The Blink Ski Festival, touted as the largest summer ski event in the world, takes place in Sandnes, Norway, every July and attracts some of the best skiers in the world. This year its international lineup extends to the US; Kikkan Randall and Liz Stephen will be joining an impressive lineup of other world-class nordic athletes at the festival, which runs July 19 – 21.
The rollerski festival features biathlon and cross-country events for juniors and elite skiers, including a 7.5 k, 640 m climb in Lysebotn and both sprint and distance races.
Randall and Stephen’s participation at Blink makes the most of their planned training in Europe this summer. Their trip to Norway piggybacks onto the front end of the U.S. Ski Team women’s camp in Sweden, which begins a few days later at the beginning of August. All told, the duo will be in Scandinavia for about a month, and Randall said she may extend her stay in Sweden by a few more days after official training ends to help her friends Anna Haag and Emil Jonsson with their kids’ ski camp.
The Norwegian press is already worked up about Randall’s expected appearance at the festival, as the 2012 World Cup sprint champ threatens to dethrone Marit Bjørgen of her five-year winning streak in the Blink sprints.
Between 40,000 and 50,000 spectators and 1.5 million television viewers (via Eurosport and NRK) are expected to watch and cheer for their favorite Norwegian national team members, which so far includes Bjørgen, Therese Johaug, Martin Johnsrud Sundby, Astrid Jacobsen and Marthe Kristoffersen. At the very least, they’ll be defending their turf against Randall and Stephen, a Swiss contingent led by Dario Cologna, and the French national team. Registration is still open but approaching capacity, according to the event website.
The biathlon guns will also be out in full force; Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and Tora Berger lead the Norwegian representation, and will face off against Martin and Simon Fourcade (FRA), Ivan Tsjeresov (RUS), Miriam Grossner (GER), Carl Johan Bergman (SWE) and Kaisa Mäkärainen (FIN).
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Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.