Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas update

My procrastination knows no bounds.  Merry Christmas to everyone.  Kikkan and I are in the Hotel Kulm in Davos, Switzerland.  This is our 3rd week now.  We arrived for the World Cup in early December and were to travel to La Clusaz, France the following weekend but due to warm temps and no snow that weekend was cancelled and the World Cup returned to Davos.  We had always planned to spend Christmas here but didn't expect to be here for almost 4 weeks.  We will leave for the start of the Tour de Ski in Oberstdorf, Germany on Dec. 31 or Jan.1  It was just confirmed today that Obersdorf has enough snow to host the opening two events.  It's a really tough winter over here, especially in central Europe.

Kikkan's race results have picked up and she would have gone top 6 last weekend but fell on an icy patch in her semi-final.  So momentum is good heading into the next World Cup period.

Here are some pics from the past couple of weeks (of course not in order).

Incredible work done by organizing crew in Davos to create a 5 km race course. 

The stadium 4 days before the World Cup start. 

Love the Swiss architecture and the perfect firewood.  Human's live on second floor and livestock on the bottom floor.  

Back in Davos for round two with FIS crew and our Italian friends from InFront Media

Time for a beer and brats hillside at Parsenn above Switzerland.

Prosecco?  Why not!

Davos below.  Such a beautiful place. 

Kikk trades in her skinny skis for a day of metal edges and letting gravity do the work. 

Breakfast view from the race hotel. 

The stadium 36hrs before the World Cup start in Davos. 
Our home for 3-4 weeks.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Playing catch up

Wow time has gotten away from me again.  It's been a great start to the World Cup season from the work side of things.  But it's been a challenge so far for Kikkan with her results.  However, I think things are on the upswing and it's just going to take a bit of time and more racing to get everything sorted out.

I can't remember if I mentioned before about the partnership this year with Inside the Fence and 7th Frame TV from Paris, France but it's awesome!  Two videos are out so far with two more coming this week.  Here is the link to the first one released:  Actually that was the second one.  Here is the first one:  Both are great.  It's amazing what these guys can do with camera's and editing.

Winter is still missing from many places again this season.  I arrived in Davos, Switzerland last evening to just 3-4 cm of snow on the ground.  A massive operation by the organizing committee is underway to bring snow from high up in Fluela pass down to the race track and with colder temps the next two nights they are hoping to make enough snow for the World Cup stadium to be ready for Friday.  It's nervous days for sure.  With all that in mind yesterday's ski in Sjusjoen, Norway just above Lillehammer may have been my nicest ski for the year.  A recognition that Davos usually receives.  One of the great beauties of being in the far north is that it's one of the few times I am ever out skiing as the sun rises.  Yesterday it took starting at 8:30am for that to be experienced.  The sun broke the horizon at 9:07am and brought a beautiful warmth and brightness to the snow blanketed surroundings

Some images in no particular order.

Good to be back with the FIS MAG crew.  Hardest working guys on tour.  They get all the signage, banners etc up that make it look like a World Cup.  A little Crown Royal, or "Royal Crown" as my colleague on the left Michal said the other day.  That term will stick for the season now.  

Team Captains meeting in Lillehammer.  Full house with many teams present for these World Cups. 

It's a small world.  Lunch with Karl Saidla, Megan McTavish and their beautiful daughter Leena in Helsinki.  

Sunrise over Lillehammer stadium. 

Sunset at 3:00 pm at Lillehammer Stadium 

FIS XC crew was invited to the Swix Christmas party.  Only in Norway could a wax tech be interviewed on stage by one of the most famous TV hosts in Norway for 30 min and have everyone pay attention.  

Later at the Christmas party with Italian Ski legend Christian "Zorro" Zorzi and my friend Enzo. 

Sunrise in Sjusjoen

Opposite direction from sunrise....the moon was actually setting and creating it's own colours. 

Across the lake from Lillehammer.  You can see the Olympic ski jumps on the highest bump.  The 1994 opening ceremonies took place outdoors at the base of those jumps.  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

It's World Cup time

I arrived at the first World Cup site two days ago.  We were treated to clearing skies for a few hours today while the sun was just above the horizon.  It's an exciting time for me right now.  We have partnered with a film company to make 10 high quality behind the scenes videos this season.  They will all come out under the "Inside the Fence" brand :)

Here is a link to an Alpine version.  Same company for us but we lack a sponsor so we can film anything!  We took lots of drone footage today and it will offer a perspective that few have ever seen from the Ruka venue....and they are going to teach me how to use it.  Can't wait.  Here are some pictures from the mtn side we hiked across to launch the drone.  We rode the ski jump chairlift to the top and then walked off into the trees.  Did I mention that I am excited about this project???  Well I am.  We will have the first video ready this weekend.  I will post the link.
Some images from the little adventure today.

Sunshine catching the top of the ski jump.  No way I would ever ski down and off that thing.

My view from lunch yesterday around 2 pm.  The fog returned and you can already feel the darkness coming.  But that doesn't deter some hardy alpine skiers. 

 If you look closely you can see Anchorage at the top of the picture.  This is a map at the Rovaniemi airport.  It would have been so much faster to just take one flight directly over from Anchorage!  Now I know why the 11 hr time change feels like it does.  We are literally around the World.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Beauty of the north

I'll let the pictures do the talking again as I have settled into the usual training camp routine.  Wake up - eat - train - eat - try not to nap - train - eat - sleep.  The sun this far north just skirts the horizon and the last two days of clear skies have made for some great winter images.
Matt Whitcomb got this shot last night walking to dinner.  

About 8:15 this morning on the way to breakfast

Everything is coated in heavy frost.  Humid air temp makes -10c feel like -20c

The sun is up but won't ever make it above that hill today. 

Water break along the trail.  

Beautiful trail conditions.  

This is at around 11:45 am.  The sun is somewhere to the right but we are in the shadow.

In the shadow of the mtn.  Sun on the flats. 

Looking back over the Hotel grounds.  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The adventure begins again

And the European adventure begins again.  Although it feels less like an adventure and more like returning from a long summer vacation.  It's good to be back in Europe.  The alps are still beautiful and the north is already shrouded in winter and it's expected darkness.  I have finally arrived in one place where we will stay for more than one day, it will be 5 days to be exact.  After 5 days of travel that included 5 flights, two train rides and one short van trip that took us from Anchorage - Zurich - Oberhoffen - Zurich - Helsinki - Muonio, I can finally open my bags because I won't be closing them back up tomorrow morning.

I have been awake since 4 am with jet lag and it is now 3 pm in the afternoon and we are getting ready to go for our first ski with head lights.

I will rejoin my FIS colleagues next Wednesday in Ruka, Finland about a 5 hour drive from here in Muonio and the World Cup will begin Nov 29-30.  Muonio is very close to Levi, Finland along the Swedish border where the second stop of the FIS Alpine tour competed last weekend.

Here are a few pictures from the past few days since leaving AK.

Back at the Airport Hilton in Zurich.  Lunch before we started our train ride to Oberhoffen. 

 Somebody is feeling the jet lag.

View from the hotel in Oberhoffen.  Now I know why the FIS office is here. Beautiful!

Yoko ski pole photo shoot in Helsinki

Feels like winter with one of the National team wax trucks here in Muonio.  Nine countries have them now.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Back to the World Cup circus

I am not sure how it exactly translates but often the World Cup "circuit" is called the "circus" and this circus rolls on for 3 more weeks.  After a blur of travel from Sochi to Zurich to Copenhagen to Helsinki I arrived in Lahti, Finland last evening.  My travel day started at 4:30 pm Sochi time (9 hrs ahead of Eastern Standard Time) on Monday and started with a bus trip to Sochi from our Rosa Khutor accommodations.  Once at the Sochi airport we staged for 3 hours before we boarded our charter flight, sat on the plane on the runway for 90 mins as baggage from previous charter was loaded on.  Three hour flight to Zurich and then stood an airport parking garage with both charter flights waited for baggage to be driven over on baggage carts and left for us to pick through like wild predators.  This process began at 11 pm Zurich time which meant 2 am in Sochi.  There were teams from all different countries and disciplines present along with FIS and IOC representatives.  Quite the spectacle and I forgot to take a picture!  By 1 am I was at my hotel that I would spend 6 hrs sleeping in and then back to the airport to fly to Helsinki via Copenhagen.  Finally in my hotel in Lahti by 4 pm Tuesday now again in a new time zone.  One hour ahead of central Europe.  Somehow a new hotel room for a week feels like home?  Strangely that is true, and I can now count how many hotel room homes I have left for the season.  Here, two in Norway, and one in Sweden and then Anchorage.

Again I should really read what I wrote in my last blog post but I will just summarize my Sochi experience.  Great venue, great competitions, mostly great weather and incredible volunteers.  A lot can be said about human rights in Russia and that the Olympics should have never been allowed there, and I agreed before I arrived and probably still do. But I left hopeful for the future.  If the Olympics can do one thing for countries like Russia it gets the world's attention for 3 weeks through a two-way mirror.  As outsiders we get to see the human side of a country and the people not the politics that represent it.  From the inside the locals get to meet the world, they get to see other countries whose politics overshadow their great people.  I can't compare to the Vancouver games because I had no expectations for the volunteers, it wasn't a concern as a Canadian.  But coming to Sochi it was a great unknown and I can say it was the most memorable and surprising part of the games.  If the younger generation that made up most of the volunteer force takes this experience with them one can only hope that it creates a wave a change for the future.  But enough of that.  Time for more pictures.

 Our crew of 9 that contained 2 French, 2 Czech, Russia, Estonia, Germany, Finland and of course a Canadian.
 Despite sharing a hotel room for 3 weeks we were still great friends and colleagues
 Our volunteer force at the Laura cross-country stadium.  Thank you!
 Rain at the hotel meant snow at the venue.  We were lucky with our location.
 At the Audi house in Sochi.  Great live dance with moving performance
 The main bus terminal in Sochi.  Puffy jackets and palm trees, that was these games.
 A short thrill ride in Audi A6 with professional driver.  Climbed up at 58% slope.  Impressive!
 Fortune to catch a hockey game while in Sochi.
 Our crew relaxing a bit at the Audi house.
Our oldest member of the group Gape enjoying the local nightlife.