Veldre Night Race

written by Paco and Noah

On Wednesday evening our group headed to the Veldre Ski Club’s trails -about a 40 minute drive from our apartments – for a night race. Earlier in the day, the club had posted a welcome to us on their website:
The drive took us through rural Norway, characterized by sloping forests and bumpy, frost heave-infested roads. We were surprised to find the venue more or less in the middle of nowhere. The venue was pretty awesome though. We were met by several large advertisement boards endorsed by local companies who wanted to show their support, a biathlon range, a two-story timing building, and a club house complete with kitchen, bathrooms, and large common room. The race consisted of a longish 3k loop and a 2k loop making a 5k lighted race. Warming up we saw a hot shot Norwegian 14 year-old, or our host said he was “very fast”, he told us he was second at the Junior Birkie last Sunday (out of over 1700 junior competitors!). The biggest confusion of the race was how to deal with the “Brikks” that they told us we needed. For most of us, we didn’t know we needed them until we got to the start line and the race volunteers began shouting at each other in Norwegian and putting them on our ankles. The “bricks” were simply timing chips they were testing out for a bigger race this weekend.
The race experience was like skiing in a tunnel. The lights had to be on and that meant you couldn’t see the forest, only the trail. The start was individual and they were very casual about starting. There were so many little kids of all ages racing before us and there were all the older men racing as seniors. There was a very fun corner on the 3k loop that we all loved, and some steep uphills that forced us to herring bone. Paco won his age group and had the fastest overall time by 3 seconds.
Jack conversed with the organizers in Norwegian and translated the announcing for us.  Throughout the race, the announcer talked about this Wednesday night race as being historic for two reasons: it was the first to include a biathlon race, and the club had visitors from the US!
Overall we had a great time at the night race and gained a lot of experience that we wouldn’t have gotten from a domestic race.

the timing building
the race course – before dark!
start of the little kids’ race
Sam R starting

Swix Factory Visit

written by Sam R

Did you know that all of the Swix wax that you have ever bought was made in Lillehammer, Norway? Yesterday, we took a private tour of the one and only Swix wax factory. After a five-minute drive from our apartments to the outskirts of town, we were amazed to see how small the factory was. However, they can produce 20,000 cans of kick wax and 10,000 tubes of klister in 8 hours. First we talked with the Swix product manager and asked him questions. Then he brought us to the production room and showed us the 3 different machines that make the hard wax, klister and glide wax. As we left, the manager gave us each 2 cans of kick wax and a pair of ski ties. THANK YOU SWIX!

Pellestova Classic Tour

Written by Rosalie, Emily, and Caitlin.

This morning we started our day early with a beauuuutiful classic tour to Pellestova, which is Scottie’s dog’s namesake.  The tracks were firm and the snow was sparkling.  The sky was blue and it wasn’t too windy…we couldn’t have asked for a nicer day for a long ski.  We wound our way up for a while and then down, down, down through powder.  We were skiing on a plateau, which is much different from any New England landscape…you could see 360 degrees of white with a few specks of evergreens.

(Philip, this map-studying is for you!)

Some members of the group were fortunate enough to ski to a cabin (the one that Dennis is photographed next to on the Ford Sayre website).
Eventually, we reached a café at Pellestova.  Scottie and Dennis were SO happy, and even a wee bit nostalgic…this is one of their favorite places in the world. All of us enjoyed the lovely hot drinks and waffles that the café provided.  We joked that more Americans would probably ski if it included a stop like this one.

We broke up into two groups for the second half of the ski.  One group opted for a slightly longer ski around a lake and the other went back a different way.  The terrain was mostly down hill and the tracks were blazing fast, so we accomplished our 8/12k in about an hour.
When we got back to our starting point, most of us chose to ski the 14k back to our apartments. It took us quite a long time to find the trail, but once we did, we were well on our way for more downhills.  The trail included a bullet-proof narrow section where we prayed that we would make it around every corner.  Our ski also included the last 7km of the Birkebeiner trail.  We then returned to the Olympic Stadium and skied a few more kilometers downhill to the apartments.  Five hours later, we were exhausted, but in a very good way.  What a ski!

Grocery Store Adventure

written by Sam M

this evening we (Sam M, Kate, Helen, and George) went to the grocery store KIWI Mini Pris.  We were sent on a mission for bread, eggs, spinach, flour and molasses.  We were successful, for the most part.  All items were found and purchased excluding molasses.  We asked the KIWI employees, who were dressed all in green and resembled leprechauns, where we might find molasses.  Instead, we discovered the lovely Norwegian product Lys Syrup or Light Syrup, the Norwegian version of a very thick corn syrup.  Afterwards we walked back to the Birkebeineren apartments and showed off our new finding.