|The view right outside our door|
|We were surrounded by mountains|
|Andy psyched to be skiing in the sunshine|
Ramsau is a skier's heaven with spectacular mountains surrounding the valley and seemingly endless ski trails. We stayed at a hotel right along the trails so we could just pop out the door in the morning and go adventuring. Although I was a little sick after traveling, having a few days off of racing to just ski, relax, and be a tourist was amazing. The pictures speak for themselves...
|One of the days Andy and I took a tram to the top of the Dachstein Glacier|
|Andy on this huge suspension bridge overlooking the mountain. Looked like some incredible powder skiing!|
|You can kind of see the ski trails in the left of the picture. The U.S. Men's Nordic ski team did a training camp here two summers ago.|
|The views were spectacular! We also found an ice palace while we were there that had been built into the glacier.|
|A little break to sit and enjoy the view.|
|On our way back to Munich we spent an afternoon in Salzburg|
|We did lots of exploring around all the tiny streets and drank lots of tasty espresso and gluhwein|
|Walking around takes some serious endurance and I was so tired by the end of the day! We stopped on the bridge to sit and have some snacks :)|
After the mini-vacation in Austria Andy had to get back to the World Cup and I headed to Munich to meet up with the rest of the U.S. crew over here for some Continental Cup racing. Our first stop, the Swiss Cup in Silvaplana, Switzerland. Silvaplana is a small ski town in the Engadin Valley about 10km from the famous St. Mortiz and this time of year boasted almost 2 meters of snow. This part of Switzerland is also known for luxury and impeccable service. Our hotel treated us to 5 course meals and even authentic Thai food. We also traveled to St. Moritz one afternoon and were welcomed by fur coats, Rolex watches, and Nussetorte, an incredible inside out pecan pie with walnuts and a shortbread crust, unique to the region.
|The view from our window in Silvaplana. I was rooming with Becca Rorabaugh from APU for the weekend|
|Stadium shot! The courses were relatively flat with some rolling terrain and two longer gradual uphills. We got to ski around this cool castle building!|
|Checking out the trails with Becca|
|Some seriously fancy accommodations|
|After a recommendation from Sabrina, one of my alpine ski friends from Dartmouth, we sought out chocolate and Nussetorte from the "famous" Hanselmann's Chocolate shop. My sweet tooth was psyched :)|
|Some fancy gourmet desserts courtesy of our hotel in Silvaplana|
The Swiss Cup races were meant as a sort of "warm-up" and chance to get our feet under us before the bigger and more competitive OPA Cup competitions. We raced a 5km classic and a 10km skate mass start. I had two things happen this weekend that I hadn't experience in a while:
1. I bonked
Bonking is not uncommon in skiing and it basically means that you go too hard too soon, your body fills with lactic acid and you stop moving, or at least stop moving very quickly. I, however, have never been very good at pushing myself to that limit so one of my goals for February was to "bonk" in a race. Although one day late, I finally accomplished that goal on Saturday. The classic race was only 5km but after really hammering over a hill about 4km in my legs filled with lactic acid and it felt like road runner...trying so hard to move my legs and just not going anywhere. Although I lost some time in the last kilometer I definitely learned more from that than I would have from skiing more conservatively and, although painful, I was happy to find that line. Becca paced the race much better and cracked top 5 for a podium!
|Becca far left in the the blue coat. Rose and I finished 7th and 8th respectively.|
2. I won a race!
Sunday's race went much better than Saturday and also played to my strengths. I have never won a Swiss Cup or any race in Europe and haven't actually won a race yet this year so I was really excited to be on top of the podium! Even though the competition this weekend in Rogla will be much more challenging, it always feels good to win, especially in Europe.
|These guys did an awesome job getting us some fast skis this weekend. Thanks Bryan Fish, Mike Matteson, and Gus Kaeding!|
|Bryan Fish and I waiting for the boys to come up the long hill. I couldn't stop taking pictures of the beautiful views|
|The snow was getting a little soft for the boys race|
From Switzerland we piled into a few vans and made our way to Rogla, Slovenia where we will compete in the first of two OPA Cup race weekends. OPA Cups are basically the central European version of U.S. SuperTours but with 8 countries and faster skiers. Many of the competitors have been racing on the World Cup throughout the season and some even came from the Olympics! The races are an awesome opportunity for U.S. skiers to challenge themselves against a strong international field, just below World Cup level skiing. Winning OPA Cups is one step towards competing on the World Cup. The races in Rogla kick off tomorrow with a classic sprint followed by a 15km skate mass start race. The National Nordic Foundation is helping fund this trip and I am so grateful for the opportunity. Without their help this trip would not be possible.
|From left: me, Rose Kemp (Sun Valley), and Becca|
|Ben is also over here with for the next three weeks of racing!|
Also, Slovenia is pretty weird... but I think I will have to save some of my first impressions and experiences for the next post. Time to go race!
Results should be posted on the FIS website under the OPA Cup Races in Rogla, Slovenia http://data.fis-ski.com/cross-country/calendar.html