Getting a little bit tired of your rollerskis? Feeling bogged down by heat? Yearning for snow? The St. Scholastica team has found the answer we’ve all been waiting for. The only problem is the airfare to Sweden.
Lead by coach Chad Salmela, members of the College of St. Scholastica Nordic team, based out of Duluth, Minnesota, headed out to Scandinavia on July 28th, and will spend two weeks training at a ski tunnel in Torsby, Sweden, and its surrounding area.
The Fortum Ski Tunnel, completed about three years ago, provides athletes with a 1.3km loop following the natural terrain, filled with preserved snow and groomed daily. “The skiing is remarkably good, as is the terrain, considering it’s a tunnel,” Salmela reported in a recent e-mail to FasterSkier.
Because of the expense of the trip, only five athletes, all men, were able to make the journey. Salmela says that the team will try to fundraise the next time around, three years from now, so that more of the team can share the experience. (NCAA rules allow a training trip out of season once every three years).
“This trip was designed to be a cultural awakening to the sport these kids are training for, while delivering a top-level training environment,” said Salmela. He said the idea for the trip came after a visit to Finland last summer in which he was blown away by the country’s training infrastructure.
“I also reflected on my times traveling as an athlete and seeing the world, particularly other countries who take nordic skiing seriously, and I wanted my athletes to have the opportunity to see and feel it as I did,” he said.
This is the first trip to Scandinavia for all five athletes, and the group has made tourist expeditions to Oslo, Norway, to see the Holmenkollen ski jump, as well as a trek through the city of Karlstad, Sweden. But sight-seeing has taken a backseat to training, as the team puts in its highest ten days of volume while all other responsibilities are on hold.
“These guys are trying to be as good at ski racing as they can be, with the resources available to them,” said Salmela. “The trip has been successful in achieving all of our goals.”