Sovereign Lake World Cup Report
By: Chris Pella (2005/12/14)
My wife and I travelled to Silver Star last week to ski and watch the world cup races, but I ended up getting a bit more involved than I could have imagined. A friend of mine had volunteered months ago to help and so when I got there I found out that through illness they were short help for the TV crew, who needed spotters on the course. I signed on and went to the training sessions, even though it meant missing some snow time. At the first briefing it turned out that I was the biggest ski geek there and got assigned a wireless head-set and the stadium posting. I was told I was the director's eyes out there and could delay the start if the TV production was behind ( 60 million people watching live in Europe).
Also, I was to direct the roving camera guy to the main players and especially Beckie and Sara, it seemed, since our Canadian camera guys don't really know the sport, and update them during the race as to relative positions and anything of interest. It was tremendously exciting, even just skiing around the trails with the world cup skiers around. Here are a few anecdotes and observations:
#1 Jurgen Brink and Thomas Alsgaard
Most will remember the dramatic finish of the relay in Val di Fiemme when Brink when out too fast and hit the wall, allowing Alsgaard to go by and take the win for Norway. During the pursuit I noticed a tall guy in Swedish kit looming near me who looked very familiar. It was at the point in the stadium where they completed the freestyle laps. Brink came up the little rise into the stadium looking a bit worse-for-wear and Thomas Alsgaard was standing there giving him verbal encouragement. I thought it was an interesting bit of understated drama. I didn't bother pointing it out to the crew because I'm not sure anybody but me would have cared at that point, since they were following the lead pack.
#2 National stereotypes
I saw the German men training as a team. They came by me in a pace line while I was out creeping along, struggling with the altitude. It looked quite impressive, and they chatted quietly as they skied. I think we saw evidence of teamwork in the race. The Italians were boisterous and happy, and seemed to be more randomly distributed. I told some of them that my dad was from a city in Friuli, and one morning when I got on the shuttle bus they called out "Pordenone". On the way back Zorzi ( I think) opened the back door of the bus meant for emergencies and jumped out, triggering the alarm. He just looked back in and grinned like a kid. Didn't want to go out the front. I skied behind Beckie and Sara for a bit one day, and they were chatting away and talking to people that they met along the way. I can't imagine many other sports where this occurs. A downhill skier told me that for world cup events the skiers are pretty much cloistered in their own world and isolated from the masses.
#3 Easy means easy
It seems hard to get through to the competitive, testosterone-driven bunch who do their distance training in zone 2/3 because their egos won't let them get passed on the trail, but these elite guys go at a pretty comfortable pace when they are out doing easy distance. Save the hard effort for intervals and races. I'm tired of skiing with people who say they want to go for some easy distance and it turns out to be a slugfest... which is why I tend to ski by myself alot.
#4 The organization was superb.
The people of Vernon were extremely friendly. This could be a template for any other venues in North America decides to host this kind of event. Of course having perfect weather and snow helps...
#5 German classic technique
I think this could be a better template for us middle-aged guys with occasional back problems than the classic Scandinavian style. I've always wondered about the extreme emphasis on forward lean and feeling like you are falling over. To me the important thing is getting the hips high and forward and over the kick zone and driving the free leg forward. I watched them do legs-only drills up a hill and they looked very erect compared to the Norwegians. In my experience the most important thing is getting a good kick and not slipping... one slip seems to use up alot of ATP and throws off your rhythm. I have tended to classic ski in a more "German" way and have been "corrected" by instructors to put more lean into it, even though my hips are forward and I can glide pretty well on one ski unsupported.
#6 When nature calls
I had to pee through most of the men's pursuit and had to wait until between the races. The director told me to go and hang out at the finish line after the men's race so I had to wait until the melee had finished. So here I am standing in line my turn with 10 mins to the start of the women's race and a voice (imagine a Finnish accent) comes on the head-set... "Chris, get me Beckie Scott for the camera". "But I really have pee". I managed to make it with a few minutes to spare.
#7 Finland v.s. Sweden?
I didn't realize there was a such "thing" between Finland and Sweden. The directors were Finnish, and I heard some funny comments about Swedes. During one of the sprints, I heard the director say, "I like this Swede, he is losing". We had bets going on before the final, and I felt I had to support Lind to make things fair.
Chris Pella is a long time Gatineau Park skier and is now a member of Nakkertok. He also knows how to bonk!
This report was originally posted to the rec.skiing.nordic news group, and is re-printed here with permission.