One of my goals for the summer was to spend some more time racing the best skiers in the World, which is why I committed to racing two of the biggest roller ski festivals here in Norway, the Blink Festival and Toppidrettsveka. The roller ski races fell about two and a half weeks apart on the calendar which also meant I was going to have to spend some time on the road, link up with some fast peeps, and make a training camp out of it.
I had never been to the Blink festival and it was incredible just to see that part of Norway, a place that we never travel to during the winter. Sandnes is located on the west coast in a landscape that is very lush but also very mountainous and rocky. Flying in it looked like a hundred Yosemites stacked next to each other with huge rock faces and waterfalls stretching all the way to the ocean.
Liz Stephen also flew in for these races and we didn’t spend too much time adjusting jumping into a long weekend of racing just a few days after arriving from the US. For me first up was a 60k mass start, followed by a rest day, and then a 15k skate and sprint. These races bring in a lot of big name skier and are definitely made for the entertainment of fans and TV. Most of the races were in the evening time around the 6-8pmwindow making for a shock to the jet lagged body but I actually felt really good and was happy with the results.
I think it’s really fun to jump into a the racing scene again to test your fitness and also stay in touch with what it’s like to race, which can be tough in a long off season. Nobody is really trying to peak for these races so they are pretty low stress and low pressure, but there is still prize money and still TV cameras so everyone gets amped up. We do however try to keep up with training even during the weeks of racing. I think I had a 4-hour training day before the 60k, Liz and I climbed a cool mountain with some friends and other Italian skiers.
Since Blink festival I have been back in Lillehammer trying to make the most of my time here in Norway by training with some different athletes. I have several friends in the area from staying here in the past and there are always lots of different groups to join for intervals, or distance, or whatever it is you have planned for the day. Skiing is so popular here that you can’t go out roller skiing without running into another group of skiers, or several other groups of full time athletes out training. I was reminded of the depth here when I was out running the other day with Oystien Pettersen and Ola Vigan Hattestad both of who have Olympic gold medals sitting at home from Vancouver and Sotchi.
One of the things I’m also reminded of when training here though is how it’s not so different than what we have going on at Stratton. Maybe on a bigger scale over here with more funding but the idea of a local ski club working together is the same. There is an NTG (which is basically a ski school) based out of Lillehammer and it’s common for the national team athletes to come in and out and train with them. Much of the workouts are the same, L3 bounding on the weekends, strength in the afternoon, speed workouts, all the same things we try to work on as a group at Stratton.
Tomorrow I will travel up to Trondheim and Aura for the Toppidtrettsveka (translates to top sportsman festival haha). This race series will also be an action packed few days with two sprints and two mass start races and a lot of really tough competition. Maybe even more than Blink, Toppidrettsveka brings in a lot of different national teams from around the World making for a near World Cup field. Going to be fun!