U.S Ski Team athlete and Global Rescue member Sophie Caldwell had a breakthrough season in 2014. She placed sixth in the Sochi Olympics Freestyle sprint (the only U.S. female ever to make the top six at the Olympic Games in cross country skiing) and recorded her first individual World Cup Podium (only the second female to achieve that). Global Rescue caught up with Sophie before she headed out on her upcoming ski racing season:

What are one or two things that you are currently focusing on in training?

My main focus for the summer has been working on leg strength. I’ve done a lot of running, no pole, and one pole skating. I was recovering from an elbow injury and wanted to work on improving my skating this summer, and I think one pole skating can be very good for leg strength and technique. I’ve also been trying to do a lot of core strength and leg strength in the gym. 

What is your plan for early season racing post-injury?

My follow-up appointment is coming up, so I think a lot of when I begin to race will depend on what the doctor says. I’m currently planning on heading over to Europe with the rest of the team, but I plan on sitting out the first races in Finland and focusing on getting some on-snow training. Hopefully I will be using both poles and can start racing in Lillehammer in early December. 

What are you most looking forward to this upcoming season?

I’m really looking forward to World Championships in Falun this year. It’s always fun to race in Scandinavia because of the ski culture there. Cross country skiing is huge over there, so fans get pretty excited when the races come back home. I’m also looking forward to exploring some new venues that I haven’t been to yet!

What are your goals for this season?

It’s tough to make a lot of concrete goals right now because I really don’t know what to expect after my injuries this summer. I’d like to begin the season with no expectations and just be happy to be back racing again. I’d love to get back to being comfortable qualifying in sprints and become more consistent in the rounds. I would also like to improve on my distance racing this year. I’ve accepted that it will take some time to build back my upper body strength, but I think I can get it back with some work! Patience will be key this winter, but I’m feeling fit and strong (at least my legs are). 

What do you find is the biggest challenge when traveling all winter long?

The biggest challenge for me is being away from my family and home for so long. Luckily, my family will be coming over to Europe for Christmas, so I won’t have to go too long without seeing them. Traveling to a new place each weekend is really exciting, but sometimes all I want to do is be home in my own bed. There are a lot of tricks we’ve picked up that make hotel rooms seem homier and just make travel in general easier. For example, I usually bring a photo album from home and a stuffed animal. Having a supportive team of great friends makes life on the road a lot more enjoyable. 

How do you prepare for international ski trips?

Packing for an international ski trip really isn’t very different than packing for a domestic ski trip. We only have one suitcase and we’re still primarily skiing, so my suitcase looks about the same. When I know I’m going to be gone for a long time, I usually throw in some extra staples like peanut butter and candiesthat I miss from home and know I will appreciate after being on the road for a while. 

It’s reassuring to know that wherever I am in the world, I’ll always have the protection and support of Global Rescue. There are a lot of things we need to adjust to when traveling to Europe for the winter and having Global Rescue, a medical and security service we’re familiar with, adds a level of comfort that is sometimes difficult to come by.

What is the best strategy for packing skis for flight travel?

Down jackets! I take my biggest jackets and wrap them around my skis for extra padding. I also tape my skis together because they don’t break as easily that way.