Busy times call for pointed questions. We caught up with Caitlin Gregg, the women’s SuperTour leader from last season — which earned her World Cup starts this November and December — before she jetted to Muonio, Finland, nearly 4,000 miles from her home in Minneapolis.
On Sunday morning, she flew out of Calgary, Alberta, after spending about a month in nearby Canmore (also about 4,000 miles from Muonio), where she trained on snow at Frozen Thunder with her husband and Team Gregg teammate, Brian. She purposely scheduled her first layover in Minneapolis to spend about five hours with Brian before flying to Paris that night.
In an email, Gregg explained she’d arrive in Paris at 8:35 a.m. Monday morning, leave for Helsinki two hours later and arrive in Finland later that afternoon. From there, she’d fly north to Rovaniemi, Finland, arriving around 5:40 p.m., and then planned to drive about three hours farther north or Muonio. In total, she figured she was in for 36 hours of travel.
Gregg, who won the U.S. nationals 20-kilometer freestyle mass start and placed second in two other events at nationals last January, celebrated her 34st birthday on Nov. 7.
1. What’s one essential you packed for the next couple months in Europe?
“The Samsung phone that Brian got at the Olympics. We got a T-Mobil plan for it so that I can use to keep in touch with him while I am gone! He also loaded videos and movies for me to watch 🙂 I am also bringing a good pencil and a sketch pad. Drawing helps me relax!”
2. What part of Euro life or culture are you most excited for?
“All of it!!! Everything still seems new to me so it’s all fun. I am really looking forward to the breakfasts (well all meals!) being prepared and ready to eat when I wake up! I know by the end of the trip I will look forward to making my own meals, but right now nothing sounds better than a pre-made buffet with good bread, jam and cheese :)”
3. What are you going to miss most about home?
“This one is pretty easy…Brian! There is nothing like traveling the world and racing on the World Cup with your husband!”
Gregg’s travel essential: “A good pencil and a sketch pad. Drawing helps me relax!”
4. What’s one race/venue that you’re particularly excited for in the next several weeks, and why?
“Lillehammer [Dec. 5-7], I hear it is a hilly course and there is a 5K Skate which is my favorite format. Plus it’s cross country ski racing in Norway which is always incredible.”
5. What’s one thing you’ve been working hard on, technically or otherwise, with your skiing this offseason?
“Last year was all about skate altitude distance racing, trying to make the Sochi 30K, so this year I have been much more ‘well-rounded’ in my training approach with more classic and sprint specific workouts! I obviously love skate skiing, but it’s be fun to mix the focus up a bit! So trying to be more well-rounded in my race results.”
6. What’s your “secret weapon” for a successful start on the World Cup circuit this season?
“The ‘Fish Factor!’ Those of us from the original CXC Team will all agree that we were at a HUGE advantage having [U.S. Ski Team coach Bryan] Fish as our coach and waxing our skis. I am really excited to be working with Fish again this year and on the World Cup! I have a ton of confidence in my skis and my waxing heading into the season which feels great!”
7/8. How nervous do you get for the first race of the season? How different is it starting the season in Finland vs. Montana?
“I always get nervous no matter what the race…but I absolutely love racing! I usually start the season pretty strong and have had my best races early on in West Yellowstone. I am looking forward to a new venue and racing at a lower elevation to start off the season. Obviously the competition will be very strong and very deep but I like the challenge and the unknown.”
9. What will you miss about West Yellowstone?
“I will miss all the awesome cheering from my Loppet Nordic Racing teammates and all the familiar faces on the trails and at the first races in West Yellowstone. It’s great to start the season with so much enthusiasm for the sport!”
10. If you could ski like any famous World Cup skier (past or present), who would it be?
“Charlotte Kalla! I love how smooth and effortless she makes skiing fast look!”
Bonus: Who’s your World Cup Crush?
“Axel Teichmann [a two-time world champion and two-time Olympic silver medalist from Germany]. Brian knows [this] and makes fun of me. The crush goes way back to an elevator ride at the 2007 World Championships with Laura Valaas.”