What kind of ski racing hasn’t Snorri Einarsson done?
Einarsson moved from Norway to the United States for the 2007 season, racing for the University of Utah and winning an NCAA Championship title.
After returning to Norway, he got World Cup starts and represented Norway in two Tour de Ski editions.
After that, he raced the Ski Classics marathon series for Team Santander, one of the most successful squads in the league.
Now, he’s back to the World Cup and will compete for Iceland at the 2018 Olympics. Einarsson’s mother is Norwegian, and his father is Icelandic.
On Saturday in Davos, Switzerland, the World Cup didn’t seem very forgiving. He finished 94th in the sprint.
“It didn’t go that well,” Einarsson laughed. “I’m already here and I’m racing tomorrow – sometimes I feel like it’s good to do one short race for maintaining [fitness]. But I got really extremely slow after the last years.”
Distance races, though, have been better. Einarsson finished 22nd in the 10 k classic in Ruka, 27th in the overall mini-tour, 33rd in the skiathlon in Lillehammer, and 29th in the 15 k skate in Davos.
“We’ll see what I can do,” the 31-year-old said. “The first few weeks have been good.”
The Icelandic Ski Federation has only had a real team for two years, but Einarsson is aiming for a top finish at the Olympics using the years of training and competition he has under his belt. He has had it in his head to compete for his father’s country for a long time, but he had to wait until all the pieces fell into place.
“After I went back from the U.S. I wanted to race for Iceland the whole time, but they didn’t really have a team and they told me that World Cups was out of the question,” he explained. “So I thought, well, then I can’t really do that. A couple years ago they called me to say they had a team, and did I want to be on it. I said, yeah, of course!”
The team is small: four men and one woman. Einarsson has one wax tech, Dag Elvevold. That gives him little flexibility. In Davos, for instance, Elvevold was sick – “really sick”, Einarsson said. He had to get help with his skis from the British team.
But that’s one benefit of having skied in so many different places over the years, he said.
“I’ve been skiing for so long that you know people from earlier,” Einarsson said. “Coaches you had before, coaches who are somewhere else now, it makes it a little easier.”
And when he succeeds, it means something extra.
“I’m really proud when I do well with the Icelandic team – it meant a lot more to me to do well in Ruka, for example, in the first weekend [than it had in previous years],” Einarsson said. “The waxers are just my friends. The secretary general in the Icelandic Ski Federation arranges everything. We all do several jobs. I’m always alone until the day before the race and I have to arrange a lot of stuff too. We are all a little family. It’s different, but I enjoy it a lot.”
As a kid, Einarsson spent first grade in Iceland and often visited his father’s family; he lived most of the time in northern Norway.
Now, he is trying to help build up a ski culture in the island country.
“It’s just to get people interested in skiing really, and young people starting to ski earlier,” he said of the ski team’s goals. “It’s not like we are going to do that in a few years, but maybe something like with the Icelandic soccer team. We are a really small country and we are not a lot of people, so we have to do a really good job with the ones we have. Now we have a really good national team coach. I think we have done a lot in a short period of time. We have two young guys on the team, and I think they might be good in the future.”
It’s not for lack of ski trails that Iceland has never had a team. Einarsson waxed poetic about how good the skiing can be in the country.
“Fossavatn [ski marathon] last year, I would recommend it,” he marveled. “It was a beautiful, beautiful race. We had the best conditions. The original track has been skied only once before, because the weather was always wrong. But then we had the race on the original track and it’s just like, wow. I’ve done a lot of long-distance races, and well, I might be biased a little bit, but it’s just a really nice course for seeing some nature on the way. It’s just wild. It’s so open. It’s in the mountains.”
Much of the time, weather can be a problem – “people think they have seen that before they go to Iceland, and then they go and it’s like, no, really,” he said – but it can also be great.
And skiing is gaining some stature.
“It has been on the sport news a few times already,” Einarsson said. “Normally they are mostly into soccer, but that’s natural I guess. So I’m happy with being mentioned on the news every once in a while.”
Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.