Simi checks in from the training camp in Sweden
I glanced at the face of my watch two nights ago to figure out the date while filling out a rental car agreement form and realized that our season on the road has been slyly sneaking by all of us. In exactly 4 weeks from tomorrow, most of us will board a plane in Oslo bound for home. As is always the the case this time of year, it comes as a surprise that for the last 12 weeks we’ve been packing and unpacking our duffel bags, wringing out dirty socks and undies after yet another load of sink laundry, and searching hotel floors to find the least used internet router to sit under while loading emails. As cliché as it sounds, it seems like it was last week that we were stepping off a plane in Finland to kick off the World Cup season in November.
Throughout the chaos that gives a season of racing World Cups full time in Europe it’s unique flavor, some of my most favorite times of the winter are the ones when we get settle down a bit, break into a daily training and living routine in a beautiful spot next to countless kilometers of tourist trails, and start chipping away at that book loaded on the kindle that hasn’t been opened yet because we haven’t had the time. And even though the race season always flies by faster than we can ever anticipate, we always revel in the times when we can take a deep breath, rejuvenate our tired bodies and minds, and remind ourselves why our love for skiing transcends going fast with a bib on. These next two weeks are one of those times.
Currently, we’re based in Valadalen, Sweden, just a few clicks south of the Swedish alpine mecca of Are. The Swedish xc national team uses this place as a bit of a home base for training camps during the summer and winter because of it’s training opportunities, its low-stress atmosphere, its delicious food and comfortable living quarters, and of course its kick-ass sauna. With the exception of Christmas training on out-and-back ribbons of snow in the fields surrounding Seefeld, Austria and Toblach, Italy I haven’t skied on any trails other than the punishing World Cup venues we’ve travelled to for our races for the entire winter. So to say that those of us who are here in Valadalen are psyched to be able to step out our hotel door onto 30 km (they usually have 100+ km but it’s been a somewhat unusual and dismal snow year… again) of perfectly groomed rolling trails through the birch and firs of Scandinavia is an understatement.
The landscape in this part of the world is pretty much perfect for what we are looking for when it comes to easy, enjoyable training during these short blocks when we get to catch our breath a bit. And fortunately for us, this mini training block leads right into World Championships, a two-week period of high anxiety and nervous energy that blankets the xc World Cup circuit every two years. For the next week we’ll take solace in knowing that tomorrow is another day that we can get out the door when the late morning sun brings warmer temps or when the coffee pot is empty (whichever comes first or sounds best at the time), that we can fall asleep without the anxiety of testing race skis on the race track the next day, and that the laundry machine in the building next door doesn’t have a 2-day line up of other teams’ smelly race suits and stiff socks. For now, we just have to focus on what book to start next, what new loop we want to go explore in the woods tomorrow, and how hot we want that sauna to be after our afternoon training session. Thanks for checking in. –Simi