Roland Clara leads an Italian teammate into the stadium on his final lap of the Muonio FIS Cups. (Torin Koos photo).
Kris Freeman driving hard over the top of race’s next-to-last climb. (Torin Koos photo).
Freeman: Energy’s High
â€œMuonio’s been good. Energy’s been high. I feel pretty good out there skiing. I’m almost over the jet lag and the race today will help out with this even more.
â€œI don’t feel too great about today’s race at all. I was +1:18. That’s the bad news. The good news is I skied like (crap) and was only +1:18. There was nothing about my race today where I can say, â€˜Oh, I nailed that.’ I started to thrash on my skis a little bit and lactated up. This was my first race of the year, on five days of on-snow training. I’m fairly certain my next race will be better.â€
Vordenberg: Every Week That Much Closer to Seeing the Magic
â€œMuonio has been what we were after. The plan was to start ski testing and get used to Europe and get our first week on snow. So it’s perfect for that. We are living right at the venue, everyone can work on their own schedule. We got a bunch of skis tested, a couple of races under our belt.
â€œFor racing, races make the best training. So we got a feel for pacing, and get a feel for the skis in a race situation, so it’s been ideal. In regards to performances, I had no expectations of results. That’s not the goal, not at all right now.
â€œFrom here, it’s off to Gallivare, Sweden. Gallivare should be a step up in how we’re racing, in how we’re feeling. And it’s in Kuusamo where we should really see the magic.â€
Still a Training Camp: But not always the place to â€˜train like a hell’
For the eighth consecutive year, US Serviceman Oleg Ragino has spent time in Munio, working with national teams, first with the Estonians, then team Smigun and now the U.S. Team. During this time – along with his year’s as a racer growing up in Estonia – Ragino has seen what works and what doesn’t when it comes to ski selection, racing and training.
â€œMuonio is the year’s first camp, and everybody is pushing hard. Not many skiers train with the head, though. With this I mean ski distance easy. It’s good to ski here, with many people serious about the sport and skiing with good techniques. But in another way, if you’re not a smart guy, you start pushing with the biathlon guys like a hell. This is especially noticeable with the young guys. A skier passes them and they think, â€œThis guy is fast. I should go with him,â€ trying so much to compare themselves to the best too much. Usually the young skiers are dead after the first camp. Then they recover from this in the spring; sometime late in February or in March. By then it’s too late.â€
Impressions on Skis From the Factories — Better than Ever
â€œCloser to the Olympics, companies seem to try and get out the best skis,â€ says Ragino. â€œIt’s always going in waves. I mean, after the Olympics you see less interest, from the companies and the public. But before the Olympics? Everybody is working like a hell. The skis coming from the factories this year are of the best product and quality ever.â€
Torin Koos is a member of the National A Team for the United States. A World Cup, World Championship and Olympic competitor, Koos brings this experience to the FasterSkier sportscasting arena for the 2008/2009 season.
Equipment: Rossignol Skis, Boots and Bindings, Toko gloves and wax, Marwe, Exel poles, Rudy Project Eyewear, Rossignol Softgoods
Home Ski Club: Leavenworth Winter Sports Club (www.skileavenworth.com)
Headgear Sponsor: USA Pears (www.usapears.com)
Best Western Icicle Inn (www.icicleinn.com)
BioSports NorthWest Physical Therapy (www.biosports.net)