A month after the rest of the GRP left for Finland, I finally found myself on a plane getting ready to start my biathlon race season. A week ago, I arrived in Ostersund, Sweden for US Biathlon’s first on-snow camp of the winter. With temperatures in the 40s (Farenheit), rain pouring down, and more of the same in the forecast, we felt very lucky that the Ostersund staff had the foresight to stockpile a tremendous amount of snow last spring (under a thick layer of sawdust). They saved enough to cover a 4 km race trail 6 m wide and still have some in reserve. Tomorrow, Sunday, we will compete in our first race of the season: an IBU Cup sprint. Following that, some of us will remain in Ostersund for the first World Cup next weekend, and some of us will travel to IBU races in Austria and Italy
This is my first visit to Scandanavia and my biggest adjustment has been adapting to the short amount of daylight. Although it gets light around 8:00, we don’t get that soft golden yellow light that I typically associate with early morning until around 10:30. The sun starts to set around 2:30 and by 3:30, it feels like nighttime. One of my favorite moments so far came one evening as I was walking through town under some street lamps. I was feeling a little bummed about the darkness until I noticed tiny ice crystals on the sidewalk catching the light just right and sparkling in the dark. As I walked, I felt like I was passing through a shimmering tunnel.
We are staying in some cabins at the race venue, along with the French and Japanese. We share a common dinning room where we are served buffet style. During meals, there is often a giant projection screen set-up with Eurosport TV. We’ve been able to watch XC World Cups (including Kikkan’s 4th place finish in the classic sprint) and our Lake Placid luge friends competing in Innsbruck.
The race course following a midday rainstorm.
One of our favorite pastimes is watching people ski by out our window.
Me, out enjoying an easy classic ski. Photo: Sara Studebaker
My goofy teammates, heading out for an afternoon jog.
With limited ski trails open, we've had the opportunity to explore a lot of the single track biking and running trails. The venue sits at the edge of a large spruce and pine forest. A lush carpet of spaghnum moss covers the forest floor. Blueberry bushes and lingonberries seem to be the other common ground plants.
The weight rooms that we train at have lots of ping pong tables. Ping pong is the team's 2nd favorite sport. Our European coaching staff are especially good at it. Here you can see Lowell and Leif taking on coaches Per and Armin.
Coach Armin shaving down my rifle stock. Some of the modifications I made to it got in the way of the race sponsor stickers, so the material control officers wouldn't pass my rifle until it was fixed.
The Norwegians have gotten a lot of attention the last couple years because of their giant mobile waxing facilites on the World Cup circuit. Apparently the trend is growing.
Hot dog anyone? We've been eating lots of fish, potatoes and pasta, but this caught us by surprise the other day.
We celebrated Thanksgiving a couple weeks early while we were still in the States. Annelies's parent's invited us to their home in Saranac Lake, NY. I'm very grateful that we celebrated early: Thanksgiving dinner in Sweden consisted of fish and potatoes. Photo: George Cook
Mainstreet Ostersund. The city is decorated with many lights. I explored the downtown and waterfront areas last night after dinner. The stores were already closed for the day.
I think this beautiful building must be the townhall or regional government seat.
Ladie's movie night
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