Together with Olympiatoppen (the National Sports governing body in Norway) Ã…ge Skinstad traveled to Vancouver last week. Skinstad returned with a very good impression after his stay:
â€œIt looked really good. The organizers have made significant progress and seem to be excellent at preparing. Regarding Nordic, the trail system is already 100% finished.â€
The Olympics in Vancouver get started in 2010 and this first visit was for reconnaissance.
â€œThis was the first visit to the Olympic venues and we plan to return at least two more times before the championship begins. We also intend to have a training camp there after the world championship in 2009â€ explains the sports chief.
In 2009 there will also be a World Cup in Vancouver.
â€œThe world cup has been scheduled for January. However, it looks like we won’t be fielding a complete team because it takes place between the Tour de Ski and the Norwegian national championship, which is the last opportunity for racers to qualify for the world championship.
What are the Nordic Trails Like?
â€œThey have constructed two 5 kilometer courses, one for skating and one for classic. They are about 1/3 uphill, 1/3 flat, and 1/3 downhill. There will probably be more striding than in earlier years. A portion of the loops are also paved for rollerskiing, so it is possible to have training camps there during the dryland period as well.
The cross country racers are going to reside in the Olympic village. Its construction has just gotten underway.
â€œThe Olympic village is 14 kilometers away from the Nordic venue, which suits us well. A shuttle will run every 20 minutes. The mountain apartments that are being built are of extremely high quality,â€ comments Skinstad.
Without Biathletes on the Team?
If you examine the competition schedule it looks like it will be difficult for the biathletes to race the 15 kilometer.
â€œThere are some problems because the 15km freestyle race is scheduled to take place between the biathletes’ sprint and pursuit competitions. I will, however, try to convince the best skaters, including Lars Berger, to prioritize the 15 kmâ€ concludes Ã…ge Skinstad to langrenn.com.