Tuesday, January 11, 2011


On Sunday Callum successfully completed the 2011 Tour de Ski, in the process he became the first Aussie skier to ever do so. The final day saw the athletes climb up an alpine ski hill for the final 3km of the 10km race. Kikkan made her way up there with a strong pack of skiers and her finish on the day gave her a 21st place overall finish in her first ever tour. I would love to publish pictures from the day but in my haste to jump off the Gondola that I rode to the top of the course I mistakenly left our camera on my seat....never to be seen again.

It was a complicated day as support staff for Callum as the race started 7km up the valley from the base of the ski hill. With just Finn and I to look out for a broken ski pole, or offer a coke feed we did a trial run during the women's race. We watched the start until the time when Callum would have started (I got to see Kikkan start) in the stadium then ran to the car, drove down the road, I jumped out and ran over to the base of the climb to see the woman's race leader start the climb, no problems.

When it came to the men's race I was drop off on a busy highway which I ran across in all my ski gear with spare poles, and a back pack which had Callum's feed drink in it. I got to the ski track about 500m before the climb so Callum could get a dose of sugar before he started the climb. While I was running to my location, Finn drove to the gondola at the base of the climb, parked the car and rode up the mountain and then skied half way back down to cheer, film and assist Callum if needed. Once Callum past me I ran down the race trail (unfortunately we didn't get his skis right and the slow skis had him off the back in last place). I jumped on the gondola, got my camera out in case I could get a picture from the air of the race but realizing the trees would be in the way I apparently set in on the seat and not in my bag. At the top I jumped off the gondola, pushed my way through the cheering fans and ran 300m down from the finish line to encourage Callum to "dig deep" as his 1 min plus advantage over the Andoran racer he had been battling him all Tour was slipping away. In the end Callum was last in the overall just 4 seconds behind Francois the Andoran. It was satisfying to see Callum complete the Tour but disappointing that we didn't get him out there on the final day with fast skis.

It was great to watch Devon and Alex finish in the top 10 overall. Two Canadians in the top 10 and Babikov 21st. Quite the turn around from 10 years ago!

After the racing finished we packed up the wax room for the 4th time in 10 days and I packed my bags to begin traveling again the next morning to Bozi Dar, Czech where we met up with the rest of the Aussie team in Europe. On Sunday night (and on Saturday) I got to catch up with my room mate from UNC - Kestas "The Lithuanian javelin thrower" Celiesius. We have not seen each other for 8.5 years. It was a short visit but great to see him again and his new wife Egle. As well I got to introduce him to Kikkan.
They took a ski vacation in Val di Fiemme from the home in the Lithuanian capitol city of Vilnius. Kestas timed it to overlap with Kikkan and I being there at the same time.

I will stay now in Bozi Dar until Thursday morning, when Callum and I will drive over to Liberec - where Kikkan won her World Championship silver medal two years ago. The rest of the Aussie team leaves tomorrow for Hirschau, Ger to compete at the German championships. Finn and three others will join Callum and I in Liberec on Friday for the World Cup weekend.

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