Scary good Sjusjøen

1 Nov


Ok, the picture doesn’t do justice to the conditions at Sjusjøen this Halloween. I was too busy enjoying skiing before this point to stop and snap a photo. The prep in most places was better than this and under bright shining sun. I played cat and mouse with cold banks of fog as I zipped up and down over the hills and dales.

Sjusjøen is my kind of place. More people shopping at the Kiwi supermarket are wearing cross-country ski boots than not.

Did I mention the bus? Yes. Since I did this trip on a Saturday I was able to take it both up and down the mountain. Saved me the 450 NOK taxi fare I spent on Sunday trips where I had to take the taxi on the up trip.The bus driver was even nice enough to wait for my train which came in late.

Sjusjøen is crawling with competitive skiers. Half the people out had a jersey with this or that ski club’s name emblazoned on it.

I have a hard time resisting the urge to glance over to see how I measure up against the other guy (or girl as the case may be). The conclusion: I pass more than I’m passed. The families with kids, the retireees and the weekenders are just obstacles. Here’s here’s how I fare with the group that counts—-the ski-club-jersey-crowd of semi-competitive and competitive skiers:

  • Flat terrain: I get passed
  • False flat (slight uphill): I get passed
  • Uphill: I start holding my own
  • Moderate uphill: I start passing
  • Steeper uphill: I pass more than a few
  • Herringbone uphill: I suck
  • Steep downhill: I’m a chicken

I’ve got a good motor and not too bad uphill technique. Daily skate rollerski training has paid some bills in terms of cardiovascular fitness, balance and strength. The flats, false flats and downhills are where I need to improve. Though I’ve mocked classic style rollerskiers in this blog as mechanical penguins ridicuously double poling away, I’ve come to realize that double poling is an art that can and should be cultivated. Current state of the art classic style skiing is more about poles than legs. The people I ski behind conserve speed where I lose it. They yo-yo away from me on the flats, false flats and downhills and then I catch back up (and even pass them) on the hills. Not that this is always entirely unpleasant. Emaciated but muscular langrenn girls are more charming from the rear than from the front view.

The key to my progress is to watch and imitate the Norwegians. I’m trying hard now to be a proper Nog and resisting the survival reflex to snowplow on the downhills. The technique is to stay in the trackset, get in an aerodynamic crouch and bomb the hills. Just better weight that outside leg in the turns if you don’t want to end up picking yourself out of a tree.

As with last year I plan to do more classic than skate during the early and prime season while the snow’s still good. So I should have ample opportunity to continue to improve.

Trip details:

  • Wax: An unholy mix of residual Red, grass from my 4 October trip and a painfully applied top layer of Blue Extra. The snow was good, so didn’t matter. Air temps varied between +0,5 and -4° C.
  • Style: Classic.
  • Distance: 40km.

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