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Training Vacation Report #2: Sahly, Saunas, and fashion tips...
By:  Karl Saidla   (2003/09/20)

karl saidla - XC Ottawa Cross-country skiing

Last week you heard about the great adventures of Arno Turk on his training vacation with Lee Churchill in Newfoundland. These training vacations have become a popular concept here at xcottawa.ca.

Megan and I recently had a great training vacation in Thunder Bay. We decided that after a long summer of work and school that it was time for a change of pace and environment. Not having been in Thunder Bay for awhile (where we both went to school for about 5 years), there were a few things that we were both craving for: Finnish pancakes, good saunas, a tough workout at Mt. McKay, rollerskiing with logging trucks, pickup truck culture and so on.

karl saidla - XC Ottawa Cross-country skiing

From August 30th to Sept. 7th we enjoyed all of these things in beautiful Thunder Bay, home of the 1995 World Nordic Ski championships. We did some great training with members of the National Team Development Centre of Thunder Bay and Big Thunder Nordic ski club. We hiked and camped at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. We enjoyed the well-known hospitality of the famous Nelson family. We explored, for the first time, Reijo Puiras's TILT (Two Island Lake Trail). While I declined his invitation to make an attempt at the course record, I will now have a good reason to show up at his camp for a sauna and sausages next time I am in Thunder Bay.

We enjoyed breakfast and Finnish culture at the famous Hoito restaurant, among other places. This is where I go to check out the latest in fashion trends. Have you noticed all those teenagers wearing those foam-mesh trucker hats with great slogans typed on them like : "Pickle yourself up in Pickle Lake". I can assure you that it all started at the counter of the Hoito. The 60 plus crowd of retired Finnish forestry workers are often at the leading edge when it comes to clothing. You know that grunge-trend that many of us took (still take) part in (flannel shirts, Adidas track suits, polyester pants)?-Started at the Hoito, no doubt about it.

karl saidla - XC Ottawa Cross-country skiing

We also played Sahly, which is essentially a superior version of ball hockey, invented in Finland. What is great about this game is that the ball, being plastic and very light, is difficult to control, even for skilled players. The result is straight madness: People running everywhere like chickens with their heads chopped off, but little being accomplished in terms of controlling the play. It is rumoured that in the professional leagues in Finland some degree of accuracy has been demonstrated as attainable, but I have not witnessed this yet.

Of course, we did some running and ski walking workouts at legendary places such as Lappe Nordic Ski Centre, and Centennial Park. One place we didn't manage to get to was Kamview Ski Centre, but there will be good reason to return there because it is strongly rumoured that a snow-making system will be operational by this fall, and that Thunder Bay will have the earliest skiing in Canada! Stay tuned for more news on this one.

Thunder Bay is truly a magnificent place to be a x-country skier. We encourage you all to visit sometime on your own ski training vacation. A big thank you to the following people for all the good times:

  • National Team Development Centre Thunder Bay (All of you jokers!)
  • Big Thunder Nordic Ski Club ( so many training sessions in one day!)
  • Balanced Foot Care ( my feet feel much better now)
  • Nelson Family (food, food, more food)
  • Maddox Family (accommodation in very comfortable tent-trailer)
  • Eric Potter (transportation by a vehicle 2 years away from being designated a "classic" by Ontario's Drive Clean program)
  • Reijo and Tuija Puiras ( hot sauna, cold lake, tasty sausages and carrots)

Interesting Reading. . .
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