Things I learned from racing in Europe for the past 4 weeks (in no particular order)…
- Americans have no reason to doubt that they can’t ski with the top skiers.
We had multiple top 10 results at the OPA Cup races. We had multiple top 20’s at World Juniors. A German coach even came up to our coach and said that our nation was stronger ski nation than theirs. And to top it all off, the World Cup team was continuously crushing it all season with multiple world cup wins and podiums!
- You have to go out fast, race fast, and finish fast.
If you want to ski with the top skiers, you will only have the chance if you go out really hard. This is something we aren’t used to in the U.S. Sometimes you may die a little, but it is better than playing it conservative and having a mediocre result.
- You have to give 110%.
The field is so tight that if you give it 99% you will see it in the results. Everyone out there is really fast and literally every second or tenth of a second counts and your head has to be in the game.
- Foreign culture will never fail to surprise (both in a good and bad way).
My first day in Romania I saw a man walking a sheep on a leash while carrying a dead cat by its paws. In Germany, our hotel owner served us schnapps on the first night and told us that winners take a shot before they race. As Leah and I entered our hotel room in Italy, we noticed there were two “toilets” in the bathroom. My first guess was that it was a weird urinal, but it turns out it was a bidet, a toilet solely used for the purpose of rinsing yourself after you go to the bathroom. These are just a few differences in culture I noticed.
- People either know English really well or not at all.
It is so impressive that we are able to have conversations with other athletes from other nations because their English is so good, and most of them only have a high school education. On the other hand you come across people who do not know a lick of English and being good at charades comes in handy.
- Our staff works their butts off and they do a great job!
We as the U.S. are very outnumbered compared to the other countries’ wax and coaching staff, but somehow our small staff does an amazing job and still puts us consistently on fast skis and everything runs smoothly. I do know that our staff works longer and harder than anyone out there, giving it their all and I really am thankful for what they do!
- Afternoon jogs are awesome!
I typically don’t do afternoon jogs, but on the road it can be really nice. Usually we train in the morning, so it is good to move around a little in the afternoon and shake out the legs from sitting or lying around. Also, it is an easy way to explore the surroundings and get to see some cool things. It even serves as a nice warm up for stretching and rolling out.
- A good team atmosphere makes a trip that much better.
I thought this year’s team was awesome. Everyone got along very well and we had a lot of fun! Living with most of the group for 4 weeks, that is really important and can play a huge role of everyone’s mood.
9. This trip wouldn’t be possible without the support by NNF and all of the NNF supporters.
The National Nordic Foundation supports a huge amount of this trip! The give support to each individual athlete and also support our wax techs on this trip.
10. They have cool podium prizes!
The trophy I received in Germany was really cool becuase it was made out of glass. In Italy, I received two boxes of apples, a whole wheel of cheese, and Proseco for my podiums. Cheese and apples are pretty cool prizes becuase you can actually eat them! Both the cheese and apples were very yummy.
Italy was absolutely amazing! The snow conditions were the best I have seen all year. We raced on the challenging World Cup courses in really nice conditions. I had really strong races in the 3 days mini tour, finishing off the tour in 2nd place overall. I finished 5th in the prologue, 3rd in the 5km, and 2nd in the 10km pursuit. I am really happy with how I finished off my trip to Europe and now I am now at home before U.S. Nationals, while I recover from a cold. It has been really nice to be home and to hang out with my parents. I really miss Europe, but I am looking forward to one more week of racing at home before I start my spring term at Dartmouth!
Until next week!