Monday, January 31, 2011
Scott M came down for a little EC experience and skied well.
Coaches doing their coach thing.
Rachel worked hard and had a good day. She was 3rd in the morning prelim and only 12 seconds out of first in the afternoon.
Issy P looking strong.
Hallie brings it home. She got stuck in the 2nd pack, but hammered the last km to close the gap and finish in the top 10 overall.
The girls lead pack early on. Congratulations to Corey Stock who is coming back from injury and won both races. It is great to have her back on the circuit.
Start picture taken from high atop Mt. Weston.
Charlie kicked into gear and placed 2nd for J1 boys in the mass start race.
Brooke had a very strong morning race (top J2, 8th overall), but struggled in the mass start.
Bridger had a great day. He won the morning prelim race by 4 seconds and was skiing comfortably in 3rd place in the afternoon race before his tip broke (causing a drag for the last 2 km)...he still ended 6th overall!
Austin, above and below, started well, then struggled but held on for a decent result.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Sixty of them make up a minute.
Over the course of almost four minutes, a single second doesn’t seem like a significant amount of time. At the Junior World Championships, a fraction of a second recalls the saying that a “miss is as good as a mile”. Two of the young guns from the US Team learned that lesson the hard way yesterday, missing the qualifying cut for the round of 30 by less than a second.
Stratton Mountain School Senior, Heather Mooney skied an incredible qualifier, only to miss the cut by a single position. She ended up in 31st place, missing the cut by a mere fraction of a second. SMS PG skier, Skyler Davis suffered a similar fate, missing the hot seat spot by 0.8 seconds. It was agonizing watching his qualifying standing slide from the mid teens, into the twenties and then stall out in the hot seat for about half a dozen racers. Sitting in the final, 30th, qualifying spot “the hot seat” is nerve wracking, especially when a roster of potentially fast Finnish skiers haven’t yet left the start. Eventually, the axe fell and Davis joined his USA teammates on the sidelines to cheer on the only member of the team, male or female, who made it into the quarterfinals: University of Alaska racer, from Washington state, Erik Bjornsen. Bjornsen, skied a great qualifier, placing tenth. Despite skiing a great qualifying round, Erik was eliminated in the quarterfinals. Unlike many of the races in the USA, including the USA National Championships, the “lucky loser” designation is based on time, not lowest bib number. To the uninitiated, for a few hopeful minutes, it looked like Erik might advance into the semis based on a low bib-lucky loser spot, but when faster heats arrived at the finish, the cards weren’t in his favor. Tough break.
The depth of the field here in Oteppa is staggeringly deep. Less than 14 seconds separated 1st from 30th in the qualifying round. In the men’s qualifier, Russia and Norway claimed the first 8 spots. Finland, Sweden and Germany peppered racers throughout the top 30 with surprisingly fast results from France, Austria and host nation Estonia. The Czech Republic, Japan and Kazackstan (insert BORAT joke here…) all had single skiers whom made the cut to the quarterfinals.
After two brilliantly sunny days, the first day of sprints featured ominously dark skies, very high humidity, warmer temperatures but a biting wind. The chill from the high humidity and wind cut right to the bone. Waxing was a challenge.
When the smoke cleared, there were no surprises on the podium for men or women’s events.
Germany, Norway, Norway for the women.
Russia, Norway, Russia for the men.
(The top six in the final heat for the men ended up:
Russia, Norway, Russia, Norway, Russia, Norway. Hmmm…anyone see a pattern here?)
OTHER ESTONIAN OBSERVATIONS:
The entire event is broadcast LIVE on Estonian TV, nationwide. It’s pretty cool to watch the events everywhere you go during the day.
All racers are listed by nationality and club. The sole exception is Russia. No club affiliations are associated with the athletes. They are RUSSIAN!!
Slovenia has the best racing suits (especially if you’re racing in Vermont during deer season). Their distinctive, fluorescent yellow, neon suits make a real fashion statement!
Many of the powerhouse teams may be found skiing at odd hours on the public trails found throughout Oteppa. It’s not uncommon to run into packs of Norgwegian, Swiss, Swedish or German skiers out on the public trails at the end of the day.
XXXL JUMBO-JUMBO-tron screen in the stadium is impressive. The film crews have been doing an amazing job capturing the action and replaying photo finishes in slow motion on a huge viewing screen the size of Rhode Island. The announcing at the events is great with two emcees calling the shots.
One of the duet patters away in Estonia… (I think?) while the other splits time between the native tongue and English.
Standard for all Sprint starts is an eerie, Valkerie-ish kind of chant complete with Big-Ben ticking clock sound effect in the background. As soon as the start pistol is fired, piped in massive crowd-cheering sound effects blast forth from the speakers. Rowdy fan participation is heartily encouraged!
No “B” finals. No low-bib lucky losers. It’s all about time.
Speaking of which… they run the events with incredible precision. No delays, instant results, confirmed with video and all events are precisely on schedule.
Although we haven’t encountered any while skiing around the countryside, Wild Boar may be found on virtually every restaurant’s menu. Pork tare tare anyone?
The ‘second highest … er, place?’ (hill, mountain or small Alp would be a stretch…) in the Oteppa region is topped off with a massive, wooden viewing tower. Trust in Estonian architecture and carpentry skill is a must for those willing to ascend the tower. Once you arrive on the top deck, you are afforded a view of miles and miles of trees, right out to the Estonian horizon.
Friday, January 28, 2011
And a huge screen so you can see the entire sprint race. The building on the left is the wax cabins which are wicked nice and have things to bring in clean air so it doesn't kill the lungs of the waxers.
There are three of these tunnels in the stadium which is the secret to its success. You walk through the tunnels to get to the start and finish and wax cabins, but you also ski over them when you lap through the stadium.
Here are the flags, America fourth from the left!!
There were quite a few people in the stands, it will probably be pretty packed the next few days because it'll be the weekend.
Here is most of the stadium. You start under the big bubbles on the left that say start and go out and take a left up the hill and then go up a hill and down behind the start where the close red markers are. Then you go over one of the tunnel bumps and through the stadium and start up that same hill but stay to the right and loop around the biathlon course. Then, there's about 200 meters of double poling at the end to get around the biathlon course and then into the lanes. The group of people in front of my camera are the Russian waxers, it was pretty funny to watch them during the heats. There was one Russian boy who used skate skis during all his heats and ended up fifth.
Here is one of the male heats starting with the screen on the left showing the start.
Boys lapping through. It was awesome to watch the heats today, there were a bunch of really fast skiers out there and it was a great learning experience.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
We rode on a huge ferry boat with restaurants and dance floors to go to Estonia, it was awesome!
A little island for passport control right outside Helsinki.
Jessie and Heather are up on top of the boat searching for the Estonian coast!
We were lining up to drive into the massive ferry.
This is some Finnish bread that was at every meal when we were in Vierumaki.
There were little islands with a few buildings scattered around the ocean on the Finnish coast.
This is the Helsinki skyline.
Tallinn, Estonia in the distance.
This is Africa, Heather got him in a chocolate egg and a little sheet of paper on the inside said that his name is Africa. Amy Glenn helped us translate the Russian.
Noah, Jenny, Heather, and Africa sitting in a coffee shop in Elva, Estonia. Our hotel is about 3km from Elva and about 25km from Otepää.It's been really fun to spend time with ex-SMS coach Amy Caldwell.
Heather and Kinsey posing with Africa in Elva. We bought some groceries (mostly chocolate!) and then walked around the town for a little bit.
Heather and Izzy in Elva.
This is dining room in our Estonian hotel, the Waide Motell.
Happy campers at dinner time.
We took ice baths in a makeshift tub the other day, it felt very nice afterwards!
We have a lot of birthdays this week, Ida's was a couple of days ago, Scott's is tomorrow, and Caitlin's is the 30th.