Tuesday, January 29, 2013

From Munich with Love...but heading to Russia

I suppose I can't really claim that arriving in Munich in an Audi, going to the Munich zoo by myself, and then making some new friends in a pub in central Munich has anything to do with a James Bond movie but I do like Munich. I can only imagine what the city looks like in the summer. Such a great mix of the (very) old and the new buildings, and tree lined streets and rivers. I should back up. I drove to Munich to drop off Kikk's US Ski team Audi. I had a full day until I was due at a friends place in the Bavarian Forest. I thought I would shop...turns out everything is closed on Sunday in Munich. So I took the advice from a British family I met at the airport hotel I was staying at and bought a single day pass for public transport in Munich and took the bus-train-subway to the zoo. I have to say that the transport was really easy, even for a non-German speaking tourist like myself and the zoo visit was worth every penny. Pics to follow. The last zoo I went to was San Diego over ten years ago and I can say it was much different going to a zoo in the winter. Highlights for sure, as always were the wolves and the big cats, and the monkeys were monkeys and shockingly human at times. After my adventure to the zoo I needed to eat and took the subway back to Marien platz (Munich centre) to find somewhere to eat dinner. I found a great place, sat at the bar, had a great meal and a few Weisbier and conversation with a couple of Brits and Scots. The best part was that with my single day ticket all I had to do was walk back to the subway and then get on a train to the airport and catch a shuttle bus to the hotel. No taxi, no driving, no stress. Monday morning I woke early to get to the airport and pick up my rental car (VW Polo...bit of a letdown after the Audi)as I had a 9 am breakfast waiting for me at the parents of my friend Thomas Freimuth in the Bavarian forest. It is about a 150 km drive from the airport to the northeast, right against the Czech border. Another area I have to see in the summer. Heavy evergreen forests with telephone pole straight tree trunks that are a 100ft tall. The surrounding valleys are dotted with sleepy farming communities. I haven't been in the area since early 2010 when I first came to visit. I met Thomas the year before at the Arctic Circle race in Greenland. Great to get back for a visit, with him and his parents. Last night, despite a language barrier between his parents and I, the four of us ate chocolate, drank wine and played board games. Thankfully the language of laughter and good times is universal! Thomas and I got out for two skis in the 30 hours I was there. Looking forward to the next visit. A couple more pics from France and my trip to the zoo.
Of course the best weather (everyday was nothing to complain about) is always on the day you pack up to leave!
Just a bit of snow on the roofs on the main drag.
Le Very...stands for Le Very much snow.
Bye Les Saisies
One of the beautiful rivers in the city (or maybe the same one). Hundreds of swans. It was on my walk from the subway to the zoo.
So I learned that when couples get engaged or married it is somewhat common to put a lock on a bridge (often engraved with names and a date) and then throw the key into the river. Pretty cool.
Locks everywhere.
This Rhino was absolutely massive, and I think quite old.
I made a friend!
So good.
Right from a movie. Bustling old city centre square with live music.
The subway exit at the marien platz stop comes out from under this building.
The view at night.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Les Saisies

Today is the US team's final full day in Les Saisies. Tomorrow they head to Zurich after a morning workout. I will follow the same route - but as mentioned in the last blog post - but continue on from Zurich to Munich. All booked for two nights in Munich which will give me one full day to check the city out before heading to Lindberg, Germany for a day and a half of skiing with a friend from the Arctic Circle race in 2009, and then Russia Wednesday. I forgot to mention earlier that Les Saisies was the host site for the cross-country races during the Albertville 1992 Olympics. Beautiful and challenging trails. Despite having almost daily sunshine I have taken very few pictures....and I think that is mostly because I was more concerned with surviving a week of skiing everyday! All the pics below I stole from Kikkan.
I learned from Les Rousses bonk after one hour to bring a drink belt with me! Yep, those are snow banks behind me along the trail because there is that much snow.
One of the nicer alpine views I have seen.
Aahh...downhill to the finish! Survived day two of 2+ hrs.
Just a little bit of snow in the area.
Kikk making it look easy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Les Saisies - But pictures from La Clusaz

For week number three we are in France...and the snow and the scenery just gets better and better. I travelled with the US Ski team to Les Saisies, which was just up an over the pass from La Clusaz where last weekends World Cups took place. I haven't taken many pictures here yet even though yesterday was postcard worthy. Kikk has taken lot's though and they are facebook. I figure it's time for a picture post again. We are here until Saturday. The US team heads to Zurich to fly to Russia Sunday and I will continue on to Munich on my own to drop off the Audi. My plan is to see the sites in Munich for the weekend and then visit a friend in the Bavarian forest Monday and Tuesday before I fly to Sochi, Russia as well.
The view from the bathroom. Could be worse.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Vive la France!

Been a while since my last update. I will try and mostly use pictures. After the Tour de Ski, we head to Les Rousses, France. A small town just 2km inside the French boarder from Switzerland, and about 35 minute from the Geneva airport. We have been here for 10 days and leave tomorrow for La Clusaz, France for this weekends World Cups. When we arrived last week there was snow at about 1200m, and we were staying at 1140m. You could tell there had been snow but a warm period had taken it all way from the fields. Now advance a week and we have 30 cm outside out door and over a meter of new snow at 1200m. I think I can say that is the one of the best if not the best places I have ever skied. I hope the pictures illustrate this. It was a great stop for Kikkan mentally and physical after the Tour and during the World Cup in general. We cooked dinner together for the first time in 2 months, skied when she wanted, slept when she wanted and ate when she wanted. Much different from the team life. This weekend in La Clusaz I will try on a new pair of shoe as my colleague will be away I will try and fill his place as media coordinator. I will have help from the other two on the FIS team. But I will look at interviews, press conferences, the media mix zone at the finish and relations with photographers, and live interviews. Should be fun.
When we arrived
Today. Same cool guy with car...but much more snow!
The owner of the apartment we are renting works at the National Ski school, and as a result Kikkan has been able to use the weight room there. Today we shared it with the French national sprint canoeing and kayaking team. Impressive body types!
Our place is the full house you can see. The owner lives up stairs. First left when you hit the Les Rousses town boundary sign.
Kikkan avec Aurore Jean of the French National ski team. She was our tour guide today and our host with her husband Fred last night for dinner.
Snow baby snow!
Dinner near Geneva Monday night with Toni Sparrow, and her kids Soren and Brenna. Her husband Brad took the picture. She was a physio at the clinic I worked at in Anchorage.
Kikk and I with Hervé at Le Rissou. He is the owner of the place we rented, at the main trails we skied at...before the new snow.
Chez Fred and Aurore. An old concrete apartment made beautiful with wooden walls. Kikkan with Fred.
Aurore in their modern kitchen in an old building. So cool.
The Jura region. Known for it's cheese and love of cross-country skiing. 300km of trails!
Kikk and Aurore leaving me behind...
The sun on the trees covered in snow = postcard.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tour Wrap up et je parle francais!

The Tour is now 2 days behind. After 11 days of straight work today was a very restful day. We are now in Les Rousse, France. Our place is just 2 km from the Swiss border and 45 min from the Geneva airport. We arrived around 8:30pm last evening, to the surprise of the home owner, who thought we were arriving this morning...so what did he do...he invited us in for the best cheese fondue I have ever had, and easily some of the best red wine. Two bottles later, I left full, tired, and much more fluent in French than when we arrived. Great start to three weeks in France. I love to travel. Hotel hopping is fun. But I didn't realize how much I missed having a place to call "home" where we could do laundry, walk to the grocery store, and cook our own meals. C'est fantastique! Some images from the last few days:
The media mix zone at the top of the climb Sunday.
The street view from Kikk's hotel in Predazzo, Italy. Love the old with the new.
The US Ski team hotel in Predazzo.
My computer (closest to me) amongst many in the sub media center at the top of the final climb.
The morning view from my hotel in Cavalese during the Tour.
Our chariot for the next few weeks.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


That was a long 9 days of the Tour de Ski and I am tired. Not tired like the athletes, my body is well rested but my mind is done. 3 countries, 4 locations, 7 races, over 1000km of driving, and with all the big bosses in town...lot's of networking in the evening. Another tough final climb for Kikkan today, but still a strong Tour overall. The races finished up today on Alpe Cermis. I think the total climb is something around 3 km up an alpine hill. Val di Fiemme where the past two days of racing occurred has been hit by a winter heat wave. Temps near 10c each day. We will be back here in 40 days for the World Championships. I am sure it will be just as busy but hopefully I will be able to see more of Cavalese. I have stayed here twice now and never seen the town except to drive to the race site. Again, this is another beautiful, historic part of the world.
The sunny side of the valley
The finish line for Stage 6 of the Tour de Ski and the upcoming World Championships
The media gets ready early.
My chariot for 9 days
The finish line at the top of Alpe Cermis