For the past week, Alex, Phoebe, and I have been in Utah for US Nationals. As a side effect of not needing to qualify to attend, it is a great chance to compete against a huge field (including a lot of Canadians). After landing in Salt Lake City, Phoebe and I headed to the rental house, while Alex who had been out for longer rejoined us the next night. Our rental house was quite entertaining with a lot of great decorations!
Our first race of the week was a 10k skate on a challenging 5k course. When we woke up in the morning it was so cold that the race directors pushed back start times by an hour in the hopes that the temperature would rise above the legal racing temp. It was an individual start with Alex starting first, then Phoebe, then Callie. The course had two major climbs as well as some fast descents making for a tough race. Since Soldier Hollow’s base elevation is around 5,463 ft the altitude can make for hard conditions for those who aren’t used to it so all three of us skied the race very conservatively in the hopes that we would have something left in the tank for the finish. Though this made for a slower race pace than any of us are used to everyone finished satisfied with their effort. Overall Alex finished in 104th, Phoebe in 160th and Callie in 169th. In the end this race was a great experience for learning how to pace and race at altitude. It was also very helpful in determining how hard we would be able to push in the classic sprint the next day.
The classic sprint on Sunday was a great experience and a lot of fun but none of us felt like we had an awesome day, and we did not make it past the qualifier. Alex placed in 121st, Phoebe in 168th, and Callie in 174th overall.
On Monday we enjoyed an easy ski and preview of the 2.5k and 3.75k race course in the rain – a drastic weather transformation from last week. While the courses were not nearly as hilly as the previous distance race, they still contained a considerable amount of climbing and some very technical downhills. Later that day we found out that the distance of the mass start had been increased from 5k to 7.5k meaning that we would use the 3.75k course, which we were all pleased about at the time.
Later we embarked on an epic journey to Park City where we ate some ice cream and perused a cowboy store, sock store, and a fur store (with a jacket at the low price of $140,000). As the snow began to pick up, we realized that it was time to leave. But on the way home we decided to pick up some ice-cream, inspired by the amazing ice-cream we had eaten earlier in the day. This, however, proved to be a terrible mistake.
As we attempted to leave Smith’s we realized that the pavement had turned to a sheet of ice, something that our box van from California was not equipped to handle. As we sat in our van we feared that our ice cream, the whole reason for our extra excursion, would melt. But after watching other cars skid around the road, some direction of traffic around us, and some discussion, we decided it would be best to wait out the storm. We backed the van back into the parking lot, and decided it would be best to stow the ice cream under the van for safe keeping and refrigeration. Since it appeared the end of the storm was not in sight, we walked over to a nearby pizza shop to get some dinner.
After a heated game of UNO (that never ended), and some great pizza, we glanced outside to notice that the snow had slowed. We decided to embark on the journey back home (luckily our race wasn’t until 3:00 the next day). Returning to the house after this epic adventure we enjoyed some very soft ice cream.
On our last day, we geared up for an epic mass start 7.5K with 150 other racers! For all of us, it was the biggest mass start we had ever been in and were all really excited. We didn’t start until 3:00, so we got to sleep in, then determined not to be lazy, took a few walks and did mobility exercises and watched the live timing as Ben won!!! We got to the race venue and completed our warm ups while testing race skis then entered the chaos of the start pen. When the gun went off, all 150 of us were off. On the very first downhill, there was already a crash causing several people to go down. With so many people and squirrel-y snow, there were crashes everywhere and it was hard to figure out the right mix of being aggressive, and not plowing into the girls that had fallen in front of us. In the end, I (Callie) had my best race of the week in 52nd, and Phoebe and Alex were happy with their downhill aggressiveness, but didn’t have great races overall finishing 71st and 76th.