Cross-country skiing is an individual sport but it cannot be done without a team. I think what has made this trip so successful is the team atmosphere. Often times in the past I have found that being one of the youngest ones on the trip can be hard, but this year I haven’t even noticed it. This past week in Germany has been such a blast with a lot of laughs 🙂
I was especially excited to have an OPA Cup in Germany because it feels like my second home. I am familiar with the food, the language, and the way of life. I quickly became the team translator and best friends with the hotel owner. Our set up was very nice, with common rooms on each floor where our team hung out. One of our first days in Germany, Ben and Lex wanted to buy a guitar so they could play some music. The wonderful hotel owner somehow managed to get us an incredible deal on a guitar from his friend. In return, Ben, Lex, Logan, Akeo, Erika and I wrote a song about him and our team in German! It was a lot of fun making a song together, with Ben playing the guitar, Lex playing the mandolin, Logan playing the drums on a water pot, Akeo singing, and Erika with the egg shaker…we have a full band together! The whole process was very hilarious, between trying to translate and teach them the pronunciation of German and our funny lyrics. My grandparents and uncle came to visit in the afternoon and we rehearsed the song to them. It was really nice being able to see my family that I only get to see about 4 days a year.
When we performed the song at dinner to the hotel owner, he absolutely loved it and was signing the chorus all evening while he served us our dinner. We also had a team puzzle going all week, with everyone contributing at least a few pieces. All these fun activities kept us busy until our races on the weekend. My first race was a 5km classic race, and for the boys a 15km. I had a decent race, ending up 4th, but I wanted more the next day. As I waited around for awards, I got to go out on course to cheer on the boys and take photos. It is pretty crazy how much you can learn from watching races. My teammate Ben went out really hard, knowing to ski with the top skiers, that is what you had to do, and it paid off. He had his best distance result yet on OPA’s.
On Sunday, we arrived at the race venue expecting warm weather and clouds…we got out of the car and it was really windy and snowing. Quickly, I added a few layers and headed out for my warm up. On Sunday I had a 15km skate mass start, the longest race I have ever done. In the past, the thought of a 15k would be daunting, but I was actually really looking forward to a new experience. It turns out that I am become more and more of a distance skier this year! I had a really good race and ended up 3rd, not far out from the first two girls. I learned so much about racing in just one race, but those things will be revealed in my blog next week! Our wax techs and Bryan did a superb job handing out feeds and cheering their hearts out. In the end, a strong team leads to strong results.
I am now in Italy for my final week of racing in Europe. We were greeted by tons of new snow and delicious food! Next week I will wrap up my Europe adventure with a blog post about all the things I have learned racing internationally!