Dusseldorf was my last race weekend of the trip and it was a great finale. The races were in downtown Dusseldorf on the banks of the Rhine. Snow was trucked in and the course was prepared Friday night. This is what the course looked like Friday afternoon:
The loop was around 800m with the girls doing one lap and the boys looping around twice. By Saturday morning the track was in good shape, though the snow was quite dirty.
Saturday was an individual skate sprint. I felt pretty good in the qualifier but it was such a short and fast course I had no idea how I had done when I crossed the finish line. I finished in 38th place, 0.77 seconds out of qualifying. It was disappointing not to qualify but it is encouraging to be clawing my way closer to the top 30. Chandra had a fantastic day finishing 4th, her best result in over 3 years!
Sunday was the team sprint event. Dasha and I were trailing after the first couple laps and weren't able to match the pace of the top girls in our semi-final, so our day ended there. It was a great opportunity to practice exchanges and sharpen my elbows with 11 girls flying around the tight narrow corners. Chandra and Peri made it to the final and came in 7th and Drew and Lenny finished an impressive 5th. Also Kikkan and Sadie teamed up for the US and came 2nd, with Sadie getting her first World Cup medal!
The whole atmosphere in Dusseldorf was so exciting. There were booths and food vendors set up by the track and the area was crowded with people. There was a Christmas market downtown selling ornaments, toys, candy, food and alcohol. The mulled wine stall was by far the most popular.
We discovered a gourmet tea shop where we drank the best tea of my life.
Running along the Rhine for our afternoon workout:
The race hotel is attached to a big indoor arena. It holds soccer games, concerts, and various other events. This year happened to coincide with the Race of Champions, an indoor rally car event. There was a viewing platform attached to the hotel restaurant so we watched as they prepared the course. We snagged tickets for Saturday evening and watched until the exhaust fumes and loud noise sent us back to our rooms.
I had such a great time with the World Cup athletes, coaches and staff. A big thank you to all the wax techs for taking great care of my skis, Scott, Shayne and Wolfman for the amazing massages/physio sessions and also to Eric, Justin and Louis for coaching the trip.
Drew wrote a great blog about the perpetual optimism of athletes. No matter what happens we always believe it is going to get better. I believe I will get faster and will eventually make it to the front of the pack. Check out his article here.
I flew to Kelowna on Monday and spent a day at my parents' house before meeting my Academy teammates in Silver Star. I am hoping to conquer jetlag and race both NorAm races here this weekend.