2:30pm Friday after noon and our journey began. We were all going to Alaska, the lands of the moose and the bear. At least that´s what I have heard?
Fredrik, coach and Dad of our big family got us kids together and made us aware of all the things we should do before getting on the plane. You could easily tell on the whole group that we were equally excited and nervous. We had four races on the schedule and when you start a race, you want to ski fast. Natural thoughts would be; “Am I in shape? Will I be fast? Did I bring the right skis? Do I have enough warm clothes to avoid getting sick? How are the tracks? Am I good for those courses?”
After a long night of traveling from Albuquerque to Seattle, and Seattle – Anchorage, breakfast got on the table 11:30 Albuquerque time and we went skiing on the race course in Anchorage after settling and making it comfortable in the house we´re renting. The tracks were incredible! So much snow, a clear view over the ocean, frosty crystals on the trees and a blue sky with the sun pressing on and making the temperature a little more enjoyable than on paper. We all smiled and skied as if we had never had air before. The oxygen level at zero meters above sea level amazed every one of us.
Sunday morning the whole house woke up early. We had planned intervals in the morning and that´s what we did. No lack of oxygen and sunlight this day either. At noon we were all in the cars like the big lobo family we are, going to see the tallest mountain in North America, Denali. In Anchorage, we weren´t sure if we should go considering the fact that there were a lot of clouds and grey weather, but 2.5hour away by the mountain, it couldn´t have been better. The snow was sparkling and sun was shining so bright that you could almost lay down and tan. But of course we didn´t, we couldn´t get sick before the races! Instead, we found a local bakery and coffee shop and did like you do when on a trip with your family, sit down for a few hours and just relax with a warm cup of coffee and a fresh cinnamon bun. This had been the perfect Sunday. If this is how it is to be retired, it can´t be that bad!
Monday we skied twice. Tested the relay course for Wednesday in the morning, and tested skis in the afternoon. We made dinner, some had to do school and a big percentage of the athletes, including the coaches, took a nap. We like to call it power-naps; energizing, good recovery and a good excuse to chill for a while.
Tuesday was race-day! Sprint Skating was on the race schedule and we all came prepared with fast skies, spare poles, energy bars and a lot of extra clothes to change in case we went all the way to the finals. The UNM Ski team had three girls and four boys starting and five went through from the qualifications to the heats. We might need more heat practice, because only one of these five got through from the quarterfinals to the semifinals - Krista. But look at the bright side; a shorter day on sprint, means better preparations for the next day and more recovery time.
After the race, we made a great dinner and did homework just like all students in College have to do. Due dates, assignments and quizzes are not waiting for you to be ready, you just need to do them.
Wednesday we had to drive one hour to get to the race course for the relay. The relay was in the forest and the temperature told us it was cold. All the athletes were sitting in their cars with the heaters on until it was necessary to start warming up and getting ready. Layers of clothes, warm hats and big jackets all over the place!
We had two full teams and one left-over person– Kyle. He raced in an open mass-start with all skiers that did not have a team and assistant coach Otti joined him and those two alone, went all alone and won the whole 5k cla mass start with a good margin. Impressive.
The two teams we had consisted of Team 1 with Petteri, Kati, Alijaz and last, Krista. Team 2 was Arnaud, Julie, Niklas and Brenna. The two teams got 4th and 9th in the college cup. A good team effort and we are happy. Relays are a team effort and we had so much fun.
Today, Thursday already, 6th day in beautiful Anchorage and we have two more races to come. The two races we are waiting for now are Classic 5k for women and 10k for men, while Sunday is 15 and 20k mass start skating. These races are important and it is crucial now that today and tomorrow Friday are well spent so that our bodies are ready to handle what´s coming.
Let´s go LOBOS!!