Wednesday, 18 April 2012

what's been happening...

At the end of March the norges cup concluded with the national championships sprint and the skiathlon final, in northern norway, in Fauske. Wont go into to much detail about it... i had both my worst sprint and worst distance race of the season. The waxing was a nightmare. On the sprint day i have never seen anything like it. I wish i had filmed it actually. It was complete chaos. Others on the national team have described the scene before the 15k classic at the world championships in Liberec in 2009. I wasnt there, but it sounds like a similar situation. The wax rooms were divided by just wire fences, the type you would see a building site. So people could sort of see into the neighboring wax room and what other teams were up to. Fitting all the wax rooms in the tent, with the accurate amount of space that each team had paid for, aslo created a maze like structure to navigate to find your room/space. As it was difficult someone would come up with a solution, then via half overheard and half seen, the solution would spread through the tent like a wave and suddenly everybody would go out and test the same thing. It was a stressful day for everybody. At one point i witnessed skis being thrown over the top of the fences to get to central wax rooms that would have taken a while to navigate to. 50 something year old, slightly over weight wax men were running like hell in and out of the tent and to the tes area.
All this was going on, with athletes trying to remain calm. Normally we test skis with an hour to go before start. This is pretty much protocol in every team. But athletes were turning up and being told to go away, skis werent ready, and others were just told they were not getting to test. Other people tested really close to the start of the race. The waxers would run with the skis to the start. This is risky buisnes in my opinion... all it takes is for one or two mistakes and and an eye not well enough kept on the clock and you end up with no skis at the start.
It was certainly an insight into a difficult wax day.
After Fauske i travelled to Finland to attend the anual easter cup races in Lappland. The goal was FIS point hunting. Get some fis points now, so i dont have to worry about them at the begging of next season.
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.
It was fun to get in a little more racing at the end of the season, and have a little bit of a better feeling after a bad weekend in Fauske. We had some of the younger guys from the development squad with us. They were a pretty fun group with their own dynamics and "in" jokes. So it took a little while to get used to them. I think they were all a bit shocked by the standard of the races, and perhaps disappointed with how they skied. It is a big difference from wizzing round roller ski tracks in scotland to racing agains some of the best skiers your age in the world. But the important thing, was the learning experience, and with 3 races in one weekend it was funny to see how people actually learned in the relatively short time of 3 days.
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.
I eventually made it back up to Geilo, where winter has taked a second grip. After the abnormally warm March there was pretty much no snow. It was looking pretty bad, and i was dubious that i would be doing much skiing now. But the snow is back. It has been snowing on and off for the past week and been minus degrees most of the time. As i look out the window now it is tanking it down with snow, and the lawn is once again returning to white having gone from white, to brown, to yellow, to green.
The conditions have been awesome, in fact, better than most of the winter. Blue extra (-5, new snow), blue skies and nice conditions. I have had quite a few trips up into the mountains, but after the march thaw, the tracks in the town have been given up on. So it means a cycle to either the bottom of the alpine slope and a ski up the alpine slope, or a long cycle up into the mountains. However i am tall enough to jump up and catch onto empty T bars, so a few times i have got myself a free ride to the top.
We have also had the traditional Vårcuppen (the spring cup), here at geilo. Pretty much a competition between the cross country and the biathlon guys. It involves 3 races. I hill climb, up the alpine slope, a mass start 10k skate race and skarverennet, the famous marathon race on saturday. The hill climb went awfully for me, but yesterday in the 10k i had an ok day. Normally around the lake, and with a back up venue to the south side of the town in the mountains, it was weird to be doing it around the competition trails at the stadium. Round the lake and the south side of the town have not enough snow, so 3 loops of the 3k man made snow loop were being used. The conditions were awesome. Hard packed, with a little soft layer on top. Out of the stadium and into the first hill i was doing ok, then Geir Endre decided to be an idiot and trip me up. He had been taking the race seriously, so as master could give students one final lesson (geir endre is my coach). He had even slept in his own bedroom the night before so as to avoid being disturb by his newborn. Pretty convinced he had race prepared his skis as well (he also waxes for the norwegian national team ). Just to get one last advantage he tripped me up. The rest of the first lap was a fight to get back to the front, zigg zagging in and out of folk and making my way slowly to the front. I caught Geir endre and asked what he was playing at, he responded with a friendly push, but luckily this time i didnt fall. Just before the stadium i got back with the leaders and into second place. The second lap had a higher temp at the front and we knocked it down to a group of 3. The last lap went insane on the big climb, 2 of us went together to almost the top then i got dropped. I made my way back to the stadium pretty slowly, the time gaps were big enough that Gjøran who won took a victory parade around the empty stadium and i could do a 180 over the line. It was a fun race, and pretty much reflected how we have been skiing all winter, but i still maintain i would have one if i hadnt fallen on the first lap.
On saturday the famous, or maybe the infamous, Skarverennet takes places. Going from the Highest train station in Norway, Finse at 1,220m to ustaoset. The town or village 10k up the valley from here. The race is 38k. Last year there was pretty much no snow. And what there was, was think and sloppy. It ended up into a double pole the flats and walk the up hills race. The final decent into the town through all the cabins was pretty much just gravel with a dusting of snow. This year the snow shouldnt be a problem, although maybe a problem at the other side of the spectrum! Its meant to be bucketing it down with snow all day. Hopefully it wont be too cloudy or windy and we cant at least see where we are going.