Last weekend marked a first for our entire team. Almost all of us went up to Québec City to watch our first World Cup ever. Needless to say, the city sprint races were exhilarating, and seeing the USA win both women’s races was incredible. But you already know about the race scene and Kikkan winning, (if you don’t, go on over to fasterskier and read about it) so here are my top 5 takeaways from the weekend:
1) Americans are awesome. While the race was in Québec City, Americans stole the show, both in the races and in the crowds. Most of the Québecois seemed to have just been passing through and decided to stop and watch some racing. The USA folk, however, were like Raider fans, rabid and crazed. There were American flags everywhere, many painted their entire faces (ahem Nick and Heather), and the screams for American racers were LOUD and PROUD. We were also the educated fans who shouted for racers by name and also cheered for skiers from other countries (Canadians especially). In short, American fans rocked it.
2) No matter what the conditions are, the skiers who glide and stay relaxed and comfortable are the ones who perform. Both Kikkan and Emil Jönsson out-glided their competitors, making a World Cup victory look pretty casual. This is despite the granular, soft, man-made snow. Note to take away from this: be relaxed, comfortable and in control. This will increase your chances of winning.
3) The best World Cup skiers’ legs are incredible. Both Kikkan and Alexey Petukhov have unreal legs. Their glutes are wildly defined. Their hamstrings and quadriceps bulge an unthinkable amount. Their calves are tight and wonderfully shaped. All of this helps their beautiful skate strides. Both of these skiers would look so comfortable leading a pack, and there is no doubt in my mind a large aspect of this was their legs. Both would get so low in their V1 and push off powerfully in their V2. Not to mention their starts; they rocketed out of the gates, reaching high speeds incredibly quickly. And as an added bonus, their legs look great.
4) American skiers actually matter now. I had never really been interested in World Cup skiing until a few years back when Kikkan and Newell started to get some podiums. As a child born and raised in the United States of America, I have come to expect greatness from our country’s athletes. And until now I haven’t had that expectation for American skiers, so I just wasn’t that interested. But now, there is no question we can expect wins. Kikkan clearly is the real deal, and seeing Jessie gap the rest of the field on her last lap of the team sprint shows that she is for real too. Plus there were three other ladies in the top 30. Watching Newell proceed through the rounds was pretty thrilling too, but I didn’t find myself shaking with excitement when he finished 5th, a place that would have been unreal three short years ago. That’s right, Americans matter.
5) Skiing is wonderful. We went skiing up at Forêt Montmorency on Friday and Craftsbury on Sunday. Forêt had a 2k loop and Craftsbury had a 1.25k loop (which we have already hot lapped many times). Despite the lack of snow and ks, I still find myself to be exuberant after every ski. I can’t remember if I have always felt this way, but regardless, it’s awesome. I can’t imagine how excited I will be if it actually snows this year. Anyway, watching the World Cup stoked my excitement-about-skiing fire even more. Takeaway from this: remember to enjoy skiing, especially since we don’t know how much longer it will last.
Happy December! Look for another post after the Eastern Cups this weekend!