Monday, February 23, 2015

Falun 2015 World Championships

Time for a photo catch up.  I am now in Falun, Sweden for the World Championships.  Lot's going on.  We have had three days of competition and now with a break today and then 5 days straight of competition.  Busy early days with meetings and discussions regarding finish area preparations with photographers, TV, interviewers, chip timing, ceremony producer, and volunteer security etc.  After three days we have a good system going and hopefully can now enjoy the competitions and have everything run smoothly.  Over course that is just the hope.  The "coolest" moment so far was a ski this morning with the Crown Prince of Denmark.  I actually accompanied his assistant while Vegard Ulvang (ski royalty!) skied with the Prince.  It was a really great experience.  I had the chance to sit with just the Prince and his assistant for 15 minutes one on one afterwards while we had a coffee and some Swedish chocolate.  There were three security guys just outside our room but their presence was light and I had the chance to joke with them that they needed to learn to ski.   I don't have any pictures from the ski but it will be a great memory.

My job has it's privileges.  Medal ceremony VIP stage access.  My parents and sister are in the crowd somewhere.  

We were treated to a nice dinner in a small cottage halfway up the Ski Jump hill.  Not a chance I would try that sport.  Really impressive.

Dream car in Ostersund, Sweden airport

Before the World Champs Kikkan and I spent two weeks in Vålådalen, Sweden training.  A really great ski history here and you can feel it in the main building. 

Our one completely sunny day in Vålådalen.  It was -17c.  By midnight it was 0c and +3 c the next day and raining.  Crazy weather for there.  

Despite -17c it made for a beautiful ski.  

Original cabin in Vålådalen from the 1920s. 

Very unique sprint event in Ostersund, SWE.  The final World Cups before the World Champs.  They pushed snow up the grandstand and through the access tunnel so the athletes went right through the crowd. 

Second night in Falun, SWE for World Champs marked the beginning of Carnival which is celebrated in I believe just German speaking parts of Europe but I really have no idea.  Regardless it was time to get my lederhosen out again and they had an extra hat for me.  

Wooden plates for dinner for a very traditional Swedish meal.  No dishwashing here!  But great kindling for the next fire.  

A huge herd of Reindeer on the drive from Ostersund to Falun.  Probably around 40 animals  These are the stragglers from the group.  

One more week here in Sweden, then a week in Finland followed by a week in Norway and then back over the Atlantic to Sun Valley, Idaho for a week and then to Anchorage.  I have no idea where the winter went.  I feels like it should be only half over, but sleeping in our bed at home does feel like a distant memory. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

From Italy - Estonia - Russia

I don't recall where I left off with the last blog but I will just write updates with each picture below.  Of course they are not in the correct order.  There has been a lot of travel since the final stage of the Tour de Ski in Val di Fiemme, Italy.  I stayed one more day in the valley, then drove to a colleagues near Zurich for one night.  Then a late breakfast at the Zurich airport with Tim B from Anchorage as he arrived on his way to Engelberg.  I continued on to Munich that same day and flew to Tallinn, Estonia the following day.  After three days in Estonia I flew to Prague and stayed with another colleague for two days and then back to Munich for one night and then travelled to Rybinsk, Russia.  Which brings me to today.  

Don't get me wrong.  I am all for fixing things with the tape but on a plane it doesn't instill the most confidence when flying to Russia.  But it was a very smooth flight and landing.  

A little entertainment in the Munich airport as we waited an extra our for our charter flight to Russia.  The caption goes something like "Which one did you drink from?  I'll just take this one".  Their parents brought the beer first and were going back to get the food.  But for about 3 minutes it looked like there little ones were drinking big ones.  

It was nice to be back in Germany in the Audi.  (Close your eyes Mum)

We have partnered with a film company out of Paris this year with the Inside the Fence videos.  Jeremie from 7th Frame TV (on the left) was a good sport and agreed to ski up Alpe Cermis (an alpine hill) the final stage of the Tour de Ski.  He hadn't cross-country skied in over 15 years.  We forgot to tell him that without metal edges it's a bit harder to stop on the climb.  Arms were a bit sore the next day.  

Having a bit of fun filming a new video in Estonia during the wax team sprints.  
Fun to meet up with a friend from Anchorage in the Zurich airport.  

After 23 years I got to meet up with Katri and Krista, two exchange students from Tallinn, Estonia who came to Orangeville in 1991/92.  This is Katri in this pic.  She lived with us for a couple of months.  

Krista works at the Tallinn airport and took the time to meet for less than 5 minutes before I went through security.  Really great to see both of them. 

I have had many hotel rooms but this was a first.  My shower was actually in my room.  

A chilly arrival to Rybinsk with ice fog to boot.  The first feel of winter and it's January 22.  -22 when we arrive in the morning to the stadium.  

I actually have my own room here.  Except it says FIS on the door so everyone thinks I know something.  

Rybinsk is the first place Kikkan ever won a World Cup.  Really cool to ski the sprint course today and the big climb to see where she made her move and made history.  It's a much bigger climb than it looks on TV.  What a move.  

The sun broke through and it was a winter wonderland.  The view from my office.  The Vulga river is just to the right behind the video screen.  
It's so interesting to be back in Russia.  My only visits so far have been to Sochi and it's not "real" Russia.  It was dark when we landed last night but I could still see the buildings and the cars as we travelled along and I could really feel like I was on the other side of the Iron Curtain.  I hope to get some pictures.  The windows were to frosty on the drive this morning for pictures!  It was the bumpiest road I have ever been on.  We were on a mini-bus for a two hour drive from airport to hotel.  At one point we hit a set up bumps that really set the van-a-rockin.  It actually threw a colleague from his seat in the back row.

They host a great World Cup here and I am looking forward to the competition atmosphere.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Tour de Ski is a wrap

The 9th edition of the Tour de Ski wrapped up yesterday here in Val di Fiemme, Italy.  The overall Tour consisted of 7 races in 9 days spread over 4 competition venues in 3 different countries.  It began on Jan. 3 in Oberstdorf, Germany then moved to Val Mustair, Switzerland to Toblach, Italy and finished in Val di Fiemme.  This is my 5th trip to Val di Fiemme.  The most of any of the World Cup venues I have visited since starting my FIS job two and half season ago.  This is such a beautiful valley mixed perfectly with old world villages and the roads that connect them.

There have been a lot of different hotel rooms in the past 10 days and it will continue now for 3 more. Kikkan has been struggling to find her racing groove and has headed home for some recovery and a recharge.  This changed my travel plans and I am now staying here in Val di Fiemme for two extra nights, and then off to a colleagues Tuesday and then to Munich Wednesday before flying to Tallinn, Estonia Thursday.  I have not yet been to the World Cups in Otepaa, Estonia but have heard about the great atmosphere.  So I am looking forward to the trip.  From there it's off to Russia next week.  I'll wait for an update on that.

Here are a collection of images from the past 10 days.

During Tour stage 4, 5, 6 we had a live stream program.   Kikkan was the first guest.  Not sure if you can see the screen on the laptop but it looks like the Sportscenter studio but you can see where Kikkan and Kjell-Erik are actually sitting.   

We had a nice dinner at the base of the Oberstdorf ski jump hill.  Couldn't help but take a picture from the opening ceremonies from World Champs in the 90's.  

Val (valley) Mustair has a population of about 1500.  450 people volunteered with the hosting of the World Cup stage.  Most were at this dinner.  Pretty impressive.  

A view from the office as the sun crept it's way down the valley wall.

It wasn't the biggest room I have ever had in Toblach, Italy. Two years ago I had a suite so I guess it's karma balancing things out. 

Beautiful view from the main street in Toblach.

Sunset over the stadium in Val di Fiemme.

Filming a new Inside the Fence with Maurice Manificat of France.  We are on the side of Alpe Cermis, the final climb of the Tour. 

I just love this old house.  The more I looked at it the more I saw.  It really felt like it had grown from the ground or at least was solidly apart of it.  

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas update

My procrastination knows no bounds.  Merry Christmas to everyone.  Kikkan and I are in the Hotel Kulm in Davos, Switzerland.  This is our 3rd week now.  We arrived for the World Cup in early December and were to travel to La Clusaz, France the following weekend but due to warm temps and no snow that weekend was cancelled and the World Cup returned to Davos.  We had always planned to spend Christmas here but didn't expect to be here for almost 4 weeks.  We will leave for the start of the Tour de Ski in Oberstdorf, Germany on Dec. 31 or Jan.1  It was just confirmed today that Obersdorf has enough snow to host the opening two events.  It's a really tough winter over here, especially in central Europe.

Kikkan's race results have picked up and she would have gone top 6 last weekend but fell on an icy patch in her semi-final.  So momentum is good heading into the next World Cup period.

Here are some pics from the past couple of weeks (of course not in order).

Incredible work done by organizing crew in Davos to create a 5 km race course. 

The stadium 4 days before the World Cup start. 

Love the Swiss architecture and the perfect firewood.  Human's live on second floor and livestock on the bottom floor.  

Back in Davos for round two with FIS crew and our Italian friends from InFront Media

Time for a beer and brats hillside at Parsenn above Switzerland.

Prosecco?  Why not!

Davos below.  Such a beautiful place. 

Kikk trades in her skinny skis for a day of metal edges and letting gravity do the work. 

Breakfast view from the race hotel. 

The stadium 36hrs before the World Cup start in Davos. 
Our home for 3-4 weeks.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Playing catch up

Wow time has gotten away from me again.  It's been a great start to the World Cup season from the work side of things.  But it's been a challenge so far for Kikkan with her results.  However, I think things are on the upswing and it's just going to take a bit of time and more racing to get everything sorted out.

I can't remember if I mentioned before about the partnership this year with Inside the Fence and 7th Frame TV from Paris, France but it's awesome!  Two videos are out so far with two more coming this week.  Here is the link to the first one released:  Actually that was the second one.  Here is the first one:  Both are great.  It's amazing what these guys can do with camera's and editing.

Winter is still missing from many places again this season.  I arrived in Davos, Switzerland last evening to just 3-4 cm of snow on the ground.  A massive operation by the organizing committee is underway to bring snow from high up in Fluela pass down to the race track and with colder temps the next two nights they are hoping to make enough snow for the World Cup stadium to be ready for Friday.  It's nervous days for sure.  With all that in mind yesterday's ski in Sjusjoen, Norway just above Lillehammer may have been my nicest ski for the year.  A recognition that Davos usually receives.  One of the great beauties of being in the far north is that it's one of the few times I am ever out skiing as the sun rises.  Yesterday it took starting at 8:30am for that to be experienced.  The sun broke the horizon at 9:07am and brought a beautiful warmth and brightness to the snow blanketed surroundings

Some images in no particular order.

Good to be back with the FIS MAG crew.  Hardest working guys on tour.  They get all the signage, banners etc up that make it look like a World Cup.  A little Crown Royal, or "Royal Crown" as my colleague on the left Michal said the other day.  That term will stick for the season now.  

Team Captains meeting in Lillehammer.  Full house with many teams present for these World Cups. 

It's a small world.  Lunch with Karl Saidla, Megan McTavish and their beautiful daughter Leena in Helsinki.  

Sunrise over Lillehammer stadium. 

Sunset at 3:00 pm at Lillehammer Stadium 

FIS XC crew was invited to the Swix Christmas party.  Only in Norway could a wax tech be interviewed on stage by one of the most famous TV hosts in Norway for 30 min and have everyone pay attention.  

Later at the Christmas party with Italian Ski legend Christian "Zorro" Zorzi and my friend Enzo. 

Sunrise in Sjusjoen

Opposite direction from sunrise....the moon was actually setting and creating it's own colours. 

Across the lake from Lillehammer.  You can see the Olympic ski jumps on the highest bump.  The 1994 opening ceremonies took place outdoors at the base of those jumps.