Sorry for the delay on getting this up. As many of you may know, we were not able to compete in Szczyrk, PL. They tried both days to pull off a good round of competition, but the continual blizzard conditions and high winds proved to be too much. It was fairly disappointing to miss out on the chance to compete, but there's nothing we can do about it -except for train harder and be ready for the next time around.
I'll be in training Steamboat until we head back over to Turkey for World Juniors in under a month. Tomorrow Michael, Cliff and myself will be racing against some of the high school and college racers from around the state in a 15km mass start in Winter Park, CO.
On Monday we flew from Erzurum to Prague and then drove 2 hours to Harrachov. In the last 40km we went from rain and no snow to a winter wonderland. We get food and lodging at the military sponsored athlete housing here and just walk to the jumps and ski trails to train. I wish we were staying here longer. The town is simple and nice, the jump is good, and the cross country trails seem to go on forever. However, we're only here til tomorrow (Thursday) morning, and then it's off to Poland for competition.
The main goal for our trip to Turkey was to get a good feel for the jumps and ski trails, and be ready to be 100% on our game when we come back for World Juniors. I would say as a team we all did that. I'm excited to be coming be in month and a half!
Erzurum was the next stop on the Continental Cup circuit. I kept the good results coming both days. Saturday especially, I had a good jump, which put me in 23rd, and I skied up to 5th place, just a handful of seconds off the podium. Sunday I didn't have as great of a jump, but I skied another strong race. Michael Ward jumped to 29th, so we skied together a lot of the race, and I ended up 11th and Michael 13th. I was pretty stoked about my ski times with the 2nd time rank both days. Sunday I was only 5 seconds off of the fastest time, so I guess I've got a new goal to shoot for.
Some things were definitely a challenge, like not having a van and relying on the organizers to bus us around. The cross country course was almost an hour away so that bus ride was always a bit of a drag. On the other hand, they definitely made a big deal out of the competition. Typically the awards are just a quick ceremony for the top 6 after the race with medals for the podium, but in Erzurum they held a flower ceremony each day and a final awards ceremony in the city center the last night.
As I said in the last post - it was going to be quite an adventure just get to Turkey. We left Steamboat early Saturday morning and arrived in Prague on New Years day. Monday morning we flew off to Turkey and finally arrived in Erzurum that night.
At the airport in Prague, we were expecting to have to pay a little extra for our bags; despite the fact that Turkish airlines is a United partner, our experience with other airlines is that they don't care that our Premier status for United gives us two checked bags. However, it was quite the opposite. They allowed ten extra kilos per bag and didn't charge a dime for 7 duffel bags, 6 heavy ski bags, 1 wax crate and 1 waxing table. I was relived not have to carry around the 8 pound wax container that I had in my carry-on going to Prague.
After that start Turkish Airlines continued to impress us. On the two hour flight to Istanbul I wasn't anticipating anything more then a beverage service. That was before they brought this menu around. Yes, it was still airplane food, but it was nearly as good as it sounds.
In Istanbul we had to pick up visas. I imagined this process being time consuming and expensive, but all it involved was a handing over 20 bucks per person and getting a cool looking stamp on your passport.
Turkey requires a similar customs procedure to the US, where one must claim and recheck their bags when coming from outside the country. They don't have customs in Erzurum, and for some reason we weren't scheduled to do it in Istanbul, so we had to do it when we arrived in Ankara. Of course, we had all of 30 minutes between flights in Ankara. Once we found our bags we ran across the airport in search of the check in counter. Our flight began boarding at 6:05 p.m. and we couldn't have gotten to the counter - the same one that we would have went to if we had just shown up in the airport - more than a minute before then. "We have 7 people and 15 bags that need to get on this flight," we explained to the airline workers. Fortunately their English was great and their willingness to help even better. I can't imagine any US airport worker being so understanding if we created as much chaos. Miraculously, we made it, along with all of our bags, and the flight left not a minute late.
The last piece to fall into place was our shuttle from the Erzurum airport to the hotel. We don't have a rental van, but the organizers said that they would provide transportation whenever we need it. Sure enough, as we walked out the door after our last flight they had two vans waiting, one for us and one for all our luggage.
We arrived at the Hotel Dedeman in time for to catch the end of the dinner buffet and to take a quick sauna before bed. And the meal buffets! I couldn't ask for more. A mixture of Turkish and various Mediterranean cuisines, as well as Italian and other European dishes are offered in a ridiculously large variety. The dessert table looks like it came straight from a royal wedding. The only issue is fighting off the other hungry people. The hotel is right at the base of a ski area, so everyone else is up skiing on the mountain during the day - and serious about their feeding when the time comes.
I'll try to get more pictures and info up when I can. The internet is off and on here (mostly off), but I'll do my best. We have official tr
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