U18 Trip – Pre-race Moments in Otepaa, Estonia


Check out these experiences coming in from the U.S. U18 skiers about to race in Otepaa, Estonia! NNF supports trips like these, helping build up internation racing experience for our junior athletes. As can be seen by the athletes on fire at Junior/U23 World Championships, the more our athletes travel and race, the bigger the milestones they reach each year. We can’t wait to see how these U18 athletes tear it up in Otepaa!

We are writing from Otepää, Estonia! We are having an amazing time so far, exploring the town and trails! The downhills here are crazy fun and the uphills are huge! On our trip here, we ran into Jessie Diggins, Sadie Bjornsen, Rosie Brennen and the rest of the United States A team on their way out from the World Cup last weekend. They gave us some great race advice and got us really excited for our upcoming races. We will be racing a classic sprint, a distance skate and a mixed technique relay. We’ve been doing some race prep out on the trails and loving it. It was very, VERY cold the first day but it’s been warming up. We are really looking forward to racing tomorrow, and we are incredibly thankful for the support you’ve given us. Without it, we wouldn’t be here having a great time. Your continuous support of junior athletes has given us amazing opportunities. Whether it be a local camp, or racing overseas, we are very grateful. Thank you! Looking forward to our race tomorrow!
-Kate Oldham, Annie McColgan, and Abigail Streinz

We have been skiing on the race courses the past few days in Otepaa Estonia! The courses are so amazing, challenging and exciting, and we can’t wait to race on them!! It is so incredible to ski with and meet so many fast skiers from all over Scandinavia! I have been dreaming of going on this trip for many years and I am so excited and honored to be here representing the USA at the Scando Cup this year. This is such a special experience and such an amazing team to be sharing it with! We are very lucky to have such great coaches and waxers supporting us. We got to facetime Kikkan Randall a few days ago, and she gave us some awesome racing tips as well as inspiring life advice. We are super excited for all of the races, especially the team relay. Thank you teammates, coaches, and families for helping us get here. Thank you NNF for all of the support and for giving us this incredible experience!
-Nina Seemann

Over here in Otepaa, Estonia, the weather is mostly sunny skies and bluebird ski conditions. We’ve been able to explore some of the culture as well, taking a visit to the beautiful city of Tartu. Waking up just 50 meters from the venue, at an international competition, is a dream come true. Just 7 years ago, I put on nordic skis for the first time and began this miraculous journey into the cross country ski world that has opened so many doors for me. You guys, the National Nordic Foundation, make the dreams and aspirations of young American skiers a reality. As a young skier, I could never ask for more than the opportunity to own a pair of skis and a ski pass. I’d call up my best friend and we’d get a ride over to the nordic center and ski for hours, captivated by nature and socializing. Now, a senior in high school, racing my first international ski competition along fellow friends I’ve developed over the years from a variety of national competitions at a world cup venue(!!),, I reflect on those moments of youth and see the magnitude of growth and opportunities made possible over the years by supporters like you. Thank you for making my dreams come true! It’s an honor and privilege to represent the US of A and I can’t wait to lay down some strong efforts!
-Josh Valentine

My name is Brian Bushey, I’m from Montpelier Vt. I am currently in Otepaa, Estonia for the U18 Scandinavian Cup races. Estonia has been super cool and it is constantly beautiful here even on days where it is far below freezing It has been enjoyable because of how pretty it is here. The people here are also very nice. The people who run our hotel seem like they would go to the end of the earth to make our stay more enjoyable and they have been doing a great job. We are also basically staying at the ski center since it is less than a minute walk to the trails and where our wax room iswhich is great, It is basically the perfect place to be for a ski race. The team has been really coming together and we are always laughing and always keeping each other happy. In the dining room it is easy to tell we are the ones having the most fun out of all the nations. I also can’t wait to race, the courses are so steep and hilly but the downhills will be extremely fast when we are all on race skis that it should be very interesting. I am so thankful that I got to be on this trip and I know it might not have been possible without the funding from NNF so thanks so much NNF for helping me be able to come to Estonia and enjoy this place for all that it is worth. Estonia has been super fun so far and I know that there is more fun to come too. I can’t stop thinking to myself how much better this is than sitting through another algebra 2 class. Thanks NNF.
-Brian Bushey

Hello, my name is Michael Earnhart and I am from Eagle River Alaska. First, I would like to thank the National Nordic Foundation for helping fund part of this trip. This is only my second time outside the U.S., so it’s a very exciting opportunity. The first two days I was still adjusting from jetlag but I am feeling much more comfortable now. Our hotel is directly across from the venue which is super convenient. The Finish team is also staying in our hotel and we had a fun experience with them watching the world juniors livestream of the 30k. The U.S. results at junior worlds were very inspiring to us and is giving us confidence for our races. Our second night here we were given multiple U.S. ski team hats and headbands which we immediately began wearing the next day. The venue is interesting because there is a permanent stadium with actual seats and everything which is very different from what you see in The States. The trails are in excellent condition as there is a plethora of snow here. The hills are really long which means the racing will hurt. Of course, this makes for some epic downhills. We are looking forward to talking with people from the other countries and possibly exchanging some gear with them.
-Michael Earnhart


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