This early season block was the results-highlight of our year. Trond and the waxers drove all over Europe (from Italy to Norway to northern Finland and back) on roads slick enough to rival the Fairbanks — Salcha commute while the athletes flew from race site to race site. The racers, coaches and waxers basically kicked ass scoring our best world cup results so far and putting Kris in the World Cup red group.
The rest of us continued our training in the US and watched the results roll in from Europe.
Beitostollen, Norway. 15km Skate.
1st Piller, ITA. 32:59
5th Summerfeldt, GER 33:17
15th Skjeldal, NOR 33:36
28th Freeman, USA 34:05
60th Swenson, USA 35:00
71st Berger, Ola, NOR 35:19
84th Flora, USA 36:06
Last — Persson, SWE 37:00
That is a fast and close 15km
Kuusamo, Finland. Pursuit.
1st Teichmann, GER 1:15:52
15th Veerpalu, EST 1:16:42
29th Freeman, USA 1:18:22
34th Swenson, USA 1:19:33
Last place: Reto Burgermeister, SUI 1:24:02. Burgermeister goes on to get 2nd in the WC pursuit in Oberstdorf. With some exceptions most racers were all over the results page this year — winning one weekend, second sheet the next.
Kuusamo, Finland. 15km classical
1st Aukland, NOR 37:35
15th Carrera, ITA 38:08
20th Freeman, USA 38:19
Dobbiaco, ITA. 30km skate mass start
1st Fredriksson, SWE 1:09:52.0
6th Freeman, USA 1:09:52.7
13th Swenson, USA 1:10:23
37th Teichmann, GER 1:12:05
Davos, SUI. 15km classical
1st Veerpalu, EST 38:13
5th Freeman, USA 38:51
8th Estil, NOR 38:57
15th Bauer, CZE 39:15
41st Swenson, USA 40:20
44th Flora, USA 40:23
50th Rotchev, RUS 40:40
81st Bjerkeli, NOR 42:31
To see the world cup results on line check out: www.fis-ski.com and go to results, cross-country, world cup.
Those of us in the US expanded our training grounds to a high road in the Uinta Mountains where there was a lot of snow and some hard terrain. I got to groom up there alone late one night in a snowstorm, chugging along turning out tracks and hoping I wouldn’t run out of gas and have to walk 10km back to the car. I loved it. As a crew we were on track and stoked. Really stoked.
Our goal this year past year was World Cup and only World Cup. However, in the Super Tour my charges were not racing well. Justin Freeman, coming off a very promising year in 2003 and many years of steady improvement prior to that had not found his form and had struggled with illness off and on since New Zealand. Torin had not put together the sprint he is capable of, Johnson had a severely infected tooth and lower jaw, Wendy was simply not feeling right, the D-team had some highs and lows, and I am starting to seriously wonder what I did wrong. This is a low point.
Then Leif Zimmerman uncorks a hell of a race to win his first Super Tour. Then Johnson, two days after getting his jaw operated on wins a Super Tour. This is a high point. Christmas holds some seriously deep snow on Mt. Bachelor and my girlfriend Barb and I enjoy a week of skiing while spending Christmas with my parents. Talking to my athletes by phone the reports are very positive. Justin tells me if he felt any better he would be scared. Johnson says he hasn’t felt this good in a long time. The others report similar up turns in fitness. This is a high point.
The weather report for the first race at nationals in Rumford, ME claims it will start cold, warm up for a while, cool down and snow and then warm up and rain — all within the few hours before and during race time. This is totally preposterous for a few reasons. First, what weatherperson even pretends to predict the weather with such accuracy? Second how is it going to start cold, warm up, cool down, and then warm up all within two hours?
On race day, the 15km and 30km classic, the weather started cold. Grover and Hall and I find a wax which is quite excellent — a hair warmer than extra blue. It warms up, and we are on top of the wax change — using VR 60. It cools down, and begins to snow, which is fine because we have a wax that will work great — VR 60 covered with extra blue. We are waxing the race skis with this, when it warms up dramatically. Then it starts to rain. I frantically scrapped the kick wax off Torin’s skis (he was bib number one) five minutes before the race started and put on one layer of Special Rosa klister. He barely made the start. Then we were all head’s down waxing up pair after pair as fast as we could. Normally we trust the weather report and it is wrong. This time the weather report was right and we didn’t believe it.
Still Torin took tenth, his best distance race in a long time, and Carl won. Andrew lost his klister, Justin’s was too thick, and Wendy didn’t feel well. Taking the rest of the week into consideration this day was actually a high point, so I’ll happily gloss over the rest.
I should mention that this Nationals marked the return of the Canadian men. They simply skied great and kept skiing great all winter. Hat’s off in fact to a lot of clubs and individuals that skied great at Nationals.
Next stop Europe.
I like to start all my European campaigns with some sort of driving mishap. Last year it was weather related, this year confusion and panic. By the time we reached Milan and got the vans rented it was dark. I was driving the lead van, as I thought I had a good idea where to go. The first opportunity I had to take a wrong turn I did. We took the wrong exit right behind a Fiat Punto. The roads were wet, but not too slick, still in the middle of the off ramp the Punto’s back end came around and the little car got wedged between guard rails perpendicular to the direction of traffic. I hit the breaks and the hazard lights and the two vans behind us did the same. There we sat waiting for the Punto driver to do a 38 point turn and continue, shaking probably, down the road — what for us was the wrong road.
I was rightfully relegated to last van in line, and so am just following the others. There are many tolls in Europe and most are a quick process of inserting cash or a credit card into a machine — at which time the arm goes up and you proceed. Having done this at 10 tolls previous I arrived at a toll that would not accept my card. I tried to stick it in every possible slot, and nothing happened. The gate before us was open anyway, and the cars behind started honking and I got nervous and just drove through.
This was one of those toll booths where you are supposed to push a button and take a ticket. I am telling this story as sort of a public service announcement to traveling coaches everywhere — so pay attention. At THIS tool booth I was supposed to TAKE a ticket — not pay. This is important because hours down the road from here there is a person sitting in another toll both, and she is going to want that ticket.
I told the ticket taker that I had no ticket. She said, give me your ticket. I said, I have no ticket, and she said, I must have the ticket, and I said I have no ticket and if you are getting tired of this, imagine me. It was eventually agreed that I would pay the maximum fare — which wasn’t that big a deal. I have however heard of people (another coach) who had to wait for two hours for the police to come and write him a $200 ticket. I hope you were paying attention.
Lindsay Weier and Sten Fjeldheim in Lillehammer prior to Jr. Worlds.
Since time was short, we had to get into a rhythm very quickly. The night of our arrival we went for a walk out in the crisp Lillehammer air. The next morning we went for a ski and did a few race pace pick ups of a minute each. This was not to try and get in shape, it was simply to wake up the body and help get the skiers used to the new time zone quickly.
To get in a hard effort and get in the swing of racing we found a nearby race four days prior to Jr. Worlds. At this race our results were very good. At Jr. Worlds three athletes scored four top 20’s — Weier 19th 15km, Williams 14th 5km, Williams 14th sprint, Ronsse 15th, sprint.
We coaches put an emphasis on the process of racing rather than on the outcome. Good races are the product of skiing as fast as possible from start to finish by working each part of the course to the best of your ability. Good results on the other hand are the product of work done earlier — in years past, in the summer, fall and winter. In both cases it is the process that counts — the process of preparing and the process of competing.