Monday, March 24, 2014

Back in the U.S. of A: Alaska Super Tour Finals

One of the surprises I have been looking forward to is meeting Caitlin in the Frankfurt airport for our return to the USA. Originally we were scheduled to meet up in Denver to fly to Alaska together but shortly after making the reservation I discovered we would be on the same flight from Frankfurt.  I decided to select seat assignments next to each other and surprise Caitlin.  It was super nice to see each other a little sooner and to take the 10.5 hour flight together.

Caitlin and our plane.  I have always wanted to fly on a double decker plane. I didn't get to go up top though, maybe next time.
Team Gregg back together again
Brent Knight and I out for a ski in Kincaid Park
We are staying with Jim and Sally Burkholder and my friend Brent Knight. Brent and I skied together in college.  Our freshman year we were pretty even.  Then he continued to get a lot faster.  My junior year I transferred from Western State College to the University of Alaska Anchorage and Brent's improvement was a big factor in that decision.  

Fredrick and the University of New Mexico have been doing our skis here in Alaska.  They are fantastic and we are very fortunate to have their support and friendship.
Alf was on course cheering for the classic sprint.  Turns out it was actually Heidi and we already had an invitation from her parents for dinner the same evening.  How sweet is that?
Cheering Caitlin up the final climb in the women's 10 km Freestyle individual start
The first event of the week was the 10/15km individual skate.  I had a so-so race finishing 9th.  I felt pretty good, but didn't quite have the snap and power on the course.  Perhaps it is all the time I have spent at altitude this winter. Regardless of my result the race was really fun.  After the race I went out on course to cheer and give Caitlin some splits.  She led the race at 5km before slipping to third.  All of the top USA girls are here and I am really proud of her result.  She has also secured the Overall Super Tour lead which will give her start rights and FIS funding for the Period 1 World Cups next year.  Congratulations babe!
Caitlin and I out for an evening jog before the 10/15 km

Our hosts and super volunteers Burky and Sally with Caitlin and I

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Resting up and staying warm
The last two weeks have been a lot of sleeping, resting and trying to either stay warm or cool off.  I caught some sore of illness at the hotel in Munich directly after Sochi.  As soon as I started feeling off I stopped training and focused on sleeping and resting.  This bug laid me out for over a week with a sore throat progressing to fever and headache.  It was terrible.  Thankfully I was able to avoid passing this bug on to any of my teammates by living a pretty isolated existence these last 10 days.  I am now back in the Game and if feels great.  If you are healthy right now take a moment to appreciate the ability to breathe easily and feel good.  Remember to take good care of yourself to keep it that way.

Looking out at the race trails and Stadium for the Swiss Cup
We lived on the trails in Silviplana, Switzerland and had gorgeous weather for most of every day.  It was hard to stay in and after a few days I came out to ski and prepare for the races.  I really wanted to race in the 15 km freestyle on Sunday and after a decent warm up decided to start.  Not good, I made it one lap and felt terrible.  Plus I went in to remission, by the end of our drive to Slovenia I was feeling terrible again.

One of my favorite parts of being in Europe is the ability to watch skiing competitions live on the television.  I watched Cailin and the World Cup women in the Holmenkollen 30 km World Cup this afternoon.
 I rested hard with the goal of being back in form for this weekends Organisation of Alpine Nations (OPA) Cup race in Rogla, Slovenia.  I raced the classic sprint on Saturday.  I finished 41st, one place ahead of my ranking prior to the race of 42nd.  Not good, but it felt so good to finally feel good again.

Ben Saxton (in red) in his Quarter-Final Sprint Heat.  Ben qualified in 10th and went on to finish 10th in the sprint rounds.  We had 3 guys qualify in the top 10.  Tyler Kornfield 4th, Miles Havlick 6th and Ben Saxton 10th.  A great showing in Classic Sprinting.

Testing skis the day before the race.
 Today we raced a 30 km Freestyle.  I finally felt good again.  We had a big pack and stayed together for about 20 km.  I felt good enough to even be able to push at the front for part of the race.  I fell off the pace a bit at 22 km but still had fun battling it in to the finish with a group of 3 German skiers. I ended day 18th.  Congratulations to Miles Havlick, the top American in 11th.

We live in these little bungalows right on the trail.
The USA OPA Crew in Switzerland.

Bryan Fish, Mike Mattison, and Gus Kaeding are our coaches/techs for this trip.  Colin Rogers joined us in Slovenia for the final two weeks of our campaign.
 Tomorrow we travel 8-10 hours by van to Valdidentro, Italy for OPA Finals.  I am so excited to finally be feeling good again.