BEITOSTØLEN, Norway – A seasoned racer who is a veteran of three Olympics and five World Championships, Torin Koos is aiming for a spot on the U.S. squad heading to the 2011 World Championships in Oslo in February. While a 17th place in the skate sprint qualifier at Beitostølen (NOR) and a 58th place in the 15 k classic Sunday may not seem like the most impressive application, Koos regards his season openers as just that: getting his feet wet and readjusted to the scene.
“Oh, it was a start. It always feels good to get the first race of the year under the belt,” said Koos after the Saturday sprint race, admitting that he was aiming a little higher than 17th.
“In the qualifier, I thought I was putting down one of my most fluid prelims yet. The legs didn’t feel incredibly snappy, and the glide on the skis was a little off, and I was hoping for a little more than 17th here,” he said.
After the qualifier, Koos and Scott Johnston, Koos’s coach with the Washington-based Methow Olympic Development Project, decided to get more creative with the wax to improve the glide for the heats.
“For the rounds, Scott Johnston got his mad scientist ski testing skills on and found a better overlayer, getting my skis in the game,” Koos said.
More than great skis
They nailed the wax, but a sprint is full of surprises outside the technical details that you can control – the terrain and the course setup also play a role. And after a poor start in his heat, Koos ended up missing out on a lucky loser spot by a less than a half-second.
“Unfortunately, at the start, my lane had a bit of a downhill…and instead of rolling into a false start, I checked myself right as the starter’s pistol fired. I was way back in the pack most of the race, but found some daylight up the final climb and made a good move into third.
“I heard I missed the lucky loser spot by two-tenths of a second. Okay day, and there’s many more chances to fight again,” said Koos, who is looking forward to his next events in Finland with the group led by the Maine Winter Sports Center.
“Sure, you want more. But I see myself racing myself into competition shape and getting back the great feeling for snow over these next weeks.”
Video from Beito sprint here:
Johnston was also content with the season opener at Beitostolen.
“Overall we are both pleased with way the race went,” Johnston said, emphasizing that this was the first of many race weekends in a long season.
“We made the decision to train through this race so we could make the most of our first ten days on snow for the season,” Johnston said. “We are encouraged by this solid-if-not-spectacular result in a very strong field (the race penalty was 17 points), that shows all the components of his training to be in place.”
This is also Koos’ first season outside the U.S. Ski Team in many years, which makes for new experiences both logistically and support-wise. While in Norway, Koos and Johnston are working with a regional elite team based out of Sjusjøen/Lillehammer, coached by former World Cup racer John Anders Gaustad. The set-up has worked smoothly, and helped the duo make the most of their prep time in Norway.
“Team Sjusjoen, they’re a bunch of great guys and have been a big help in making us feel welcome,” Johnston said.
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Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.