Sometimes it feels like the ‘steeps’ of Ruka can either make or break your weekend in Kuusamo. There really are very few ski courses in the world that have steeper hills and it’s something that we definitely don’t see on the roller skis throughout the summer so it can be a very rude awakening to the world cup scene. For me it was a tough adjustment and the races didn’t go nearly as well as I had hoped.
The race weekend started with the classic sprint on Saturday and as usual everyone including myself was pretty fired up to draw race the final Ruka climb into the stadium and fight it out on what has become an iconic opening sprint race. They day wasn’t made any easier by some tricky waxing conditions.
looking up the big climb.
I think it’s safe to say that often times conditions are a lot more tricky than they appear on TV. I struggled with slightly slick skis in qualification and then switched skis to more of a Klister binder and ended up icing up a bit in the the heats. small adjustments can be so important on the world cup. For most of the team the day was a bit of a disappointment other than seeing Ida make her personal best in classic sprinting on the WC! No matte what the outcome it’s great to get that first World Cup race out of the way.
Ruka by night… looks very christmasy
Ruka by day.
The sun never actually hits the ski trails but when it comes up you can usually see if from a distance. It had been about two weeks since we’ve seen much sun it any time it comes out in Finland we’re pretty stoked.
It’s easy to get bummed out when the first weekend of racing doesn’t go as planned but having a strong team behind you is so helpful when traveling on the road far away from home. Sunday was a tough day for our team when we learned that Noah had broken a bone in his ankle and would have to immediately fly home for a few weeks. Even with a few bad races under our belts it’s easy to get down but in instances like this you can see how quickly things can change and how it’s really important to enjoy and take advantage of your time here on the World Cup. We’re going to miss Hoff for the next few weeks but looking forward to getting him back in Europe before World Championships.
On Monday we loaded up some busses and flew out of the Kuusamo airport to Helsinki and then on to Oslo. It’s kind of funny looking at a map Kuusamp to Lillehammer isn’t very far away but it takes an entire day of buses and planes to get there. I have to say that the team was excited to get back to the Radisson hotel here in Lillehammer and dig into some amazing food after a day of travel.
In case you ever need 7 different fish options for dinner Norway is the spot to be.
For the past two days we have settled in here and took an easy day to ski up a sjusjon yesterday morning while they prepared the world cup track. There’s not a ton of snow here but just enough to ski at the higher elevations. We hit up the local gym last night, and by local gym I mean the Olympic complex which is huge. the gym was bumpin with the most nordies I’ve ever seen lifting in one place along with a bunch or Nordic combined guys and ski jumpers. One of the biggest ski development programs called NTG has a base here so there are a ton of junior skiers around and a great ski culture here.
This morning was our first day skiing on the world cup courses which had a think layer of man made snow on them. The courses are at the newly remodeled Birkenbeiner Olympic stadium. The courses here are very challenging but also a lot more fun that your average ‘engineered’ courses. They have a ton of flow with lots of transitions, corners, tough climbs, but also very skiable terrain which is great for classic racing.
This afternoon we passed the time by walking around town. although mostly everything is way too expensive to buy here it’s cool to check out the scene and enjoy the christmas feel on the walking streets.
With just one more day before the competitions start we will spend tomorrow doing our pre race workouts and testing some skis for the first skate sprint on Friday. Lillehammer is a mini tour this year so all three races will count together finishing with a 15k classic pursuit start on Sunday. should be kick ass!