Sunday, April 20, 2014

Kotzebue, Ak and Home (first time since Oct 1)

At the end of the ski season, some ski racers are excited to go somewhere warm for vacation.  This year I have been looking forward to a different kind of trip.  Some fun in Alaska. 
I showed up at Paul's house and he had the gear all set up for our little adventure: pack raft, ice axe, crampons, beacons, snowshoes, hammer drill, bolts, rope, and ski poles.  We were pretty well prepared for anything in our little winter canyoneering adventure to scout out placing some safety equipment for a drop on the Willow river.  These guys paddle some pretty amazing things and it was fun to learn a bit about a different type of activity.  I was grateful to be invited and I think they were pretty psyched that I carried the drill.  Our goal was to explore the possibility of rigging some equipment to avoid a long portage around an unsafe drop in the river.  We ended up deciding not to set anything but it was pretty fun exploring and I enjoyed being out in the mountains with my friends. 
I had a little too much fun and had to stay up late to pack my bags for an early morning flight to Kotzebue, AK to teach skiing with NANA Nordic to the school kids in town.  My first trip to an Alaskan Village and above the artic circle. 
Kotzebue, AK: A beautiful place with a great community.  I will certainly be back, perhaps someday as a school teacher.  Caitlin did a fantastic write up on our trip on her blog at:
We had so much fun skiing with the kids for 9-5 each day.  To cap things off we skied to the neighboring village of Noorvik, AK on Saturday.  We caught our bush plane flight back to Kotzebue and then my body finally shut down.  I was ready to be home in Minneapolis.  We spend a lot of time carefully choosing our flight times during the season but now at the end we had a red eye flight back to Minneapolis through Chicago with a four hour layover.

We embraced the less than ideal travel day and met some really fun people.  Most notably Nastassja whose carry on luggage kind of stood out.
Nastassja and her huge trophy for winning the Under 10 section of the 11th Annual Kasporov Chess Federation All-Girls National Chess Championship at Age 9 none the less.
The Thomas Ave Kids welcoming us home and excited to go for a run with us. 
Our good friend Tim who has cared for our dog Lahti and watched our home throughout our travels made us a fantastic meal of Bulgogi.  It is so good to be home and eating again in our little dinning nook.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Team USA visits the White House

Visiting Washington, DC was a great experience to share with Team USA. An opportunity to connect with my Olympic teammates in a relaxed environment.  It was fun to connect with athletes from other sports.  Sharing a private car from the airport with Gold Medalist Maddie Bowman, eating breakfast with the silver medalist bobsled team, going to dinner with the Speedskaters.  The highlight of the trip easily being meeting President Obama and the first lady. First of all we toured the white house and the grounds.  Waiting excitedly as we had before the opening ceremonies as well.  We all shook hands with the president and hugged Michelle with some time for a few words.
I asked if he had ever cross country skid. He hadn't but said he was up for trying it. I said I would take him out if he was ever in Minneapolis. He liked that but reminded me that Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybek had a heart attack cross country skiing at Wirth Park this winter.  I said yeah but he is okay and in the same tweet announcing the heart attack also complimented the excellent ski conditions for the day.  I thanked Michelle for her efforts in encouraging a healthy lifestyle with today's youth and my passion for that as well.
After the white house visit the USA ran an Olympic Summit on the transition from ones athletic career to their professional career.  The white house visit had maybe 200 Olympian and paralympians. To my surprise the symposium had less than 50 participants.  I found the summit to be extremely educational and beneficial with very little fluff.  The small size made for a really personal experience.  Panel discussions included the former CEO of Charles Schwab, Olympic Medalists from many different years and first hand advice on the keys to their success and the mistakes they had made and corrected.  I plan to race another Quad for sure but at some point all athletes will retire from sport and it is important to be prepared for that transition.