Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Holy Holmenkollen!

(Sorry for the blog delay everyone.... I've had some technical difficulties - everything from my blog being in Norwegian to my email being spammed and unavailable, to my blog mysteriously disappearing for a few days but I'm back!)

To the POINT!

This place is pretty epic for a number of reasons.... As everyone says, it's "Every skiers dream to race at Holmenkollen at least once in their career."  I feel extremely lucky that this World Champs falls within my ski career.  Some people have told me that any championship after this one will be a let down.  While I doubt that everything from here is downhill (!) this will surely be a highlight for years to come. I am trying my best to take it and stride and enjoy the big moments and the small moments.

A wooden "Oslo 2011" with the top of the small ski jump in the background. 

A quick pic of the men's classic portion of the 30k pursuit.... it's funny how men race so differently than women. They tend to relax in the pack whereas women go all out from the gun. For example, the top three ladies in the women's race had dropped the pack at 3k (impressive!). Compare that to a men's race that came down to a 15-person sprint for the finish line! 

The Norwegian skiers here are like rock stars - rather than athletes competing in an obscure sport.  Last night someone captured this when they said that "Skiing" in the US is automatically assumed to be downhill skiing. "Skiing" in Norway is naturally, CROSS COUNTRY skiing! 

The "Kollen Roar."  Some of you have probably already heard of this but the crowd here is amazing and they are notorious for cheering for everyone, regardless of what nation they are representing. They are expecting over 400,000 spectators throughout the event here.....

WAFFLES everywhere.... maybe even the national food? 

Time here is speeding by and there are only a couple of races at the Championship remaining.  Namely, the relays and the perhaps the most famous event here, the 30/50k distance races. I've raced twice thus far and have been really happy with both of my results having finished in "the points" (top 30 score World Cup points) for both of my starts. I agonized over whether to race the 10k classic simply because it's been by far my weakest event all season. But, I went for it and had an awesome result, 27th! Unfortunately I don't have any great pictures of me racing yet but I'm hoping to get some before the week ends. 

A camp in the woods on the distance course

A boy cheering at the top of the sprint hill 

Me & Jessie with the crowd in the background 

While 27th place or my 25th (in the pursuit) may not sound like anything to write home about I am pumped. Sure, it's no medal or top ten but when I think about the fact that I haven't been racing Internationally very long - and considering the fact that these are the best skiers in the world, I am excited and satisfied.  In fact, after seeing how much support the skiers have here - and the infrastructure they benefit from, I almost can't believe that we do as well as we do.  Most Cross Country skiers in the US are strapped for cash while skiers in Norway have the potential to make a LOT of money through sponsors, endorsements, appearances, etc. They're in commercials, on billboards, and on food packaging. I feel lucky to live in Alaska which as far as I can tell, supports and values skiers more than anywhere else in the country (maybe Minnesota too!)

Here are a couple of other good pictures from the last couple of days: 

Jessie with her signature kiss to the crowd before her sprint quarterfinal - a GREAT way to start the Championships! 
A great shot of Erik Flora (APU Director/Head Coach)

Sadie standing in front of the Holmenkollen Stadium early on in the Championships - before the layer of thick fog virtually eliminated visibility!

Me in the women's locker room pre-race!

With Peter Graves - friend and Nordic Skiing (English) Announcer for the event and the past 5 (?) Winter Olympic Games 

Me and Jessie + the jump!

Last but not least, drinking coffee out of a traditional wooden mug and keeping warm with a caribou hide! 

The relay is tomorrow and I am skiing the second leg (classic).  Our line up is Kikkan, Me, Liz & Jessie. I'm definitely up against some tough skiers so I hope that I can hang in there .... somewhere! 

Thanks for reading and I'll try to post again soon! 
Good night, 
Holly :)