Before anything else, check out this sweet video FIS NC made from the weekend.
After a long journey across the Atlantic, we arrived in Finland the weekend before last to find cold, snow and calm days. It was perfect while it lasted, but that wasn't for too long. We were lucky to have a couple of good days of training with good conditions, but by Thanksgiving day, the weather turned uncooperative.
After good days on the jump Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, we felt ready to finally get the season underway. On Friday, however, a strong cross wind prevented us from so much as going up to attempt official training and the provisional jump round. Instead, we just tested out our fleet of XC skis and got ready for a challenging weekend ahead. This story proved to tell the tale for the entire weekend. A persistent cross wind ripping across the knoll, plus warm temperatures and rain on Saturday, then snow on Sunday, prevented us from even completing an official training round. Jasper was one of two jumpers to jump that weekend, 5 hours after we were scheduled to start on Saturday, and minutes before the decided that the conditions were still unsafe.
On Sunday, after the final cancellation, we scheduled a practice race against the Norwegian team and couple others. Not surprisingly, the Norwegians have some pretty fast skiers, so the mass start 10km was a good way to test out our race legs. Bryan and Taylor held their own, finishing in the lead pack in 3rd and 5th, respectively. I was happy to get a race in and shake off the lingering effects of the sickness that I was getting over. I didn’t hang with the top pack and certainly didn’t have the race of my life, but it’s early, and we’ll see where we’re really at this weekend.
It was somewhat shocking and frustrating to walk away from a weekend without even a chance to compete, but as we always say, it’s an outdoor sport, and sometimes there’s nothing you can do.
On Monday, we hit the gym for a quick strength session and then headed out to the next stop: Lillehammer, Norway. Although we got in fairly late that night, anytime we can train and complete the travel in one day it's an easy travel day for us.
So far, Norway has been good to us. We jumped late Tuesday morning under a crisp, clear blue sky with calm wind conditions. It was so vastly different from the howling wind, darkness and uncertainty of Ruka. That evening, we went up to ski in Sjusjøen, a sprawling network of trails and cabins in the wilderness above Lillehammer. While the days are longer here, the sun still sets early and managed to check us a bit off guard. Our coach, DJ, has been skiing up their for years, and right when it was officially very dark, we found the trail that he expected to get back on. It wasn't groomed, although some skiers had skied in a narrow track. We had seen plenty of skiers out there (smart ones with headlamps) so we decided to keep charging on the groomed trail, hoping it would eventually loop back.
We made the classic gambler's decision of continuing to double-down our bet, but we weren't getting much closer and skied downhill for far too long. By the way time we were willing to just go back the way we came, we were pretty far out there. We skied down a road that happened to have a classic track on the side for while in the direction that we needed to go. But we tell we were still a long way away, and just as the panic button was in site, we skied by a guy having a smoke outside his cabin. A nice Norwegian will understand how easy it is to get lost out here, we figured, and we decided we better ask for a ride back to our van. He did, and thank goodness, as the map of our ski below illustrates.
The jump hill is closed now until the competitions begin on Friday. We skied intervals this morning at the Birkebeiner venue, where we'll race this weekend. It should be a good one! No matter what, I'll be happy just to be out there.
Here's a video from jumping yesterday.
And another one from skiing this morning, thanks to Dave Cieslowski.
Where am I?