The fifth day on the U18 Nation’s trip brought an increased intensity to the week as final preparations have begun for the races this weekend. After buffet breakfast this morning, the coaches went up to the venue and spent the morning preparing skis for testing as the skiers went out for a mid-morning jog. There was also increased activity in the hotel, as the Swedish and Finnish teams arrived this morning.
Lunch was a change up today, with the hotel staff serving a large buffet that included several types of meat, cous cous, lasanga, and a wide range of cheeses and fruit. And the same selection of desserts as previous lunches (interesting to note, dessert is not offered at dinner).
At 1 pm, the entire team packed up and headed to the race venue. Today was the first time the official race courses were open, complete with course markings. A number of teams were on-site preparing skis, and officials had moved some of the teams to another space, creating more room in the wax garage.
The sprint course is a tough one, with a quick but steep climb over the entrance bridge as the skiers go out of the stadium, followed by a short descent and then a sustained climb that takes skiers part up the same hillside where the ski jumps are located. Cresting the big hill, the course rockets downhill underneath a new walkway and past the main chalet and into the stadium, where the skiers will do an inside loop to finish. Warm conditions today (close to 40F), with possibly cooler weather tomorrow, has some skiers considering double poling the sprint. Race staff was planning to salt the course tonight to help firm it up.
The 5K course for Saturday’s races is more mellow, with a few longer climbs but many matching descents, and nothing very technical. If the cooler temperatures do come in, the 5K course could be very fast.
Athletes tested their skis and made their final selection for the classical sprints. And some team members took to “America-ifying” the waxing area with flags and a poster of Jessie Diggins. Coaches then drove the athletes back to town before returning to the venue to complete ski prep.
Evening meal was fairly formal again, as servers brought out individual plates of pork (pig cheeks!) with twice-baked potatoes. At the evening team meeting, trip leader Chris Harvey reviewed the classic sprint course, played some World Cup sprint videos, and emphasized the extra effort that will be needed this year as Norway will have additional participants since they are the host nation. The meeting wrapped up with a 20 minute stretching session. Afterwards, the full breadth of team representation could be seen in the hotel lobby.
Official website: http://www.skiforbundet.no/nordisk/
(start lists, results)
Timing website: http://www.eqtiming.no/
Venue Weather: http://knyken.no/webcam/
(first webcam shows the stadium area with start/finish)
The NNF's mission is to support athletic excellence in developing nordic athletes in the United States.
Thank you so much! I am here at the U23 World Championships in Val di Femme, Italy. It would not be possible to be here without the support of the NNF.- Ben Lustgarten