SAPPORO, Japan (Feb. 26) - The 2007 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships
got an off day Monday after some blistering skiing and some
history-making in its opening days.
|(l-r) Laura Valaas, Sarah Konrad and Caitlin Compton in race leisure gear (credit: www.lauravalaas.com)
cross country skiers - Laura Valaas (Wenatchee, WA), Caitlin Compton
(Minneapolis) and Sarah Konrad (Laramie, WY) - took advantage of the
down day to get fitted for kimonos as part of a special Girls' Day
program arranged by Sapporo Worlds organizers. The events also included
a traditional tea ceremony and instructions in how to make the tea,
according to ritual.
On her Web site, www.lauravalaas.com
Valaas - a Whitman College graduate - detailed in photos the myriad
steps necessary to don a kimono, the traditional woman's garb in Japan.
Compton graduated from Northern Michigan University while Konrad, a
2006 Olympian, is a Dartmouth College alumna.
"I really wish now that I had counted how many separate pieces of
clothing were put on us," Valaas said. "I was too busy watching Konrad
and Compton being dressed to count though." But, where her math may
have failed, Valaas' photos more than suffice.
The history-making at these Worlds began with the first events: the
sprints last Thursday night started and finished indoors - in the
42,000-seat Sapporo Dome. They were the first nordic Worlds events to
be staged indoors and the first cross country races at night; jumping
has held nighttime events since the 1989 Worlds Championships in Lahti,
Finland, when hometown hero Jari Puikkonen ignored stinging cold to win
the normal hill (K90 in those days) gold medal before a crowd estimated
These are the first stand-alone World Championships in Japan, not to be
confused with the 1972 Olympics in the era when the Winter Games
doubled as the World Championships. Earlier, Sapporo was to have hosted
the 1940 Winter Olympics but gave up the Games after its 1937 invasion
of China. (The 1940 and '44 Olympics eventually were canceled because
of World War II.)
Racing action resumes Tuesday with the women's 10K freestyle race at the Shirahata course on the outskirts of the city.
The U.S. Ski Team has entered three women - Compton and Konrad, who
will be competing in their first race in Sapporo - plus Lindsey Weier
(Mahtomedi, MN), the NMU senior and two-time Olympian who raced Sunday
in the 15K (7.5 CL+7.5K FR) pursuit.
Konrad, a skating specialist - she's also competes in biathlon where
skating is the lone technique, had the top U.S. result at the 2005
World Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany, finishing 24th. These are
the first Worlds for Compton and Weier.