Regardless of the time of year, I'm training to ski fast on snow. During the summer months, the creative inventions of roller skiing make it almost possible to imagine and mimic the similar feeling of gliding on snow, but there is no comparing Kraft Cheddar to Swiss Bergkäse.
Last month, the Swiss Team (Training Groups 1/2) flew to Oslo, Norway plust an additional five hours north in the van to take advantage of snow at a low altitude, and even lower latitude in Sognefjell. At just over 1 400m and 7˚ E, the snow in Sognefjell stays in great condition well into the summer months. The track was about 7.5km long with daily grooming (if not twice a day) as well as salting the snow to maintain a hard track. The landscape and endless sunlight made the hours and kilometres fly by. With ample amounts of sunscreen and my UV Buff, there was no point in me trying to keep up with the Euro tans that were ripping around, let alone the booty shorts. I was really happy with the quantity of training we were able to pull off at a high quality within a 6-day window on snow. The fact that the weather literally could not have been any better, the hotel had food ready to dish out by the kilo and the curtains did a decent job of blocking out the 24-hour sunlight, recovery between sessions was prime.
We travelled a long distance to get so far north and put in a lot of distance on skis while in Norway. As if I needed another reason to be extremely grateful for my job, but these types of training opportunities elevate the level of gratitude and appreciation. It's a beautiful thing, to live the simple life of a 'ski bum'. Ski, eat, sleep, repeat. Yet, the simple rhythm can become a grind when the gratitude is taken away. It's not to say that I need to fly to Norway every time I loose sight of the beauty of my job, it simply emphasises the amazing world we live in and the lifestyle I'm able to lead. With that type of mindset, each glide on the snow seemed to soak into my muscles and bones a little deeper. I did my best to store the feeling in my muscle memory to reap the benefits of it when cruising around with roller skis on pavement.
From sunshine, skiing and blue skies in Norway, to rain, pavement and even snow in Switzerland, the weather has been a mixed bag to say the least! Before travelling to my next training camp, I took a weekend to explore the French part of Switzerland and celebrate with fellow members of the SAS (Schweizer Akademischer Skiklub) in Bevaix, Neuchtel. The event is organized in different parts of Switzerland every year and this year was a great opportunity to visit the vineyards in Romandie, realize how terrible my French has become since learning German, watch some intense soccer in the heat of the European Championships and visit an historic landmark, Creux du Van.
Our most recent training camp took us to the more tropical end of the weather spectrum as we travelled to Ruhpolding, Germany. Not tropical at all, but super humid as well as a dose of summer heat! Only 20 minutes from Salzburg, Austria, the area had a vibrant energy, adorable houses, massive cakes and beautiful flower boxes. The roller skiing track is the main draw for our team to drive the five hours to get there, but the area offered up great trail running and the opportunity to train alongside the German cross country and biathlon athletes as well. Some of the highlights included 4x15' i4 workout up Rauschberg with steep terrain but a gondola for the ride down, the long trail run/bushwhacking combo with the German team and some 6x4' i5 classic rollerski intervals for dessert of the last day.
We were not only welcomed into different German team workouts, but the hospitality of Hotel Bellevue was second to none. A night of 'make your own pizza', freshly baked afternoon cake everyday, coffee in the kitchen at your service and a family that takes great pride in their business made our stay that much more enjoyable.
I may have a long-distance relationship with Canada, but I'm enjoying the life and distances travelled here in Switzerland and Europe nonetheless and finding the beauty in the small and large distances.
The next part of summer training will take me once again to Magglingen, Austria and Germany with the next chance to get on snow in the Oberhof ski tunnel!