t have as many pictures as I wanted from the wedding, but that is a good thing because everyone was so in the moment!
I came back to Vermont to prepare for the 50km at Spring Series. Needless to say I was exhausted and thought I would take my chances to win the prime at 1.8km. I took the race out very fast and battled to the line, but got outkicked by Peter Holmes at the line. I took about 5km to recover from the effort, skied what I thought was a very good next 30km, and then blew up very hard and skied the race in very easily. Not how I wanted to finish the season but sometimes that is how it goes.
The next training season is underway and going smoothly. I am starting to mountain bike race more to increase leg power and endurance for this season and I hope it works out well in the races this winter!