Saturday, December 18, 2010
Swedish Ski-O Tour
Last year, I found out about the Swedish Ski-O tour, which was going to be held on terrain very similar to that of the Ski Orienteering World Championships (Ski WOC) that will be held this March. Ali, Greg, and I signed up, excited to get on some of these famously technical Swedish ski-o maps. Unfortunately, Idre Fjall (location for ski-o Tour) didn't have enough snow, so they moved the races to Högbo Bruk, which is not at all like the Ski WOC terrain, but still technical and hard anyway. Our trio of Americans convened at the Arlanda airport, in Stockholm, and we headed to the Erik Brote's house - Erik was a CSU junior whose family moved to Sweden last summer, and they had generously agreed to host us on our way up north. Will took us for a ski at a local park, and then we were fed delicious dinner.
At a jetlagged version of "early", we drove up to Högbo Bruk, and attempted to obtain some ski-o maps. Failing that, we picked up Nick, a British orienteer who is trying out this ski-o thing and knows Ali, from the train station. Back to the ski area, and we went for a short ski, before waxing for the night race. A team sprint relay, in the dark! Ali and I were one team, and Greg and Nick were the other.
Also, we found ducks.
I was the lead leg, and things were going ok at first, but I was having issues seeing branches before I'd run into them. And when I ran into a branch, it would either attempt to pull off my headlight, or knock me back on my ass. Woooo narrow trails.
My first leg was fairly disastrous - I started out a bit rushed, as I thought we had 10 minutes between the men's start and the women's, and still had all my warmups on, on the wrong side of the stadium, when everyone else was lined up. I got there (skiing through two mesh fences - I can't see ANYTHING in the dark!), just in time, and I even had my poles on when they handed me my map.
I was pretty quick to find the start and #1, so when we took off, I had a good idea of where I wanted to go. My skis were running fast, and when we got to the first fork, I was in second behind one other girl. Shortly thereafter, I noticed that my EMIT brick was feeling floppier than normal - the way to attach these things is to put them around your index finger, safety-pin the hell out of it to your glove, and let it flap in the wind, if you don't have some other system previously worked out (I had a mix of dental floss and duct tape in Japan in 2009). We only got the cards about 30 minutes before the start, so there was no time to work up an elaborate holder-on-ner technique. The Swedes have cool glove fixtures, we're trying to obtain some of those before WOC.
Anyway, I noticed the brick getting floppy and then all of a sudden my hand felt way lighter. Wheee, so much easier to ski! Oh, wait. I need that thing. About 3-4 minutes (it felt like an hour) lost digging in the snow and swearing a lot, and I saw a tip of red elastic sticking out of the bank. Phew! I stuck the thing in my mouth and slobbered over it for the rest of the race - ever notice how you produce a lot of slobber in one race? No? Well, you do, but normally you can swallow or spit or gag or something, instead of just drooling.
Things went pretty smoothly for the next few controls, one 45s bobble, I passed back two more girls, and then I took a "creative" route choice to #7 - probably should have changed course earlier when there were no other ski tracks, but I figured I'd started, so I may as well continue along this route. It would have been fine, maybe only losing 15-30s, but I missed a junction in my head, and got really confused after climbing a hill. I skied down the wrong narrow trail, and luckily it looped around and shot me back to the big trail, which it shouldn't have done, and alarm bells went off. Eventually I figured it out, but that was frustrating, especially in a relay, when there is someone else waiting on you!
I tagged off to Ali, duct taped the entire brick to my glove, and then she went way too fast and I still had my warmups on as she skied into the stadium. Managed to get untangled, but I left the stadium without poles. Sigh. Someday, I'll get my shit together. It would probably have helped if I'd asked somebody the Swedish for "41", our team number, since they were announcing who was coming by number, in Swedish. Once my poles were on, though, I had a much better race. A couple hesitations, but no overtly-stupid route choices, and no huge mistakes. Much more boring!
This is the room Ali and I are sharing. When Nick leaves tomorrow morning, we have to fit Greg and all his stuff in here, too. Yea ski trips!
I have a ridiculous fuzzy warm purple thing. Its wonderful.
Portapotties, swedish style. Also, the bin for sanitary napkins is called sanititteepussi. Is that not hilarious?