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Going for Gold

Beyond the Arctic Circle

Ski racing and riding buses; the journey of my travels in Scandinavia. I have just finished a series of six Europa Cup races in Finland, Sweden, and Norway. We saw reindeer, dark skies and lots of snow. Though, I am disappointed to report that I did not see Santa Claus! I did however send my wish list while I was up north, so maybe this year he’ll come through.

The Europa Cup circuit is the race series below the World Cup circuit and is just as competitive. Anna Prchal and myself, with our coaches, headed north out of Zurich for the first races in Finland at a ski hill called Levi, where we would have two slalom races. Levi is about 20 kilometres from the town of Kittila, where our flight landed. Just take a look above the Arctic Circle on a map and you will find it.

All the teams flew into Kittila on the same flight and from there we all loaded onto two big buses and headed for the hotels. Everyone was pretty excited; no one had ever been this far north before. We spent four days in Finland, had two races under the lights and then we packed the buses up and headed for Are, Sweden.

Oh, did I mention that the bus ride was 17 hours long? It was quite the experience. Our first day in Sweden we saw the sun for the first time in four days. Everyone was ready for it. I had never imagined going through a day without seeing any daylight, but that is exactly what it was like in Kittila. At every meal it was dark, you never knew if it was time to sleep, eat or wake up.

The day after arriving in Sweden we had the first of the two slalom races, and then once again we packed up and loaded the buses for the next races. This bus ride wasn’t quite as bad – only 13 hours long!

We were now in Norway, at a hill called Al, for two giant slalom races. It was absolutely beautiful; there was snow everywhere. It made me think of Whistler and I really wanted to just go powder skiing, but that will have to wait until Christmas time.

Our trip ended with a short bus ride – only six hours – to Oslo, where we flew back to Zurich.

I had such a great time and am so glad that I got the chance to see that part of the world. The people were really nice and the races were some of the best races that I have ever been to. I also got to know a lot more of the girls on the other teams; a total of 36 hours on a bus can bring people together.

While I was on the Europa Cup tour, my teammates were at the World Cup races in Lake Louise. They posted some great results and gave us a great start to the speed events. One of note would have to be Genevieve Simard’s 11th place finish in the super-G.

We are now back together in France preparing for the World Cup S.G. and G.S. races on Dec. 14, 15 and 16 in Val d’Isere. There is very little snow in Europe right now and many of our races have been moved and re-scheduled – keeping one guessing as to just what the schedule will be. I find my self living by the motto, be prepared, and the girls and I are. Watch for more results.