Nearing in on February 29th has got me thinking. What if my birthday wasn't on February 28th and in fact, on February 29th? I would only be turning 6! Luck would have it, I have 25 years to call my own but I could easily have been on the other side of that four year fence. Leap years are special occasions; a way to synchronise our calendar and clocks properly with the orbit of the earth around the sun. They only come around every four years and maybe a leap year birthday would be like the Olympic dream. The years in between, your birthday would seem like this far off party, and you'd spend your long days out training, dreaming of that birthday cake. At the moment, the 2018 Olympics seem forever away and there's so much to do in between. However, with the leaps I've made this year (namely to one across the Atlantic Ocean), I am grateful to have an extra day in February to celebrate the risks and rewards of my season to date, as the 2018 Olympics will be here before we know it.
This past weekend I raced a World Cup skate sprint in Lahti, Finland on the 2017 World Championships course. Leading into the weekend, I spent most of the week training trying to shake the heaviness and fatigue in my bones. However lacking I may have been in the snap department, a World Cup is a World Cup and I was incredibly nervous and excited to be there and give my best. Not to mention this being a test event for World Championships next year. The sprint course fairs on the longer end of things and bit me in the butt. I crawled into the finish and posted the 46th fastest time of the day. A disappointing day for our women's team, as all of us (Tatjana Stiffler, Laurien Van De Graaff and myself) failed to advance to the top 30. The typical Scandinavian conditions were the perfect lesson and reminder of my weaknesses. Falling wet snow, glazed tracks and temperatures around zero, it is a long way from my 'prime' hard track man-made snow conditions that I do best in. However disappointing of a weekend it was, it was inspiring to watch Jessie Diggins of the USA pull out a silver medal performance as well as watching the best skiers in the world tactically navigate the challenging course. The stakes will be a lot higher this time next year, but I learned a lot about the course and conditions this past weekend.
The last block of racing also took me to Campra for a series of COC racing. The classic sprint was my first classic sprint this season and I missed qualifying for the final after a tangle in my semi-final, right before the finishing stretch. The two distance days that followed, 10km individual skate and 10km pursuit start classic, weren't great distance results for me, but both races proved to challenge me in more ways than one and a challenge overcome means a lesson in da Bank. Cha-ching.
The U23 and 'TG3' athletes travelled basically directly from Campra to St Moritz for a training camp. It was my first time in the Engadine Valley and you could say it was love at first glide. Incredible trail conditions and views to boot. I'm so excited to be racing the Engadine Nightsprint and Engadiner Marathon on March 11 and 13th. I may not be as excited at kilometre 30 of 42, but I'll leave that for future Heidi to figure out.
After training in St Moritz, I competed in the Bündner Meisterschaft in Davos on February 13. It was a great experience for me to take part in a local race and be part of the family action as there were plenty of your racers taking to the tracks. I won the 7,2km skate individual and am the (unofficial) Bündner Siegerin. Unofficial, because my ski club (Schweizer Akademischer Skiclub) is technically based in Kanton Bern and therefor not a Graubünden ski club, fun race none the less!
In the coming weeks, I will be watching Canada on television as I cheer on teammates racing in the Tour de Canada. I'll be doing my fair share of racing in Zwiesel, Germany (March 5/6), in the Engadine Skimarathon and Nightsprint (March 11 and 13th), Swiss National Championships (March 18-21) and finishing off the season the way it began, skate sprinting (Langin, March 26th).
Although the powers of fitness magic aren't pulsing through my veins at the moment, I am convinced that with the sunshine in Davos and magic that comes with an extra day in February, I'll be back on track to tackle the March Madness!