This week was an off week in the World Cup schedule, and since I wasn't going to compete in the Continental Cups in Park City, I stayed over and trained in Planica, Slovenia. The coaches and Taylor went back to help with and ski in the COC's, respectively, and Bryan went home to spend some time with his wife. So I was solo for the week.
There wasn't much for snow in Planica, which is the case for just about everywhere but Scandinavia at the moment. One upside of this weather is that I'm staying in run shaping and might not have to go through a couple weeks of getting my running legs back in the spring after a winter of skiing every day.
I started the week with a run up from the guesthouse to the Tromeja, (Slovenian for 3 borders). Like the four corners of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, only I was at the top of a mountain overlooking Italy, Slovenia and Austria. Just to be sure, I checked out the map from my GPS watch and really was on the right peak. As an added bonus, the snow from last week stuck up high, the sky was blue and the views were gorgeous.
Back in town, winter seemed a long way off.
Fortunately I found some decent skiing at the Pokluka ski trails and a small loop up the valley from Planica. Pokluka was about a 50 minute drive, mostly winding up mountain roads, but well worth it. They're preparing for this week's World Cup Biathlon at Pokluka, so they had a good race loop and were busy making snow when the temps were cold enough.
Here's a throwback picture from January 2010, when I first skied at Pokluka, with Cliff Field, left and Michael Ward, right, before I competed in my first Continental Cup. Time flies.
There was also skiing just up the road from the road from where I was staying, past the ski jumps. It was a bit of an adventure to get up there: about 1.5km of hiking on what should be a ski trail, then I put on skins (fit for XC skis) and skinned up the valley another 2km, and then the trail opened up into a nice meadow with a short groomed loop. One of the mornings I was up there the local ski club drove a team van up there for training - on the supposedly non-motorized road. I didn't mind the hike though, it just meant a few less laps that I had to do at the top.
I also spent two afternoons at the nearby Dali jump suit factory. For once, I let them do all the work. They re-measured me, built me a suit, and then made all the alterations on the spot so that it would fit perfect. In the past, I've had to make these alterations myself, which is neither fun nor the best way to have a perfect suit. This time, I left it to the professionals.
Since I was alone and had extra time to kill, I played the part of a tourist more than I usually would. One afternoon, I drove down the road to Tarviso, Italy for some shopping, wandering, browsing and a real Cappuccino. On the way back, I stopped at Laghi Fusine and took in the beautiful alpine lake.
I stayed at Gostišče Uh, a small guesthouse that happens to be owned by the biggest NFL fan I've ever met in Europe. In fact, Žan, whose team is the Eagles, is one of the most diehard football fans I've met anywhere.
I've stayed at the "Uh" before, and he hosted the junior team for around a month in total over the span of last year, so I felt right at home. Žan and I watched the World Cup ski jumping on his big screen projector. And, of course, when Sunday night rolled around, the projector was firing for game-day with his full NFL Network package. The Packers were the "early game" - starting at 7pm our time, so I watched most of that game, although it was a pretty bad game for Packer fans. After I went to bed, Žan still had one game to sit through, and then the real game could start - Philadelphia vs. Dallas.
They took good care of me with traditional food and all the kindness of a family that's in the business of hospitality. Slovenian cuisine tends to lean heavily on meat, potatoes and fried food in general, but some of their specialties were exceptional. Slovenian mushroom soup, in particular, is the best mushroom soup I've had anywhere, and they have some really good dumpling dishes. For my last lunch before leaving, they served me Krapi, a large dumping filled with polenta, buckwheat flour and ricotta cheese and topped with a slightly sweet and savory butter sauce. Suffice it to say, I didn't arrive in Austria hungry.
I drove the two hours to Ramsau, Austria on Monday, where we'll be competing this weekend. There's not really any more snow here - just a short man-made cross country loop. But the jump is open, and I took a few jumps with the Slovenian NoCo team Tuesday morning. The rest of my team arrived Tuesday night, and now we're back on a normal schedule. I'm off to take some more jumps this morning! Think snow!
Where am I?