Tuesday, February 24, 2015

American Birkebeiner

Parliament of Canada, Ottawa

One week after Gatineau - loppet there were 55K American Birkebeiner ski race in Hayward, Wisconsin, USA. Plan was to fly to USA just before the race and therefore spending week between the races in Ottawa.

Ottawa Senators home stadium

Winter temperatures were just freezing and the wind made it feel even colder. Despite of the coldness during the week there were some activity. On Wednesday evening went to see NHL game Senators vs. Hurricanes.

Final 100 meters in Hayward

On Friday flight from Ottawa to Minneapolis was on schedule and 3 hour drive up to Hayward went without problems. Quick bib pick-up from Hayward high school and then to dorm housing at Hayward Intermediate school. There were hundreds of skiers sleeping at the school floor. After short sleep I jumped from my sleeping bag at 5AM and started to prepare for the race. There were bus transportation to the start area at Cable. Fortunately there were warm-up tents, where you could get warm chocolate. It was snowing and the temperature was around -10 degrees. I started slowly and ended slowly. 55 kilometers felt like endless journey, cause I had had cold couple of days ago and I was skiing with the help of painkillers today.

2 Worldloppet races completed

I managed to finish the race somehow and was happy to aim the objectives for this trip.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Gatineau loppet, skiing in Canada

At Helsinki-Vantaa boarding towards Stockholm

On Thursday 12th of Feb I had an early bus drive from Tampere to Helsinki-Vantaa airport. I was starting 12 days skiing trip to Northern America. As part of my this year objectives I had selected two long-distance skiing events, Gatineau loppet from Canada and American Birkebeiner from USA.

The flight to Ottawa, Canada took 24 hours via Stockholm and Chicago. I was pretty exhausted when arriving to Ottawa, cause it was 5AM at Finnish time. Fortunately all flights were on schedule and all the luggages including skis arrived on time.

The next day, Friday, was cold, but according the weather forecast the race day on Saturday would be warmer though. I picked up my bib on Friday evening from Mont Bleu high school, which was acting as a race office and finishing line for the competition.

School buses, which took us to starting area

On Saturday morning it was -18 degrees and snowfall at start line. There were 51 km track and over 1000 meters total ascent ahead of me. All the skiers were taken by buses to starting area at Gatineau park, where we would ski back to Mont Bleu high school at Gatineau.

10 minutes to start

The first 30 km were undulating terrain with couple of demanding downhill sections. It was snowing and glide was not too good. I started a bit too fast, which hit me back after 30 km milestone. The most demanding climb was between 30 and 35 km. Over 200 meters climb in just 5 kilometers. I was just exhausted when I managed to reach 35 km control point. From now on it would be easier terrain up to finish line.

Finish line at Mont Bleu

All in all I was satisfied when crossing the finish line and getting medal. This was my 8th Worldloppet ski. Only 2 more to go...

And the medal