OtherThe Season's Start: Muonio

FasterSkierNovember 15, 2008

Oleg & Randy — making sure the boys are getting their ski fleets dialed in for the season ahead.

“I’m digging the Finnish scene,” says US Serviceman Randy Gibbs. “It’s like being in Northern Minnesota. It’s like Ely. Muonio is the Ely of Europe.”

“This scene is something I’ve never seen. Two dozen national teams — and everybody else skiing, all racing, on the same course. It’s pretty cool. You can tell people are excited to get the tour rolling in Gallivare again next week.

“I mean, it’s like Finland for me,” says fellow US Serviceman Oleg Ragilo. “The people, the weather — look, its noon and there’s no sun at all.

“The races here mean something,” continues Ragilo. “Fifty Russians, all the Finns, are racing today to decide who will start in the 15 kilometer in the Kuusamo (FIN) World Cup, tomorrow for Gallivare (SWE).

In Friday’s sprint, 350 racers took to the startline. On Saturday, 500 started the 15 kilometer. In the sprint, Newell won the qualifier and quarterfinal before falling in the semifinals. He finished the day 12th. Torin Koos ended up 15th, losing in the final meters to Finland's Kalle Lassila. Chris Cook qualified 37th, missing the head-to-head rounds by less than a second. Today, Chris Cook was America’s sole entrant, finishing 45th, +1:25 behind Germany’s Tobias Angerer. Tomorrow, both Andy Newell and Kris Freeman take to the start. “I don’t get many opportunities for distance races, especially in skating. The last couple 15 kilometer skates have gone well, though, so I’m looking forward to it.”

“And Muonio?” one asks Newell. “I love it. Skiing and snow, then more skiing under the lights. Everyone knows I prefer the darkness of Northern Scandinavia to the sunny skies of Central Europe. It feels good to be racing, too. I’m feeling pretty fast and am ready for the World Cups.”

Related on FasterSkier:
Newell Wins Qualifier in Muonio, Falls in Semis – Includes links to sprint results.
Munio Finland – Andy Newell blog post.
Germans Pace the Field in Muonio 10/15km Classic

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)

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