Last year’s SuperTour sprint champion Laura Valaas qualified for the U.S. ski team after working with the Midwestern â€œCXCâ€ senior development program, and is now a member of the Anchorage, Alaska-based APU team. Fasterskier talked with the up-and-coming Washington native the evening of the awards ceremony in West Yellowstone after she placed 2nd (to Kristina Strandberg) in the season-opening distance race, an 8km classic.
FasterSkier: So, first things first, what did you have for breakfast this morning?
Laura Valaas: Hmm that was a long time ago let’s see eggs on a bagel oh, you know what I did have for breakfast I had some brownies for breakfast, after my eggs and bagel.
FS: Like 20 minutes before the start right?
LV: No, with the rest of my breakfast. That’s not a breakfast of champions, I don’t recommend eating brownies. But they were really good.
FS: That put you in a good mood?
LV: It did put me in a good mood. A little chocolate always does that.
FS: Did you have good skis out there today?
LV: Yeah — excellent kick — I think I only slipped once but it was probably my fault.
FS: What was your strategy?
LV: I didn’t really have a strategy. Go hard up the hills, go hard on the flats, go hard on the downhills
FS: How do you go hard on downhills?
LV: Usually I tuck. But sometimes I can get in some good double poles.
FS: So you guys had 3 coaches out there?
LV: Yup — Erik Flora, Casey Fagerquist, and Holly Brooks — they’ve been awesome waxing our skis, staying up late, getting up early, being out on the course all day they’ve put in a lot of work to get us to be able to race this weekend.
FS: Did you have some good split information out there?
LV: The U.S. Ski Team guys gave me splits on the uphill each time I went by, so that was nice — but I also knew there were a lot of fast girls behind me so you can’t take anything for granted.
FS: What have you been working on for technique over the summer?
LV: Mostly just being dynamic and using my power — using my weight to kick, being really aggressive on my skis.
FS: So this year must have been a lot different training with APU instead of CXC this summer and fall or not so much?
LV: It wasn’t too much different. Ski training is ski training — as long as it’s hard, you’re probably doing it pretty well. But I definitely had very good training this summer with APU, skiing with some very fast girls, and some very fast guys. It’s very motivating to try to chase down some faster people.
FS: You try to chase down the guys?
LV: I do — I can sometimes catch up with some of the college boys, but most of the other guys are a little bit too fast for me.
FS: So what’s next here, a couple weeks of training before the next races?
LV: Yup — back to AK for 10 days of training, and then back down to Bozeman for the SuperTours in Bozeman and Soldier Hollow.
FS: Cool, well good luck in Bozeman!