Hello from Muonio. We have been here since Monday/Tuesday. Today (Friday) we had the first race of the season - a classical sprint. There were over 300 racers, which is a lot for the size of Muonio. There is a 5km trail here - most of which is last year's snow. They make a big pile in the spring and what is left over in October is spread out onto the trails for the new ski season. It isn't that they get a lot of snow, though the do make quite a bit, it is mostly that we are well north of the Arctic Circle and the snow can survive the summer under a layer of tarps and wood chips. So this year there are around 400 people skiing around the 5km loop. You are always in a state of either passing, being passed or both at once. At a few points we were passing while getting passed, and those passing us were themselves getting past. It seems like most people are good at going their own pace even when so many are going faster or slower. Quite a scene. Among the skiers here are the German team, the Czechs, Russians, Estonians, Italians, Slovakians, Bela-Russia, Ukrainians, Turks, Finns...a ton of non-national team Finns, Russians, Estonians, Swedes, Norwegians, French and others. In total there were supposed to be 30 nations represented in the race today.
The race went sort of well. Newell won the prelim by 2.44 seconds ahead of Rochev. Koos also qualified. Unfortunately Koos faded in the quarter and Newell, who dominated his quarter final, crashed out of his simi.
Tomorrow Cook will race the 15km classical and on Sunday Newell and Freeman will race the 15km skate.
Yesterday it was -21c. Today it was warmer at -5 to -8c but windy. The general color scheme is grey, the general theme is ski a lot, the general light situation is not much. We have a really nice cabin, cook most our meals and have plenty of ski testing and waxing to keep us busy.
All is well over here. Internet is off and on at best but I'll post some pictures when I can. Keep checking in.