The Tour de Ski is a hellishly difficult event for the teams that take part. Ten days, eight races, and five different venues in two countries make for a schedule that often results in massive fatigue, illness, and injury.
However, the Canadian National Ski Team (CNST) has come up with an innovative way to deal with those demands – this year, the Canucks have equipped themselves with a huge tour bus. Emblazoned with the Cross Country Canada (CCC) logo, organized by a brainwave by new-to-the-Tour CNST Head Coach Justin Wadsworth, and totally tricked out, the team looks to rock the Tour de Ski – almost literally.
“It’s the kind of bus rock stars use when they travel,” said CNST member Alex Harvey in an interview earlier this week, while Ivan Babikov called it a “Rock Band touring bus” on Twitter.
For seven days, the entire Canadian staff – three athletes, five wax techs, one coach, and one massage therapist nicknamed Wolfman – will have the benefit of a home away from home on the bus.
“It’s pretty badass,” said Devon Kershaw, “It’s the size of a pro-team bus [from the Tour de France].”
The bus, with an accompanying driver, comes with luxuries far more often associated with rock stars than cross country skiers. An all-black behemoth, the vehicle contains 10 beds, a cold bath, two lounges with couches, lots of food, internet access, a TV and a Playstation.
For Wadsworth, the goal was to make sure that the athletes would have space to spread out their gear, dry their clothes, relax, and even sleep.
“It’s going to be a big factor for the later stages for sure,” said Harvey.
According to Wadsworth, the price was right as well – the company that does the bus rentals agreed to let the Canadians use the vehicle for a fraction of the usual cost. Also, while CCC is responsible for the bulk of funding for CNST trips, the group B2ten, which sponsors Canadian cross-country stars Chandra Crawford, Alex Harvey and Devon Kershaw, as well as a variety of other top Canadian athletes, has paid a portion of the cost.
If it works out well, the Canadians said they would like to employ a bus more often, perhaps in other situations.
“It would be great in Scandinavia too,” said Harvey.