I am a fan of Norway! I think I could eat their bread and cheese, and waffles for the rest of my life. Although it is a struggle to find internet that doesn't cost $15 per day, and if it's free it's hard to hold a signal. Hopefully since it is 7am here I will get this blog post through this morning.
It is Sunday morning and day two of the Drammen World Cup weekend. Yesterday was the 10/15km classic interval start races. Lot's of excitement as the favourites for the coming World Championships (which start next Thursday) will be hoping to show good form. Kikkan chose to sit out yesterday to prepare for today's sprint race, as it will be the sprint that leads off the Championships just 4 days away. Yesterday drew the largest crowds I have seen so far this year on tour. The stadium area was packed (pictures to follow once I get them from the Aussie head coach), and the entire 5km course lap was lined by spectators.
Skiing around the 5 km loop testing skis between the women's and men's races, the air was a buzz up in the forest as fans had dug in (some camped) to created sitting areas around camp fires where they ate, drank and cheered any who past by. It was a great preparation for the 100, 000 they are expected to line the trails next week in Oslo. Can't wait!....hope I don't fall.
I have been with the Aussie's now for two days. I left Kikkan and the nice race hotel (and three buffet meanls per day = dangerous) on Friday to move up the hillside in Drammen with the Aussie team, where they had scored a house for rent at a price much cheaper than the World Cup rate at the hotel. The three guys raced yesterday. Despite making the switch over to Nordic Combined this year and only classic skiing about 7 times Ben Sim put in a stellar result, almost beating the entire USA men's team (only Freeman was ahead), as well as George Grey of the Canadian team. Callum and Mark both put in efforts they were happy with. All three had great skis, which bodes well for us as the long range forecast isn't too far off what we experience yesterday.
Today the three will be in action again along with Ester in the sprint. It's a quick course for the ladies and a long grind for the men, with long gradual climbs and downhills which will mean there is very little rest. I am sure everyone hopes for a good result but to paraphrase a quote from Norwegian great Petter Northug, "the winner's in Drammen will be forgotten once the winner in Holmenkollen is decided." He lost by 30 seconds yesterday to a Swede and I am sure had faced many questions about this fitness.
Holmenkollen is the site of the World Championships just above the city of Oslo, and most commonly refers to the 50km race that occurs annually at that site. Another quote from him and I love this one...."If you win the sprint at World Championships you are the World Champion, if you win the 50km at Holmenkollen you are a legend!"
Memories of the Tour de Ski: After today's race we will pack up the wax cabin and drive everything to Holmenkollen (Oslo), and then drive back here for the night. Keebs our team manager will then take the team van and drive over 3 hours to Beitostolen to pick up the rest of the team and will head to Olso on Monday morning, the same time when Finn, Cam, Mark and myself will take official transport to Oslo. Simbo, Callum and Ester will join us on Tuesday. Then we will be a complete team of 7 athletes, 1 coach, 1 manager and 3 wax techs (Aussie D-train aka Duane Butcher will join us Monday from Geilo, Norway - our wax team will be almost complete with him, with three of the 4 of us from the Olympic squad present - just missing big Ben Husaby).
Looking forward to getting everything started in Oslo, but before then I will be watching Kikkan today do her thing with 10,000 cheering Norwegian.