To the US snowshoe team, we’re like groupies, only with slightly more authority. Also, we tend to sleep in our own hotel rooms. Still, we follow them around, cheering, waving cameras at them, clustering around them at finish lines and in restaurants…okay, we’re really more like the media, which is what I am, anyway, and J. serves as an excellent sidekick, driver, translator, navigator and more.
The night before the race we caught up with the US team – racers Becky and Aaron, and their coach, Mark, at their hotel in Ramsau. We were joined by the Finnish team at a pizza place in town for dinnner. The Finnish team was two women, Johanna and Rauni (though Johanna did not race this time), Ilpo, who we have to physically restrain ourselves not to say more about, and their coach Pasi. “You need to come and do a story on this race that Rauni does,” Pasi told me. He then described a torturous four day, 150k orienteering race that’s done on snowshoes in northern Finland. In February. In -25–30C temperatures. “I’m going to talk to the organizers and get them to arrange your trip!” Good lord. Four days outside in subfreezing temps! Currently, my biggest fear is that this will happen and I will have to go.
The following morning we met the team on top of the mountain. I’m not going to say much about the race here other than to say that the day was perfect, the views spectacular, and the course totally brutal. (I’ll be filing a complete story with Snowshoe Magazine.) It was exciting to be there and to cheer on the teams that we’ve been getting to know as I cover the European races.
We had a quick visit with another racer we’re getting to know, Stefan from Munich, though his American wife Laura and their new little one stayed off the mountain for worries about altitude. I’d hoped we could catch up after the race, but that was not to be.
Get this. The American team flew in Friday afternoon, had Saturday off, raced on Sunday, and flew out Monday morning. Just that in itself is an endurance sport, worthy of medals and prizes. I was the shuttle to Salzburg, convenient since I was going back for work anyway. We wandered the city a bit and had dinner in a traditional old restaurant – not the best Austrian food I’ve had, but certainly quite typical, and they had antlers and a cukoo clock and a vaulted ceiling and medieval weapons, so the atmosphere was a big winner. Salzburg’s old city is deserted on Sunday night, something I did not know, but it was cool to wander the narrow pedestrian streets by night under the lit up domes and church spires.
There’s a whole lot of pictures from the race here. I’ll post a link to Snowshoe Magazine when the race article goes up.