When World U23s had wrapped up and I was finally leaving Kazakhstan, Falun was my destination and racing at World Champs was a reality I could not stop thinking about!
My 12th place finish in the Skiathlon at World U23s was enough to earn me a spot on the Senior World Champs team. Since nothing is confirmed until CCC's High Performance Director says so, I stayed awake after my last race in KAZ until I received that fateful email from him. At this point I really didn't know if I would be selected or not. Everyone had long since gone to bed and I was sitting in the hallway, tired and anxious, repeatedly refreshing my inbox until the message came in. Ping! I had to re-read the email several times before I could relax and know for sure that I WAS in fact going to World Champs! It was foolish of me to think that I could finally get some shut-eye that night because there was nothing I could do to stop my heart from racing or to get my brain to shut up. Needless to say it was a sleepless night (the best kind of sleepless night)!
To top it all off, there are few better places to host the biggest event in cross-country skiing than Falun, Sweden. World Champs to Swedes is like the Super Bowl to Americans. There were just under 300,000 spectators, most waving their national flags and all making a deafening amount of noise. That was unforgettable. My favourite moment might have been when I was skiing up Mördarbacken (the “killer hill”) warming up before my race and there was a stretch of fence occupied by some Swedish kids, all holding their hands out for a high five. I looked around, and none of the other athletes were paying any attention to the spectators; too professional or too focused to notice. I couldn’t resist those high-fives, so I skied over and high-fived every one of those kids. As I skied away, I heard them shouting “You are the best woman!” in their broken English. It was awesome!