We have had an internet blackout at our at Knut’s Hyttegrend (I think Hyttegrend is Norwegian for funky cabins) so please excuse the time delay of this post.
Can one feel elation and disappointment at the same time? Yesterday’s Norwegian Cup Sprint race here in Beitostolen, Norway elicited these feelings from me and I am sure for Torin too.
For this race Torin made some slight changes to his technique and strategy for the sprint qualifier and these paid off nicely, with a solid 4th place, oner second behind Anders Gloersen (second in the last 2 World Cup Sprints) and a bit less than one second behind Andy Newell. The new guy on the block, Simi Hamilton, smoothly slipped into 10th place. It was nice to see the long list of some of Norway’s top sprinters behind these US guys. It shows that we have the talent to assemble our own US version of the Norwegian powerhouse sprint team whose symbiotic training has given them both great depth and supportive training opportunities to be the dominant force in World Cup sprinting in the last few years.
The US ladies also had a standout day with Sadie Bjornsen, Ida Sargent and Jessie Diggins qualifying 4th, 5th, 6th.
We were very ably assisted in ski service by the legendary Per Knut Aaland whose aid we have enlisted in previous races in Norway. While I acted as the test monkey and wax room go-fer, P-K did the heavy lifting. I was in some races with Per Knut back in the day. You’ll notice that I didn’t say that I competed against him. While I was on the third page of the results, Per Knut was one of the Norgwegian powerhouse skiers of the 70s and 80s whose results still inspire a great respect from old and young skiers. As a 22 year old P-K finished 6th in the 50km in the ’76 Olympics and in the 1980 games in the Lake Placid he skied the Norwegian relay team from a 28 second deficit back into the lead on the second leg to take the silver medal. He laughingly says that his record of 5 second places in the Holmenkol Ski Festival now causes him to drink a lot. His post racing career has been spent as a wax tech for the Norwegian National Team during Bjorn Dahlie’s career. This is serious street cred. It has been a pleasure getting to know and work with such a great, yet humble, icon of skiing.
Back to the sprint heats:
Torin and Andy advanced well through to the final and toed the line together for the first time in to long a while. Two hundred meters into the final a Norwegian skier got tangled with Torin who got spun a little sideways but stayed up unlike the unlucky Norwegian who went down hard. This put Torin and Andy near the back of the field as they left the stadium into a hard right hander. With this fast crowd there is scant opportunity to pass until the final long hill back to the stadium, which is where Torin had successfully put the hurt on both his 1/4 and semi heat mates. Here, Torin made his planned move and went around Andy and was up to 3rd place when suddenly his right arm refused to obey any commands. The right shoulder had become partially dislocated and stayed that way for about 30 seconds. As they approached the final turn into the stadium Torin’s shoulder went back into its proper location. By then the finish order was pretty well set and they all finished in a single file with ski tip to ski tail and Torin and Andy taking 4th and 5th respectively. A very solid US showing in the lead up to the World Champs. These two can make up a medal winning sprint relay team. As for the shoulder we’re thinking that at some point in the race someone must have stepped on his pole basket to pull on his arm while it was extended back.
Viewing this through the lens of hindsight we feel the elation of having maintained our steady march to being in best the form by World Champs in two weeks and a general validation of our approach this year to training Torin.
The shoulder issue is certainly a serious problem to work around. It will mean no poles skiing at least for this week as we assess the shoulder day to day. We have some great medical support here given by the Norwegian Ski Federation PT and she has arranged for Torin to get an MRI to asses the extent of the damage when we move down to Drammen in 5 days. But at this point we plan to stay the course with the focus on 12 days from now but will skip the World Cup in Drammen next Friday.