We thought some of you might be interested in a new challenge – tackling a cross country ski race. These take place all over Europe at this time of year, and vary in length from about 20km – 60km. Often the advertised distance is curtailed due to lack of snow, so what you are actually going to be doing can be changed at the last minute.
Races are designated Classic (parallel or diagonal skiing) or Free Technique (usually Skating style but you can do diagonal/parallel if you want). Some have few UK participants whereas others, like the famous Engadin Marathon, have many competitors from non-snow countries and are more like participating in the London Marathon (i.e. you won’t be last!)
This year, after a week on our own, we joined a training group in the pretty (but cold) Austrian hamlet of Obertilliach in the Lesachtal Valley, where there is a biathlon and ski training centre and guaranteed snow. There we spent a week with British coach Alan Eason and local instructor Stefan trying to improve our dodgy techniques and getting in the way of the elite skiers preparing for Sochi. This was our preparation for the Dolomitenlauf races, (classic and skating), run over 2 days the following weekend.
There was plenty of snow – it didn’t stop for 24 hours – and so conditions were supposedly perfect for the classic race on Saturday. Rod chose to do the full 42km whilst Sue stuck to the 20km. Those XC skiers amongst you will know the importance of selecting the right wax for the snow conditions…..well the conditions changed from fresh snow to frozen rain, and within the first kilometre there were people standing at the side of the track frantically waxing as they slipped on the hard packed snow. This continued throughout the race with queues at the waxing stations provided by the organisers. Sue skies on waxless skis with fishscales rather than wax and on that race they were perfect, allowing her to overtake many unfortunates who had selected the wrong wax. Rod was one of these but battled on with a respray of wax from the support teams stationed along the route (the grip lasted for about 300m). The race includes some challenging ascents and descents and there were many tumbles, but with the piles of soft snow lining the track, no apparent serious injuries. Given the conditions we were happy with our results –
Sue 20km 2hr 52m 163rd out of 229 10th out of 24 in age category
Rod 42km 4hr 48m 655th out of 782 93rd out of 122 in age category
We know a lot of Cosmics are XC skiers so, if you have not already tried this challenge, why not give it a go ?
Info on Alan’s training holidays at www.totallynordic.co.uk. If you want to see how the good guys do it, there is a good video of the Cortina – Dobbiaco race at http://www.rollerski.co.uk/cross.html#video (you can skip the first section to get to the action – the later section is best when the track emerges from the forest).
We hope our next outing will be in Clashindarroch forest, but the weather is not looking kind. The photos give an idea of the atmosphere at the start of a race.