The clouds rolled in for Wednesday in Orkdal, Norway, as the U18 Nation’s team continued their training for the weekend races. The day started with a morning jog, followed by a breakfast buffet. The buffet is the biggest meal of the day, with a huge variety of food available – eggs, sausage, oatmeal, muesli, fruit, cheese, fish, yogurt, and on. A short rest after breakfast then the team headed back up to Knyken Skisenter. With the first events coming up on Friday, ski center staff were very busy Wednesday morning moving snow piles by tractor onto sections of the course to improve and hopefully support all the planned courses. Crews were also setting up the stadium area. The downside of all this activity was they had not regroomed any of the trails, so the juniors had to work on their hard-pack icy skills (along with some vehicle avoidance maneuvers). After roughly an hour of skiing, the athletes finished the morning by scrapping storage wax off the rest of their race skis. All of the teams are waxing in one large garage, with space separated by tape — should make for some interesting situations once the other teams arrive!
For lunch, salmon wrapped in a thin pastry shell along with some vegetables and followed by four choices of dessert (jello, pudding, rhubarb dish, and meringue cake). Shortly after lunch, the entire team loaded into two cars for an afternoon adventure along the fjord northwest of Orkanger. Initial attempts to locate some ancient ruins were unsuccessful, so the group proceeded up to Øyangen, a small ski area (and swimming beach) just west of Ingdalen. There was no snow on the trails but it appears they are upgrading the facilities including some new lighted trails. However, the nearby lake provided some great scenery as long as one was careful with the sometimes icy conditions. After rechecking the maps, trip leader Chris Harvey was able to successfully locate the ice age settlement we had been seeking. Referred to as gravfelt (ancient burial site), the location was just north of Kjøra, out on the prominent point. Large rock piles marked burial sites could be seen during a short hike, which eventually led down to the shoreline and a nice view of fjord and the fading light.
After the long adventure, dinner was at 6 pm, and once again we were treated to fish (Pollock), potatoes and carrots. The evening team meeting covered plans for Thursday, including hopefully the official opening of the sprint and 5K courses so athletes can practice on them and test skis Thursday afternoon.
If it hasn’t been clear in previous reports, the US squad is the only team on Orkdal for the start of this week. Most of the competitors are expected to arrive sometime Thursday, some perhaps even Friday morning. The first official cross-country races are Friday evening as the juniors race in classical sprints. All of the teams will staying at the same hotel as the US squad in Orkanger, with meals split between the hotel and the lovely chalet at the race venue.
Side note: While at the Knyken chalet Wednesday morning, the coaches were shown a photo with US skiers Jessie Diggins, Caitlin Gregg and Andy Newell that was taken in the chalet dining hall. A little research found the US fielded a strong team of athletes for a summer rollerski series called Toppidrettsveka in Norway back in August 2015. The second stage was held at Knyken.
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