Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Torsby

Torsby, a small town in Sweden, near the border of Norway. Home of Sven Goran Erikson, and a tunnel. But not just any ordinary tunnel. This tunne,l built winding its way up and down a hill side, is full of snow and the temperature is regulated to -2 C. Its a giant freezer. And here, in this small town, congregate hundreds of skiers each year to ski around in circles. The tunnel at 1.3k in length, two skate and two classic tracks, is a summer ski resort. There is no snow outside, the temperatures are in the high teens, but yet you can ski in circles of 1.3k in length.
This is why, along with many other skiers and teams, the British team decided to have a camp there last week. To ski on snow. With many members on the team now at uni or having other commitments meaning they can't get on snow early in the season, we now have to look at geting the snow time else where in the year. For me it was an opportunity to work on technique and get some snow time without the pressure of a race or competition coming up. Normally by the time the snow comes it is only a few weeks to the first competition and then the racing is full on with only a few small breaks until the end of the season. So to train a week with 25hours of snow skiing is pretty rare. During the season, rest, recovery and quality training sessions become more important than skiing for hours on end.
The camp went pretty smoothly. We bumped into the British Biathlon team, who some of us thought were there and some of us had thought they would have just left. It was good fun to meet up with those guys again, they always have good banter and funny stories offering a new insight to life. The offered to let us join them on a shooting session, but it was the one afternoon it rained, so we decided to skip it and just head to the gym instead. One of the best things about Torsby is you can avoid the bad weather because you are skiing in a tunnel. Looking out through tiny windows and pouring rain and howling gale. But this is also one of the worst things. Last week was quite possibly the best week of the Autumn so far. Warm, calm, blue skies.... and we were inside. Fortunately i doubled a lot of my sessions, i would ski for two hours, and then run for an hour afterwards.
Somehow running in Torsby is like running through a maze. I have never completed any length of run in the forest there without getting lost to some extent. It is impossible. The maps look nothing like the trails. I'm not the only one either. Four years ago, teammate, Simon Platt was lost in there for over 3 hours, and ended up running 40min in zone 3 to get back after seeing signs saying "Torsby 30k". (he ran the opposite way to signs).
Towards the end of the camp the SNS (Salomon, Atomic, One Way) companies turned up to do some testing in the tunnel and show of their new products to... mostly old people. These "old people" are known as Birkies in the trade. The train for an event like the Birkiebeiner. All of them ski with a the same distinctive technique... head down, huge arm reach, massive leg extension, they wear rucksacks and they go really really hard... ALL THE TIME! None of witch is particularly wrong. They have quite a good technique, they wear rucksacks because they race with them and they go hard because they think its good training. But when i'm out for an easy session and 60 year old comes steaming past it is a little depressing. Especially when they are going just fast enough to be infront, but not fast enough to pull away. By the last day the tunnel was quite well populated, with people mostly of this nature, with new One Way, luminous boots. It was great to see so many people skiing, when it's not the ski season and skiing isnt really to the forefront on peoples minds. But the boots! Maybe it was just the dully lit tunnel that made these luminous, yellowy, greeny boots stand out as being disgustingly coloured. Regardless, i think One Way need to rethink its colouring scheme!
We had a good few interval sessions, most notably a Sprint roller ski session on the last day. Between the 1/4 and the semi final a snake appeared on the rollerski track. This was funny. As our absent teammate Andrew Musgrave is petrified of snakes. Jokes made, pictures taken, emails and sms's sent... the snake was eventually flicked off the track.
On saturday night we traveled to Oslo, i couldn't get a train up to Lillehammer, so i stayed the night with the others at an airport hotel. The fire alarm went off at 6.20am. My train wasn't until 10.05. So i was having a nice relaxing sleep, thinking i could get up late and so on. The wham.... "whoooouuuhhhhhwhhhoouuuhhhh A FIRE HAS BEEN DETECTED IN THE BUILDING whooooouhhhwhooooouhhhhwhooouhhh A FIRE HAS BEEN DETECTED IN THE BUILDING". Down the stairs we went, out the door we went. Standing next to a Glaswegian women who was bitterly disappointed... " they cant be taken it that f**k*n seriously if the staffs in their eaten their breakfast". Sure enough there was someone sitting over by the breakfast buffet eating. After a while the alarm went off staff came out and told us it was safe. Most people filled into the breakfast buffet. Me included. After we had a drink and headed back off up to bed a fire engine turned up outside. With 4 sleepy looking lads sat in the back. It was a good job there was no fire.
Now back in Lillehammer, and back to normal training.