Friday, February 17, 2012


This is what pushing a car up a mountain at 2500m elevation looks like. Epic.

Turkey - part 1

I've been in Turkey for a few days now. Overall, the scene has been pretty chill. There is no racing until Monday, so we've been doing some pretty limited grip tests and mostly just skiing for fun.

This is what it looks like when you precariously balance seven pieces of luggage that weigh 175kg on a baggage cart. The result is slow, nerve wracking movement through the Munich Airport (and Ankara and Erzurum, for that matter).

This is me and an American junior named Cory upon arrival in the Erzurum Airport. I ran into Cory in Ankara as we were both trying to get on the last flight of the trip to Turkey. Overall, this was one of the most epic travel days I have ever experienced. It's almost too much to write down. You should ask me about it sometime.

They take Valentine's Day very seriously here in Turkey. Our hotel is on a huge alpine resort and what you see in this picture is a massive heart of fire burning at the bottom of the runs. Pretty weird.
Because some people asked, here is an update on my hands. That German cream is working well. See before picture - gross.

Playing a game that Heidi learned from a Japanese exchange student. The object is to guess how many people will put their thumbs up. I guess there sometimes isn't a lot to do in Japan...

The dessert table and our hotel. Complete with giant cake.

Day one at the ski centre. What you see behind me are the race trails. There are virtually no trees anywhere. The focal point of the trails is the top of the hill, and the course attacks that hill from every imaginable angle. These are tough trails.
Riding the bus with Emily to the secret team activity. See below.

The secret team activity turned out to be...

... high powered go-carts in the indoor parking area of this giant mall in Erzurum. A really fun night and a great way to fill an otherwise boring evening.
Turkish candy shop. Before this trip I had never even heard of Turkish delight. Now it appears to be a staple in the wax cabin.

Further hands update. Basically all better now.

There is a massive winter storm here in Turkey at the moment. We gain 700m elevation from town to our hotel and this afternoon the car with the waxers got stuck. We had to push a long way, which was pretty epic. When we walked into the lunch room everyone stopped and looked at us covered in snow. I'll try to post a picture of that later.

That's all for now. Not the most exciting update of the trip. Things will get more interesting once the races get started.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Latvia and Estonia

As we were flying back to Munich today from Riga, Latvia, we were discussing how we would describe those Baltic countries. We settled on:

- Grey
- Fur hats
- Fu*king cold

We had some good races and in particular, Nish threw down in the 30km skate in Latvia. Unfortunately no podiums resulted, but Phil got selected to the World Cup.

In terms of service, things were remarkably consistent. Conditions were generally cold (see above). Latvia had man made snow on the sprint course and natural on the distance course. Estonia was just natural snow.

We used Holmenkol paraffins and Ski*Go, Maplus, or Vauhti flouros for every single race.

Testing race wax with Fraser. He wasn't asleep at this point ;)

This dude was hanging around outside the waxing cabins at the Latvia venue. That isn't witches' brew that he is making, it is some kind of peppermint tea in a cast iron pot. Drinking random stuff from random Latvian guys isn't normally my style, but I figured what the heck... so I tried some. It was sweet and tasted good on a cold day.

30km skate in Latvia. This is early in the race before the field broke and the pace picked up.

Five way sprint finish for the win. Nish finished 0.5 seconds from first. Heartbreaking.
Driving the crew from Riga, Latvia to Albu, Estonia. Five hours of the sketchiest rabbit trails / ice roads you have ever seen. Alana did an amazing job of navigating with the worst map of all time. There is no way we would have made it without her.

Sprint stadium in Estonia. This was a good venue and we had a sweet setup for waxing with real ventilation.

This is what happens when you work in the cold and use a lot of hand sanitizer when the team is sick.

As a result, I visited the pharmacy at the Munich airport. The pharmacist spoke excellent English and got me set up with some cream for the day as well as some night cream with gloves. We'll see how this goes...
The scene upon arrival at our hotel for the last night in Riga before flying home. Internet is a hot commodity and the crew settled in for a quick jam session. Right after this we headed out to downtown Riga and had one of the greatest suppers ever.

Latvian breakfast is pretty weird. Pickled fish anyone?

Schnitz and frites at the Movenpick - classic Euro meal and one of my favourites.
At the moment I'm in my room at the Movenpick here in Munich. This is easily the best hotel in Europe and the breakfast buffet is famous. Tomorrow morning will be good!

After a big breakfast, I will lug 180kg of waxing equipment back to the airport and fly to Turkey to meet with World Junior / U23 team.

Good stuff.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tour de Ski wrap up

It seems like a long time ago now, but earlier this winter I was working at the Tour de Ski. A lot has happened since then and there hasn't been time to post a good summary write up.

Luckily, Zach put together a really good article about our adventures from a more technical perspective. You should check it out here -  Mid Winter Update 1 - Tour de Ski

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Switzerland and a bit of Latvia

We are well into the trip at this point and have seen some great results, but I think the best is still to come. Here are some pictures from Switzerland and a bit of Lativa.

On the road from Munich to Olivone. This was easier and more fun than driving the cargo van into downtown Munich.

Fraser stayed awake for a while... but pretty soon he got tired. Jet lag is rough.

The stadium in Campra the day before the race.

Welcome to Switzerland.

Randomly, there is a hockey rink at the venue too. I like the Campra graffiti (that is where we are). Also, check out the roof. Yup, there is a lot of snow.

Hallway Bocce with Nish and Zoe.
Campra trails. Decent.

There is a sweet cafe in Campra. Kind of a hippie vibe, which isn't usually what I'm in to. But, it was a good place to hang out.

Hippie cafe.

Nish and Phil slaying the all time largest pot of cheese fondue.

Giovani (the hotel owner) utilizing the meat slicer in the dining room at our hotel.

You've heard of a tree fort? This is a ski fort.

Wax cabins.

Fraser got tired again.

Locally produced fig yogurt. I mean, come on. That's not even fair.

Good views on the way up to the race trails.

Nish and me killing it on the way back to Munich.

Our hotel in Munich included a rubber duckie in the bathroom.

Airport cappo.

This is what it looks like when six athletes and three staff check in to fly to Latvia. After €2,700 of baggage charges, we were on our way. What a scene.

airBaltic is new to me... and everyone on the trip.

The full moon came into view as we turned into Rigga. Pretty cool.