Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cross Country Ski Nationals in Whitehorse, Yukon. PART 2

I woke up next day feeling good. My first race was over and I was pumped for the races that were coming up. The next one would be the day after. A Tuesday with 5 kilometers of classic skiing. We all ate some breakfast before it was time to get skiing. We left the hotel and drove to the wax hut from where we started our ski. After only 1.5 hours of skiing we went to get lunch at the community center. We arrived at the hotel after lunch and took a shower. There would be a couple of hours to walk Whitehorse before it was time for dinner.

I woke up Tuesday feeling a little nervous about my upcoming race. My category was one of the last ones to go so I had good time to get in my race suit before a group of us left the hotel at 9.30. When I arrived to the race site it was time to warm up. A part of the preparation to races that I don’t really give that much attention… But I completed some sort of a warm up and Chris told me to go test my skis. I soon returned asking for more grip wax. Since your technique decides what amount of grip wax you need, I usually need quite a bit. Soon I was standing on the start line ready to get going. It was an individual start where the skiers get sent off with a 15 seconds interval so I left the start line alone. Now my mission was to complete the 5 kilometer loop without too many guys passing me! It was a course with about 3 kilometers of climbing before hitting the downhill part. Since it is the climbing that really requires technique I got passed by quite a few guys. But on the downhill part I managed to keep up with one of them thanks to some aggressive double poling.

After 17 minutes and 50 seconds I passed the finish line. As number 85 out of 89 some people would argue that I should be crying. But considering that I had been skiing for 5 months and everybody else for at least a couple of years, I felt quite satisfied with beating 4 Canadians! After grabbing some lunch in the athletes tent we skied to the wax hut and continued in cars back to the hotel. I was quite exhausted when I was lying down on my bed that evening. My first individual race was done and I had managed not to finish last in my category. Next day, Wednesday, would be another race day with a skate 7.5 kilometers race. Hopefully I would be able to maintain my statistic with not being last!

I got in my race suit Wednesday morning not really thinking of what was ahead. I had heard that the day’s course would be even steeper than the 5 kilometer loop but hadn’t really thought about it. After all it would only be a 3.75 kilometer loop that I would do twice so how bad could it be? After some breakfast we left to the wax hut and skied out heading towards the stadium. When I arrived it was time to a little warm up before I would be going out on my 7.5 race. After a short warm up I was standing ready at the start line. Again today it was an individual start with a 15 seconds interval. I was ranked a little better than the day before which meant that a few skiers would be going out before me. The best skiers would go in the end so after just 3-4 skiers in front of me it was my turn to cross the start line and begin my 7.5 kilometers of pain.
I skied out feeling good and soon I caught a guy that obviously already was tired. I climbed and climbed up some very steep hills and I was starting to feel like dying when I heard someone standing in the side of the track saying that I was halfway up the hill. Not really the message I had expected! My thoughts about this course had obviously been wrong! After being passed by a guy or two I finally reached the top of the course. It was time to a couple of minutes of relaxation down the hill before I would reach the stadium and begin my second lap. I reached the bottom by the stadium and felt like just stopping for a break. But breaks are not a part of racing so I kept on going cheered up by the yelling along the sides of the course. There is nothing like hearing your name yelled out when you are about to collapse! I managed to make it through the challenging course once again before I collapsed on the snow after crossing the finish line in a time of 24 minutes and 37.9 seconds. This time provided me with an 82nd place out of the 89 skiers in my category. I was beating more people and still keeping myself away from the last place!

We arrived at the hotel soon after and after a shower some of us wandered around town. Whitehorse itself is not the most beautiful place. With first nation people doing drugs in the alleyways and open bars at 10 am it was quite sad to see how the old civilizations had been disturbed by the expansion of European explorers. That night we went to the hot springs outside Whitehorse which was really refreshing. It was nice to just lie in nice warm water after a long race and it didn’t take me long to fall asleep that night! I was already more than halfway through my races and the time was flying by! Next up would be the sprints on Friday which I was quite excited about.

But first a Thursday in between to get some strength back from the intense races that I had already been through!

To be continued in Part 3!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cross Country Ski Nationals in Whitehorse, Yukon. PART 1

It was 10 o’ clock when we arrived to Whitehorse Yukon on the 12th of March. This was the place where the Canadian cross country ski nationals was to be held. It had been an early morning getting to the airport at 4 am but I felt surprisingly fresh when we arrived to the tiny airport in Whitehorse. There was spray painted “EXIT” and an arrow on the wall and all in all it was quite an experience. Soon after we arrived at the hotel which was located just beside to bars. Even though it was only about 11 am there was people drinking outside the entrance to “98 Hotel” which was the name of the bar/hotel beside our hotel. We got to our rooms and started unpacking and soon we headed out to find some lunch. Vince, my roommate Tyson and I found a Subway after cruising through the little downtown of Whitehorse. When we came back to the hotel it was time to get ready for some skiing. After a little drive we arrived at the wax hut that Chris had gotten us into. We got our ski boots on and headed out for a workout. After a couple of hours we returned to the hotel and got a shower before heading out for some dinner. We were all quite tired when we went to bed that night…

Next morning we all left the hotel at 9.30 after eating breakfast at the hotel. It was time to go and ski the course for the following Sundays sprint relay. The course was 800 meters and Vince, who was my relay partner, and I would each ski the course three times. I would do a lap, and then tag Vince who would do a lap and then tag me etc. The time it would take us to complete the six laps would be our final time. We skied the course and the returned to the wax hut before we drove back to the hotel. It was not a lot of skiing that day but there was no need to waste energy.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling fit for fight. We drove to our wax room wearing our extremely sexy spandex race suits. We then skied the 7 minute ski to the stadium that was all ready for the races. Our race skis were already waxed thanks to our excellent wax techs so soon Vince and I wished each other good luck and I went to the start line. Bang and then we were started! I went off like a pro and tried to stick to the guys in front of me. Soon I had done my first lap and before I knew of it I was in the tag zone and tagged Vince who had already started accelerating. Vince went off like a champ and I made myself ready to get tagged when he returned and tried to catch my breath. After six laps of fighting Vince passed the finish line and secured us a 22nd place out of 29 teams. With a time of 13 minutes and 43.1 seconds and 1 minute and 45 seconds off the first place we were quite happy about our result. After getting some lunch at the athletes tent we skied back to the wax room and drove to the hotel. That day we ate dinner at a community center that we had rented and soon we were back at the hotel preparing for bedtime. First day of races was over…

To be continued in PART 2!