Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Good Old Hockey Game

As per usual my procrastination has left me (almost) empty handed. As luck would have it I am in Davos while the Spengler Cup is being played. Team Canada's second round game was against hometown club HC Davos, and of course I waited to try and get tickets until 3 hrs beforehand....not a chance, SOLD OUT. The energy around the rink was contagious as Kikkan and I walked through endless hockey fans sporting their teams jerseys tied around their waists.

Canada is the only "national" team present at the tournament of 6 teams. Switzerland has two club teams present, as does Russia (from the KHL), and one from the Czech Rep. All but one of the Canadian players play in the Swiss league. The Spengler Cup draws hockey fans from across Switzerland, many wearing the Canadian team colours as they cheer for Canadian players from various Swiss club teams. I don't recall actually hearing an english voice from any person I saw wearing the Maple leaf.

An interesting fact I learned is that the Spengler Cup began in 1923 and was won by a team from Oxford. A team made up mostly of Canadians studying at the British University, with a future Canadian Prime Minister by the name of Lester B. Pearson on the roster. An official team from Canada didn't enter the tournament until 1984.

I am now the proud owner of an official Spengler Cup Team Canada jersey. Bring on the Anchorage co-ed hockey league! Below, Kikkan and I fit in a bit of last minute shopping on the main street of Davos but stop for a picture in my World Cup Ski AK hoodie. I promised a picture from each ski venue I visit on this 5 week trip.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Postcard day in Davos

Clear skies overnight brought not just postcard quality pictures but frigid morning temperatures around -18c. Thankfully the Central European sun provided not just great photo opportunities but warmth!

It was Kikk's final interval training day before we leave for Oberhof, Germany on Wednesday, where the Tour de Ski will begin Friday. Despite applying binder pre-workout, after about 75 min of skiing only half the ski's grip zone still held any wax. Being the World Cup wax tech that I am I planned ahead and brought more grip wax with us and left the cork back at our apartment.....

Warm river temps left an icy fog over the low lying trails that parallel the town of Davos. At times it was hard to find the classic tracks, and see on coming skiers.
Known as the "sunny valley", the Dishma Trailway was full of skiers taking advantage of the perfect grooming and beautiful scenery. Up the middle of the valley is a two-way classic track with skate tracks heading down each side.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Map of Euro Trip # 1 Adventure

Merry Christmas to everyone!

We have a light snow falling here in Davos with more in the forecast. It was going to be a white Christmas anyways but it looks like it will be a snowy one as well.

Below is a map of the different locations I will be before my return to Alaska on Jan. 24. They are not in proper order based on the corresponding letters, as I am in Davos now.
Tour de Ski will take me to Oberhof, Ger - Obersdorf, Ger - Val Di Fiemme, Ita - Tobach, Ita. After that I will head to Liberec, Cze for a World Cup. Then to my friend's Thomas Freimuth's parents in Lindberg, Ger and he and I will head down to Lienz, Aut. I pasted the link below to see the exact website map.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Adventures in Davos

I can't believe it's already been 4 days since I arrived in Davos. My ski muscles are starting to wake up, although they are voicing their displeasure. Looking forward to Kikkan's planned rest day on Friday! The clouds have arrived a bit since Monday and temps were above freezing today. It made for some slippery classic skis at times. The main valley that Davos sits in runs north-south. A number of the ski trails head up valleys to the East where colder tracks let the grip wax work and gave my arms a much needed rest.

Over the past couple of days I have been joining Kikkan on her daily workouts. The main Nordic trails cut their way through the main valley along the side of Davos. It is incredible here, like in Ramsau how the trails are such a part of the regions experience. Alpine resorts ring the town on all sides.

Today Kikkan had a 2.5 hr classic ski and at the 1.5 hr mark we head up the southern valley trail (has a much cooler name in Swiss - but I can't remember right now). After about 40 minutes of winding our way up valley between the single lane road, and a tumbling river we found ourselves at the Walsurhuus Hotel and Restaurant. Now almost 4 hrs after breakfast we could resist the opportunity to go in for a bite to eat.

A few drinks later and a full pot of cheese fondue between the two of us, we began our descent back down to Davos in flat light and slightly dulled reflexes. I am going to say right now that it was the coolest ski I have ever been on. I only wish we had taken more pictures!

To end the day we joined 10 Aussies, three Swiss, and one other American (Andy Newell) for a pre-Christmas dinner at the Australian flat. The pictures are all the story needs.

Heading back down valley. Incredible stretches of farm land bordered by mountains with perfectly groomed ski trails cutting through it all.
Hotel Walserhuus. What a sight after 2 hr and 10 minutes of skiing at 6000ft.
Kikk and I at the top of a valley that was an authentic Swiss name that I can't think of right now
Finn Marsland and Kikkan getting ready to do some accelerometer testing, for Finn's Master's in Physiology project.

The view Monday morning from our kitchen window
Early Christmas dinner crew.
Andy Newell and I taking a little break after a massive Christmas dinner care of the Australian ski team.
Wally the Wombat makes an appearance to hold up my Christmas gift....the Aussie Boxing Kangaroo flag!!!
Bobo the Davos Penguin aka Finn Marsland (Aussie Head Coach), showed up in place of Santa to hand out gifts to everyone at the table.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Back on the Road!

As the 2010/11 ski racing season has begun, I again find myself living out of the duffle bag, and catching trains, planes and automobiles. As a result I felt it was a good time to fire up the blog to keep everyone interested up to date.

Although I am no longer a racer I find myself back in Europe gearing up to work with the Aussies and experience a Swiss Christmas with Kikkan and some of her US Ski teammates in Davos.

Before arriving in Davos, I left a frigid Anchorage for a snow buried Collingwood, Ontario to visit family and friends for an early Christmas.

Mom and Dad's new dinning room with Sis, Rob and Pat, and Aunty Judy and Uncle Tom.
Opening night skiing at Blue Mtn in Collingwood. Some beer and wings to refuel with Paul and Kev at Windy O'Neils.
Searching out enough space to make a few turns in the 4-5 ft of powder at Blue! This pic was taken just seconds before Paul double ejected from his skis and sunked in "ski free" to his waist.....sorry Paul.

Above is the view that I have to now deal with as I head out with Kikkan skiing each day. We will be in Davos until Dec. 29. On the 29th Kikk and I will board a train to Oberhof, Germany to get ready for the Tour de Ski that will begin on Dec. 31.