Monday, 3 November 2014

Val Senales and Back to Norway

The second half of my altitude camp went pretty well. Most morning we skied up on the Grawand glacier at the top of the Val Senales valley. In the afternoons we drove down to Naturno to rollerski or ran down in the valley at the Hotel in Maso Corto.
For the first few days the snow on the glacier was pretty awful. Bizarrely it was both the worst and the best summer/off season snow skiing I've ever had. Because there was so little snow, fewer alpine ski runs were open so there was more space on the glacier for xc skiing. The total length of the lap was almost 9k with some good varied terrain. So it was pretty good. On the other hand, it was only sheet ice. It was black glacier ice with a thin layer of what I would call crushed ice on top. It made classic skiing nearly impossible as any wax you did have on your skis was gone after a few km's. Skate skiing was ok, but it was quite challenging to ski technically well on the ice.
After a few days of this it snowed. And when it snows in Val Senales it really snows. The mountain was closed for a few days and we resorted to rollerskiing down in the valley. Weirdly, although snowing up the mountain it was dry down in the valley much to my delight. I hate rollerskiing in the rain when it's cold. Fortunately this year I seem to have avoided the almost annual rollerski at 0 degrees and sleeting horizontally in your face session.
After the snow storm the conditions on the glacier were perfect. The snow on the glacier is always extremely dry. Even if it was a sunny day and only 1 or 2 degrees bellow freezing we were waxing with green (cold) waxes. It is one of the few times early in the season when I know I will be guaranteed  cold conditions. So I took the opportunity to test some cold skis. In skate this was easy. I got a new set of cold skis from Fischer in the autumn, it took me about 30 seconds of skiing on them to realise they were better than my old ones. For classic it took a little more testing. I have some quite good pairs of cold skis and I was unable to choose one over the other, so hopefully we'll get some cold weather before Christmas this year and get some more testing done.
Apart from ski testing the glacier sessions were used for technique work. Rollerski technique almost directly translates to ski technique, but not quite. So the sessions were focused on getting used to skiing on snow again and working on the technique stuff I have been working on all summer. But now translating that over to being on skis and snow, not rollerskis and tarmac. We had Kåre with us to help out with technique. It's always good fun to have Kåre along and he certainly got his moneys worth from the hotel by eating his body weight in cake each evening. I don't understand where he puts it. Each night he would get a plate of cake from the buffet, it would be stacked full with a large slice of every cake.
I had quite a few good hard sessions as well. The glacier is at 3200m, far to high to train hard, so all my hard sessions were on rollerskis or running down the valley where there is actually the odd molecule of oxygen. Last year we did a test race up the road towards the hotel, I repeated the test again this year and had a slightly better time. So things are looking good for the season.
The first week at Val Senales was quite a tough training week. With getting to cable car up to the glacier each morning and driving down the valley in the evening, I didn't really have any spare time. On top of that we had a physio, Kelly, with us for a few days. I was either sleeping, eating, on route to or from  training, training or being beaten up by Kelly. It was pretty full on and after a week of hard training I needed a good rest day. There isn't really all that much to do in Maso Corto, so me and Posy played a bit of cards. We played slam. Posy is quite good at slam, but only because she cheats. I even have video evidence of her cheating (It's not on this computer so can't put it up on the blog). She clearly throws a card wildly into the air and "slams" a "pile" before the thrown card has even left her hand. On top of that the thrown card didn't even land on the pile it was meant to. She maintained that this was legal and that she had won the hand, refusing to replay the point, despite the video evidence. I spent the first few hands being destroyed and loosing epically. I decided the only way I could win would be if I also lowered my self to "Oyne house rules". I appreciate that I may have ruined my integrity by doing this, and I should have stuck to usual high standards of card playing rules. But after I had accepted the new (wrong) rules things quickly began to change and I won a few hands, thus providing proof that Posy was indeed cheating.
Towards the end of the camp I started to ease back the training so that when I got back to Norway I'd be ready to train hard, and get in some good hard sessions on snow. I flew back to Norway on Saturday with a rather eventful journey due to fog at Frankfurt airport. I delay from Innsbruck, a missed connection, further delays and missing a train all lead me to have to take the night train. But the train wasn't running so it was "bus for train". I ended up getting home at 1am on sunday, far from ideal, when I should have been home at 4pm the previous day.
The weather here has obviously been pretty bad. I woke up yesterday to say it tanking down with rain and the thermometer showing only 4 degrees. I fortunately had a recovery day. Thomas one of the guys I live with woke up and I asked him what he was going to train. He looked out the window and said that it looked drier outside that it had done the previous few days so he'd take the opportunity to rollerski. I thought it looked like a full on storm outside.
This afternoon I'm going to Beitostølen with Team Synnfjell. This autumn has been pretty mild in Norway so there isn't much snow around. Rumour has it that Beito has a 3k track at the ski stadium and a 4.5k track up in the mountains above the town. Hopefully we'll be able to make good use of the snow, because if we have to go back to rollerskiing I'm going to be a pretty miserable person to be around. It's not raining today. But I would still give it a "little to no" chance of seeing the sun. I feel like someone who has heliophobia. It's meant to snow a bit more during the week so hopefully the conditions will get better and better.
Now I have to go and pack.

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