Race One: The Blood and Guts

*Sorry for the delay in update, it was a very busy afternoon and evening 
Normally, I wouldn't consider myself a sprinter. But I've seen myself improve a lot in sprinting over the past year, so while normally I don't look forward to sprint races, I was excited that the 2015 Jr. Nationals were starting out with the sprints. Every year, the technique changes, so while last year was classic sprints (I placed 26th) this year was skate.
U16 Girls prepping! 
Sprint races always start out with a qualifying round. Each athlete goes out one at a time, 15 seconds apart. The top 30 fastest times qualify for the heats, and last year I barely qualified before getting knocked out of the quarter finals. Today's sprint was much harder, and for me, very painful. Truckee is pretty high up, around 8,000 feet, as during training skis, I've mostly been able to ignore the altitude difference. But today, when I went out hard in the beginning of the sprint qualifier, I quickly went into oxygen debt and I didn't finish as quick as I wanted to. It was a very painful race for me, and it made me very nervous for the races ahead. I did end up qualifying with the 5th fastest time, which put me into a quarterfinal with my Midwest teammate, Siri.

The U16s had the longest rest between the qualifying round and the heats, so we got to head back to our rooms to reapply glitter, roll out our muscles, and watch our teammates on the live feed. Then the 6 (out of 8 whoohoo!!!) U16 girls who had made it into the top 30 went back to the venue for the heats. When we raced in the morning, the temperature was moderate, around 30 degrees, but when we arrived back, it was climbing to the mid 60s, with the bright sun right overhead.

I went on a very quick shakeout jog, and then went on a light ski. Contrary to this morning, I decided not to do any pickups because I could already tell I was pretty tired and I wanted to save all of my energy and oxygen for the races. The first race was the quarterfinal, which was really fun! My Midwest teammate Siri and I were dancing at the start and really having a blast before the gun went off. My plan was different from the earlier race. I decided to not go out hard in the first 200 meters, and then attack at the end. My skis were so fast that I was able to rocket down the hill and slingshot into 2nd when we got to the hills. Then when I started to make a move on the hill, I accidentally stepped on the girl next to me's skis. She went down, and paused half of the field (with the course being so narrow) so me and the girl who got 2nd in the heat pulled away and coasting into the finish. It was painful and hot, but not as bad as the qualifying round.

The time between the quarter and semi finals were quick and before we knew it, another Midwest teammate, Anna and I were in the start area again. I decided to go out slower again, but this time, instead of slingshooting around the girls on the first hill, I got boxed in and was around 4th. I knew in order to qualify for the A-final (where I would contend for places 1-5) and so on the final steep hill I was able to power through a gape and win the semifinal! It was super exciting and I was so pumped! It was amazing how hard all of the coaches and wax techs were working for us, U16 girls, and it was awesome being in the middle of that atmosphere.

The last race, was really heating up, and I was feeling a bit nauseous from the hard races, the altitude and the heat. My final had 4 Inter-mountain team girls, a Far West girl (actually from Truckee) and me! Again I went out slow, but I managed in be in 3rd all the way up until the last steep uphill. I was drafting off of the girl in second and at the top of the last hill, about 200 meters from the finish, I started sprinting and was able to pass 1 and 2. The snow was super slushy and wet, and I was super tired.  As we got into the finishing lanes, I could see ski tips out of the corner of my eye, but it seemed as I had the lead. I was already scrambling into the finish, head bobbing, arms and legs out of sync, and flailing, so it wasn't a big surprise when I started to start catching the snow in my skis and start tripping towards the finish line.
U16 girls and coach celebrating after awesome races today!
My coach later told me, if the rules had been like they are in track, the first body part over the line, wins, I would have won. But in skiing, it is your foot, and so when I fell over the line (from tripping on the slushy snow) my feet slung back and I did a face-plant. I somehow manage to barely get over the line, but not quick enough to stay in 1st place. I heard it over the announcer, and I kind of laid in the snow for a couple seconds not wanting to get up and get in the way of incoming skiers. (The snow did feel very nice and refreshing) then my coach came and helped me get off my bib and chips, and I couldn't stop laughing. As much as I had desperately wanted 1st place, I knew that I had really given it my all, and I had still gotten as amazing place.
At the flower ceremony-where we actually got flowers!!!!


  1. We are so proud of you and so excited for you! You are such an amazing athlete and kid! We are having so much fun following along with you! Enjoy your successes -- you've worked so hard for them! Glad you are doing so well and having such fun. Love your celebration picture! What a great moment in your life! xo

  2. Erin, what a great post! It is so informative. We are so excited for you and also so proud! I was so bummed when it cutting out on the iPad. I was wishing we had our computer here. Tomorrow we hope to find a place to watch. Have fun and good luck!


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