I’ve always heard of how famous the 30/50km Holmenkollen World Cup race is, but never got to start in it till last Sunday. And wow, it was crazy! The pace was unreal, as Marit, Johaug and Justyna opened up a gap before the first 1km marker. (?!?!? Someday I’d love to know how it feels to be able to ski that fast for that long). My body wasn’t having it that day and when it came time to dig deep for some energy I found none. I’ve never drank so much gatorade and coke during a race in my life! But, it was sunny and hot and slushy out and the crowds were absolutely out of this world. Even if you’re having a bad race, it’s pretty impossible to not be having a good day out there. And finishing the Holmenkollen 30 was a goal of mine that feels good to be able to check off!
The crowds are so enthusiastic (and somewhat intoxicated) and they camp in tents right alongside the trails! Some people take the train and hike in just for the day but the hard core cheering sections set up shop for the whole weekend. They know the names of so many skiers, and during my race I heard my name being chanted and shouts of “USA, ALL THE WAY!” really made a difference during the long grinding climbs.
The ski switching was a new thing for me; I’ve never skied a distance race where you get to switch out skis multiple times. I made the mistake of not switching my skis on the final lap because my #2 pair were actually kicking better, but after 13km they were super, super slow. It was pretty hard to have people you skied the tough climbs with rip by on the downhill and put 15 seconds into you that way, but there’s not much you can do! However, the main way I lost time out there was by falling down…a whopping 3 times. Ouch. I hooked the tip of my ski in the slush on corners and the second time I fell, I smacked my head pretty hard on the snow and got slush in my ear. Which would have really sucked since with the heat and dehydration I was pretty out of it, but at that point in the race I knew a super good result just wasn’t going to happen so it was easy to roll with it and not let it bother me that I set the record for 3 falls in the first 15km.
I got to help out in the feed zone during the dudes race, which was pretty fun. Although it was fast paced; you stand there for what feels like forever, until you hear the roar of the crowd creeping over the hill. Suddenly the lead pack comes hammering down the track and people are grabbing bottles and gatorade is spashing all over and then they’re gone, and you wander around trying to find the bottles. The super awesome athletes really huck the bottles down the track, too!
Oslo is such a cool city, and it was great to get out and explore a little bit while we were there. It’s so easy to get stir-crazy if you stay in the hotel room too long! Which is hard since the best way to prepare for the really long and hard races is resting, not wandering around the city, but sometimes you just need to have a little bit of fun. I went down to the harbor with Alysson and we had a good time scoping it out, but our shuttle never showed up to take us back to our hotel, which was way up the hill by the stadium! So we took the trains back, which was funny for me because last year Sadie and I got really, REALLY lost in Oslo and we ended up on a train to somewhere in Sweden before realizing we actually wanted the subway station. This year it went a little smoother, and we made it back to the hotel having asked for help from only about 3 people. Doing good!