First Pre-Race Day

Yesterday afternoon I took a fika (Swedish word for coffee break) at the Stolen Bakeri across the street from our hotel here in Beitostølen. The place was wonderful, and I got a delicious pastry (since I don’t drink coffee).

Beitostølen Stolen Bakeri Pastry

I went with (from left to right) Liz Stephen, kikkan Randall, Andy Newell and Holly Brooks:

Small US Ski Team Group Coffee Trip

The woman working at the bakery gave us a ton of free bread and pastries as we were leaving. She said she would have to throw it out if we didn’t take it. Food is not cheap in Norway. She probably gave us $100 worth of goodies. We were so psyched and grateful!

Free Pastries and Bread in Norway

Although this weekend’s races are not part of the World Cup, the venue is looking more and more like a World Cup venue. These races are just the Norwegian Openers and count for nothing more than any other International Ski Federation (FIS) race, however the Norwegians make a big deal out of them. Each Norwegian National Team athlete has it written in to their contracts that they have to compete in these races. All of the wax companies and ski companies have representation here. Their trailers are packed in the parking lot.

Ski Company Trailers in Beitostølen

Just like the World Cup, the races here will be live on television (although maybe just in Norway).

Norwegian TV at Beitostølen FIS Races

There are sponsor banners lining the track.

Sponsor Banners on Beitostølen Course

There are a lot of high level skiers here.

High Level Skiers in Beitostølen

I’m getting to catch up with a lot of friends I haven’t seen since last winter. Here is British National Team skier (and 2010 Olympian) who now lives in Norway, Andrew Musgrave:

Andrew Musgrave Skiing in Beitostølen

Kikkan (left) and Holly got to catch up with their former coach Frode Lillefjeld:

Kikkan Randall, Frode Lillefjeld and Holly Brooks

My workout was an hour classic with an eight minute interval to get me going for tomorrow. It was a beautiful day with sun, cold temps and hard tracks.

Hard Tracks in Beitostølen and Sun

The side sliding door of our cargo van broke yesterday, so we could not open it. Presumably this happened because it froze shut and we tried to force it open. The side door is our luggage storage and is separated from the back (where we store skis) by a wall of plywood. The technicians had to cut a hole in the plywood to get into the side compartment so they could get the door open.

Hole in Cargo Van Divider

I don’t know how they got around all the racks to cut the hole.

Racks in the Way of Cargo Van Divider

The hole they cut didn’t seem big enough for a person to fit through. They must have been able to get the door open without actually going through the hole.

Hole in Plywood in US Ski Team Cargo Van

I am sorry they had to deal with it and grateful that they are here to make things run smoothly for us athletes.

On a different note, we, as a U.S. Ski Team, are issuing a Poster Challenge to all U.S. cross country teams and clubs. We’re hoping each club in the U.S. will make and submit a team poster. You can see details of the challenge here.

XC Ski Poster Championships 2013-14

For the third year in a row I am helping organize a group blog for the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA ) National Team athletes from the Aspen area in The Aspen Times. Impressively, Aspen currently has 12 athletes on the National Team. The list includes: Hagen Kearney (Snowboard Cross), Gretchen Bleiler (Snowboard Halfpipe), Alice McKennis (Alpine), Wiley Maple (Alpine), Meg Olenick (Ski Slopestyle), Michael Ward (Nordic Combined), Katie Ryan (Alpine), Jordie Karlinski (Snowboard Slopestyle), Simi Hamilton (Cross Country), Torin Yater-Wallace (Ski Halfpipe), Alex Ferreira (Ski Halfpipe) and myself. All of us are participating in this year’s blog except Torin and Alex. Every week one of us will have a post in the paper. Each athlete will cover three weeks throughout the winter. Doing this blog was originally my idea to give each of us athletes a way to connect with our supporters at home. I took this week to get the blog started with a season preview. You can find it here.

I also have an audio interview on the Ski Trax website as part of their series Talkin’ with the Gravy Train. You can check it out here.

Tomorrow is my first race of the 2013-14 season. It is a 15 kilometer classic individual start. I have no results-based goals for the race, as it is only a tune-up event. However, I have some clear process goals, and I’m looking forward to getting the first race under my belt. This is a highly competitive field and my guess is results will be available almost immediately following the race here.

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