Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Rest of Sweden and two Birkies

A lot has happened since we left off. At that point, I had just arrived in Sweden after having powered through some travel difficulties. Let's pick it up there...

The Rest of Sweden
All of the best parts of the Sweden trip happened after my last post. The race service was a lot of fun and we had some excellent results.

By the time we started driving to Sundsvall, I had been up for a long time and was pretty tired. I guess sleep came pretty quickly in the car.
Robin Bryntesson and Fredrik Bystrom skied fast in the team sprint (see below).
The arrival in Sweden was a whirlwind. After finally getting my bag, Erik and I drove for two hours to Sundsvall where the races were held (that was Tuesday, I think). The next day was the team sprint and being that we hadn't done any testing or set up the wax cabin, we were on site early. Luckily, the race was in the afternoon so we had time to get organized, test, and make race skis. That was a really great night as our two athletes, Robin Bryntesson and Fredrik Bystrom, won the race. As a prize, they brought us princess cake, which is a typical Swedish dessert. We didn't have knives, so we cut it with a scraper. This cake is amazing - you should Google it and be impressed.
Because of his excellent results, and some time of odd bet, Robin's teammates made him race in a wig. Apparently last year Britta had to race with her wind briefs outside of her race suit. Awesome.
This picture is from the women's pursuit race on the following day (click to zoom in). These are the leaders of the race with Anna Haag (202), Charlotte Kalla (201), and Britta Norgren-Johansson (204) - all Swedish Olympians in 2010. This was not a soft field. Britta was one of my athletes for the week and she went on to be named to the Swedish World Championships team and is racing in Oslo this week.
We stayed in this sort of odd military hostel for the week. It's been a while since I've slept in a dorm room, especially at a race! However, we were the only ones in the place and the kitchen facilities were excellent (see later picture).
This is where we slept.
We didn't go hungry. This was lunch.

Despite my caption above, everyone was worried that I was going hungry. This is my third helping of eggs and potatoes and the crew wouldn't have it any other way. Ski racing is terrible for my shape.

The cool thing about being at Swedish nationals is that the whole event is exactly like a World Cup. All of the same athletes are there and the manufacturers all have a massive presence.

2011-2012 Salomon skate skis as spotted outside the Salomon wax cabin. Very cool

This is where we worked for the week. Just enough space for three technicians and four athletes.
We tested some wax from time to time. Actually, we tested a lot of wax, all of the time. Here is the download from my heart rate monitor - Garmin Connect. Click on the "player" link on the top-right and you will see what I mean.
Swix test powders. Most of the powders we tested are not available for retail purchase.

Fluro products.

Jack's Pack - AT work (in Sweden).

The weekend races were broadcast live on national television.

There were TV cables all over the place. For an interesting read on the logistics of broadcasting a ski race, check out this article - 19 Miles of Cable.

People didn't just watch the races on TV. I couldn't believe the size of the crowds lining the trails. Admission to get into the races was about $15 CAD per day.

The crowd streaming towards the stadium.

Sweden has a massive truck that travels to the races to support the national team. Super cool.

This is what the inside of the truck looks like. It wasn't clear to me that taking a photo was allowed, so this is a promotional shot from Craft.

Fast Trax in Sweden. No big deal.

And again...
Race service is hard work. You do get to wear these sweet pants, though.
The final night in Sundsvall. The prospect of more princess cake (and a shower) woke me right up. Boom.
Nearly done packing the wax cabin at the end. Sweet trip.
There were no travel mishaps on the way home. Also, the Stockholm airport has hardwood floors - fact.
Trans Atlantic flights with Air Canada now feature mood lighting that changes colour. The purple version is illustrated here to mediocre effect.
The flight home. See that empty seat beside me? It stayed that way the entire time. Optimal for best sleeping.

Are you still with me? This turned out to be a big post, so I decided to move the Birkie discussion into the next instalment. You should check it out.

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