I am extremely stoked to be back in Europe for another World Championships. Since I wasn’t skiing very well last year, I have not been on the World Cup since the last World Championships in Falun. The first few days here was the usual fanboy stage for me. I got to ski around all of my heroes and World Cup crushes and just soak in the experience of being on the World Cup and being treated like a rock star.
After that came the extremely-nervous-and-excited-to-race phase. I went into the skiathlon hoping to get through the classic in a decent position and move up in the skate where I felt like I was stronger. Breaking a pole early in the classic set me back a bit, but I was able to hook up with Tad and ski the entire skate leg with him which helped a ton.
Now I am very much in my normal race phase. I decided to just send it as hard as I could in the 15k classic knowing that it was not my better technique and I had nothing to lose. I am pumped up to lead off the relay for the US tomorrow and for the 50k skate to finish off the Championships.
Aside from racing, this is definitely one of the most enjoyable trips to Europe I have ever had. We have incredible accommodations here in Finland. Word on the street is that [Chris] Grover booked these years in advance. The condos we are living in are fully equipped with laundry, kitchens, drying closest, and even our own saunas. It is super nice to be staying in an athlete village and be able to interact with other nations outside of competition. We have many kilometers of awesome skiing right here in Vierumaki and are only a 30-minute bus ride from the venue. The venue is also extremely impressive. Not only are the trails some of the hardest race trails I have ever skied on, but the atmosphere with all the fans and proximity of the venue to the town of Lahti has created an electric scene.
It feels really special to be a part of a team that is now consistently winning medals and belongs in these races. Nothing would be possible without our incredible support staff of masseuses, doctors, wax techs, and coaches. NNF is also the main factor I can race in Europe as they throw a lot of support my way that makes things financially viable. I am excited to finish these Championships strong and for the future of US cross country skiing.
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This is my first time out of the U.S. and competing at the U18 Scando Cup in Finland. This has been the best experience and I am so motivated to get to the next level. Kittos (Thanks in Finnish)- Mattie Watts