The completion of the men's classic sprint last Sunday marked the end of the season for the Aussie presence on the World Cup. Callum and Ewan both went out and gave their best effort Sunday morning, and both agreed that they were ready for a rest. For Callum, it was quite a season. After arriving in Europe in November, he became the first ever Australian to complete the Tour de Ski in late December and early January, collected over 20 World Cup start bibs, competed in the 2011 World University Games in Turkey, and the World Nordic Championships in Oslo. That is a massive season of racing. We parted ways on Sunday after the sprint as they headed back to Vaerumaki, and I stayed in Lahti with Kikkan for the evening.
I now sit in a leather recliner at Brett and Jill Fitzpatrick's place in Branson, Missouri eagerly awaiting the warm weather that is due to arrive in the area tomorrow and Thursday....time to get the golf clubs swinging! It's always a bit of a shock return to the US after an extended visit in Scandinavia. Especially traveling in the south....back to the land of billboards selling Religion and Erotica. The cars are bigger, and patience shorter, and the people larger. After traveling for roughly 24 hrs and about one hour into my drive from St. Louis to Branson I called it a night at 12:30am and spent the night at a Comfort Inn. Unlike the fresh bread, cheese, deli meat and fresh fruit that I have become accustomed to in Europe the continental breakfast included nothing fresh or natural. Doesn't take much to connect the some of the dots regarding obesity.
It was quite a trip back. In the end it went quite smoothly, but during the process it felt much different. When boarding my flight in Helsinki they announced that only one bag was allowed to be carried on. Having checked in my other two larger bags over an hour prior I assume they would just tag my back pack and I would get it back after the flight in Munich before beginning my 9.5 hr flight. I carried on my computer bag.
As I watched my back pack be carried away I learned that it was going to be sent all the way through to St. Louis...no problem one less bag to carry. Except once on the plane I realized that my wallet was in my jacket that I had stuff in my back pack so to not have to carry it separate. The reason I brought an extra bag as carry-on, was because I didn't expect my bags to make it to St. Louis with such a short layover (30 min) in Munich. I packed a tooth brush and a change of clothes just in case. This is where the stress comes in. If my bags don't make it to St. Louis, that would now include my wallet not making it, which was going to make buying dinner, picking up my rental car, and paying for a hotel very difficult.
Much to my relief in Chicago - where you have to reclaim your bags upon landing in the US and go through customs - all three of my bags arrived....yeah! Life is good. Picked up my rental car without issue and began my drive south. After about one hour I decided to call it a night, as I wouldn't make it to Branson before 3:30am. No need to push it with a long drive.
Kikkan is now in Stockholm getting ready for tomorrow's sprint around the Royal Palace. After getting to watch her race for the past 4 weeks, I will now be eagerly watching online tomorrow to how it goes. Tomorrow is the final sprint for the year and only half the usual points are available as this final week of racing is considered a mini-tour offering up less points. After a difficult race last weekend in the sprint where unfortunately despite feeling great she couldn't overcome slow skis and lost her number one World ranking. Now sitting in 3rd with Marit Bjorgen not too far back in third tomorrow will be a big day. Jet lag is starting to hit pretty hard so I will post pics later or tomorrow that I have been planning to for days now.