In my years of summer vacation experience, I've learned that if I really don't want my cell phone to ring, go where the phone won't work.
This year the place of choice was Finland and Estonia. I did a short visit with ex Thunder Bay NTDC coach Jonne Kähkönen. He now lives in the beautiful nordic paradise of Lahti. There is no shortage of things for a skier to do here in the summer. Running the ski trails, ski-walking, rollerskiing, touring the ski jumps, watching summer jumping, sauna life, touring the ski museum, drinking coffee and eating karjalan piirakas. Jonne and family were great hosts, I envy their lifestyle. An interesting tid-bit for North American skiers, ski-walking is generally giggled upon as an old woman's sport, thank god I didn't bring my ski-walking poles! The parks in Helsinki are full of elderly mums out ski walking.
In Estonia, in addition to touring the medieval town of Tallinn, I visited the sight of the Estonian World Cup Ski Races in Otepää. The town was smaller and more tranquil than Lahti. Still, there was plenty of rollerskiing, with a new track set up around the nearby lake of Pühajärve as well.
I was able to participate in this year's running race around the lake of Pühajärve as well. Depending on the source the course was either 11.2km or 10.8km. Either way it was a painfull event on an awesome course. My plan was to start slow and hopefully not slow down any further. I was evidently unsuccessful with this strategy. Unlike the Ottawa Marathon Weekend's 10km event I did 4 weeks ago, it felt as though there was a significant amount of depth in this field (around my ability that is), despite the size of this country. I managed a 35th place in this event, and a 50th place in Ottawa. Sadly there was a serious lack of women competitors in this event. Unlike the Smigun sisters, it appears that not many of Estonia's women seem to be to drawn in to sport. Race results.
In a country like this it seems generally simple to come into contact with it's stars, see the photo's attached. (That is Arno and ski star Kristina Smigun! The big guy is Martin Müürsepp, Estonia's premier basketball player, once of Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks, now playing for Russian Team CSKA, making significantly more than he did in the NBA.)
On top of the cell phone not ringing, Finland and Estonia were great places for training, for the reasons I've just mentioned. In addition to those reasons, one must keep in mind the powerful coffee served here and the abundance of daylight that makes this area of the world a summer training paradise.