Norwegian Woods

No relevance to the Beatles song (other than the opportunity to say what a great song that is – great little story & tune in 2 minutes).   Anyhow I’m in the middle of Norwegian woods somewhere near Sjusjoen – I’d try to be more precise but as I’ve lost the chalet each time I’ve gone out it is pretty clear that I have no idea where it is.  (Obviously I found it again, in case anyone was wondering :) )

Just met up with returning warriors Calum Irvine and Scott Dixon, who along with Katy Homyer had great races at Bruksvallarna – see the separate report.  Yet again Bruks provides the best of starts for British skiers, with personal bests, qualifications for senior team and World Juniors.  Well done to the 3 (and also to Sarah Hale who was racing with her Swedish club).  Good job Roger who lead the team there.

So the snow headache continues although it has shifted to other people now.  The trip with the seniors has taken in Sognefjell, Geilo, Lillehammer, Beitostolen and then Valdresflya.  Apparently about two and half weeks ago a big snow storm hit the higher mountains in the west.  This was the snow we skied at Sognefjell with Team Hovden – a really good couple of days on a 3 k out and back track, looking at technique and tweaking stuff.  The final day had the guys going on a crust skiing tour – skating over the mountains, occasionally hopping patches.  We went back to Lillehammer to find lovely autumn days but no snow in the forecast and Sjusjoen predicting they would start making snow at the weekend.  However, we heard that the high pass beyond Beitostolen was giving access to a prepared trail.  As we still had our booking for a Beito cabin we headed over.  This was a good, if at first look a strange move, particularly in the light of FIS announcing they were moving the first World Cup race from Beito to Sjusjoen.  However, the preparation for the World Cup takes precedence and XC skiers are not allowed on the tracks at Sjusjoen until Friday (and there was no track at this stage). alt The track at Valdresflya was good – they had done a lot of work on the old snowfall and made a 6.8 k loop (we know this as the GPS work we were doing with Andy from Scottish Institute of Sport showed it).  On Friday we travelled up the mountain pass on the road with more grit than I’ve ever seen on any Norwegian road, to be the first cars at the track.  So as the sun rose we were enjoying a gentle classic session in stunning settings.

altWith Andy’s help the technical analysis was going really well and the gps was giving ideas for how we can use this technology to enhance our training and performance into major events.  The afternoon saw a fantastic sunset as we skated the trail, more worryingly a large full moon produced shadows as we skied.  It was also discovered that you can’t get moon tan.
altOn Saturday we did intervals and the feedback on this was really good; being able to pick on your fast bits, your slow bits and so on how the technique compared was excellent.  Sunday saw us skiing with the Norwegian women’s team (and their biathlon women) as well the Legkov Russians and the French team plus a lot of Norwegian clubs and local skiers (including one guy out skiing his dog – but the dog kept off the track and didn’t get in the way of anyone, which is better trained than some skiers).  Even with these groups we were able to get great video from the classic speed session.  One complaint was that the summer cafe was just that and didn’t open to provide coffee for cold coaches.

On the snowless front :  Having had the world cup moved Beitostolen then pulled out all the stops and shifted snow from the fjell to the stadium and have opened a 2.5 k loop, which they can easily extend.  Geilo opens its trails today. I’m in Sjusjoen – the running is fine!  Oh, the world cup will be great, the gangs working at the stadium are huge but they have to add a new track to make it hard enough – those of you who know the stadium watch out for the additional loop down and up the back loop.  Cold temperatures have now kicked in but there is no sign of snow in the forecast – so all over the winter sports world there will be people with large headaches.

Cristina (race organiser in Bruksvallarna) is recovering – they did it! – got the first race off and had live Swedish and Norwegian TV coverage.  So she’ll be back at the end of April panicking about the trail and entries for end of season Fjelltoploppet – we should never forget the hoards of people who volunteer to go through all of this so that we can enjoy the sport (both over here and at home where the clubs do a great job putting on snow races as well as the British Rollerski series)

Rats, I’ve taken up more than 2 minutes (then again it could be I read slowly – but then I’m no Lennon and Mcartney)