Monday, 3 December 2012
The temperatures on Friday weren't too bad, testing skis and an easy ski went well. I liked the new stadium and the new course up there. The sprint course had some more twists and turns and more short sharp uphills than before. It was also really wide and should be really fair for skiing in the heats.
The distance courses are similar to before but going in different directions and and in a slightly different order.
At the team captains meeting on friday they explained the cold limits and what they would do if the temperature dropped bellow them. Bellow -15 and windy and the 30k was shortened to 20k, bellow -18 and the 30k was shorted to 20k. Bellow -20 and it was cancelled.
I walked up to the stadium from the hotel an hour before my race start on saturday. It took me a while to find my start number, being registered as both a nation (GBR) and a club (geilo il) and so my number goes to either the area Buskerud or to GBR, but seeing as i'm the only one from gbr and the buskerud team wasnt there, i was surprised to find it wasnt at the race office. Eventually i found it, and headed out to start warming up.
My feet got really cold warming up but it started to go over and i didnt notice it. I collected my race skis and headed to the start. The start of the race was really shaky and i struggle on the first few corners, before the second half where i skied really well and nailed it all the way to the finnish. I crossed the line into what i thought was 20th (tjuende and syvende sound alike in norwegian), but actually it was 7th. I ended up in 12th only 2 tenths of a second behind Andrew Musgrave in 11th. It was a great prologue and i was ready for the heats.
Unfortunately the heat went bad and i finished 6th and 27th overall.
At the team captains meeting that evening things kicked off. Some people want the 30k changed to 20 because of the cold forecast, others wanted the decision to be made on sunday morning. Then it turned into people calling people names, and teams claiming their athletes weren't going to race under certain temperatures and so forth.
On sunday morning the race start was delayed and then cancelled. The coldest temperature i saw was -18,6. But apparently it was as cold as -23 in the race course.
I drove home and had a gym session. Today i had an easy ski up at sjusjøen. It was -21. And officially bloody baltic. Hopefully the cold snap will pass over soon and things will get back to normal.
Tuesday, 27 November 2012
Luckily this year it wasn't so cold this year. A period of high humidity and warm weather around freezing or "zero minus", as Kåre like to say, greeted us.
We had a pretty big team with us. My self and Andrew Musgrave, British head coach Roy Young and Andrews coach from team viedekke, Kåre. The waxer from team viedekke, who also happens to be Sjur Røthes dad, was waxing for us.
The day before the race i was tired. I skied for an hour, tested some skis, checked out the course for the next day and then went home and slept. I hadnt meant to sleep, but i was so tired i couldnt help it. I was more than a little bit sceptical about the race, seeing as i had been so tired the day before and i had been like that the whole week after Beito.
The World Cup trail in Gaellivari is weird. There aren't really any big hills. Nothing that steep, a few longer hills, but nothing out of this world. The problem is, it means there aren't any long downhills, so you are always working. And on the few downhills there are, there are really icy sharp bends. Kåre gave us the advice of "dont get still legs, you WILL fall". I thought it was a pretty good track, not too hard and quite fun to ski. Some people agreed with me, others thought it was really hard because it was just up and down all the time.
As we started to test skis on the race day it started snowing, but fortunately there was enough traffic on the course to stop in mounting up and snow slowing down. I started my race in bib number 56, due to the new start system then lesser ranked skiers start between the best ranked skiers. So i was starting behind Di Genta from Italy and in front of Belov from Russia. As i came out the start Toni Livers from switzerland was starting his 2nd lap of 3. I got in behind him and the pace wasn't to fast. In fact it was quite pedestrian. I stayed behind him even though i felt like i could go past, and sure enough later on i started to feel it, and the pace felt good. I skied for 1 and half laps behind him, then he pulled off and made me lead for his last half lap. I skier from sweden on their 1st lap caught me and i skied behind them for the next half lap until Sjur Røthe, who had started 1min 30sec behind me, caught me up. I jumped in behind him and tried to hold my self there. He pulled away a little of the half lap, but i ended up crossing the line about 15 seconds behind him, and so 1.45 down in total time. I knew Sjur was a top 10 candidate if not a podium candidate, so i knew i had done a good race.
I ended up 66th from 96th finishers, 2.17 of the winner. The race was really tight. Only 1min would have taken me up to the points (top 30), and a handful of seconds would have moved me up into the top 50's.
I was reasonable happy with my race, but it was far from a perfect race where you cross the line feeling like you couldnt give anymore. So im pleased i still have something more to go on, and the bodes well for the rest of the season.
Monday, 19 November 2012
This year i felt i had prepared pretty well to start racing early. After our altitude camp in Italy I came home for a few days before driving over the 3 mountain passes to Geilo. There is snow here in Lillehammer, but the ski tracks are 30min away as there isn't yet enough snow for the tracks in the town. In Geilo the tracks are there and i could ski twice a day without having to spend 2 hours sat in car. The idea of going to Geilo was to work on technique get some snow time and some good interval sessions where a coach could watch me and check on technique.
The "camp" in Geilo went pretty well. I had 3 hard sessions. An interval with the ski gymnas and getting technique tips from Steinar Mundahl, the norwegian technique guru. After that i had an interval with Geir Endre, my coach. Although he stopped competing some years ago he is still extremely fit and always keeps up in test races and intervals. He had no chance in these intervals. I dropped him on the first one, and he resorted to taking short cuts. I got a few good things to work on for my technique but sorted them pretty quickly.
The last hard session was a 7.5k classic + 7.5k skate, mass start, skiathlon with the ski gymnas. I kept up with the leaders in the classic but i wasn't feeling too good. Then we changed to skate and i slowly pulled away to win by 15 seconds. An ok test race.
After a week in Geilo i drove back over the last mountain pass to Beitostølen. Here i met up with my dad. Our "small" apartment we had for the weekend was very small! What i would call a large single bed, a bathroom and a small kitchenette. You had to eat whilst sitting in bed. And we were sharing the bed. After getting over the living arrangements i had a good easy ski on Thursday morning to check the track out for the next 3 days.
The next day i had a late start so took it easy all morning, before walking down to the stadium an hour before my start. I tested skis and warmed up for 45min. Geir Endre waxed for us this weekend, he is originally from Beitostølen, and knows the snow there pretty well and did a job on the skis.
I headed to the start and got asked if i wanted an interview. I said not really but with 1min left before my start the tv cameras fixed on me and a microphone shoved in my face. I spurted out a few words in norwegian... but it wasn't the funnest experience with only a few seconds left before i was meant to start.
Being a time trial, the worst skiers should start first, and i was placed right in the middle of the field. I set off to a steady first lap. The plan was two steady laps of 5k and a hard last lap as people tired and i could make a lot of time. The feed back of the crowd and coaches was good. It's nice to race in Norway where i know a lot of people, when people cheer you by name and every coach gives you splits. It's always cool to get a split from Roar Hjelmeset, the Norwegian womens sprint team coach. He loves to practice his english, and runs along the side saying "come oan androoo, you make a gooood race. top 15 now". He is possibly the most enthusiastic, the others stand still and call out my position or time off the leader.
I came to the bottom of "the big hill" on the last lap feeling pretty fresh and ready to give it beans to the finish as i had planned. The i started going up the hill. I was a lot more tired than i had thought. In fact i was wrecked. I stumbled around to the finish. I ended up 47th, 2mins 30 seconds from the winner. The position was ok and i beat quite a few good skiers, but i think i was quite a long way back off the winner.
Saturdays classic sprint was an ok race for me. I failed to qualify, mainly because i went on traditional classic skis with kick wax, but i should have gone on skate skis and double poled. Of those that went on kick wax i was quite high up. But we learned a lesson for next time.
Sundays 15k classic was just another classic race for me. We had 4 pairs of skis to test. We decided to drop the "hairy" skis because it had stopped snowing. Then i had one soft pair with just stick wax, one with a little klister (glue wax) and mostly stick wax and one that was mostly klister with a little stick.
Everything was working and working well. But i went on the middle pair. It was a bit of a mistake. The skis were really stiff to give good clearance for when they are waxed with klister. But we didnt have much klister on the skis. So when i got tired or careless with my technique i slipped and had no kick. However i still had a reasonable result. 65th, 2min 50 from the winner and only 30 seconds up to the top 20! It was a close race and only a few seconds made a big difference. That's how it is in ski racing now. There isn't space for any mistakes.
My drought of good classic races continues. I think my last really good classic race was Lygna last new year. So there is stuff to work on there and hopefully i will get back into it soon. It's not that i even go the slowly in classic... it's just it doesnt feel right and doesnt feel like everything is clicking together.
Now i have a few easy days and one hard session before i fly up to the north of sweden from the first world cup of the season a 15k skate time trial. I'm looking forward to it and hope i can improve on fridays race. It's going to be dark... but fun.
Friday, 26 October 2012
Monday, 1 October 2012
There was a good mix of people on the camp, and surprisingly, there was more girls than guys. Which, if someone looked at a results list from any ski race last winter, they would realise it was impressive. There were a lot of new things to me on the camp. The first session was a 10x4min interval session. I had never done anything like it and didnt know what to expect. It turned out to be a really hard session! We started down on the valley floor at a place called Øyer and skied up the side of the valley back towards skeikampen. The first 7 intervals where all up a really long steep rise. Then we had a flat interval before heading up the final stretch of climb for the last two. I had a good session and kept up with the rest of the group including leading the all important 8th interval on the flat.
The next day we had a 3 hour run in the morning. We climbed up on the top of the hills and ended up running for 2 hours in snow. It had been cold early last week and snowed a few cm's on the mountains. It made for a good fun running trip and with a good feeling knowing winter was just around the corner. The afternoon session was an easy classic roller ski and also something new for me. We had an upper body strength section during the session. It basically consisted of going up a really steep hill using only our right arms then only our left and then both together. It is safe to say i was rubbish at this! It wasnt so much that my arms hurt it was more the fact i just couldnt do it.
Saturday came along, and it was time for the second hard session of the camp 6x6 min running with poles up to the top of the Alpine hill. Everything was going ok until the 6th interval... where i well and truly died. It was a great session everybody worked well and the focus was on having a good session instead of destroying each other. After the intervals everybody went to the spa at the hotel. It was pretty good to have different types of saunas and an ice bath!
The first session on sunday was a plyo bounding session. This was again something new to me... and something extremely hard. It pretty much involved "jumping" up hill on one leg... then the other leg and then both legs. I say "jumping" but after the third time round nobody could jump it was more of a stumble, shuffle, crawl up the hill. The were where more pain faces being pulled than Tommy Voeckler has in his entire career. On sunday afternoon we drove down to lillehammer and had an easy rollerski here before ending the camp.
It was a good camp, and i learned some new stuff which is always good. What is more important is my car made it up the hill to skeikampen and back down again without any problem!
Wednesday, 19 September 2012
Friday, 31 August 2012
Saturday, 11 August 2012
The road to London, ok so it more like the track to London, as I’m on the train.
The last week has flown by. Luckily the summer camp fell perfectly the week before I am going to London to watch the Olympics and so I could get a really hard weeks training followed by an easy week and a bit of a holiday.
The camp was pretty good. As is standard for the west of Scotland, it rained almost every day with 2 of the 7 days where it didn’t rain at all. This lead to the continual drying of wet boots and clothes. Like last year we were staying in the Badaguish Cabins (in Gaelic you don’t pronounce the g, so I’m told, and so it is said Bada eww ish). With the “lads” taking the upper floor of the 10 person cabin. The stair banister and railing along the upstairs landing became the agreed upon place to dry clothes, with boot driers on full on the landing. The smell was unreal, it hit you like a wall as got about half way up the stairs. Fortunately this was kept out of both the living room and our bedrooms. Downstairs did have a drying room, but the girls opted to dry stuff in the rooms anyway. Clearly their stuff doesn’t smell regardless of what training they have done. The girls also had a washing machine in their bathroom. Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t wash your clothes, but on a weeklong training camp, really? Surely you can fit enough training tops, two pairs of shorts and maybe two race suits in your bag? No? Apparently it has no become fashionable to wash your clothes daily on a training camp. Maybe one or two washes, but every day?
Parent helpers provided the food, all 3 of who came from parents of the development skiers. Of course the food was amazing, and they weren’t completely left on their own, we all took our turns to help with washing up.
The first day and a half of training was pretty easy, with a speed session and a few long distance sessions, including a long run. The run was full of “ladish” banter. It ultimately ended in a mud fight a few km’s away from the cabin. Unfortunately I was wearing a white thermal. After the mud fight we made out way to “the rings”. “The Rings”, a set of 6 rings dangling from a wire as it stretches across a pond/bog. The idea being to swing from ring to ring and making it safely to the other side. “The Rings” are famously remembered after the 2011 summer camp, where Fi had been egged on to do the rings whilst fully clothed. Starting on the first ring she swung out and reach for second at the high point of her swing. As she let go of the first ring, her hand slipped on the second, and still in an upward trajectory she quickly realised she was visiting the mouldy pond water. Dressed in short jeans and a summery top. Hilarity ensued for onlookers, however when Fi emerged from the pond the laughter quickly stopped.
“The Rings” where successfully conquered by all, and it gave a good end to a fun running session.
Monday and Tuesday gave us some hard days, with a 3x20 session and a hard 4x4 session, thrown in amongst a gym session and 3 hour ski. We had some lactate testing on intervals and strength coaching from the Scottish institute of sport, which is always helpful and good fun.
Wednesday was our alternative day, with a 4hour mountain bike and an hour and a half in kayaks in the afternoon. The bike gave Alex a mat reading/geography lesson, with quotes such as “nah, nah. The Bothy is definitely over there behind us somewhere.” He was only 180 degrees out so we cant blame him! We where lost, but we quickly got found again, and it wasn’t just Alex’s fault, there where 3 people with a map. (I wasn’t one of them).
The bike overran a little bit due to a rental bike, which repeatedly decided to malfunction, and a puncture. A quick lunch followed, and then we headed out on Kayaks on Loch Morlich.
Fun to do something different for a change, but I have to admit doing something different doesn’t feel like proper training!
Thursday was another long day with a gym session and a long ski. It also saw the departure of Roger the bnds head coach. This meant my dad, who coaches us on the national squad was going to coach the development lot for the last day. We got Steve Boyd to come along and help us out on the last day. The last time he coached he ended up driving half way across Europe and back in a search for snow and after races where cancelled. In fact it maybe have been the whole way across Europe. It certainly felt like it.
We had an elghufs session up the alpine ski area on cairngorm, with lactate testing at the top. This happened to be THE sunny day. It was awesome. Normally, while on the cairngorms, you can see approximately 10m in front of you. But with clear blue skis and views all the way to the coast, it was spectacular. It was more the shock that it was actually sunny that got to us more than anything. The afternoon was a long 3 hour session, with some technique filming.
On the last day we the older athletes took a few on the younger guys, gave them some coaching and advice before having the silliest relays known to be held on roller skis. All in all a good end to the camp.
Over the last few days I trained a lot, and now I’m on the train to London. In fact only and hour from London. Olympic fever is setting in. And the train full of people talking about the games.
I hope you have been enjoying them.
All for now.
My internet stopped working on the train so this is actually a few days late… but anyway, a blog post is a blog post.
Wednesday, 25 July 2012
Monday, 2 July 2012
A few weeks ago now i was away on a training camp with the national team at sognefjell in Norway. I should be at a testing camp with them now in Stirling but obviously this cough is keeping me from that.
Anyway i had a guest blogger who wrote something about the camp. Mainly because there was so much blog worthy stuff happening and couldnt be arsed to recall it all and would have ended up writing a blog that only covered half the exciting stuff and dipped and dived into the camp. However, Sarah wanted a shot at writing a blog, and seeing as she has done and excellent job i will leave it to her to tell you about the week.
Sunday, 6 May 2012
Wednesday, 18 April 2012
I had 2 great skate races. And one pretty bad classic race. It's important to remember that in a 10k, it's not who is first at 2.5k that counts.
On the way back my bags were lost, and i had a problem with getting a train from oslo to geilo. It was the tuesday after Easter, and easter being a big holiday in norway there was no space. I have no idea why Christmas and Easter as so big in Norway. I have been here for 2 years now, and i only know one religious person. And even he is not that serious about it! But they are a BIG deal here. I stayed the night at Eriks. Its pretty handy having friends here, there and everywhere. Erik had managed to brake his ankle/leg earlier in the winter, so had just started walking again.
Sunday, 18 March 2012
Saturday, 3 March 2012
Friday, 2 March 2012
We got to Turkey quite late. The language barrier quickly became apparent, as good food was a nightmare. I couldnt be arsed waiting around trying to order food through a translator, so i just went to bed.
I was ill for a few more days, but things stated to sort them selves out. Meals became buffets, and we had been into town to stock up on snacks and bottled water as the tap water was undrinkable.
Eventually the day before the sprint i got out of the hotel at 2500m down to the stadium at 1800m. Skiing felt pretty horrific. I only did about an hours session and i was wrecked afterwards.
The next day i felt a bit better, so decided to start the sprint. We got on our bus at 8am to take us on the hour long journey to the stadium. After the first or second set of traffic lights the bus started making some pretty strange sounds and going pretty slowly. We creaked up over some hills and eventually conked out. Stuck beside the road at -25C waiting for a new bus. This was not the funnest half hour of my life. Fortunately the bus schedule was allowing for disappointment and the bus had really left over an hour too early. We got to the stadium in a new bus, and spent the next hour trying to warm back up to normal. But even by the time i raced i wasnt fully warmed up from waiting at a road side.
The race went ok considering the illness. 25th on the prologue and 29th overall, i went out in the quarterfinal.
On the way home, thankfully, we got a warm buss that didnt break down. Smog lingered in the valley, the mind doesnt realise how high you are as the mountains reach even higher, giving the impression you are down in a deep valley. The valley was pretty wide and extensive. There was nothing. The odd farm, villages made up of shakey brick buildings and elaborate mosques, with nothing but a snow covered dirt track leading to them. Occasionally a junction on the highway, a petrol station and a few abandoned broken down cars. But really it was a whole load of nothingness. As we approach the outskirts of Erzrum you start to feel civilization again, army barracks, heavily guarded with machine gun outposts, some small shops advertising kebabs and the traffic flow increases from occasional lorry to quite a few cars and buses. I asked our attache/translator why Erzrum was here. There was no industry as far as i could tell. But it mainly started as a place people would stay as they traveled from Asia to Europe.
We drive through the center of the town. Its like any other normal city. Rich parts and poor parts. Although there were quite a few buildings with parts of their second or third floor missing. Most of the city seemed to be made up of blocks of flats. There were mosques, with high towers, calling people to prayer. We drove out of the city again, up a steep road towards the Alpine ski center. Here there are a handful of hotels all the teams where staying in. Most of them pretty posh, apparently most of the customers are rich Russians on holiday. As we get out of the bus we can look back down onto the city and see a black, grey cloud hanging over the valley and the snow tarnished brown. Up here the air was thin and dry, but clean.
The next day was a training day. The buses ran on time and didnt break down. In the afternoon one of the attaches taught us to play 3 ball billiards in the hotel basement. I ate a lot. The food was nice. We had been worried about the food as we had heard stories from last year when the world uni games were held here. Many people had become ill and blamed the food. We on the other hand had great food. Chicken and rice nearly every day for lunch and dinner, but it tasted good.
The 10k classic the following day went awfully. I learned a lot from that day. Mostly that racing at altitude hurts. After the first lap i felt good and pretty strong, as i entered my second lap a wave of lactate acid hit me, my lungs burned and i struggled my way round to complete the race.
I was disappointed. Now i just wanted to get the last race done and out of the way. Try and do better than i had in the 10k. Unfortunately i had to wait another day. This was a day of nearly no training, only a 30min light ski. And 2 hours sitting a bus to be able to do this.
The final day of competition. The 20k skiathlon mass start. 10k classic followed by 10k skate with a ski change in the middle. I started well and found a nice pace behind two swedes on the classic leg. I came into the change in around 30th position. People where dying fast. The altitude hit people and the slowed to walking pace. I picked it up, got better and better, felt stronger and stronger. On the last lap i lay just off the back of a group fighting for positions between 19th and 27th. I just wasnt close enough to the front. On the last final big climb everything went to pieces. I kicked in to close the gap, the front kicked in to kill of the others. The front of the group was gone and i ended up behind a Swedish guy for the second time in the race. I ended up out sprinting him for 25th place. On ok result. The 10k was awful and it felt great to be on the way back up so quickly after that.
The U23s had a final day of competition after us. So myself, callum and katy had a day Alpine skiing. Our Accreditation got us a free lift pass and rental for the day being only £10 it seemed a waste not to go. It was a pretty fun day and there was some nice skiing. It was only my second time on Alpine skis since i was 5. But it was still fun to give it a blast.
That evening we flew to Istanbul. To an airport on the Asian plate. Then we drove in a minibuss full of ski bags and all the wax kit and our bags at insane speeds, over taking, undertaking, slaloming our way to the European plate and our hotel. We got a quick meal at the bar before a good nights sleep.
Andrew and i had a late flight the next day, so we just chilled at the hotel before going to the airport. At the check in there was a little confusion as they started to try and charge us for our skis and excess weight. We assured them we had payed and they were going on for free. I have no idea if we had or hadnt. But Andrew was pretty adamant they were going on this plane and it was nto going to cost us anything more. They called their manager and kindly accepted.
I made it to Oslo later that evening, flying via Riga. I took a train to the center of Oslo where Erik met me. I stayed the night with Erik and his flat mate Øyvind. It was fun to catch up, i hadnt seen Erik since before Christmas.
The next day via a complicated process involving trains, cars and lots of planning i got to Holmenkollen for the start of a training camp with NTG. In two weeks the Norwegian Nationals are going to be held here. So we were training here for a bit to check out the trails. It was warm. Really warm. Foggy, really foggy. We had an easy skate ski and headed down to our accommodation at Bogstad camping. We stayed in some pretty basic cabins.
I was feeling pretty good, so although i didnt have it in the plan, i joined in a 15k classic time trial with the other the next day. It went pretty well. I felt good and certainly skied a lot better than i had there the previous year.
The final day in Oslo was really warm and sunny. With temps up at plus 14C and the sun shining it should have been a good ski trip. But i managed to fall and break my pole. It was now 10cm shorter than it should be, and then the wax started to go. We realised we were a long way away from the bus with not very long to get back on time. So i ended up going 20k with one and a half poles at pretty much max speed just to get back.
After that we came back to Geilo. It was great to come back, to clean clothes and my own place. Its been warm here to, with the snow going fast. Mostly just ice on the tracks now and huge bald patches appearing. The conditions are much more like what you would expect at the end of April not the end of February. But skiing in the sun is always a nice change from the darkness of winter.
I will add some photos later.
all for now