Last weekend i did the first world cup of the season in Gaellivari, Sweden. Gaellivari is a long way north. So far north i really dont understand how anybody could live there. They all talk about "the land of the midnight sun". Mostly as a tourist promotion. But they don't talk about "the land of the midday darkness". It is dark most of the time, and when it's not dark it's grey.
Luckily this year it wasn't so cold this year. A period of high humidity and warm weather around freezing or "zero minus", as Kåre like to say, greeted us.
We had a pretty big team with us. My self and Andrew Musgrave, British head coach Roy Young and Andrews coach from team viedekke, Kåre. The waxer from team viedekke, who also happens to be Sjur Røthes dad, was waxing for us.
The day before the race i was tired. I skied for an hour, tested some skis, checked out the course for the next day and then went home and slept. I hadnt meant to sleep, but i was so tired i couldnt help it. I was more than a little bit sceptical about the race, seeing as i had been so tired the day before and i had been like that the whole week after Beito.
The World Cup trail in Gaellivari is weird. There aren't really any big hills. Nothing that steep, a few longer hills, but nothing out of this world. The problem is, it means there aren't any long downhills, so you are always working. And on the few downhills there are, there are really icy sharp bends. Kåre gave us the advice of "dont get still legs, you WILL fall". I thought it was a pretty good track, not too hard and quite fun to ski. Some people agreed with me, others thought it was really hard because it was just up and down all the time.
As we started to test skis on the race day it started snowing, but fortunately there was enough traffic on the course to stop in mounting up and snow slowing down. I started my race in bib number 56, due to the new start system then lesser ranked skiers start between the best ranked skiers. So i was starting behind Di Genta from Italy and in front of Belov from Russia. As i came out the start Toni Livers from switzerland was starting his 2nd lap of 3. I got in behind him and the pace wasn't to fast. In fact it was quite pedestrian. I stayed behind him even though i felt like i could go past, and sure enough later on i started to feel it, and the pace felt good. I skied for 1 and half laps behind him, then he pulled off and made me lead for his last half lap. I skier from sweden on their 1st lap caught me and i skied behind them for the next half lap until Sjur Røthe, who had started 1min 30sec behind me, caught me up. I jumped in behind him and tried to hold my self there. He pulled away a little of the half lap, but i ended up crossing the line about 15 seconds behind him, and so 1.45 down in total time. I knew Sjur was a top 10 candidate if not a podium candidate, so i knew i had done a good race.
I ended up 66th from 96th finishers, 2.17 of the winner. The race was really tight. Only 1min would have taken me up to the points (top 30), and a handful of seconds would have moved me up into the top 50's.
I was reasonable happy with my race, but it was far from a perfect race where you cross the line feeling like you couldnt give anymore. So im pleased i still have something more to go on, and the bodes well for the rest of the season.