Beeeeepppppp, beeeeepppppppp, beeeeeeppppppppppp!!!!!!! Dennis’s van led the way along with two other rental vans from Hertz, and screeched to a halt to pick up a weary group of travelers at the Oslo airport. After we cleaned up our lunch materials, we jumped into the vans and buzzed like bees with excitement about the world cup sprints in Drammen that we were about to watch. We zoomed out of the parking lot, admiring the troves of Teslas, Leafs, and every other electric car imaginable. The electric car incentives are important in Norway, and we seem to see more electric cars than gasoline ones.
Still sleepy from our travel, we bounced along the old fashioned streets into Drammen on the south-west side of Oslo. We arrived in Drammen, a small neighborhood filled with quaint cottages and cats roaming the parks, and stationed our three vans in a rather conspicuous location that seemed to guarantee a parking ticket fate. But we didn’t care, because Sophie Caldwell, Jessie Diggins, and Sadie Bjornsen were about to start! We sprinted to the race venue and received alarmed looks from the Norwegian locals we ran by. With our faces decorated with American flags and stars, we arrived just in time to see the first of the quarterfinals.
While Scottie started the process of getting our passes, we watched the race from a platform with a couple of other Norwegians. The race course was incredible; located on the streets of Drammen, the course curved around a small stadium below a towering cathedral; climbed a side street, and descended back into the stadium to finish at the steps of the cathedral. Wax rooms and TV’s portraying the race were clustered near the course between the resident housing buildings, bleachers surrounded the stadium, and an athlete social and warm-up room was stationed in the shadow of the cathedral. Not that there were any shadows, though, because the sky was cloudy and snowflakes began to fall onto our faces. We were too busy craning our necks for a good view, so we didn’t hear the start gun, but suddenly a sea of six bobbing heads made their way around the stadium and up the climb! Unfortunately, Jessie broke her pole and didn’t make it to the semifinals, but had an amazing race despite her misfortune. Sophie made it into semifinals! Everyone did so well today, it was incredible!
Around half way through quarterfinals we got our VIP passes and moved our location to a place accessible only with credentials. From here we watched the rest of the races, and unfortunately no US racers made it to the finals, but it was still incredible to see all the racers up close. We got to speak with many famous athletes after their races, and sadly, many were going home, but that must be nice for them too. Lap after lap, the athletes rose above the hill and we cheered them on into a special striding zone designated to preserve classic technique.
The crowd erupted into cheering after the races, and an awards ceremony commenced shortly thereafter. Instead of watching, we were all very tired from our long day of travel, so we hurried back through the streets of Drammen to our vans. In the street, a black striped tiger cat purred when we pet it; so cute! Finally, we went to the vans to discover that we had gotten two parking tickets that cost somewhere near one hundred twenty dollars. After this unfortunate event, we went to eat pizza!!! We were all famished from the plane ride and the race, so we ate soooo much food. Then, exhausted from jet lag and a big day, we went home to a youth hostel in Oslo, unloaded our bags from the vans, settled into our rooms, and went to bed. Good night! 🙂