For my money, the best ski racing to be found (I'm talking watching, not doing) is the Tour de Ski, which just wrapped up on Sunday: nine days, seven races, three countries, sprints, short distance, long distance, classic, skating. It takes a real athlete to pull off something like this, and I have been glued to my laptop all week, enthralled by the skill and stamina and all-round awesomeness of the racers. It's all about playing to your strengths, compensating for your weaknesses, out-smarting your opponents, and of course, recovering quickly so you can do it all again the next day. The women's race was blown away by Marit Bjoergen (with Liz Stephen a thrilling fifth overall!), but the men's tour was much closer. All of it was exciting to watch, and I feel kind of empty now that it's over and I'm back to watching the long long ski classics.
So my head is full of visualizations, and I need to ski. In real life, I ski like an elephant, but in my rich fantasy world, I can imagine I'm, not Bjoergen, surely, but Fessell, maybe, or Hermann, tall strong German girls. I spent most of Saturday chained to my desk, but on Sunday, I was free to roam. Right now, our two local groomers are doing amazing work with the limited snow we have, Nick on Amabilis and Mike at Stevens Pass. I figured I had two options for Sunday: Amabilis, where I would go up and up and up and then down and down and down, or a longer drive to Stevens, where I would go up and down and up and down and up and down. With the Birkie never far from my thoughts, I decide up and down (and up and down) was the best for me, and I drove to Stevens ...
... and found bonus skiing!
The pass report had said it was raining, and the forecast was for rain, but it was snowing, real live fluffy white flakes of snow, at the nordic center! The tracks were excellent in the trees, and a little icy out in the open (Mike said there had been freezing rain that morning), but that worked out perfectly for me because my plan was to tackle the rolling hills of Sideline, staying in the trees.
I had a great ski. I have lots more work to do before the Big B, but I'm moving in the right direction and, considering all the mental energy my job is requiring these days and the uncertainty of the winter weather, I'm just grateful for another opportunity to spend an afternoon on my skis. My heart overflows with endorphins and oxygen.