As many of you know, I was living in France this winter to train and race on the Skimo world cup circuit. I call it my European Skimo Boot Camp.
Beginning in December I lived and trained in France with local teammate Grace Staberg, and the legendary Laetitia Roux. “Laeti” we called her is the most decorated Skimo athlete of all time, so it was a privilege to work with her. But with great reward also comes great risk. Going “all-in” in a sport like this takes sacrifice and a level of commitment; I feel I could only scratch the surface. It was a time of growth on many fronts.
There were times in the journey where I felt highs and experienced some lows, asking myself if this was something I could really sustain in the long term. I knew that I wanted to maximize this season of singleness and pursue this passion to its fullest degree.
Our Training and Routine
Our routine was quite simple, and simple is sometimes hard. We all lived in a chalet deep in the woods of the beautiful French Alps. There are pluses and minuses to this level of remoteness and training. Being so removed from civilization has its perks, no distractions and better recovery. However, as an extrovert who is fueled by social community, I found it hard to completely turn off. It forced me to get creative, find ways to get connected, and incorporate social outings where possible. It’s the butterfly in me. Finding independence in the midst of a strict schedule like this was a challenge. When we weren’t traveling to races, we trained, ate, slept, worked on gear, then repeated every day.
Grace and I went to Europe with the goal of racing for 5 months. We came home 2 months early. It wasn’t until our China World Cup got canceled in late January due to Corona virus did our plans start to get disrupted. China informed us that the cancelation of our World Cup was “due to extreme organizational issues,” but we soon knew it was because of the virus. Although Grace and I couldn’t get refunded on our airfare and race fees, we were happy to not go to China, given the growing pandemic.
In the 3 months I was there I gained a lot of experience, and a new perspective about sport. We traveled by car close to 10,000 kilometers around Europe. Laeti said this was more travel than she had ever done during her World Cup days. Although she wasn’t racing, she felt the fatigue as much as we did.
In those 3 months I was fortunate to compete in 13 races, 7 of which were World Cups. Our time got cut short just shy of Grand Course racing season. These are the races that are the marathons of Skimo. Pierra Menta and the Patrouille des Glaciers (PDG) were on my bucket list this season. Sadly, they will have to wait. Races were getting canceled right and left, and when I saw Italy was on lockdown I immediately got on the next flight home.
Some photo snaps from the second half of our journey in Europe:
I partnered with Valentine Fabre (a French athlete and a great partner). It was a pretty cool adventure, and one I’ll look back on as a highlight of this European “racecation.” This was a 3-day stage race with two short and tense stages and a final stage that combined all the classic aspects of skimo. We even had a 60 degree very technical via ferrata crampon section (see photo at beginning of newsletter). It was challenging and rewarding, and despite the lack of snow this season, the last stage was quite enjoyable.My partner and I took 2nd in the 1st stage but overall ended with a well fought 3rd-place finish.
(Little did we know at the time this was the epicenter of where COVID-19 was in Italy.)
We drove back to Andorra for another race, this time a stage race.. To celebrate almost 3 months of working with Laetitia, the three of us joined forces in the Andorra SKIMO10 race for 70 kilometers and over 6,000 meters of climbing our way through the Pyrenees 🏔😅