November 30, 2015

Ruka Triple

The World Cup started with a bang with a 3 stage mini tour in Kuusamo, Finland. Kuusamo is close to the Arctic Circle and with some combination of where the village is in relation to the hill and the numerous snow guns in action, there is almost always some moisture in the air and not a whole lot of sun. But Kuusamo has it’s own beauty with long steep climbs and rip roaring descents and fortunately plenty of snow given the warm temperatures we experienced.

This weekend was a bit like the first week of college where everything gets thrown at you at once and you have to figure out a way to piece through it, learn quickly, and keep things moving.

The first day was a classic sprint, with an infamous steep hill into the stadium that often makes or breaks races. I didn’t quite find what I was looking for up the hill and missed out on the heats, but it sure got the ball rolling and helped me to think about what I need to work on in the coming weeks. We did have four girls makes the heats and Andy found some great speed finishing the day in 4th!

The next day, 5k skate, brought some mist and warm temperatures plus another infamous downhill where my teammate Noah Hoffman broke his ankle last year. I had a solid race, finishing in 35th with again, two teammates inside the top 20!

The last day was a pursuit start 10k classic in which we start based on our rank of the previous two races combined. In this manner, the first person across the line wins the whole mini-tour. I like this style because it allows me to start with people of similar ability and let me focus a bit more on the girls I am skiing around. It turned out to be a wax tech’s nightmare with a light freeze over night after the rain a some new snow on top. This is very tricky to find kick and every girl out there struggled so it was a matter of finding ways to make things work. This is where skiing on snow differs so much from rollerskis as the kick and glide on rollerskis never changes so you are never forced to adjust your technique for the given conditions. As a result, I learned so much throughout the course of the race, trying different things over and over until by the last lap I had found something that was working quite well. I ended up finishing the tour in the same place I started, 34th, making for a solid weekend and a good start to the season. Sadie kept up her speed and finished the in 14th leading the USA.

It’s been a weekend full of reflection with all the lessons of racing and skiing coming rushing back to me as I moved through all the races. This is a great way to start for me as I hope to keep all those lessons in mind in the coming weeks and creep my way up the results list.

We are now headed to Lillehammer, Norway to prepare for the next weekend of racing.

Sadie and the giant snowman!

Racing! (Anatolii Tsymbalov Photo)

Sadie sprinting well! (Nordic Focus Photo)
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