European run around comes to an end. USST comes home...
Ice on ice. We had an 11.5 minute loop up in the Val Ferret. But it was flat and either a sheet of ice or a puddle. Some of the best skiing in Europe right now... Not sure if the photo does it justice, but this is some of the better skiing on the track.
And we carried out business as usual...
Kikkan Randall getting into some photography after a 2 hour run up to the base of a glacier on the side of Mt. Blanc.
Entreves, Italy. Our little village was just up the valley from Courmeyeur. Right outside the tunnel under the mountains over to France. It was a beautiful little town in a beautiful place. We were only 4km from the Valley where the skiing was and about 10km from the Bernardo Pass where we rollerskied quite a lot (photos to come).
Alas, we felt that our preparation was suffering. It can be hard to keep the big picture in mind but it is important to. We got in some good training but were not taking the kind of steps toward our goal that we really wanted to take. The Val Ferret actually had some of the best skiing in all of Europe, but it wasn't good. We rollerskied our most important workouts, lifted weights and ran in addition to skiing on the flat, icy track... but none of us felt this was adequate especially not knowing if we would even get to race after fighting it out for the next 12 days.
With 9 days to the race in Cogne, Italy (the first limit on time that changes to a World Cup are to be made) were announced as a go. This was surprising as there was not a flake of snow in Cogne. The next day the races were called off. The next day an alternate plan was announced. The next day this alternate plan was scrapped with a final word to come on Monday. The sprint was cancelled out-right and the distance pursuit changed to a short classical race. The following races in France are also waffling seriously with rumors of the races being moved to Norway (where the snow is also melting fast) or Sweden or called off all together... The F.I.S. was not sticking to their announcments and changing their plans daily. This is OK for a European team that can change their plans easily and live at home, but for us it is not OK.
So after several meetings the team decided to come home to the USA, where the skiing is good, the training is great and where we will have races. For the sprint team this was an easy choice - their race was cancelled out-right. But for the distance team this was a tough choice. We have looked at these races as our top races of the early season. And now we are not going to race them (if they even take place). But all agreed in the end that the long term must take precedence over the possibility of racing in two races over the next three weeks while rollerskiing, running and skittering around on skis.
So - long story short - some the team will be racing in Sun Valley this coming weekend and most of the team will be racing in Soldier Hollow the following weekend. We will focus on training and preparing for the meat of the season. Our next world cup will be Otepaa, Estonia after our national championships (Houghton, MI). From there we race Davos, Changchung, Worlds and Scandinavia. This plan enables us to continue our preparation for the bigger races of the season (and in a larger picture - for the whole 4 year cycle). Sorry to not be in the race (if any happen) but we had to make the best decision for the athletes and the goals of the team.