Athlete Blog: Hailey Swirlbul – Finland Pre-Camp for the 2019 Junior and U23 World Championships


Team USA has been in Lahti, Finland for one week, preparing for the 2019 Junior and U23 World Championships. The team has been staying at a resort, Vierumäki Hotel, about 30 minutes away from the venue. We spent the first few days skiing on trails that were right out our back door! The nice thing about arriving in Finland a week before races is that we weren’t in a rush to go learn the course. We knew we would have plenty of time throughout the pre-camp to do this, so instead, we took advantage of the rolling, mellow terrain around the resort.

The first three days of the camp were overcast with snow gently falling from the sky. With a sunrise at 9:20 and sunset at 3:30, we were grateful to see some sun by the fourth day! Also, we started making more trips to the venue to check out the rollercoaster race course.

Photo 1: Skiing on the trails from Vierumäki Resort (PC: Greta Anderson).
Photo 2: Great trails for an easy ski!
Photo 3: Checking out the race course in Lahti on a sunny (but cold) day (PC: Greta Anderson).
Photo 4: The 3:30 sunset from our hotel.
Photo 5: Bread and butter for dessert, so good!
Photo 6: The squad getting all laced up for a great game.
Photo 7: Coach Greta getting a spare.
Photo 8: Some of us needed a little more assistance than others…

Another pro to staying at the Vierumäki Resort is that we didn’t need to worry about cooking for ourselves. Although a buffet can be an easy place to pick up germs from other athletes, it’s also nice to have an abundance of food ready for us at every meal. We’ve been doing a good job at washing our hands before and after every meal and using plenty of hand sanitizer to limit the spread of these germs. Nearly every meal includes fish and potatoes- most of us have eaten more fish this trip than we normally do in an entire year! One of our favorite parts of every meal though is the bread and butter. They always serve freshly baked bread served with FOUR different types of butter… who knew there could be such a variety of butter.

Before the races started we had plenty of time to find various ways to entertain ourselves. Some athletes watched Netflix while others kept up with schoolwork. There have been a few trips into town and the grocery store and we were even able to watch the World Cup races on TV. However, the most exciting activity we did was go bowling one night! The resort has a bowling alley in their basement and we all had a fun night testing out our skills.

It’s been a fun week full of skiing, games, and lots of bread, but as the races get closer it’s time to get down to business. During one of our team meetings we even had the opportunity to FaceTime with Kikkan Randall as she gave us a few tips on how to race the Lahti courses and handle our nerves. Thank you Kikkan! We’re looking forward to kicking off the week with classic sprints coming up.


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