.: Ski XCOttawa.ca :: Skiing in Ottawa and Gatineau Park

Going to a classic race with no team and a baby? It's not as easy as it sounds!
By:  Megan McTavish   (2014/12/02)

After failing to register in time for a FIS race in Kontiolahti, Finland, we decided that it would be fun to go to a smaller, more low key race in Mikkelli. Arguably this was a better idea from the start since it was closer and we had no wax support. A smaller race would be less stressful. 

Wednesday night, we made our final decision and promptly found out that we missed the registration deadline for this race too!! Luckily the organizers were very nice and they let us do the race. Our previously mentioned Thunder Bay coach, Toni Roponen, is actually from Mikkelli and he is kind of famous around there, so that was a good connection to have. 

Next step was to plan the trip (this step was done on Friday morning). We rented a car for 6pm on Friday so that Karl could get a day of work in. In the meantime, Toni was hard at working arranging our accommodation (again!) and by about 11am, everything seemed in order. 

One small detail that needed attention was that we had no klister (somehow we forgot this bag in Chelsea) and it was going to be 0 or +1 the next day. It was a classic race, so that was going to be a problem. It was my job to take Leena for an afternoon walk and get some klister before we left. I was told to go to the Intersport downtown. I couldn’t find any klister there, and was running out of time so I checked out the next sport store I saw and came away with a violet and a universal that didn’t look particularly like “race” klisters. Later I found out there were a few Intersports downtown and I went to the wrong one! 

Our goal was to leave the apartment at 5:00 to take the tram to get our car. I was a bit concerned that the one I rented was going to be too small so I wanted to be there early (the office closed at 6). We left at 5:26, missed the tram and arrived at the car rental place at 6:01. 

Luckily we were upgraded to a “bigger” car (see picture) because the one I rented didn’t even have a back seat! We managed to get everything in the car, get some food at the grocery store and get out of there in only 1.25 hours. 

The car fully packed.

The drive was uneventful and Leena actually slept the whole way. Unfortunately this meant she was ready for fun and games when we arrived at our cottage at 10:00pm. 

Toni had booked us at a nice cottage in a funny resort called Visulahti. It seems to have a dinasour park, rides and a beach but is all closed for the winter. We arrived, found an envelope with our name in it in a box at reception and proceeded to our cabin. It felt a bit like we were on Amazing Race! 

Our cottage and mini car.

The Dinosauria Water Park.

The Dinosauria Water Park entrance.

We got to bed around midnight and everyone slept well. We were up at 7am for our 11:40 and 12:00 starts. We scraped and waxed our skis at the cottage using a mini Vauhti bench on a picnic table outside for scraping and two chairs inside for waxing, and we were off to the races. 

The plan was to arrive 2 hours before, but we didn't leave our cottage until 2 hours before and then took a wrong turn so didn't get there till about 1:40 before. Also, Leena threw up in the back seat and required a full clothing change and clean up when we arrived. On the bright side, I actually remembered to bring a second outfit for her because, strangely enough, this happened on our way to the last race I did in Muounio and that time I didn't have anything to change her into. Maybe she gets nervous before ski races?? 

Finally we got ourselves set up to wax, Leena fell asleep, and we applied K-Base and violet klister. One hour before the race I tried it and there was no grip. We added the universal, and 40 minutes before the race there was still no grip. We had no more options so we ran up to the parking lot where most people were waxing and found the one person we knew, Aku Nikander. Unfortunately he was going to just double pole so couldn't really help us. He found someone he knew and they kindly gave us some violet klister that looked a bit more promising (at least it looked like a racing wax) and also volunteered to hang out with Leena (who had woken up) while I re-waxed. 

I ran back, took off all the klister, slapped on the new stuff and went to retrieve Leena. By this point I had 20 minutes. 

As I was retrieving Leena from the friendly woman I had left her with, Toni Roponen’s dad appeared and, in Finnish, offered to take Leena until I was done racing! That made things much easier. I proceeded to do some running around near the start while my skis cooled off while he took her for a walk. 

The race itself was a really fun event and a good hard effort. Our skis were kind of slow and kind of slippery (although so much better than the original wax job), and I definitely didn't have a good enough warm up, but I had a good time doing a classic race for the first time in over a year and a half. 

The stadium area (the next day).

One of the two hills on the course.

I finished to the sounds of Leena screaming and Karl requesting to use my poles because his basket had fallen off (after one too many times being changed from rollerski tips without replenishing the glue). I rescued Toni’s dad from my hungry child, fed her and then we both watched Karl valiantly charge through his 10km with slow, slippery skis and short poles. 

All in all, it was a fun day, a great event and a good hard effort. The Mikkelli ski club and town were very welcoming and we were even presented with a gift from a town official. 

Post race we got to watch the Kuusamo World Cup in the building at the race site. Leena enjoyed the toys and meeting new friends there while we took in the race. We stayed an extra night and skied on the trails both Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning before heading back to Helsinki. 

Leena watching the World Cup.

Making new friends.

Overall, we would call the weekend a success, but we think we need to work on our planning skills a bit before our next attempt!
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