Sunday, March 30, 2008
Here is the latest update from Mark Johnson, who stayed in Norway to compete in the Norwegian Biathlon Championships in Stryn:
Friday's race at the biathlon championships was a great way to end the biathlon season. The whole Norwegian crew was there; Ole Einer Bjøorndalen, Emil Svendsen, Lars Berger just to name a few. The weather was a bit tricky for a biathlon race with swirling gusty winds. The women's race again was simply amazing to watch, sooo many good competitors for such a small country.
The men's race had over a hundred entrants... crazy huh? For the 20km individual I only had CH on my skis, but this time for the 10km Sprint my friend Arild hooked me up with a Swix wax technition who is responsible for the entire national team... I honestly was a bit baffeled that this worked out ;-). Needless to say my skis were fanominal. Before the race I didn't know what to expect from myself physically, but I started out hard the first loop and just hoped to hold on. I was the fifteenth starter and had the fastest ski time in the first loop by 30sec! (Of course the 'big guns' took care of that later, but they started late in the order.) It was fun to have the attention of the crowed, which was very large today, for that first loop. They all cheered as I shot prone, but booed/gasped when I missed one of my five shots.
The second loop went well, but I could tell that my legs were still tired from the 20km two days earlier. I took it easy the last 100m into the range before my standing shoot. I shot slowely and deliberately, but still missed one target, so two penalties for the day... definitely respectible. I skied as hard as I could that last loop, but still felt a bit sluggish... thank goodness for fast skis! I crossed the finish line and I could only wait to see how I did as there were so many people left to finish.
While I waited, I got some sweet photos and watched some crazy skiing. After everything came to a close, I ended up 34th and about 3:49 back from the winner Emil Svendsen who missed one target. Ole Einer missed 4 targets today and placed 5th... I'm sure he is a bit grumpy. But it is fun to only be 2:40 behind him on the result list. (To be honest I think this is my best international Sprint race. At junior worlds I was over 5min back from the winner...)
see you soon!
Friday, March 28, 2008
Out for a final ski, we were a real "Tour de Force"
Need I say anything??
Up the last of three "peaks": Snorvillen
Katie, Atay: On top of the world!
Robbie does a flip off the ledge
Sam gives Maddy a little help off the cliff, then does the jump himself
Evan, along with Dave, Keith, and Kirstin decide to "ski it"
Katie, diggin' (in)the powder!
Snorvillen, and our tracks down it!
Keith: he always knows where to find the party (especially if they are serving cake)
Crosby takes a well-earned sandwich break on a pine-bough cushioned snow couch in the sun
Thursday, March 27, 2008
7:50am: a gorgeous morning to start our epic trek
Tracks: who needs 'em?? The start of our journey begins with (unexpected) ungroomed trails.
We broke trail all the way to the Birkebeinerloypet, only to find that the most famous trail in all of Norway had not yet been groomed . . . . so we turned west, in search of groomed tracks and a new "epic tour" route . . .
We find groomed tracks that lead us to the very top of our map, Hornsjo . . . .
And boy, are these tracks GORGEOUS!!! There is also very little wind, and the sun is bright, the snow sparkling diamonds.
At the top of the tour, on our way to Pallastova: Sam, Robby, Atay
Sam Kapala, Robby Cuthbert, Alex Taylor, and I had been planning a real adventure, the furthest any of us had ever skiied in our lives: 106km. We planned to start at 7:30am and ski all the way to Rena, the start of the Birkebeiner, 50km away. Then we planned to ski the whole Birkebeiner race trail, another 56 km, from Rena to Lillehammer, and catch a bus back to Natrudstilen. But after breaking trail in shin-deep powder for the first 20km we reached the Birkebeiner trail only to be disappointed in finding an ungroomed track!! So, instead, we planned a different epic tour on Robby's suggestion: to hit all the outer edges of our trail maps: From Natrudstilen, all the way east to Ljosheim and north-east to Kvarsted-Saetra, North to Hornsjo, north-west to Pallastova, and home. Only, when I left the three boys at a cafe in Nordsetter where they stopped for a Waffle break I made it home only to find later that they continued their journey west to Lillehammer, the Birkebeiner stadium, before ending their journey with a 20km uphill climb all the way home to South-central Natrudstilen: a HUGE 100km ski tour!!! Congratulations Sam, Robby, Atay!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Markie-Mark Johnson left us today - he is off to compete in and experience totally the madness of the high level competition of World-Class Biathlon. Here is his update:
I made it up to Stryn yesterday just fine. It took a 80 dollar bus ticket and six hours of traveling, but boy was it worth it! The views on the ride here were incredible, due to the high mountain passes that the bus route took. Up on the passes there was nothing but ~2 meters of snow as far as the eye could see. As the bus descended steeply into Stryn, I got to thinking... I hope I make it out of here next weekend. This town definitely has a different feel than Lillehammer... no more resort feel. The town is surrounded by high rugged mountains (hopefully I can send some pics soon).
This morning I got up to the venue, which by the way, is fantastic! Probably one of the most scenic places I've been. The trails here will be challenging to say the least. I think there is something like 43 meters of climbing for each loop. So if I have to do 5 loops... oh man, I don't even want to think about it ;-) Tomorrows race is the individual format with 20km and 4 shooting stages. It starts at at 1pm. I'll keep ya'll posted on how things are going...
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The little "greeter" at the entrance to the Susjoen Cafe.
Caleb, hard to miss coming or going, in his unmistakeable NH ski wear.
More freshman boys showing their New England Style: Keith and Evan appreciating local art in Lillehammer.
Slowly falling wisps and an overcast sky, combined with cool temps and flat light was enough to make most of the team take an "easy" day of 20km or so. But for David and Caleb it was a day to explore the upper limits of their "bonk" meters . . . They both did long tours up north - similiar routes to what the rest of the boys had taken the day before - David perhaps winning the high-kilometer prize of the day (mostly by doing what he called "not looking at the map, just skiing straight through intersections", thus getting himself lost several times). Up to Hornsjo via a wandering route, and across to Pallastova, where, he admitted, he was absolutely spent. From there he still had a good 25 km to get home . . . .
Both boys made it home just after 5, heading straight for the food cupboard and then to the couch.
Meanwhile, outside, Robbie, Kapala, and Maddy were busy little tunnelers: their mission was to shovel a great tunnel to China - or at least through to the top of the 15 foot snow burm outside the cabin . . .
Monday, March 24, 2008
Well, I took my own tour today up to the two high points of the Birkebeiner race trail, Royfjellet and Midfjellet, and everyone else scattered in different directions. But I think I can speak for all in saying that it was a PERFECT day for skiing: blue skies, only one wisp of a cloud, very little wind, bomb-proof tracks stretching for as far as the eye could see!!
The morning started with some traditional norwegian sweet pretzels (Barb Kourajian had sent me over with the recipe) , continued with church for some and skiing for everyone, and ended in smiles and sunburns all around. :)
As an older Norwegian man related to me today, after I told him that I thought that this area was a nordic skier's paradise - if you were a Norwegian and not on skis on this day, you must be sick in either the stomach - or, he said with a wink, pointing to the spot right above the swix logo on his hat - in the head . . . .
Saturday, March 22, 2008
I ventured out with Gabby and Emily and we made the mistake of "taking the road less traveled", a barely skiied single track that led off into the trees in the general direction of Nordsetter. After two long, cold, windy hours in which we followed and barely passed a Norwegian local as she plodded very slowy down the track, we finally reached Nordsetter and happily entered the nearest warm cafe. There we met up with Bud and Greg and enjoyed hot drinks, homemade cheese and jam sandwiches, and cardamom pastries.
The way back we took a more civilized route and the going was much easier, even skiiable!
That evening Fiona and Emily spearheaded a Ladies' team dinner of pasta, garlic bread, and salad = fave fuel for 10 hungry nordies!
We met Evan as we were going out and he was coming back from the store in Sjusjoen (which is the nearest store, 7km from home), and he was looking a bit icy . . . .
WHere'd the trail go?! Gabby and Emily forge ahead.
Happy Bellies and Smiles at the Ladies' team dinner: Emily, Fiona, Amy, Aubrey, Kirsten, Maddy (Gabby, Ali, Katie and Nattie not in pic)
Bud gathers the troops for an inspirational battle speech on how to conquer our fiercest enemy (bad technique, ie tricep poling)
Storytime: Bud reads the children's story of how the Birbebeiner race became a tradition: how the baby King Haakun was saved via a nordic skiing journey through the very same hills and valleys that we ourselves have been skiing on these past 4 days!
Friday, March 21, 2008
Gabby, Mark, Nattie, Ali: heading north.
Well, I can only relate my own group’s experience today as many of the girls took a tour down to
It was another beautiful morning, albeit windy, and the tracks we found leading from the start of the trail in Romasetten were perfectly pristine. We had decided to take the scenic route north, which led us first east, below Solefjellet where we rode a looooooooong gradual downhill rollercoaster of a trail, giggling all the way down. Then north, on an uphill trek through the spruce trees and crossing the Ljosheim and Birkebeiner trails. From there we topped Gjestbodsasen, snacking and taking in the scenery, and then continued on to Elgasen, where a cluster of cabins looked like a promising lunch stop. Alas, we did not find a restaurant, and after inquiry to the locals, found that the nearest places to get waffles and cocoa were Sjusjoen (7km south-west) and Hornsjo (9km north). So we found a piece of dry bench to sit on in the sun as we ate our sandwiches. Nattie and Ali headed back to Sjusjoen while Emily, Gabby, and I decided to take the adventure to Hornsjo.
Gabby, Nattie, Emily, Ali, Me, eating lunch on a snowed-in porch of a summer cabin in Elgasen.
So windy!!! But absolutely gorgeous. The next 9km wound us around several lakes and up into the hills, exposed areas where the wind hit us in the face and slowed us down, but the beauty of the landscape, the smiling people passing us in the opposite direction and the tantalizing thought of waffles and cocoa spurred us on.
Finally we reached Hornsjo. It was 2:30pm and we were cold and hungry! We were really psyched to find a restaurant in a very nice hotel, with decent prices to boot!
The tough part was going back outside, into the wind and now blizzard-like conditions. Fortunately, the wind was now at our backs, and the snow only lasted several minutes, so that soon we were being pushed by the wind quickly down tracks, into the sunshine. The wind blew the snow sideways with such force that it seemed we were in a desert storm, only ten times prettier!
Gabby and Emily: wind at our backs and into the setting sun.
It was a quick trip back toward Sjusjoen, even with wrong turns and tiring muscles. Then, trying to get to Sjusjoen, we got a bit lost and ended up backcountry skiing and then hiking several km down a road to the store. We made the mistake, there, of buying a bit more than we could carry home, and with groceries sticking out various parts of our weighed-down packs, we set out into the wind for the grueling 6km finishing trek home.
Gabby and I with overflowing packs and snacks-in-hand after shopping in Sjusjoen.
We were in tour mode then, not really skiing, but shuffling on our skis. Aching muscles, hungry bellies, frozen hands and feet. Still, the beauty was astounding. To our right, the setting sun, casting an orange-tinged glow past the dark silhouettes of trees. To our left a near-full moon, glowing immense above the tree tops. And between the two the snow sparkled and the tracks led to infinity. A gorgeous, gorgeous evening. But boy were we glad to see our cabins, an hour later!!
Thursday, March 20, 2008
A snowman greets us as we start at the midpoint of the Birkie race trail.
An “early” start (by anyone except Bud’s definition), we were out on the trails by 10am and on our way to another Fantastic Day of Skiing in Norway. Several of the girls decided to ski down to Lillehammer for some shopping and sight seeing, while the rest of us took a long touring loop out to Ljosheim and back on the Birkebeiner trail. It was another day of blue skies and sunshine, rolling terrain and perfect tracks, families touring and setting up picnic areas all along the way. It was a fairly easy day of skiing, though long. There was one grand hill, up to the top of Sollifjellet, but the track ride back down into Ljosheim was a rollercoaster of whoops and whirls. We stopped at a café in Ljosheim for lunch of waffles, donuts, and hot drinks.
Newly revived, we made our way ( with a wrong turn once or twice) up to the midpoint of the Birkebeiner trail, conveniently entering the race in the middle of the longest climb toward Midtfjellet.
Kissing the perfect tracks at the beginning of our first real ski out of Natrudstilen. We are SO happy to be in Norway!!
Down the other side we went: it was rut-filled thrills and spills to the bottom where we found a parking lot and some English-speaking friendly Norwegians who informed us that the waffle place was “just down the ski trail a bit”. 1.5 km down we were ecstatic to find the warm, food and beverage-filled lodge at Gaiastova, an alpine ski lodge. We thawed out as we ate waffles, self-made sandwiches, and drank cupfuls of syrupy-sweet hot cocoa piled high with whip cram (5 dollars a cup, and neither Amy nor I hesitated at drinking a second!).
We made a unanimous group decision to skip the hill on the way back, instead winding to the right of the hill and bypassing Nordsetter to take the shortcut straight to Sjusjoen.