The atmosphere at Sovereign Lake Nordic Ski club was flavoured heavily with anticipation today with sprinklings of excitement and nervousness. As evident from the pictures provided below, the weather was picture perfect with sunshine, an abundance of cold and dry snow and temperatures reaching daytime highs in the area of –5C. Fingers are crossed that things stay roughly the way they are in this regard for the weekend of racing. The day lodge at Sovereign managed to maintain it’s small-town club charm as it played host to its biggest event ever. Hot chocolate and coffee, for instance, were still available on an honour-system basis.
As tomorrow’s race is a continuous pursuit, many of the sport’s famous names could be seen practicing their transitions. Other popular activities included doing some light race-pace work, sprints and some incredibly thorough testing of equipment. One fairly well known face opted to have her picture taken with a XCOttawa.ca correspondent. Judging by the speed with which some skiers wearing “technical support” bibs passed me while out training today, some teams have some very fit wax techs. It might be interesting to organize a separate race to determine which country has the fastest service people.
The race course itself would appear to present a solid physical test. Essentially, the classic portion of the race takes place on a 3.75km loop above the stadium, while the skate takes place on a 3.75 (men) and 2.5 (women) below the stadium. The upper 3.75 consists of two significant climbs. The first lasts in the area of 2 minutes, with the second one being slightly shorter. Both climbs are at an incline that should not require any herringboning from the people in these races. The skating loops involve one fast and fairly technical downhill as well as a tough climb with varying degrees of steepness lasting about 3 minutes, ending roughly 300 metres from the finish. One might expect a few aggressive moves to be made on this hill. In fact, it is the kind of hill that deserves a nickname, but to my knowledge does not have one yet.
Watch for more pictures and a report following the races!
Kristin Steira Stoermer