Felicia and I rolled into Bozeman just after 10:30 pm on Sunday. Given we had raced a 10k in Canmore, AB that morning and had anticipated a midnight arrival, it wasn’t half bad. We finished one story tape, Less by Andrew Sean Greer, made headway on Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please, and nearly, but did not, run out of gas for the second time on our trip.


Felicia and I have been teammates for two years and spent three months of last winter on the road together, most moments likely spent within one room’s proximity of one another. We’re training partners, roommates, and good friends, and have figured out our priorities on trips. Mainly cheap travel and minimal stops. As we descended into Kananaskis Country on the way up, our “priorities” earned us worried glances in each other’s direction as we tried to mentally convert whether her Prius’ ‘8 miles to empty’ would get us the remaining 17 km to Canmore. We pulled into a gas station seven minutes from our final destination with mixed feelings of relief and defeat.


On the way back, I misinterpreted the scale of our map and incorrectly assumed that Shelby, MT was just beyond the border. With ‘5 miles to empty’ and 36 miles to Shelby, we found ourselves facing a similar predicament. As the dashboard flashed ‘0 miles to empty’, we skipped the worried glances and sat in silence, generally accepting the fate the Prius had in store for us. For those of you traveling on I-15S, Sunburst, a one stop sign town with a single self serve pump, is there for you. We filled up and continued on our way. I can only assume my mother, who’s coasted into several gas stations on empty, is proud, and my father is shaking his head.


All this to say, Felicia and I, and Luke, who joined us on the backend of his USBA camp, made it safely back to Bozeman after kicking off the cross country season last week. A combined Super Tour/NORAM and the inaugural Mexican National Championships, the three-day race series (skate sprint, 5k/10k classic, 10k/15k skate) was a headfirst dive into the race season.


The beginnings of race seasons are difficult. Maybe some have mastered them; I have not. A time defined by anticipation, I find myself falling somewhere between hesitant and eager. Hesitant in the seasons where I feel like I need more time or don’t feel ready to show up in all of the physical and mental capacities that I know the sport requires. Eager in the times when I’ve found confidence in my preparation and can’t wait to test the sturdiness of that feeling.


So, as expected, anticipation was a big part of the weekend. Add in the fact that we were racing on some big time World Cup courses and the nerves hit. Amid those feelings, here are a couple of things that grounded me.


A supportive team. Having participated in many different sports, one thing has remained true for me - I thrive with a team. Despite its infancy, I’ve been energized by the team dynamic we’ve created within Crosscut thus far. My teammates are dependable and hardworking, encouraging and supportive. After spending most of the summer and fall together, we’ve now entered a time where our disciplines and race schedules are more different than alike. It was encouraging to find out that regardless of our respective locations, that foundation of support remained true. 


Friends on the circuit. A bit like leaving school for the summer and returning in the fall, things in the nordic world seem to pick up right where they left off. The past few years, this reunion of sorts has taken place in West Yellowstone as skiers arrive for the Ski Festival before Thanksgiving and stay through the opening Super Tour races. This year’s race schedule had many teams skip their stop in West and fly or drive directly to Canmore. While there was plenty of attention given to the races, warm-ups, cool-downs, and easy skis were often spent catching up with one another. Few have the opportunity to convene in an awesome place to go skiing with their friends every couple of weeks, and last weekend was a reminder that we’re living that reality.


A strong Bozeman nordic community. There’s comfort in familiarity and beyond our Crosscut team it was awesome to see Bozeman’s nordic community in full force. There was representation in Bridger Ski Foundation, Montana Endurance Academy, Montana State University, and a few Bozeman natives who are now members of other ski programs. If not friends, these are the people we’d pass out on Triple Tree or Kelly Canyon during the summer and offer that knowing nod that conveys comradery in our similar pursuits. This past weekend, those exchanges transformed into welcome wishes of good luck and shared inspiration in strong results. Also, a big shout out to Andrew Morehouse, BSF’s Nordic Program Director, who provided our team with wax support. 


Next weekend, the team splits ways with a biathlon crew competing in West Yellowstone, Felicia and I heading to Sun Valley for the second weekend of Super Tour races, and Ruslan representing in Norway. 


Stay tuned.


Hannah

Anna Fake (Montana State University), Erika Flowers (Bridger Ski Foundation/Solomon), and Felicia Gesior (Crosscut), back row left to right, compete in a quarterfinal four of Friday’s sprint. Eventual second place finisher, Katherine Stewart Jones (Nakkertok Nordique/CN Ski Team), leads the group out of the stadium. Photo Credit: Anna Sellers.

Luke Brown drives toward the final stretch of Friday’s sprint qualifier. Photo Credit: Anna Sellers.


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