My last period of World Cup racing I have dubbed “the Tour of the Nordic Nations”. The final 3 weekends of World Cups took us to Finland, Norway and Sweden where I raced the famed Oslo Holmenkollen 30km for the first time and got the chance to experience Sweden south of the arctic circle.
Lahti World Cup
Finland brought some good racing. I had a strong skate sprint on day one in Lahti and finished 34th, just 0.9 seconds from getting into the heats. I was disappointed to miss the heats by so little, World Cup heats are always the goal and a lot of fun to race, however I was happy to have another strong sprint race at the World Cup level. The following day was a 10km classic and I had my best classic distance race of the year.
The next weekend I lined up to race my first Holmenkollen 30km in Oslo. It was an atmosphere like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Thousands upon thousands of fans lined the 8.3km race course and filled the stadium. A massive party, a true festival of skiing, there was never a moment without people cheering as we made our way around the race course for 30 kilometres. It is a race that I will remember for a very long time to come.
Falun World Cup Finals
Amazing and very exhausting, I was still feeling the residual fatigue 5 days later when I lined up on the start line of World Cup finals in Falun, Sweden. I’m sure everyone else who raced Holmenkollen could related but I was tired. I raced hard at World Cup finals but couldn’t produce anything spectacular. Pushing my legs up the legendary murderbakken climb (the name should tell you enough, bakken means hill) in Falun produced average results but the setting and weather made for one of the best weekends of ski racing this year. Bright sunshine, cool firm conditions perfect for skiing and a great atmosphere, Falun also had some of the nicest training trails, perfect for a post race ski and picnic at one of their cabins. To add to the excitement my teammate Alex ended the year on the podium with a second place and Cendrine scored the first World Cup points of her career skiing to 27th on the last day.
Arctic Circle Race Greenland
As the World Cup season wrapped up, I said goodbye to my ski family and continued my “Tour of the Nordic Nations” by flying to Copenhagen to meet up with my Dad. My first time to Copenhagen we spent a day exploring the beautiful city before boarding a plane to embark on our father/daughter spring adventure, a not so spring like, 160km ski race in Sisimiut, Greenland. The Arctic Circle Race is a 3-day 160km race across the fjords and mountains of western Greenland.
Day 1 of the Arctic Circle Race brought beautiful blue sky and cold temperatures. About minus twenty at the start line the racers set out on the 51.2km route out to the camp. Day 1 was great, I had fun, felt good and made it to camp in 3rd place overall only 1min30sec behind 2nd and less than 30 minutes behind Greenlandic Olympian Martin Moller. The morning of day two brought even colder temperatures, having gone down to at least -25 overnight, waking up in a cold tent I could feel my aching muscles from the 1600m of elevation gain the day before. Day two was the longest day, a total of 58.7km and once again over 1600m of climbing. The course took us down onto one of the fjords after about 15km of racing. Skiing down onto the fjord the temperature plummeted and I froze. I was so cold by the time I reached the bottom that I had to stop to put on all the clothes in my backpack. Watching many guys pass me as I stopped to warm up, my mentality quickly switched from race mode to survival mode. I was able to warm up again within 5 kilometres however the next 15km of the race were a miserable struggle to keep my body moving and find any energy. Finally after having climbed back up off the fjord into the rolling terrain of the mountain lakes and having consumed as much food as I could get my hand on, I was able to pick up the pace again and ski a normal speed. 5hour and 32 minutes later I crossed the finish line at the camp to spend our final night out in the Greenlandic wilderness. After the gruelling day two I was cold, tired and not very functional. Some minor frost nip on my thumb and big blisters on my heels were to show for the days adventure. Thanks to the help and kindness of my fellow racers and new friends I got bundled in many warm layers and warmed my insides with caribou soup. A couple hours later my dad crossed the line completing day two and we made our dinners with the other participants and took in the beautiful northern lights show before retiring to our tents to prepare for the final day of the Arctic Circle Race.
I started day 3 still in 3rd place overall in the race with less of a lead as I had lost a lot of time on day 2. Five kilometres into the 50.1k, I already knew it was going to be a rough day. Still minus 25, I was hungry after 20min of skiing. The tank was empty and there was still 45k to go. About the same distance as day 1, day 3 took me 1hour 10min longer than the first day. My feet hurt, me legs wouldn’t let me do more than walk up the massive climbs and my hands got so cold I spent the last 10k skiing without my poles. Day 3 was the ultimate test of survival and I survived if just barely. Losing about 40minutes to my competitors on the final day, I dropped to 5th place overall in the race just 20minutes behind 3rd after 160km of racing with over 4900m of elevation gain. Still, I finished first amongst the women winning the women’s race in 14hours and 19minutes, 2 hours ahead of second place.
My dad skied a strong last day keeping a similar speed to his first day to finish the race in 19hours. He was second in the 50+ category and would have won the 60+ category if it existed!
If I had to sum up the Arctic Circle Race it would be one day of racing fast and two days of survival in the most picturesque landscape you can imagine. The volunteers are amazing, the Greenlandic sled dogs loveable and the scenery breathtaking. The week ended with a Gala dinner to celebrate the volunteers and the racers. We shared delicious Greenlandic food (including whale blubber), great music and were immersed in the culture of Sisimiut and the arctic.
In these three days I raced almost as far as the rest of my season combined. Now I am putting my skis away for a week or two to let my blisters heal and my tired muscles recover.
Easter in Iceland
Although I have now said goodbye to beautiful Greenland, my “Tour of the Nordic Nations” continues. Final stop ICELAND. The focus there will be on leisure, recovery and Easter celebrations. Six days traveling around Iceland in a camper van searching out all the best hot pools and waterfalls before return to Canada for my month off. Easter is my favourite holiday so I have already been busy planing my egg colouring with sharpie markers and collecting chocolate bunnies, sheep and chicks for an easter egg hunt.
A huge thank you to everyone for the incredible support this season. My best European World Cup result, the Olympic Games, and many ups and downs in between, what a season it has been. I really appreciated all the love and support and look forward to seeing many of you in Whitehorse and Canmore this spring!!