Andy shares his plans for acclimating to the snow and new time zone in Sweden
Since arriving on Saturday the US Ski team has settled into Scandinavian ski life here in Gallivare Sweden. In order to get here we had to fly into the Roveneimi Finland, which by the way is the official airport of Santa Clause, so it gives you an idea of how far North we are. From there we drive a few hounded kilometers above the artic circle to the Dundtret ski resort and home of the Marcus Hellner ski stadium.
The reason we decided to start our season here is because Gallivare is known for having cold temps and early snow making on the race trails. There will also be two FIS competitions here this weekend including a classic sprint and a skate distance race so it’s a nice way to get in a few practice starts before the first World Cups. When we flew over on Saturday the rumor was that the skiing wasn’t so great because of thin snow coverage but since then we have had two good storms and winter is in full swing here.
Even after traveling the world cup for 10 years it’s still exciting for me to get on snow for the first time each season and feel the skis under my feet. Not that there is anything wrong with running and roller skiing but sometimes you almost forget what you are training for, there’s really nothing that compares to real skiing. It also takes a few days to get used to the transition to snow so we all use the first few days for easy distance skiing and letting our muscles adjust spending a lot of time skiing without poles and working on technique.
Something that can be a little more personalized is what athletes do for their first intensity session after arriving in Europe. Today I opted for a combination of L3 and sprint finishes skiing 8 minutes at threshold before entering the stadium and hammering out the finishing stretch. For me this is the best way to activate the aerobic and anaerobic systems before the races this weekend, and it definitely felt awesome to stride on real classic skis after a long summer. I think I might feel it in the legs and groin tomorrow!
This weekend’s competitions will be the first of the season for the US Ski Team so I’m sure nerves will be high but at the same time we try not to put too much stock in the first FIS races of the winter. The goal of these races will be to jump start the body, work on technique, and try to execute some good pacing. Most importantly we just want to have a good feeling in the muscles and lungs and not care too much about the results. The real test will begin next weekend when we officially start the world cup season in Ruka Finland!