Saturday, March 24, 2012

Rest day and cultural tour

On our rest day yesterday, we took the cultural bus tour that the organizers had organized for us. It was informative, little bits of trivia about Boden, which is actually quite a large city for this region.
Boden houses a bunch of military types. I gather this is where they send Swedish males to turn them from boys to men. The guide said (in a very bubbly, sing-song voice) that they do a lot of testing of humans and vehicles in cold weather up here.

"We don't have McDonalds, but we do have MAX hamburgers. They are very good". Interesting that a tour bus points out the hamburger restaurant... but ok, we'll try there!

Nordpoolen (I think) - looks pretty awesome. Apparently the blue slide is really fast.
Swedish army men jump in this lake - see that strip of open water? - in the winter, sounded like purely for the pain of it. This is part of the whole swedish-man-toughening program I mentioned earlier.

The train station - apparently it won a historical award. Pretty.

Western farm. What this place is, I'm not entirely sure, but it was worth bringing a bus-full of ski orienteers to see. Sounds like they do events and stuff, and you can get in touch with your inner cowboy. Apparently the banquet on Sunday is there, but we're all three going to miss that, because we have an earlier train to Stockholm.

More Western Farm.

The church.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

World Cup Relay (Men's)

Day 2 here at Boden World Cups, the relay! As Greg's a guy, we were a Men's team, which kinda put the pressure off, since we wouldn't be so competitive. I think we were all looking forward to that, getting a bit more practice in without any WC or WRE points on the line...

Greg headed off on the first leg, here he is facing the first hill out of the stadium:
He had an alright leg, although reported that the littleness and gnarliness of the trails mighta knocked him off balance more than once. But no equipment broken, woo!

Tagged off to me, a bit behind the pack, but I was happy to start in a peaceful manner. However, I quickly ended the peace with some extreme goofing around to controls #3 and #4, ah well. The second half of my race went much better, glad to have had the time to practice out there for sure! If anyone is wondering how map exchange works in ski-o, here's a version: 

Then Alex's turn, which sounds like it went pretty well, besides one mega-lost-in-marsh control which tested her powers of relocation, it can get very disorienting out there... 

Both the Women's and Men's relays were won by home-team Sweden, with the Men's second and third going to Finland and Norway and the Women's to Norway and then Russia. Now it's chill-time until Saturday's middle distance, although we will need to wax the boards up tomorrow! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sprint race

Well, that didn't really start too well for any of us. Greg hasn't talked about his race much, except to sound fairly unhappy about it, and given the result, I can understand. Alex had a fairly crappy race and is in the process of whining about being out of shape, but Ali took the cake, and broke a ski at the third control, after visiting the 2nd control before the first one. Both girls nearly missed the start, and Greg was wandering around the finish arena attempting to wear Ali's jacket, which fit about as you'd expect, since his clothes never made it back from the start. One of those days.

However, we're in fine spirits! We just attempted to buy a new pair of skis in town, and neither TEAM Sportia nor Interport seem to be carrying skate skis, although I guess it is the end of the season. Thankfully Ali does have a pair of rock skis she can use, they'll just be less fast. We did finally acquire a Euro-iron at Intersport before the races today - Greg's duct-taped-together iron + transformer is functional, but we've decided it'll just be easier to have a one-piece (as opposed to many pieces, duct taped together) iron for the team. And, we all bought matching lime-green ginormous Rex pole baskets. So yay! shopping!

Greg is off at the team leader's meeting right now, where I'm sure he'll hear endless complaints about how the map was just a blow-up of a 1:10,000 map, and the trail lines were way too wide and the control circles too large. Whatever, everyone had the same map. At least it was better than the model event, where they'd clearly taken the gps tracks and just export-dumped them into ocad and printed from there, the tracks were pretty crappy. I bet there will also be plenty of whining about the deep, icy lips at road crossings - clearly what did in Ali's ski. In the meantime, I have been charged with making the big sausage into a "big sausage from the oven", so it's time to go get creative, I think. The creativity will involve putting the big sausage into the oven, for sure.

On a completely unrelated but utterly hilarious note, Greg met the Swedish version of Ed today. They were talking on the bus, and Greg was convinced this guy was one of the organizers (he was missing the beard, but was otherwise looked like Ed), until they started talking about start times.

Swedish Ed: So when do you start?
Greg: 1:08.
Swedish Ed: I start at 1:02! But first I have to go put radio controls in the forest!

Sounds just like Ed =)

Tomorrow is a relay, and Ali and I are joining Greg in the men's relay. Should be fun!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Model event, WCup finals

Team USA headed in to the Pagla Ski Stadium today, just to check out the waxing facilities and check in with the organizers. It's a pretty cool looking arena, with a big hill overlooking the stadium that has cliffs on the side, and a steep alpine run on the other side. And they have ski bridges over the road - I really hope we get a route choice tomorrow that takes us over a bridge. Driving in we noticed one or two flags hanging in the forest, hopefully they're just as easy to see tomorrow!

From there, we headed south a bit to Sävast, for the model event. It's always fun to be at a ski-o model with all the other teams there, they looked way professional. I, on the other hand, was experimenting with dumb shortcuts and seeing if I could get air off the snow lips on the sides of the trail. The crust is decent, we'll see how tempting it is tomorrow in the sprint...

With this much daylight and these nice warm temperatures, it's hard to remember that we're so far north. It feels fairly normal. We did the usual things one does in Sweden, such as buying bulk candy and acquiring a big sausage from the oven. (Last year's Ski WOC organizers fed us "big sausage from the oven" at least three times over the week). Tomorrow is the first race, and with gorgeous sunshine and warm weather, it should be fun!

There is a horse track (for trotting horses) in town. We saw some real live horses out training with their little carts, but they were moving too quickly for me to get a decent photo, so I just took a photo of the statue...

Choosing between all the various types of polarkaka.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Almost in the arctic!

The ski-o team for this round of World Cups (Alex, Greg and I) has just made it to Boden, Sweden!! Boden is way far north in Sweden - we're at 65°50', just a bit shy of the Arctic Circle (66°34'). It took me a full 13h train journey (overnight) from Uppsala (where I saw teammates Ross, Sam and Boris!), while Alex and Greg opted to fly in from Stockholm.

Everyone here is talking about the spring weather, but it looks pretty darn wintry to me (there's snow, and ice, and it's below freezing!). We'll get to do the model event they've set for us tomorrow (Tuesday) then the week's races start off with a sprint on Wednesday!