The Val di Fiemme race venue looks different in person than it does on Eurosport TV coverage. The hills on the sprint course are steeper and the valley the trails are in is deeper and is between larger mountains than I had envisioned after my repeated viewings of last year’s World Championships race coverage.
Today’s ski was my first ski of the year on real trails and on hills. The first real ski of the year is special for any skier, and doing it in Italy made it extra special. The Italian Dolomite backdrop, the hot sun and the occasional pastoral whiff from the surrounding fields and farmhouses was a great Euro primer for the coming week of racing. As the sun set behind the mountains, I stood at the finish line reminiscing of my buddy Lenny’s commanding silver medal performance in the 15 km classic mass start at last year’s Tour de Ski.
Near the finish line at the famous Lago di Tesero stadium. Site of 3 World Championships and numerous World Cup and Tour de Ski races.
Everything here is going great. Mainly, I am extremely stoked to get out of the 48-hour travel limbo that got me here. My flight from Toronto to Munich on Saturday night was delayed several times before finally getting cancelled on Saturday night. After a short sleep at a Toronto hotel, I was back in the Air Canada line up for several hours with 150 lbs of luggage, weaving my fatty burrito of a ski bag through baggage lines and instilling travel stench in my Team Canada gear.
Flying over the Alps.
Coach Toivo and I enjoying a delicious buttered croissant with meat and cheese at breakfast in the Munich airport.
At the first of many 4-course meals cooked for us at the hotel.
The final leg of the journey was accreditation and a bus ride. I spent the bus ride sitting next to the Chinese men’s ski team. They were nice enough and we got along great despite the very apparent language barrier. They were constantly pointing at the shorts I was wearing and laughing hysterically. I guess that is my northern blood showing through. At the end of the bus ride my ulterior goal of getting a foot in the door on a deal for a Team China faux black leather backpack was accomplished.
Last night I managed to sleep fine. No jet lag for this kid. That’s what 48 exhausting hours of travel with minimal sleep will get you: a sweet 12 hour sleep and instant adjustment to a 6 hour time difference.
Breakfast this morning was great. I was a bit discombobulated from the eventful travel, but otherwise excited to drink fine Italian coffee and eat an assortment of pastries and breakfast meats and cheeses.
Tune in again in two days time for a pre-race preview for Saturday’s classic sprint (I am not racing Thursday’s skiathlon).