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Kern’s Recovery Road Ends With Sunshine, More Smiles

By Tom Horrocks
September, 9 2019
All smiles in New Zealand
Don't let the smiles fool you! Jessie Diggins and Julia Kern have put in a tremendous amount of hard work while enjoying the outstanding snow conditions and sunshine at the Snow Farm in New Zealand (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Julia Kern)

A quick look at Julia Kern’s (Waltham, Mass.) Instagram posts and one thing is certain, her smile is as wide as her skis are long! But there is more than the New Zealand sunshine and snow that are making her giddy with excitement these days.

Toward the end of last season, Kern suffered an elbow injury that required surgery to repair this past May. It was an adventurous road to recovery to return to double-pole roller skiing in mid-July as Kern continued trail running, mountain biking and strength training in the gym. Finally, on August 23, she was back on snow with her teammate Jessie Diggin (Afton, Minn.) training at the Snow Farm in New Zealand - and that certainly brought a huge smile to her face!

“Camp has been really awesome with Jessie,” said Kern, who also grabbed a pair of Australia New Zealand Cup podiums in 5k freestyle and 10k classic events at the Snow Farm. “We have logged a lot of volume as well as high-quality interval, speed, and race sessions. The skiing has been incredible and coming down to ski on snow at this time of year is so productive and important.

“Getting on snow and working back into two-pole skiing has been crucial for getting into form for the upcoming season,” she added. “I made a lot of progress at camp and am feeling good about how my fitness and strength is progressing.”

Diggins also put in a huge amount of summer training, and so far it has certainly paid off with a trio of Australia New Zealand Cup victories at the Winter Games NZ, plus a World Loppet marathon victory. All the while battling Kern for who had the broadest, brightest smile!

“Overall, I’m extremely happy with where my fitness is at and how summer training has been going,” Diggins said. “It’s also been so fun to share this camp with Julia, and I’m super impressed with how she’s handling the huge training load and the races. She’s looking awesome!” 

With the official start to the 2019-20 FIS Cross Country World Cup season a couple of months away, athletes are still putting the hay in the barn, so to speak. And early-season camps, especially on-snow camps, allow the athletes the opportunity to not only work on their fitness but what is arguably the most important aspect between winning and finishing further down on the results list - technique.

“We’ve been making the most of our time on snow to work on technique and race day details,” Diggins said. “Getting the chance to put a bib on four times has been awesome and racing everything from a sprint to a 42k has been a good test for me in terms of where my fitness is at and what technique elements break down first.”

Diggins and Kern are returning home to finish their final prep work as the season nears with U.S. Cross Country Team camps in both Park City, Utah, and Lake Placid, N.Y. October 8-19, and then returning to snow in Beitostølen, Norway, prior to the first World Cup of the season in Ruka, Finland, Nov. 30.

Aug. 31

World Loppet 42k freestyle marathon

Sept. 3
FIS Australia New Zealand Cup women’s classic sprint

Sept. 4
FIS Australia New Zealand Cup women’s 5k freestyle

Sept. 5
FIS Australia New Zealand Cup women’s 10k mass-start classic