Kyle [Bratrud], Cole [Morgan], and I all arrived a few days earlier in Lahti than all they other athletes. The 3 of us all checked into one of the four-person apartments that Grover had reserved for Team USA. These were by far the nicest accommodations most of us had stayed in for ski racing. We had drying lockers as we walked into the apartment, with a sauna and group showers off the mudroom. Next was a living room with a full kitchen and fireplace. Past the outdoor patio, there were two bedrooms each with their own bathroom. Kyle and I roomed together, and Cole had a room to himself until Ben Lustgarten would arrive with the rest of the U.S. Ski Team.
There wasn’t a lot of training to be done with the recent travel and jet lag, so our apartment passed the time by watching the Oteppa World Cup and downloading Hill Climb Racing on our phones. There was a lot of joking and laughing going on in the apartment with records set on Hill Climb Racing, and bets being placed on the SuperTour races in Michigan. We all bet on our friends and teammates to take the top spots.
Cole, Kyle, and I all fell into a routine after a few days that we followed until we left Lahti. Ben, unfortunately, got sick and wasn’t around in the apartment long enough to get sucked into our daily routine. Cole would always wake up first and make coffee for the condo. He suffered from jet lag the worst of the group. I would get up second and find Cole under his blanket, on the couch sipping coffee and playing Hill Climb Racing. I would drink coffee and game with him until Kyle got up. We would then head to breakfast as a group. After breakfast, we would go home and get ready for training. If any of the men including Noah [Hoffman], Simi [Hamilton], Andy [Newell], or Eric [Bjornsen] who were staying in the apartment above us, were on the same plan we would link up and go ski. After training, we would go home, shower, change, and head to lunch.
The boys killed the afternoon by doing laundry, watching Netflix, gaming, and napping. Kyle was on a Friends kick, and I was catching up on Modern Family. In the late afternoon, we would either go for a jog, or the later training group would catch a bus into Lahti to ski the race courses, and prepare for their upcoming race. We would head to dinner 6:30 sharp every night, to beat the rush hour dinner traffic. After dinner, we discovered exploding kittens—a light hearted and easy to play card game. 8:30 pm would be a team meeting laying out the schedule for the next day where the boys would link up for training or make a plan for the next day’s race. The meeting would be followed by another round of exploding kittens until 9:30 pm. We would walk back over to the dining hall for a night snack, a bowl of Rice Krispies.
The boys had their own groove going on in Lahti, but on relay day we tried to borrow some of the girls’ shine and glitter. Everyone sees the women’s team killing it at the front of races with their faces painted and the now very famous relay socks. We decided to get our act together in the final minutes before the first bus and asked Jessie [Diggins] to help paint our faces. Kyle, being the scramble leg, left for the bus stop early. When Jessie learned he had already gone she sprinted to the bus stop and was able to get the flag on his cheek before he left. We received a selfie from Kyle on the bus with the caption “she got me.” I was incredibly humbled when the girls even gave us the relay socks to wear if we wanted. We decided the face paint for these championships was enough and that the girls were the ones to rock the socks. Hopefully, in the Olympics, the boys will be ready, and we can race at the front of the pack along with the girls and add some relay socks to our groove.
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