While the masses are heading to the beach and enjoying their holidays, Cross-Country skiers are already hard at work to be in top shape for the upcoming season which will include the 2nd Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski. Most nations already started with their training programs at the beginning of May, and some athletes have even spent their training-free time with athletic challenges.
For example, Jens Filbrich, the German bronze medalist in the 50km race in Sapporo, made an excursion to the Caucasus to climb Mount Elbrus (5642m), the highest peak in Russia. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t allow his group to reach the summit, although at the maximum altitude of 4850m they were already higher than Mont Blanc.
Claudia Kuenzel-Nystad (GER), who auctioned her Olympic gold medal from Salt Lake City 2002 to benefit the ‘Haensel und Gretel’ foundation (www.haensel-gretel.de) committed to help abused children, tried her skills in kick-boxing with Vibeke Skofterud (NOR).
Gold medal for 'Haensel und Gretel' (Photo by Nordic Focus)
Several teams started with endurance and strength training on foot and bike, while others sought to extend the snow season. The Finnish team, including the overall World Cup winner Virpi Kuitunen, held its first ever training camp in Crete (GRE) in May. At the beginning of June, they went to the famous Sognefjellet (NOR) for on-snow training and then headed, last week, to Are (SWE), the home country of Coach Magnar Dalen, for another training camp which also entails social activities such as a painting lesson for the ladies team.
The German team around overall World Cup winner Tobias Angerer, kicked off as last year in Willingen, the hometown of Head Coach Jochen Behle. The men held their second camp in the indoor ski hall in Neuss. “We are very satisfied with the current state of our preparations. Except for some small complaints, all athletes are fit and everything is according to plan. The change in the training structure for the ladies’ group is also working out very well. The entire team is working hard and I expect that we will see this reflected in their performances next season,” says Behle.
Several teams opted to staying close to home rather than accumulating additional frequent flyer miles. The Swiss started their preparations in Magglingen (SUI) and continued with on-snow glacier training in Les Diablerets (SUI). The Austrians, led by their new Head Coach Bernd Raupach, held their first camp on the Dachstein (AUT) glacier while the Estonians trained in the region Haanja (EST). The Norwegians found some snow in Sognefjellet (NOR), the Italians in Val Senales (ITA), the French in La Rosière/Col du Petit St. Bernhard and Tignes (FRA).
The US team’s two-week camp at Mount Bachelor in Oregon incorporated plenty of on-water training, besides solid on-snow training and team dynamics exercises. In other words, surfing on the Pacific Coast. "It was very cool," sprinter Andy Newell said, making no reference to the weather. "It was cool to get the whole crew together so we could all dive in 100 percent, make sure everybody's on the same page and motivated.”
Most nations will continue now with dry land training, adding maybe some roller skiing and running events like the Saku Suverull in Otepää (EST) on 10th-11th August. More on-snow training is on schedule in September/October on glaciers or in the indoor ski tunnels.