The last day of the U18 Nation’s trip began very early — the team gathered in the lobby of the hotel with bags at 4 am. Vans were loaded and the three vehicle caravan was off for the Trondheim airport, about 35 km east of Trondheim. The amount of tunnels in the Trondheim area is impressive — the drive to the airport seemed to be well over 50% tunnels. A quick stop for gas, and the team arrived at the airport, unloaded the vehicles, and began the process of checking and and passing through security. For the most part, outside of a few hiccups, things went smoothly and the majority of the team flew out before 7 am to Amsterdam for connecting flights.
Once in Amsterdam, there were some final goodbyes and much of the team split to make their connections home. With the time zones working in their favor on the way back, many would arrive home by early afternoon, but some further west will end up traveling until evening.
Miscellaneous notes from the trip
Luke Jager finished 19th in the freestyle 10K race on Saturday. However, he most likely could have been faster. Jager accidentally grabbed the wrong skis right before his start and didn’t realize the mistake until he was racing and felt the skis were not running well. As it turned out, the pair he used were warm-up skis for another racer.
At least at this competition, official were quite relaxed about the issue of course access. Spectators were allowed along most of the course, and even more, skiers were allowed to warm up on the course while races were in progress (see photos from Saturday’s freestyle races).
The races on Saturday were part of the Trondheim district racing (think JNQ) and thus had a wide range of ages competing. And much like America, those skiers came in all sizes and abilities.
As noted in some of the daily updates, the weather was generally mild for the entire trip. Most days the highs were in the mid to upper 30s, with lows in the upper 20s. The impression we received from locals was this winter had been below average, mainly due to warm weather and lack of snow. For training and racing, the conditions were generally pretty fast at Knyken as the snow was all transformed/corn snow. The only exception to the conditions was the day skiing in Meraker, where there was fresh snow and soft conditions (but oh so beautiful). The final ski at the Granasen Skisenter was textbook man-made snow – very firm, fast corduroy, with temperatures the coolest we experienced, in the mid 20s.
The meals, especially at the team hotel Baardshaug Herregård in Orkanger, were quite representative of Norway. But there were a number of times where we had to inquiry as to what exactly were we eating. Perhaps the most perplexing was a sandwich served for lunch that looked like a pancake burger. That turned out to be fiskekaker (Norwegian fish cakes) burger, and they were quite good.
Norway has fairly restrictive alcohol sales (for you adults), including no sales after 6 pm weekdays, 3 pm on Saturdays (none on Sundays), and prices are quite high – about $4.50 for a single can of beer.
Norway is big on efficient use of electricity and water in their hotels. All the rooms we stayed at used the keycard to activate the main lights of the room, and toilets had two flush buttons – one small and one big (you can work out the difference). The rooms were quite clean and in the case of the Baardshaug Herregård, very modern. Both hotels we stayed at provided a bath and hand towel, but no washcloth. And both hotels had basic down comforter for bedding — no sheets outside of the mattress cover sheet.
All of the people we interacted with in Norway were quite friendly and helpful. This ranged from the hotel staff to the Knyken hosts to fellow competitors. And in almost every case, they spoke English enough to easily communicate with us.
The team coaches poured a lot of hours into waxing. They were frequently up at the venue in the morning, waxing test skis and trying wax combinations, and then around the racing dates, they would be up at the venue before breakfast or shuttling kids back in the afternoon and then returning to the venue to prep for the next day. With each skier having 4-6 skis, and almost a dozen test and extra race skis, it was huge process.
Over the course of 11 days, over 5500 photos were taken, along with video from most of the classical sprint heats.
Special thanks to NNF for including media coverage this trip. It was an honor to see the athletes racing firsthand and to be able to share their stories with the skiing community. Please show your support by donating to NNF!
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Thank you so much for supporting the OPA and Continental Cup Trip to Europe this year. I cannot tell you how important this trip is for me as developing athlete.
This trip highlights where I am, where I can be, and where I want to go !