While I wouldn’t say that I was quite ready for an off weekend after only two races in Europe, it is hard to resist going Sjusjøen, Norway for some training. Also, it seemed that most of the US ski team athletes were quite ready for a little break. So the day after Nove Mesto was dedicated to travel as we bussed into Prague, flew to Oslo, and then drove to Sjusjøen. This relatively short travel day turned into a long one with super icy roads in the Czech Republic (we left over 5 hours before our flight took off with a drive that should be less than two hours), a delayed flight, and intense fog in Norway. However, by the evening we were safely settled and stuffed in the land of brown cheese and caviar tubes.
The next day demonstrated why we had come to Sjusjøen. The sun arrived along with view of plentiful snow, and immaculate tracks. The trails here are unique among all the places that I have skied. Most cross country ski venues are based around various loops. There are tourist loops, moderate loops, dog loops, and race loops. Every once in a while, the venue will have a few trails going off to connect with other loops or maybe just another trailhead. Sjusjøen is more like a road network. The trails seem to be designed to connect places and to connect to other trails. Other than a few race loops, the trails are just a massive sprawl of trails across multiple towns. After small manmade loops, difficult race loops, and endless course previews, this trail network is paradise.
Fortunately we had a week to take advantage of it. A few days were foggy and a few days had to be spent on the race trails tuning up for the next races, but most of the days we got to wander. Well, maybe wander within reason. Four hours skis don’t fit in very well in the middle of the season. With so many trails, even the longer skis had to be pointed in a specific direction so that we could actually get somewhere.
All vacations have to come to an end sometime. We are off to Oslo next week for some sprinting in Drammen on Wednesday and then the granddaddy of world cup skiing, the Homenkollen 50 kilometer classic, on Saturday.