Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ski WOC - Day 5 & 6

Mass start of the long distance (I am near the back on the left)

The Long Distance

Much of the course was on the tiny scooter trails which you can't really skate on so you end up getting a massive arm workout.

On Friday we had had a nice rest day, eating lots of Swedish food, waxing skis and hanging out at Hotel Tanndalen. We also went out for a nice cruisey ski on the trails right outside our cabin with our friendly Canadian room mates Nick and Robbie.
Myself, Nick, Robbie and Chris in front of our very nice home for the week

The weather was still pretty bad with snow and wind as we drove up to the hotel in the morning. We had all sorted out various systems for attaching energy gels onto our ski suits for some extra fuel out on the course. It was a mass start race, so we set off in a big pack of girls all racing hard - I was quickly out the back but there was still a little bunch around me - Japanese, British and Spanish skiers mostly.
Crossing the bridge near the end of the long course into the final loop

The course started with a huge climb, then a huge descent followed by another climb then down to the map change...and repeat all over again! After 2.07 hours out there I came in - I made a few mistakes on the last loop because I was pretty tired, but I finished up in 37th place which was my best for the whole competition and got me some real world ranking points! (-:
Coming into a control carefully in the forest

Chris had a good race too, but found it pretty tough to concentrate the whole way through as well. He finished in place 43 in 2.18, but was only 1/3 slower than the winner which is impressive!

We were all a bit pooped after the race, so we blobbed around at the hotel and got the nice buffet dinner. It was fun to hang out with our Wing club mates Marte, Lars and Helen as well as lots of the other competitors. Marte had won the bronze medal in the long race that day!

The Relay

We were unable to have a proper relay team because we needed 3 skiers, but we were allowed to enter the first leg of the relay anyway, so I raced the first leg of the womens relay and Chris the first leg of the mens. Robbie from Canada was also in the same boat so he and Chris having their own little one man relay race. Robbie had beaten Chris by a couple of minutes each day, so Chris was keen to put the youngster in his place (-:

It was another mass start, and the course took us out for a loop over the flat area before crossing the ski bridge and climbing up the hill we had raced on in the long. We then torpedoed down a rather terrifying downhill into the finish. I made a mistake on this last part and lost my Japanese competition, but it was a really fun race anyway. I enjoyed the course length and the relative technicality compared to the grunt of the long the previous day.
Japan susses out the strange Kiwi

Chris did a really good time and managed to beat Robbie by a minute into the finish, he was excited. Helen did an awesome job on the second leg for the British team, and they ended up finishing in 11th place.
Helen, Marte and me all smiles at the end of Ski Woc

Sadly after all that excitement it was time to pack our things and head home. We missed the post race banquet on Sunday night, because work commitments in Trondheim were calling us home, but we had our own kind of banquet round at Helen's thanks to Tim and Ally who cooked us a yummy curry on our return.

Trondheim had also been having lots of snowfall while we were away, so we came back to a new meter high pile outside our front door. Lots of people at work are sad because they thought spring was on its way - we are pretty excited because the skiing is on again! Powder lines to be had everywhere, winter's not quite over, but the days are getting really long again, so it's a really nice time.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about our experiences at Ski WOC 2011, we are quite excited to instill some ski o enthusiasm into New Zealand orienteering when we return.
Team Kiwi in our flash ski suits

Friday, March 25, 2011

Ski WOC - Day 3

Chris emerges from the bushes in the sprint relay

The sprint relay was heaps of fun. Chris and I raced together, each completing 3 loops. It was still a blizzard and this made things extra challenging. We were both happy with our 18th place and it was really cool to be the New Zealand team together.Team NZ happy to finish the sprint relay

Today is a rest day, then the long distance is tomorrow - Saturday.

Right now we are about to zip home and make dinner, I am starving! So I have kept this post short and sweet - more will follow tomorrow.

In response to the comments regarding sexy pants: we will try to get some better photos in the next two days - it is challenging to be competing and taking pictures and so far the race organisers have failed miserably to do the sexy suits justice, it just doesn't seem to be their priority for some reason?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ski WOC Day 2

Chris races in through the driving snow in the middle distance today

Driving home last night we encountered extreme wind and whirling snow - it was representative of the day to come! In the morning it was still snowing heavily and we put on extra layers under our ski suits so we didn't freeze in the blasting winds.Chris just after he finished

Chris says about his race: "Good, it was great fun and I was pleased not to make any big mistakes. The snowy conditions made it very hard to see causing me to crash several times, but it increased the navigational challenges which possibly benefited me. Now I am looking forward to the team sprint with sexy pants tomorrow." Chris ended up in 47th place.

I had a bit of a frustrating time in the forest, I find ski orienteering challenging enough without throwing in snow blasting in your face so you can't see and all the tracks disappear. I got quite lost on my way to control 3, I was standing in a field and I couldn't see a thing! I found a road and relocated, but then went to control 9 instead of 6, so that got me really confused! Never mind, eventually I finished in 42nd spot.In the 'warm room' after the race

Tomorrow is the mixed relay so that will be fun, we just hope the weather might improve, at the moment it is still a blasting blizzard outside.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ski WOC - Day 1

On our way to the opening ceremony

Hello! We are now in Tanndalen, Sweden, for the ski orienteering world championships. We arrived on Saturday and settled into a nice cabin that we are sharing with the two men from Canada - Robbie and Nick. We tried out the model map on Monday and found it pretty steep and a bit scary on the downhills.

Our Trondheim clubmates from Wing - representing three countries at ski-WOC!

On Monday evening all the countries gathered for the opening ceremony in chilly windy conditions. Tuesday morning came and it was time for event 1 - the sprint race. We had to be in a 'quarantine zone' by 10 am, so we couldn't see where competitors ahead of us were going. I started at 10.22 and made my way very carefully around the course - I decided this was the best tactic for me to avoid making any huge mistakes.

I got pretty confused coming into the arena, there were distracting people, bridges and extra little map box thingees. Eventually I sorted out my brain and found the final 3 controls into the finish - and I was well off last in the results! Just as I was finishing the weather changed from nice and sunny to a snow storm.

Chris came in about 30 minutes later (the men started after the women) in a respectable time, but he made a 4 minute mistake going to the wrong control during the snow storm. Typical Chris, he was super excited by the race and also really annoyed by his mistake, so now he is totally excited about the next race.

There is supposed to be deteriorating weather tommorrow for the middle distance so that could make things interesting. Now everyone is in the waxing room trying to get the fastest glide in the fresh powder (-: Yesterday Chris managed to charm the Norwegian smør-chefs into waxing our skis, maybe he will work his magic again today. I will keep you posted with the outcome of tomorrow's event, so stay tuned!

Fun and games in the waxing room - some countries waxing areas look more like ski shops to me!

Monday, March 14, 2011


I am well overdue for a new post - so its finally here! The problem is I have been so busy the last few weeks I haven't spent much time sitting in front of the computer. Most of the reason for this is skiing. Skiing seems to take up a fair bit of my time right now - skiing in various different forms, partly in preparation for our upcoming 'big event' - the world ski orienteering in Sweden in two weeks time.
But it hasn't all been serious training (-: We spent the winter holidays in France, in the very over tourist populated but none-the-less beautiful town of Chamonix. On the Wednesday of our trip we got some horrible news - Christchurch (our home town in New Zealand) had been hit by another big earthquake, large parts of the city had fallen down and many people had lost their lives.

It was awful to be stuck on the other side of the world not able to help out - and I felt bad about us continuing to have such a great time in France. Fortunately no one we know was hurt, but both our families homes were badly damaged. I wondered if I should publish this post - but I had some requests from people in Christchurch who want to read about something fun to take their minds of aftershocks, cracked walls and broken crockery - so here we go.

Chris's Mum's kitchen isn't looking quite as organised as last time I saw it!

We flew to Geneve on Saturday with Tim and took a minivan Chamonix - about a 1.5 hour drive, but it took even longer because there was so much traffic - this was the first warning sign. We made it to our little rented apartment in central Chamonix, then headed out for our first French dinner, yum yum! I had a delicious thing called a 'croute savoyard' and red wine followed by lemon crepe, mmmmm.

We discovered we even had our very own little 'telepherique' in our apartment!

The next day we set out on our first 'orientation' of the ski areas. With the 'Mt Blanc' unlimited ski pass we had access to 4 areas around Chamonix plus the Courmeyer ski area in Italy through the Mt Blanc tunnel. The buses were totally packed as we got our first taste of the Chamonix sardine feeling, then we queued for our lift passes, then queued for the telepherique, and 'sardined' our way up to 2 700m! We could notice the altitude on our descent from the gondola on Grand Montet. Unfortunately it was very cloudy and visibility was really bad.

'Sardine-ing' in up on the Telepherique on our way up to Grand Montet

We still had a fun day getting used to huge descents and yummy cheesy lunch at a wee restaurant on the slopes. The piste was pretty icy, but off piste you couldn't see a thing, so it was best to compromise by going between the two.

Tim looking suspiciously snowy...

That night Helen and Ally arrived from their friend's wedding in Switzerland. We cooked dinner together and shared stories as well as planing our strategic 'attack' of the ski areas over the coming week. We wanted to get the best value possible out of our pricey ski passes. Snow conditions for the week were not looking so good - there had been a small amount of snow fall the day before, but that was the first in weeks and there was no more predicted. So much for powder in the alps!

Forest skiing at Le Tour when visibility was bad - also hunting for some elusive fresh powder lines in the off piste

The following day we spent the morning playing in the trees at Le Tour, before giving up in average snow there and sardining our way up to the very top of Grand Montet. At about 3300m the view from the top out over the alps is amazing, and it had finally cleared so we had sun. We carefully skied down the glacial part, past some great yawning crevasses, then on down the massive descent all the way to the valley floor,the whole run took us two ours and it was great!

The clouds finally cleared on Monday and we got to see this!

Tim shows his telemark style in nice powder - finally

We had a disappointing meal at a English pub that night and decided to stick to the Frenchy places from then on. It was in the morning that we learned the sad news about the Christchurch earthquake, so we ended up setting out later for our skiing than planned, and the day passed with a slightly surreal feeling.
Skiing at Brevent

We skied at the Brevent and Le Flegere, which would have massive potential if it wasn't for the total lack of snow. There were little rocks and stones everywhere, and patches of ice. We skied all about the place, desperately searching the off piste for any hint of fresh powder. We had the odd good bit - although Chris seemed to be constantly finding 'sweet lines' according to him? I think he is just generally easy to please (-:

Helen headed over to Spain and Portugal for her orienteering training camp in nice warm temperatures while we kept on skiing. The weather for the following day was supposed to be really good, so we decided to take on the Aguile du Midi and ski down the famous Vallee Blanche. Fortunately we certainly weren't the only ones, so we could follow in the safer tracks of the many big guided groups in front of us (thus hopefully reducing likelihood of falling in a crevasse).

Snake trails descend carefully from the Aiguille du Midi station

Ally eyes the route down the Valle Blanche
Nice powder and hundreds of meters of descent

It was awesome being up so high (3800m) I think, and we carefully descended our was from the top of the telepherique and onto the glacier. From there we followed across the gentle slopes, before dropping more steeply down to the hut halfway down the glacier. Chris and I actually walked down the glacier a few years earlier after one of Chris's adventure races - but then it was summer and the glacier was even more broken up than now.

Chris and Ally most of the way down the glacier

The surrounding peaks sparkled, revealing their icy slopes in the afternoon sun. We sped down the last part of the glacier, Ally getting some assisted towing by Chris on his snow board which doesn't slide on the flat as much as skis and you don't have any poles! Feeling sweaty, but pleased with ourselves, we took the cog railway back down into Chamonix.

Ally carves down the glacier 'track'

In the afternoon we managed to squeeze in time for another trip to the very top of Grand Montet- that was just two ski runs in one day! We repeated a nice dose of yummy apple cake consumed at the very summit of Grand Montet which we had discovered the day before.

On Thursday we awoke to a sprinkling of fresh snow on our skylight, and after some deliberation the night before we had decided to attempt a trip over to Courmeyer in Italy through the Mt Blanc tunnel. The problem was we had tried call the bus company to book a spot the night before, but we were told the bus was full and there was no chance of a ride - even though this bus trip was supposed to be part of our 'all mountain' ski pass.

We arrived at the bus stop and Chris managed to charm the lady into getting us spots on the second bus, so after a nice cafe au lait in the little cafe nearby we were off to Italy.

Courmeyer was great, it was still cloudy, but the slopes were much quieter and the fresh powder made it really nice! We took a cable car up high on the mountain and did a big and quite steep descent way back down the the valley. The temperature down in the valley was really nice and the sun had just emerged, so we had a little picnic in there, before skating back out along a road and up a chairlift onto the ski area again.

We found really nice powder in Courmeyer and this was a huge descent all the way into the valley

The rest of the day was spent skiing in the powder amongst the trees. At 4 we headed to a little after-ski halfway up the ski field and tried what all the Italians were drinking - some strange pink 'spritze' drinks, which made the long descent back down into Courmeyer a little more entertaining.

Chris and Ally spent some time messing around on this little jump in the forest

In Courmeyer we ate very average pizza, then bused back into Chamonix after a great day skiing in Italy. It was so good in fact we decided it was the best pick for the next day as well. We repeated our technique with the buses successfully, and soon we were squiged onto the telepherique and heading up to the highest point on the field, the Cresta D'Arp (2755m). We had a wonderful view from the top, and we studied in detail the famous Helbronner descent on the other side of the valley.

The only descents from D'Arp are quite exposed and all off piste, so we took our time and carefully descended above some cliffs, then enjoyed some powdery turns till we were back in the steep gully we descended the day before into the valley.
Ally checking out the routes down from Cresta D'Arp

We skiied out from there and plonked ourselves at a outside restaurant in the sun to try our luck with Italian pizza again. This time we did better, particularly with the 'petit Mt Blanc' pizza which consisted of pear and blue cheese! We spent the afternoon doing some more tree bashing, then took a slightly earlier bus back to Chamonix than the previous day.

Waiting for the bus in Courmeyer

We had the best meal of the week at the Omletterier (-: (Ally had been reluctant to try it earlier - but I knew it would be good). After that we agreed to visit the after ski Chambre Neu which Ally had been hankering after all week - it was a nice place to hang out.

Pizza at Petit Mt Blanc

Saturday was our last day, and we decided to try Les Houches, seeing as it was the one area we hadn't been to all week. It is lower than the other areas, and the snow was very patchy turning to grass in lots of places. So it was pretty average skiing, but it was entertaining nonetheless. Ally got to try a few rail slides in the snow park.

Not-so-amazing Les Houches
Chris, Tim and I took the bus back to Geneve so we could fly out from there on Sunday, while Ally took the overnight train to Paris, so he could try out some crazy caving in the underground tunnels of Paris with his friend! We arrived back in Trondheim on Sunday night after a great week in the alps - maybe not the best snow ever - but we still enjoyed ourselves.

The gang and Italian 'Spritze's' in the sun!

Winter Time!

The last few winter months have been really busy and lots of fun for Chris and I. Knowing this is our last winter here has made us appreciate how cool it is even more, and we have got out exploring Bymarke and surrounding Trondelag as much as we possibly can. I have posted some photos from various weekends and a couple of weekday excursions into the mountains.

At the end of January Ally celebrated his birthday in Oppdal with us and we made use of a deal that was running there where you got a hotel for 1kr per night if you had a ticket for the ski area there. So we stayed two nights and had two days skiing with Helen, Ally, Tim, and the Czechs Tomas and Paja.

The weather was a bit average, but we got lots of nice powder on the Saturday, even if we couldn't really see anything. On Sunday the weather was a bit clearer, but the wind was unbelievable. We took a tow up to this little 'warm hut' to eat our lunch - no one else was up there and the lift closed straight after we arrived - we were not surprised given we were almost blown off the mountain on the way up, clinging desperately onto the swinging T bar!

The peisestua and the blizzard - wind doesn't really come out in pictures unfortunately
Inside the nice warm hut and out of the wind at last

A rare sun ray shines down on Oppdal

Interesting visibility on the descents!

In the first week of February I got the flu )-: But then we headed down to Sjusjoen for the next weekend to get some fresh air and it seemed to get rid of the bug I had been battling all week. We decided to be budget, so spent both nights camping. It got to about -8 both nights, so it was good to have my trusty Fairydown Scorpion sleeping bag.

Camping in the park in Lillehammer

On the second night we discovered a lovely day shelter with a fresh supply of firewood on the ski field up at Sjusjon, perfect for us to hang out in and also to pitch our tent!

A good warm place for a tent!

The skiing itself didn't go so well for me as I was still a bit sick, but Chris enjoyed himself and triumphed over some real Norwegians (!) to come third in the Men's recreational class.

My fast paced ski O action. I missed any photos of Chris because I was still out on my course!

Since then many of our weekends and week nights have been spent in the Bymarke forest above our house, we are always discovering new trails, and the snow conditions have generally been great. It's really cool to have this on your back doorstep!

Wonderful winter trails and snow on the trees

Refueling on our 5 hour 'classic bash' with Ally

I thought I should also add a picture of the porridge I got on Valentines day - it was so cute (-: