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Posts Tagged ‘muonio’

Muonio: then and now

7.Nov.2011 by Patrick O'Brien

Its hard to imagine how different our experience in Muonio, Finland has been since we were here last year. Normally cold snowy weather has been replaced by warm temperatures and steady rain. Despite the unseasonable weather, the grooming staff at Olos has done well to provide great skiing for the numerous national and club skiers frequenting the 3k loop. Today the track was closed to skiing as the workers frantically reallocated precious snowpack from one of the out-back sections to shore up the racecourse for the coming competitions on the weekend.

Perfect trails awaiting us the first day

Perfect trails awaiting us the first day

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Reserve snow-pack opposite the biathlon stadium last year

This years pile... The groomers said they stockpiled more snow for upcoming season than ever before but a warm rainy September resulted unprecedented melt

This years pile... The groomers said they stockpiled more snow for upcoming season than ever before but a warm rainy September resulted unprecedented melt

Workers at Olos uncovering the last bit of snow summered over in the halfpipe. The excavator breaks up and removes the frozen wood chips that cover the snowpack and the front end loader moves the 6 month old snow

Workers at Olos uncovering the last bit of snow summered over in the half pipe by the alpine area. The excavator breaks up and removes the frozen wood chips that cover the snow-pack and the front end loader moves the 6 month old snow

Saving 3k worth of snow over the summer neccesitates a huge amount of woodchips

Saving 3k worth of snow over the summer neccesitates a huge amount of woodchips

First tracks last year

First tracks last year
And foot tracks this year... (Photo: Ethan D)

And foot tracks this year (Photo: Ethan D)

High noon, 11-10-10

High noon, 11-10-10

11-7-11 (Photo Ethan D)

11-7-11 (Photo Ethan D)

The white ribbon below (Photo: Ethan D)

The white ribbon below (Photo: Ethan D)

Got wind? (Photo: Ethan D)

Got wind? (Photo: Ethan D)

Moving snow

Moving snow (Photo: Ethan D)

Patching up the race loop (Photo: Ethan D)

Patching up the race loop (Photo: Ethan D)

Although the weather seems to be conspiring against us, the skiing has remained solid.  Its seems we are past the worst of the rain and the mercury is finally dropping after 2 pretty nasty weeks. Big thanks to the workers at Olos for all of their hard work keeping the tracks open and several hundred people on snow. The races this weekend should certainly prove interesting with large competitive fields tearing around the shortened race loop. Might look a bit like this…

Trainin' in the train

Trainin' in the train

Race Pace, Cold Face

9.Nov.2010 by Chelsea Little
muonio 1

Ida leading her quarterfinal heat up the second hill. In the next shot, she turns around to check on the size of her lead...

Did you hear? We had our first race on Sunday, a classic sprint here in Muonio! It was a pretty interesting experience. We’re used to having bizarre sprints to start the season off after last year’s 6-minute, point-to-point extravaganza in West Yellowstone, but Muonio took things in the opposite direction. The races were only 780 meters long for women and 1110 meters for men, and indeed started and ended in different places. They also included some sharp corners (in the men’s race, I think they skied around a branch in the snow at the far point on the course) and a sharp downhill turn leading into the finishing stretch.

Personally, I think I forgot how to race, because I really didn’t go fast in the sprint! I also put my pole between my skis going around one of the sharp corners and struggled not to fall down… always a good feeling when the course is lined with European coaches watching you. I didn’t make a good name for America, I’m afraid.

munio 2

Ollie cheering for Ida.

Luckily, not everyone was as silly or clumsy as me. Ida killed it in the qualifier, finishing second, and Hannah and Pat would have been in the heats too if they had run a full schedule. But because of the cold and the narrowness of the course, the organizers opted to do 4 heats of 4 instead of 5 heats of 6, so Hannah and Pat got to sit the afternoon out after all.

Which meant we all got to cheer for Ida as she cruised through the heats. Yay Ida!

muonio 3

Ida outsprinting a Kazakh girl in her semifinal heat.

It was fun to watch all the heats – there were some really good skiers, and the women’s final came down to a toe-slide. But it was cold. Really cold. I decided to take portraits of my teammates defending themselves against the cold. Here’s the series.

Lauren

Lauren

Hannah

Hannah

Ollie

Ollie

Moni!

Moni!

Big Dilly

Big Dilly

Story from the Range

6.Nov.2010 by Lauren Jacobs

Since we arrived in Finland, Hans and I have been able to shoot a few times at the range here in Muonio. Shooting in the cold and on skis was definitely an adjustment for me. I had a lot of trouble zeroing and settling down the first couple of times we did easy combos. Another factor that contributed to my unease was the fact that we are sharing the range with the entire Swedish national biathlon team. That’s just a little intimidating! They have probably six coaches doing everything from pulling ropes and sweeping mats to timing intervals and watching the shots. Which means they also see us shooting. I think it makes me really concentrate on what I’m doing, which has to be a good thing.

Anyways, the story I want to share is from my fourth time shooting. We were doing max classic intervals, four times about 3 minutes long, and perfect for a shooting session. Hans and I definitely didn’t have room to pack a scope in our luggage, so we have been using a sort of public scope that lives in the range house here. This means we share it with other teams that didn’t bring a scope and the morning of our intervals we were sharing with some Belarusians. As I went back to look at my shots through the scope the coach said, “If you trust me, I will help you zero.” Sounded like a great offer to me and I said sure.

“Take ten clicks to the left and five to the right.” My first reaction was to say “ok!” because that’s just what you say when a coach tells you what to do. But on second thought I became very confused. Ten to the left and five to the right? Why wouldn’t I just take five to the left? Maybe he messed up his English and said right but meant up or down. I paused. And then asked him what I had to do, again.

“Ten to the left and five to the right.”

I started to question him, “Umm…but isn’t that just…”

“Yes, yes, just do as I say. Your sight isn’t moving.”

So I did what he told me to do and, of course, it worked! I had no idea that sights could kind of get stuck and not move, so if you over compensate the clicks a little it can get them back on track. I shot a few more clips to confirm and the friendly Belarusian coach told me a few times, “This is great shooting! Very good groups.” That bolstered my confidence a bit and I went on to do the intervals feeling very good about my shooting.

Basically that little story sums up one of the big reasons I love skiing. In general, everyone is super friendly and willing to help others out. Okay, I know that’s wicked cheesy but it’s true.

I still don’t have any photos from the range, so I will leave you instead with a few of the giant swans that live in the river by our cabins.

Appropriately named, these are Tundra Swans.

Appropriately named, these are Tundra Swans.

Hannah and I ran around to get some photos of these guys but they hopped in the current and really took off.

Hannah and I ran around to get some photos of these guys but they hopped in the current and really took off.

Stay tuned! I’m sure we’ll have some good stories from the race tomorrow!

Fun things to do and see in Europe

31.Oct.2010 by Ollie Burruss

I love to people watch.  Absolutely love it.  One of my favorite pastimes, without a doubt.  Europe, as you can probably imagine, has proved to be an ever expanding collection of awesomeness for someone with my affinity for checking people out.  During our layover in Paris, I spent the entire time posted up in front of one of the security lines with Matt, just watching the people come out.  I don’t know exactly, but I’d say we spent at least two hours cracking jokes about everyone we saw.  I loved every minute of it.

Here in Muonio I get to combine people watching with one of my other favorite activities: skiing.  So far I’ve seen an Estonian who is a dead-ringer for Glenn Randall and a Swedish biathlon coach who strongly reminds me of my dear friend and former coach, Peter Graves.  Every time I see Estonian Glenn Randall I wonder what will happen when American Glenn Randall gets here and they ski past each other.  I imagine meeting your European doppelganger would be somewhat jarring.

Skiing laps on a 3.8k loop with dozens of other skiers has also given me time to come up with a few conclusions about Europe, which I will now share with you:

Finns love Finnish-made equipment.  I’m talking stuff that has never been seen in the US outside of Minnesota.  Rex poles (notable because they are Robin Hood green), Peltonen skis, and the little-known Karhu racing ski (complete with a neon orange base and an awesome name: Volcans.  I can only imagine they meant to call them Volcanos?  Or maybe Vulcans?) are all represented in force here.  I’ve got half a mind to try to trade for the Karhu drink belt I saw this morning.

Russians train really hard, all the time. There are tons of Russians here right now.  Pepa said there were clubs from Moscow and Saint Petersburg, in addition to the national team, whose van says “Russian National Ski Team” in German on it (thumbs up for usage of the word “mannschaft,” always a crowd pleaser).  The women in particular seem to be skiing wicked hard all the time.  There’s a great clip of Matt being rolled up by a tiny Russian girl just hammering her brains out.  Ask him about it.  One girl I saw was wearing full warm-ups that she had sweat all the way through.  She did not smell great.  But, they are fast, so maybe there’s something to their methodology.

Eastern European coaches hate skiing. Not the sport, but the actual physical act of skiing.  So far I’ve seen national team coaches from Estonia, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and I think Latvia (in addition to numerous club coaches from Russia).  None of these men ski.  They stand around, often together, in big jackets, watching.  Always watching.  Sometimes they’ll whip out a video camera (the Estonian guy especially likes his camera).  Often they’ll shout something at a passing athlete.  But seldom do they move and even more seldom do they ski.  Groups of them will congregate at trail intersections to chat, smoke cigarettes, and drink from thermoses.  I like to think that it is a hold over from the days when the Soviets used to post up guys in the woods to keep athletes from defecting.  Poor guys probably don’t know what to do with themselves anymore.  Since they are so often in the same places, I’ve taken to nodding to them as I pass, hoping for a nod back.  Most give it to me, but the Belorussians have been resisting.  I’ll break them, though.

Pepa is the most popular person on the trails. This should not surprise you.  She’s a babe and the only female coach out there (I think the Swedish biathlon team has a few female staff members, but I can’t figure out exactly what they do).  All the coaches like to chat with Pepa.  It’s been especially great for Chelsea, because she’s scored a few choice interviews through Pepa’s connections.  All I know is Pepa better watch out or she’s going to find herself beating off suitors like Odysseus’s wife Penelope.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Gotta get back to my tiny cabin to eat some duo spread (think cake frosting mixed with Nutella) and put my feet up.

Note: I’m just making a joke about the post-communist coaches.  I’m sure those guys actually know a lot about skiing and are doing a good job.  The difference between the way they conduct themselves on the trails and the ways American coaches act just begs the comparison.  No offense meant to Eastern Europeans.