TORSBY, Sweden (Oct. 21) – Training by skiing in a tunnel can get boring, but it's usually better than pounding away outside in rain.
“The snow in the tunnel is good…and it's even better when it's been raining outside every day,” said Chris Grover, sprint head coach for the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team.
U.S. sprinters Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT), Torin Koos (Leavenworth, WA) and Chris Cook (Rhinelander, WI) are training in Torsby – in Western Central Sweden, near the Norwegian border – before heading to Dusseldorf, Germany, for the Oct. 29-29 season-opening World Cup races.
The Torsby tunnel has a 1.3K loop of machinemade snow, which is groomed nightly. The track is about 25 feet (eight meters) wide and half as high (four meters) and there are some slight variations in terrain, Grover said, “so there's some challenge to what we're experiencing.” The opening sprints in Dusseldorf will be on machinemade snow laid out in about an 800-meter, tabletop-flat loop along the Rhine River.
The temperature is kept in the upper 20s F. to freezing; “It's hard wax conditions and you need some binder for classic” technique, he said. “This is one of the few places where you can ski; Oestersund [to the north] got something like four inches of snow, but we've talked with northern Swedes who are training here” because of no snow at home.
“The real challenge is the amount of people who are in the tunnel. It's okay during the week but we definitely saw more today with the weekend as the Swedes and some Norwegians have been getting ready for the coming season. We've been skiing about two hours in the morning, then doing dryland – strength or running. Skiing in a tunnel can be a little monotonous, but the guys have had some good workouts.” They plan on having a sprint competition Tuesday, hopefully with the top Norwegian sprinters, if they arrive as planned Monday and agree to race.
After the season opener, the men will join World Cup Coach Justin Wadsworth in Ramsau, Austria, for up to 10 days of training on the Dachstein Glacier and be joined by other Ski Team members before returning to Sweden. The second stop on the World Cup schedule will be Nov. 18-19 in Gallivare, Sweden.