In this episode, we talk with Alayna Sonnesyn (SMS T2), who is coming off of her fourth consecutive victory at the American Birkebeiner in Hayward, Wisconsin. But the path between these victories, especially over the last two seasons, has not been smooth or direct.
Alayna has had standout results on the SuperTour, but that has not directly translated into consistent results on the World Cup, leaving her navigating the tricky waters of being what is often dubbed a “bubble athlete”. Last season, her reach goal was to make the Beijing Olympic Team, which would require putting all of her eggs into whichever race-pathway basket was most likely to get her there. Ultimately, she was not named to the team, and a positive COVID test shortly thereafter rubbed salt in the wound. She also ended the season one FIS point shy of making the objective criteria for National Team selection in 2022.
Alayna has been open about all of these setbacks both on social media and her blog – in particular, how difficult they can be to process in the moment. However, on paper, she has translated this journey into a career-best season. She’s cracked into the heats of two World Cup freestyle sprints, finished 26th in a 20k skate in Davos, and clocked the 5th fastest time of day in the same event during Stage 4 of the Tour de Ski in Oberstdorf, GER. She even beat SMS T2 teammate Jessie Diggins on a downhill segment.
Alayna talks through these experiences, where she’s at now, and of course, the Birkie during this episode. We also chat about her new podcast project, Extra Blue – which is well worth a listen – and who her dream guest and conversation would be. The answer is surprising.
Just a heads up – we did have a few connection issues which caused a few audio bumps. Thanks for listening!
Rachel is an endurance sport enthusiast based in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado. You can find her cruising around on skinny skis, running in the mountains with her pup, or chasing her toddler (born Oct. 2018). Instagram: @bachrunner4646