Posts Tagged ‘stockpiled snow’

Before shifting gears to the next World Cup venue in Hochfilzen, Austria, I wanted to share some pictures from the past week in Östersund, Sweden.

Daylight in Scandinavia is fleeting during December months. The sun never gets very high. However, sunrise and sunset can last for hours and we saw some spectacular colors.

You’ll notice that winter is late in coming to Sweden; we raced on snow that had been stockpiled from last winter and protected under a big layer of sawdust. A couple days before the athletes arrived, the organizers rolled it out into a 4 km loop. Unfortunately, this has become a common phenomenon in recent years as winter weather around the world has become unrealiable.

Since many of our races were at night (or late afternoon), the stadium was well lit. The lights brightened the whole sky and could be seen from many kilometers away.

IMG_0991.JPGA distinguishing feature next to the race course is the Arctura tower. It stores hot water for the entire town.

Before the races, the IBU (International Biathlon Union) asked all the teams do so some photo shoots for media purposes. Here Tim is getting instructed on exactly how to stand.

We had several races in Östersund: a mixed relay, an individual, a sprint and a pursuit. These next five candid race day photos are courtesy of our team doctor Marci Goolsby:

Waiting for my start.

Lapping in front of the stadium on my way to the shooting range.

IMG_0981.JPGThrowing my rifle back on my back after completing a stage of standing shooting.

IMG_0982.JPGExiting the finishing chute post race.

IMG_0983.JPGAfter each race, athletes are required to go through a “mixed zone” for the media. I rarely get asked for interviews in the mixed zone, but a Russian TV crew honored me with a request on Sunday.

Back at our team wax cabin post race, I made an unpleasant discovery. Snow conditions suffered from warm weather at the end of the week exposing several rocks on the course. I remember feeling some stones underfoot a couple times in the last race that brought me to almost a complete stop. One of my best race skis sustained some serious damage:

IMG_0993.JPGThose two long white lines used to be part of my ski. I’m hoping it can be repaired. Wax tech Tias (above) tells me that even if the gash is patched well (which we will certainly try), water may be able to leak through the side and weaken the core, so it might be a lost cause.

Everyone is hoping for some better snow in the coming weeks.


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A week ago, I arrived in Ostersund, Sweden for US Biathlon’s first on-snow camp of the winter.   With temperatures in the 40s (Farenheit), rain pouring down, and more of the same in the forecast, we felt very lucky that  the Ostersund staff had the foresight to stockpile a tremendous amount of snow last spring (under a thick layer of sawdust).  They saved enough to cover a 4 km race trail 6 m wide and still have some in reserve.  Tomorrow, Sunday, we will compete in our first race of the season: an IBU Cup sprint.  Following that, some of us will remain in Ostersund for the first World Cup next weekend, and some of us will travel to IBU races in Austria and Italy

This is my first visit to Scandanavia and my biggest adjustment has been adapting to the short amount of daylight.  Although it gets light around 8:00, we don’t get that soft golden yellow light that I typically associate with early morning until around 10:30.  The sun starts to set around 2:30 and by 3:30, it feels like nighttime.   One of my favorite moments so far came one evening as I was walking through town under some street lamps.  I was feeling a little bummed about the darkness until I noticed tiny ice crystals on the sidewalk catching the light just right and sparkling in the dark.  As I walked, I felt like I was passing through a shimmering tunnel.

We are staying in some cabins at the race venue, along with the French and Japanese.   We share a common dinning room where we are served buffet style.  During meals, there is often a giant projection screen set-up with Eurosport TV.  We’ve been able to watch XC World Cups (including Kikkan’s 4th place finish in the classic sprint) and our Lake Placid luge friends competing in Innsbruck.

The race course following a midday rainstorm.

One of our favorite pastimes is watching people ski by out our window.


Me, out enjoying an easy classic ski. Photo: Sara Studebaker

My goofy teammates, heading out for an afternoon jog.

With limited ski trails open, we've had the opportunity to explore a lot of the single track biking and running trails. The venue sits at the edge of a large spruce and pine forest. A lush carpet of spaghnum moss covers the forest floor. Blueberry bushes and lingonberries seem to be the other common ground plants.

The weight rooms that we train at have lots of ping pong tables. Ping pong is the team's 2nd favorite sport. Our European coaching staff are especially good at it. Here you can see Lowell and Leif taking on coaches Per and Armin.

Coach Armin shaving down my rifle stock. Some of the modifications I made to it got in the way of the race sponsor stickers, so the material control officers wouldn't pass my rifle until it was fixed.

The Norwegians have gotten a lot of attention the last couple years because of their giant mobile waxing facilites on the World Cup circuit. Apparently the trend is growing.

Hot dog anyone? We've been eating lots of fish, potatoes and pasta, but this caught us by surprise the other day.

We celebrated Thanksgiving a couple weeks early while we were still in the States. Annelies's parent's invited us to their home in Saranac Lake, NY. I'm very grateful that we celebrated early: Thanksgiving dinner in Sweden consisted of fish and potatoes. Photo: George Cook

Mainstreet Ostersund. The city is decorated with many lights. I explored the downtown and waterfront areas last night after dinner. The stores were already closed for the day.

I think this beautiful building must be the townhall or regional government seat.

Ladies movie night


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