What has become known as the “Sweden Trip” has been in Scandinavia now for 13 days. The trip, which travels to a ski camp in Sweden and then continues on to ski on snow at Sognefjell, is in its eighth year. This year's group consists of ten skiers plus two guest coaches (Erik Nilsson and Annelies Cook) and the head coach from Burke Mountain Academy; Pete Phillips. We spent the first ten days in Sweden and are spending the remaining days in Sognefjell, Norway. Our group left from Newark Intl. Airport in New Jersey on June tenth. It was one of the warmest and most humid days I can remember; the car thermometer consistently read over 100 degrees Fahrenheit .. oooof. It was uncomfortable to say the least; the cool air conditioning of the airport was a pleasant change. We checked our baggage and meandered down to the gate. Surprisingly, our flight left right on time at 5:40 pm. We flew into Stockholm and re-checked our bags. We struggled through a four-hour layover, and finally got on our final plane to Ostersund, Sweden. Once in Ostersund, we drove two and a half weary hours to the community of Solleftea. Most of us only saw the back of our eye-lids on that car ride.
Once we arrived we settled into our cabin. With no running water, heat, or … sanitary facilities, it was an uh … unique experience. Pete forced us all to stay awake until ten so that we could adjust more easily to the time change. After an excellent dinner, cooked over an open fire, we got some much needed sleep. The mosquitoes and twenty-four hour sunlight made sleeping a challenge. We used the next three days to get adjusted to the new time zone and get in some easy training. We did an easy roller ski, a few short runs, and a long hike to the Baltic Sea. On June 14 we arrived at the Solleftea, the place where our summer ski camp was to be held. The camp consisted of both interval work, over distance (OD) work, and technique work. The camp made use of the Solleftea 5.4 kilometer roller ski-track, a luxury that most of us don't have back home. The track featured a very smooth surface, variable terrain, and a biathlon range. On the first day we did a ski-walking/moose hoofing/ski bounding technique drill followed by intervals. The next days involved technique filming and burst/impulse training. We had the privilege of working with world-cup Swedish athletes including Charlotte Kalla and Emil Jonsson as well as other Swedish campers …a shout out to Daniel Faukt. In the span of a week we discovered that Swedish teenagers are RARELY late and ALWAYS half an hour early, and use more hair products and styling tools than the average American female (boys included).
The world cup athletes led the workouts and gave us one-on-one advice. Every night ended with group activities. The games involved a cucumber, an orange, and a balloon…use your imagination. Sweden is known for its tall, blonde, and attractive women; chocolate; skiing, and apparently, its inappropriate games. The camp incorporated many different games including a five kilometer orienteering course and a biathlon challenge.
As well as technique and intensity, we did a long three hour OD run through some Swedish bogs. That night we had the Disco! The US kids rocked it! If we can't beat the Swedes on the trails, at least we can beat them on the dance floor.
Throughout the week each skier got an individual consult with one of the coaches or athletes. These sessions were used to go over goals for the upcoming season, talk about technique/training, and ask the athlete anything that you were curious about in regards to skiing or anything else. We all took advantage of this and gained some valuable knowledge about our ski futures.
This camp was really an eye-opening experience for me. I got to find out how world cup athletes live, train, and compete. I have learned tons about different types of training, how to avoid sickness/injuries, and most importantly how to stay motivated. After the camp ended we went back to our cabin for one last night, and that night we had a barbecue at Bengt Stattin's house (The Swedish Men's National Team Coach returning to Solleftea after two years of coaching the national team).
In the morning we drove to Ostersund where we met up with Erik Nilsson. We spent the afternoon in the town, and then continued up to Bruksvallarna. We stayed at Erick's cabin (more of a chalet) for two nights before continuing on to Norway and Sognefjell. We arrived two nights ago in Sognefjell and settled into our hotel. Yesterday morning we went for a skate ski on the eight kilometer snow loop at Sognefjell. It was amazing to be on snow again. In the PM we went for an easy klister ski. My skis felt long and awkward but I got used to them quickly and had a terrific ski in both the morning and the afternoon. Without trying to sound too clichÃ©, the views are amazing. It's literally a postcard-view when we walk out of the hotel.
It's pretty great to be skiing where national teams from around the world come regularly. It's really inspiring to see world-class level skiers out skiing right in front of us. We are getting a lot out of these training sessions on snow, not only from skiing on some pretty sick pow in June, but watching the technique and manner in which these amazing skiers ski. Yesterday morning we saw some of the Norwegian Men's development skiers doing an easy distance session. It was nice to see how slow they were going, just cruising and staying really controlled.
Hopefully another update to follow at the end of the week, I'm Patrick Joslin, you stay classy fasterskier readers.