The SMST2 team is kind of split down the middle at the moment with half of us training in Vermont while some US Ski Team members and myself are just a few days into our Norway training camp. For most of us it’s the first time coming to Norway in the summer and definitely the first time the US Ski Team has traveled to Europe to take part in big rollerskis races.
Next week there will be over 150 competitors from all over Europe including World Cup skiers from Germany, France, and Sweden here in the small town of Aure to start the 4 day race series known as Toppidrettsveka. We will have 4 races in 3 days including a massive mountain running stage, classic sprint, skiathlon, and finishing off with a pursuit on the streets of Trondheim, something that would be pretty unheard of in North America.
Nordic skiing is at such a height in popularity around Scandinavia that race series like this are popping up all over the place during the summer and drawing in big name skiers and lots of spectators. The Toppidrettsveka festival will even be televised over here since the Norwegian national team will be here in full force.
It’s refreshing to be in a place where people appreciate xc skiing so much and it makes training over here a lot of fun. Folks recognize you on the street, slow down and wave as you rollerski by, and in general just get stoked to see skiers. Although there is a lot of hype surrounding these races next week for the most part athletes will take them in stride and not really change our training in order to perform. Despite that it’s still easy to get fired up about trying to race the best in the world on their home tracks here in Norway… I think of it like stepping into the lion’s den. If you can beat a Norwegian in a classic rollerski sprint on Norwegian soil, you can beat them anywhere and that’s worth getting excited about.
The team and I decided to travel over 10 days before the start of the first race so we could adjust to the time zone and also get in some rollerskiing and running in the area. So far we have experienced some of the coolest rollerskis I’ve ever been on just skiing from our front door. The roads here have very little traffic and wind between Fjords and lakes making for perfect rolling terrain. We are above the artic circle up here so the days are long, the sun setting around 10 at night, and the weather can change instantly. For the past 3 days we have experienced some storms rolling in off the coast that have been pretty intense soaking us during some sessions on the road and also up in the mountains.
The mountain run, and first stage of the race series, has been a hot topic over the first few days since it’s definitely an epic climb and also because apparently Johaug beat every guy but 12 last year. The uphill run and the sprint actually take place on the same day only a few hours apart so it’s bound to be an action packed day. Stay tuned for updates!