Sunday, March 25, 2012

EurOPA Finals in Italy

The final few weeks of the ski racing season are mostly racing with not much training.  With 8 races over 16 days the goal is to rest and recover.  Usually we don't get much opportunity to explore the places we travel to for races but with a bit more down time this week I enjoyed exploring a bit of beautiful northern Italy.  Toblach, Italy  has been an annual host to World Cups for the past few years.  I remember checking the place out in 2009 when my teamate Garrott came over to compete in the World Cup Finals.  
The stadium, note the hill created by going over the race builting.  Pretty awesome and that hill is legit.  Also pretty nice to have carpet laid over the mud for the 2 minute walk from the hotel to the venue.

Clarke Sullivan has joined the wax crew here for the Finals.  We had to wax outside and without power for the first days but these guys are on top of it.  It wasn't too rough considering temperatures were in the sixties.

Race course for the weekend. 

Tad and I testing out our Salomon skis.  
Most of the racing in the US is on cold dry snow so it has been fun to test out my warmer skis.

The mountains are amazing here, but the most beautiful thing just arrived in Toblach.  
Caitlin has had a tough trip to Europe.  Chipping a tooth her first day to Switzerland and suffering a concussion in the Engadin.  She is playing it safe and will not be racing this weekend.  We are both sad that she won't be racing but it is great to have her here.  She has done a fantastic job supporting the group taking video of the races for technique analysis, giving splits, and cheering everyone on.

Friday, March 9, 2012

European Racing

The transition to Europe went really smoothly for me.  The 7 hour time difference from Minneapolis can mess with your body, but I seem to have handled it easily.  I met up with a large group of Americans coming from the World Junior/U23 Championships in Ezerum, Turkey.  My good friend, climbing partner, and college teammate Casey Fagerquist is the wax technician for the trip.  Plus my former Coach, Bryan Fish is the head coach for the trip so it is great to be working with familiar friends.  

Tad (Birkie Champion) and I out for a classic ski on our first day in Europe.  We are fierce competitors but also good friends
Our first set of races were Swiss Cups in Feutersoey, SUI.  The field were small but there were a few very fast guys.  Remo Fischer the World Cup veteran from Switzerland won both races.  Remo and Tad caught me in the skate race but I was able to hang on to them for a short while to finish 4th.   The weather was pretty unreal with highs near 60 degrees all week.  Thankfully there was over three feet of snow throughout the valley.
After our week in Switzerland we drove 9 hours to Rogla, Slovenia.  This weekend we will race the OPA cup. These races are very competitive and are just a small step below the World Cup.
Tad and I are in bunkbeds in what is described as a bungalow.  The room is tiny, but we have everything we need.  The rooms have a kitchen, table, shower and bathroom and are not much larger than 10' x 16.'
Temperatures are just below freezing and we had great skiing this morning.  We had a relaxed start to let things soften up a bit.  It is cool to ski many of the same hills that I have seen on televison watching the annual World Cups in Rogla.  
Fish and Casey are taking extremely good care of us over here.  This morning they wouldn't even let me scrape or wax my own skis.  It is serious business over here.  

Tomorrow we race 10km Freestyle, this is a great race for me and my focus for the weekend.