World Junior Championships in Romania!

World Juniors started off with a bang in Romania! With the lack of snow, the race timeline got moved up significantly. Believe it or not, I finished both of my individual starts before the opening ceremonies had happened. I think that the unusual conditions and change in race days played to my advantage because I have had learned how to be flexible.

The first two days we had to run because the race venue was saving the stockpile of snow. Finally, the day before my sprint, I was able to get on snow and ski for the first time in 6 days! The sprint was fast and short. However, when I got up to the race venue on race morning, it was a completely different kind of course. The sun was blaring and it was around 60 degrees. The course skied a lot harder than the day before. I adjusted my plan and charged out of the gate. I felt surprisingly strong on the V1 hop up the hill in the deep slush. By the time I was half way down the hill, my legs were burning so much that I could not feel them anymore; I knew I had given it my all. In the qualification, I posted the 14th fastest time, moving myself into heats later in the afternoon! My goal was to make heats so I was pretty excited to have qualified very solidly. The heat made me pretty lightheaded and dehydrated so I pounded the fluids in between races. Before my quarterfinal I got to get out and test skis with my wax tech, Amy that has been doing an amazing job! I was surprised to see how much more slushy and slow it had gotten. My start came around quickly and before I knew it, I was in 6th going up the hill. I then kicked into gear and followed behind 2 Germans up the hill. At the 180-degree turn, I got stuck behind a girl who had gotten tangled and spun in the wrong direction. I maneuvered around her, but lost contact with the 3rd place girl. I worked the downhill and finish trying to catch up, but I didn’t quite get the 3rd place girl. I was really happy to end up 16th for the day, making that my best result at World Juniors (this was 16 places better than last year in the sprint). The day didn’t end there however. Heading back up to the race venue after 1 hour of rest, I went to ski the 2.5km course for the first time and test my classic skis for the classic race the next day. Our race got moved up, leaving me with no day off in between.

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Sunday morning started out just the same, sunny and hot. The snow had gotten even thinner and slower compared to the day before. Even though it was only a 5km race, I had my coach Boobar dump “feeds” of ice water down my back to cool me down in the brutal 60 degrees. I skied as hard as I could, although I didn’t feel like I was skiing very fast. To my surprise, I ended up in 18th place! My goal going in was a top 25 so I am really happy with my result, beating my last year’s result by 20 spots in conditions that did not favor my strengths. The wax techs and coaching staff did an amazing job testing and prepping skis and I couldn’t have done it without them! The day finished off with opening ceremonies in the evening. Now with my individual races completed, I have two days off until the team relay, my favorite part of the week! Stay tuned for an update early next week, when I will be in Germany, hopefully with better wifi so I can post another blog.

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More photos to come, but the wifi is too slow right now.

-JKern

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