Hello! Hannah Rudd here, checking in with a quick recap on OPA Cup Finals! This year, we had a large group of around 20 U.S athletes repping the stars and stripes in Toblach, Italy. One of the things I love most about this OPA trip is the fact that we get to come together as one U.S team. With there being many different professional teams and clubs in the U.S, it is rare that we get to join forces and train, travel and learn from one another during a race setting.
This year, the first OPA Finals race was a Skate sprint. The sprint course in Tobalch takes place exclusively in the stadium, making 1.5 laps around the area. This layout makes spectating pretty spectacular as you can see almost the entire race while standing in one position. We had some solid results with several U.S skiers moving on to the heats!
The next two races of the weekend were a 10k skate and a 15k classic pursuit. With the spring weather in full force, the snow conditions were typically firm in the early mornings but then quickly breaking down once the sun came over the mountain. A lot of us have not been used to this kind of sloppy, variable, klister weather, so it was great experience to ski in conditions that are very common for the European racers.
Being in Europe racing against skiers that are bouncing between OPA and World Cup for their respective countries is an experience that really elevates U.S athletes. Not only are we getting to race against really fast skiers, but we’re also skiing on technical World Cup trails, practicing adjusting quickly to new time zones, and learning to ski in conditions we’re not accustomed to.
I feel very fortunate for the opportunity to race at OPA Cup Finals this year and am so grateful to The National Nordic Foundation for making this trip possible.
Hannah Rudd is a professional skier based in Bozeman, Montana, where she skis for the Bridger Ski Foundation Pro Team.