by Emily and Caitlin (with help from Kate, Helen, and Rosalie)
Today we watched the 30/50k World Cup races at Holmenkollen. There were many fast racers including Olympic medalists. After yesterday’s preview of the course we found ourselves near to the top of one of the biggest hills on the course. We thought Oak Hill was hard…
There were three Americans in each race, including Liz Stephen, our fellow New Englander.
Petter Northug took first in the men’s, and there was a Norweign sweep on the women’s side with Marit Bjoergen taking first. Yesterday when we skied up this hill, I think it’s safe to say we all were having some trouble. But today, we watched as both the men and some of the women V2ed up the same hill at unreal speeds and were thankful that we didn’t have to race it six times ourselves.
Although it was amazing to see these racers, perhaps the most intersting part was the spectators. The course was lined with tents, camp fires, and patriotic Norweigns. Hundreds of people had camped out last night to ensure a good viewing point. By the time we got there it was a total scene; and we weren’t even in the stadium. Faces were painted, beer cans, flags and tents crowded the sidelines. Whenever a Norweign athlete skied by, the crowd erupted with cheers.
Getting there was quite a challenge too. We parked the vans down close to the city and skied 4k uphill to reach the top of Holmenkollen. We thought, as we were driving there, that our approach wouldn’t be a popular way. But the trails were packed with people of all ages and skiing back down meant dodging all of them. Overall, today, we learned just how important nordic skiing is to Norwegains, along with partying and screaming at their home-town heros.