When traveling lots as a ski racer you learn that your plans better be flexible. I can’t say that I was particularly surprised sitting on the plane in Newark when the flight attendants came over the PA with the announcement that there happened to be a large dent in the front of the plane on the preflight check and they weren’t sure if we would continue taking off. Ok I said to myself, I am fine sitting here as long as necessary or even getting off this plane if required. Seems like the front of the plane would be an especially bad place for an dented latch cover that wouldn’t close. So 3 hours later after some tarmac repairs in Newark we were on our way to Europe! And United was even kind enough to leave the entertainment system turned on as we sat on the plane! Despite our airport running intervals we weren’t able to make our connecting flight to Ljubljana, Slovenia. The upside was that we got 10 extra hours to check out the old city in Zurich.
It had been a little while since I had been to Europe and I had forgotten how convenient their mass transit can be. Our train ride from the airport to downtown was smooth and like a Swiss watch the train arrived and departed the station exactly when scheduled. Slightly different than traveling Amtrak in the States. Walking around downtown Zurich was really enjoyable and helped the time pass till our next flight. Every other store appeared to be either a cafe, hotel, restaurant, or clothing store. After some lunch and really good lattes we started making our rounds checking out the museums and different churches.
The Grossmunster church. Initial construction began in 1100 so I guess its pretty old
Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photos inside the buildings but walking around and seeing the time and effort that went into the stone work and architecture was very impressive.
St Peterskirche, the largest church clock face in Europe
Looking out over the Limmat river with the towers of the Grossmunster in the background
After a long travel day we finally made it to Rogla, Slovenia early Wednesday morning. The first day we were blanketed with heavy fog and wind, similar weather to my previous time in Rogala but that quickly burnt off and we were treated to some really nice sunny days for the races. Overall, I would have wanted better results but wasn’t surprised when the travel stress and few days to acclimate to the elevation caught up with me. Racing OPA cups in Europe is often a very different experience from the Super Tours in the US. While the total competitor size happens to be smaller racing OPA, the overall level of competition is much higher with many more skiers “in the mix”. Many of the top seeded competitors in Rogla were skiers who had just missed out on the top 50 cutoff for World Cup Finals and had come home early. Have an off day here and you can find yourself close to the back of the pack.
Unfortunately I didn’t get any racing photos from the sprint on Saturday or the mass start on Sunday. You can check out the NNF Facebook page for some photos from the weekend and a nice writeup of the weekend from Chelsea Holmes here.
On Monday morning we packed up all our gear and headed off to Italy for OPA Finals in Isolaccia. On route we stopped in Bled to check out one of Slovenia’s oldest castles.
Entering the Bled Castle
View out to Lake Bled
Nice views on the drive from Slovenia to Italy
The venue for OPA Finals
The ladies on the highpoint of the 5k course
Looking towards the town of Isolaccia
Now we are all settled in Italy getting ready for OPA Finals. Racing starts on Friday with a skate prologue followed by a individual start classic race and finally a skate pursuit on Sunday. There is an abundance of snow here and really warm temperatures have made for nice Spring klister skiing. It should be some fast and furious racing for the girls early in the morning and some slower conditions for the guys later in the day. So far I have been putting on lots of sunscreen to avoid turning into lobsterman. More updates to come now that we have some reliable internet at our hotel!