This was my first actual World Cup race and a good learning experience.

I quickly learned that World Cup races are just as if not more competitive than the World Championships because every woman competing is at the top of the sport.

world cup race disentis switzerland
(Photo by Jesus DYañez).

I finished the Individual race with an 8th place; however, due to an error during the race, I got a 2 minute penalty for my avalanche receiver falling out at a transition. Big no no. When I got in to the race corrall my transiever wasn’t beeping. I took it out to re set it and in my effort to make to the start in time I forgot to zip up my pocket when I put it back in.

Needless to say, it wasn’t my cleanest race, but learning the details is all part of the game. Was in the back but after the first descent I found myself gradually catching up to the front half of the pack. It’s always exciting when you feel like you’re racing the entire length of a sub 2hr length race.

It was also very hot too…almost 60 degrees …polar opposite of temps we get in the Rocky Mountains.

My European “Race-cation” as I would soon dub it, started out at the World Championships in Villars, Switzerland.

The sprint was my first taste of international racing. It feels like the closest thing similar to racing the mile in college. It’s an all out effort, racing neck in neck with the worlds best. One of the advantages, depending on how you look at it, was not knowing my competition. I heard all the stories, I knew these euro ladies were the best, but I wasn’t going to back down with out a fight. It’s like this rookie priviledge you get when you are the newcomer on the scene. I went out fast and during the transitions got eat’n alive but it was one of the coolest races I had ever experienced.

I fumbled my final transition and lost about 4 places in what was some costly seconds. I finished top 20 (and top American) in the Sprint and 18th in Individual (2nd American), and top 10 in Teams and Relay.

usa ski team women

An all out effort up the hill about 4 hundred feet including a boot pack and 3 transition points before descending around giant slalom styled gates to the finish. It was a neck and neck pursuit and the highlight of my Worlds experience.

I crave this level of competition and competing with the best women in the world really lit a fire under me. During the Individual and for the first hour of the race I was back and forth with my rival and rock star teammate, Jessie Young. We were stacked in between about 4 other racers 3 of which were Espoirs. Now when I look back I actually know who these women are that I was racing against. Needless to say Jessie put the pedal down on the last ascent and gained almost 3 minutes

Sometimes life is simply just putting one foot in front of the other, and being okay with not knowing where it will lead.

I traveled a lot growing up and in my 20’s but never solo, and nothing quite like this .“Race travel” in what was a fairly new sport to me was an entirely different beast.

Before setting off on this journey, I was nervous because I had no clue really what I was getting myself into, but knew I needed to take a leap of faith if I was going to experience any real growth.

Packing was my least favorite part but I learned a lot in the process of constantly being on the move.

I’ve been home for 6 weeks now and only just beginning to digest and unpack what those 3 months of international race travel has taught me.

It was an adventure to say the least. One full of trial and error, great determination, a fair amount of frustration and confusion, of course fatigue, and yet great success.

Time will tell how this experience has changed me because I know it has. But among the many life lessons here, I walk away having gained a greater respect and appreciation for the differences in other cultures as well as a deeper love for my own country.

Thankful for the journey and those who supported me along the way.

17 races. 11 weeks. 6 countries. 😅

Madonna Di Campiglio, Italy

This race as a whole was one of my top highlights from racing in Europe.

I showed up as a Team of One, sort-of like the theme of this trip.

I was quickly “adopted” by team Andorra.

Sprint Race

I had a thrilling time racing the sprint under the lights on the famous World Cup Alpine FIS run at Madonna di Campiglio. I was happy to have had a clean time trial run with smooth transitions. I made it to semi-finals, but very bad transitions left me hanging on for dear life.

You let up for one second here, and you get swallowed alive. It’s actually quite exciting! Despite my goof-ups, I gave it my all and came in 9th overall. Snow or shine, it’s so cool to be here racing with the likes of these incredibly fast, strong women. I am learning A LOT.

Individual Race

I was proud of this fight. Capped off 5 hard days of racing last week (and the final World Cup of the season) with an 8th place finish in the individual race.

I was grateful for the gift to do this, the people who have helped me get here, and all the valuable lessons I am absorbing in this European journey. And I am thankful, too that my skimo family has officially grown!!

My friend, Cam and I met up with some fellow Americans and some of the Canadian team members for some exploring off the Vallee Blanche Aguille de midi and the Grands Montets on the Argentiere glacier.

The GRANDness and beauty of this place blew my mind. It was like the Disneyland of big mountain, backcountry skiing.

It is a place that taught me a healthy fear and respect for the mountains. I’ll be back for sure.

chamoix france sierra anderson and friends

Tromso, Norway

The sea to summit approaches during this race reminded me of Alaska! The beauty was incredible!

I​t was two back-to-back days of racing the 4,000 meter Tromso Arctic challenge, dubbed also as THE Northernmost Skimo race in the world.​

We raced over 6,000 vertical feet of climbing each day.

I came in 2nd place just behind Norway’s fastest girl.

I was able to explore more of this beautiful place on my final days in Europe. ​ I call it the cherry on top to end my European race-cation.

skittendind skimo race norway

I was one of 6 athletes world wide nominated by ISMF (International Ski Mountaineering Federation) and Chinese Mountain Association for an all expense paid trip to the Quinghai province of China to compete in their Mt. Gangshika race.

It’s two days of high altitude racing (a sprint and a vertical) where we camped at 14,600 feet and raced at close to 16,000 feet….the second highest ski mountaineer race in the world.

I’m p​roud to say, I left it all out there…ending this season on a HIGH note, pun intended!

I topped out over 15k…which racing at that altitude is quite painful.

I brought home 1st place in the sprint and 2nd place in the vertical. Hearing my national anthem on foreign soil was the highlight of my experience.

Crevenia, Italy

This is known as “The Great White Marathon.” It was truly a GRAND adventure….and one of the coolest, wildest and longest efforts of my athletic career. It was over 13,000 feet of climbing on glacial terrain, in minus temps over the course of 26 miles. For 7.5 hrs, all the “feels” were felt – from freezing cold to spicy hot!

The race started at 5​ am running through the cobblestone streets of Crevenia in the dark with 900 other racers.

It’s team race of 3 persons racing and climbing 13,000 vertical feet in over 26 miles through glacial terrain. Out of 300 teams, we were top 50 overall, and we were the first North American women’s team to ever compete in this event. ​

This journey as a whole taught me a lot. Not having had much more than 2 team race experiences under me, I really learned about the power of team in this one.

Macugnaga, Italy.

Cam going head first. 5 duffel bags. 4 ski bags. 3 men. and me! Tight would be an understatement.

Coming right off the heels of the World Championship race, a few of my teammates and I loaded up my rental car…which just so happened to be both BIG (by Euro standards) and RED. Needless to say, it had American written all over it and this was going to be my wheels for the next couple months. Yikes!

Somehow we managed to make this big car feel really small with all of us loaded in. Immediately following the final day of racing at the World Championships, Rory Kelly, Jon Brown, Cam Smith and myself headed for another adventure. We managed to squeeze all of us in the back while Cam and I scored the front It was a long 3 hours to Macugnaga….a cute little Italian village at the end of a long windy mountainous road to the top.

We arrived just in time to register and pick up our goody bags which included these hot looking Rosa Ski Raid CAMP windbreakers.
Snow! But with this sun baked snow came some scary and variable descents
On the way to the start we were wondering where the snow was
It was very hot but also exciting racing on this glacier! There were not as many women at this race so I took the lead from the start but it was fun to be competitive with some of the guys
The Rosa Ski Raid was my first time breaking tape in Europe and a really cool local race experience at that. Spectators lined up and TV crews were at the finish line interviewing. This was my first taste of local racing in Italy and it was exhilarating.

Before leaving we took the tram up….which was right next to the place we stayed and enjoyed some morning coffee and good views at the Macugnaga ski resort

Before leaving town we caught the tram right next to our AirBnB
Cash and more beer than I knew what to do with!
The guys soaking in the incredible view and planning their retirement

We will be back….