Wednesday, 30 November 2011

First races

All over Europe ski resorts are struggling for snow, in what has been a very very slow start to the winter season. This has caused a few changes in the plan for myself, as the opening races in Beitostølen were canceled, and with minimum time on snow i decided to drop the world cup the following weekend.
You may remember from last year, at this time, we were experiencing extreme cold here in Geilo, with the coldest day coming in at -33 degrees Celsius. This also lead to my opening races last season being a write off. There were a few who braved the baltic temperatures and raced, but NTG had decided to give it a miss. This year, the same set of races, Bulsprinten, has been plagued by no snow. And so, rather comically, the races have been moved to Beitostølen, which couldnt run the season opener due to no snow, but now has plenty, with a 5k loop. The temperatures are forecast to be good for ski racing, around -3 to -6 and a little bit of snow about too. So things are looking good to start the racing season on saturday. Saturday is a skate sprint on schedule and sunday a 15k classic time trial. It had been a 20k mass start but yet another change was needed due to lack of snow. I think this is better for me. Mass starts are notoriously hard and a 20k early in season i tough. But with a 15k time trial you can start at your pace, focus on good skiing and have a good race without all the worries of a mass start.
Training has been going ok the last few days, with some good intervals yesterday. Here in Geilo, we have had some snow last friday and saturday. It then turned to rain and everything turned into and ice rink. its been warm the last couple of days, eating away at the ice on the roads and paths but also at the snow on the track. It has held up surprisingly well, but after a biathlon Norges cup at the weekend and some warm days, there are a few patches dirt and ice.
Last night i was out for a jog in the evening, and was completely over dressed. There was a warm wind, and the ice was melting rapidly. In the night i woke up to the noise of rain hitting my bedroom window, but when i woke up this morning there was a pleasant surprise in a white blanket covering everything outside. Since then its pretty much snowed none stop, and the weather forecast is for it to remain cold. So hopefully, we finally have winter at long last. About a month later than last year!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Classic

Last week was a pretty tough week, lots of training, a few hard sessions, and lots of early starts. Yesterday was a rest day and to sleep into to 8 o clock was an absolute joy. Most people my age would regard anything after midday as a lie in. However today i was back at it, with my first training session at starting 8 being a strength session in the gym.
Last week also marke the transition from dry land roller ski training to on snow training. At the stadium here we know have 5k of man made snow prepared for both classic and skate. Its great to be back on snow, i was completely bored, tired and demotivated to train any more on roller skis. Roller skis try to simulate skiing on snow, but they dont quite succeed, especially in the classic technique, where the grip wax is replaces with a wheel that doesnt go backwards.
So the focus of my first week on snow has been to get over the few technique cobwebs. And its safe to say, my love for classic skiing has re kindled. Most people think of classic skiing as tedious, with waxing, cleaning and preparing the skis. Then its slower than skate and generally a little bit more borring. But this was week has provided excellent classic skiing for me. Firstly i had an easy classic session, but as there was only 2k of tracks in the hardest part of the trails, we had to use the diagonal technique a lot in the climbs. It was prefect grip, and the feeling of striding and glide up the hills was awesome. The next classic session was a double pole interval. 6x6 minutes. This was a great session, i had complete control, and felt pretty good. So the work i have done on double polling over the summer seems like it might pay off. The last classic session i had was on saturday. Just an easy ski. It was raining and warm outside, so we had to use the dreaded klister, but once i had it on my skis it was fine with great grip. The conditions were slow, but to get the feeling of the kick and the glide under the ski was immense. To be honest i pretty much just sacked off going for an easy ski and skied level 2 the whole session, just so i could feel what its like to ski diagonal again. Nothing can compare to skiing snow.
So i quite enjoyed the training camp last week. We pretty much had our own private ski track until friday. Then it got a bit busier for the weekend. The camp officially finished on friday, but just about everybody had a 2 hour classic session on saturday, so we all arranged to go out and train together at the same time. That was pretty good, and it certainly helps to ski with others.
On saturday night a few of the guys went out for a well deserved pizza after the hard training week.
Now i look forward to some "easier" weeks, with some more intervals training and less hours, before the first race of the season, Bulspinten (Gålå) in two weekends time. You may remember last year i skipped Bulsprinter because it was extremely cold at -19 or 20. This year they have a complete opposite problem of no snow. So hopefully things will get under way there no problem.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Are the rollerskis finished for the year?

As i said in my last post, i was skiing on snow last weekend. But i came back to Geilo for a training camp with NTG this week. Yesterday we had a time trial. It was scheduled to be skate roller skiing, but due to ice on the road it was changed to classic. It was a pretty fun race, mostly flat for the first 3 quarters before a massive up hill in the last part to the finnish. I finished 2nd behind mats whose "kjempe vingene" (good wings) served him well on the flat double pole sections. On a complete aside note, Mats from, Gaupne near sognefjell (the summer ski resort in norway), speaks i dialect that is imposible to understand. As mats also doesnt speak much english, we normally dont communicate in anything other than pigeon english, sign language and cave man speak. But finally, i have slowly started to comprehend the dialect and have discovered what mats has been saying. To be honest its not that much more than i understood via the previous discussed methods. Anyway i have digressed, apologies. After the test race we took an easy run in the afternoon, to our delight when we came back the snow cannons at the stadium had been switched on, although producing mostly water at this point. Since then the cannons havent gone off. Any water that was coming out is now ice. Today the guys at the stadium prepared us a track of about 1.5k. Although there isnt enough snow in the stadium, so we have to take a quick 5min jog out to the start. Its pretty much our own private track, although this afternoon there were a few others out too. Because the track is out from the stadium, it includes all the hardest parts of the track, which isnt great for doing some long distance session. But the way this season is going, nobody cares, we are just thankful to be skiing on snow. Hopefully by tomorrow afternoon, when i next have a ski session, there will be a loop on the go and we will avoid two way traffic on the fast downhills. Its pretty exciting to get skiing on snow. Especially when there are so many who havent, it feels like you are gaining a free advantage, although there is a long time to the most important races of the season. So hopefully, for now, the rolleskis are finished with and can be packed away. Although this season has packed a few surprises so far, i wouldnt be so shocked if we had a few more roller ski sessions yet.
might take a few photos tomorrow and let you see how the track is looking.
all for now.

update
read the article on Langrenn.com (you might have to use google translate). It says 3k, but im skeptical that the track is that long at the moment!
http://www.langrenn.com/naa-er-det-skiloeyper-paa-geilo.4985599-1743.html

also a report here thats worth reading from the british team head coach
http://bnds.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=412:norwegian-woods&catid=12:head-coach-blog&Itemid=76

Monday, 14 November 2011

3 Days on Valdresflya

taking a drinks brake
up on valdresflya

This year the snow had been late in arriving, very late. In the last 2 years skiing at Geilo started on the 22nd and 4th of October, we are now on the 14th of November and still there are not skiing conditions. However hopefully by tomorrow that will all change, as snow has been made on the cross country tracks, just not prepared yet. Because of this lack of snow across the whole of scandinavia, early season races have been cancelled and teams have been in search of training locations. The races scheduled for beitostølen, where i had wanted to participate, were cancelled. However 20k from beitostølen, u
p in the mountains, there is a places (wooden hut) called Valdresflya. Here there was snow. Not great amounts but enough to be pushed about and made into a 6.5k ski track. As the british team had accommodation booked for Beitostølen for the races, we decided to go across and train up on this track in the mountains. originally we thought the conditions wouldnt be that great, but after the first session our thoughts were reversed. The conditions were great. Of course there were icy patches, and occasionally there was a stone or 2 you had to watch out for. But for early in the season on a bad snow year, it was pretty good.
I took 2 sessions on friday, an easy classic and an easy skate. We had with us a guy called Andy from the Scottish institute of sport. He was specifically there to look at videoing and gps data. It was pretty cool to see your self ski on a video that took 300 pictures every second. This was quite useful, as the change from roller skiing to snow skiing is big. There are technique changes, and speed changes and also changes in the sorts of terrain you ski on. So the video helped to try and smooth out some of the technique issues that arise when you first get on snow. Dust off the cobwebs as it were.
On the saturday i took some controlled intervals. It
was pretty fun to go on snow, and i felt i skied pretty well. Although not that fast. We had
gps units on, so we could compare differences between each interval and compare to the others. Along with the cameras filming us to check out our technique. Yester
day i skied for 2 and a half hours. Just easy. the conditions werent as good as the othe
r days. The was a bit of sugar
snow sitting on t
op of ice. It had been quite busy over the weekend, and it wasnt so well prepared. However the classic tracks were ok, and there was good grip on universal klister.
Pleased with few sessions on snow i head back to geilo last night. This week is a training camp with NTG. We have a good few sess
ions lined up, and hopefully after tonight and tomorrow we will be able to ski on snow!
the view from the tracks

Friday, 4 November 2011

No snow



So there is no snow in geilo. But to be honest im almost happy about this at the moment. These two pictures are taken from maybe the only places with "snow" in scandinavia at the moment. I cant imagine it being enjoyable training in either of these two places, and i would rather run and roller ski here than try to ski there.