Back­coun­try

Wel­come to Round Two of the new Sk­i­trax Roundtable Roundt fea­tur­ing top Cana­dian C and Amer­i­can skiers as they talk shop on some in­ter­est­ing, fun top­ics this Olympic sea­son. Check out their replies to our sec­ond ques­tion: “What's the cra­zi­est/ fun­ni­est th

SkiTrax - - Contents - by Steve Threndyle

ALEX HAR­VEY

One of the big­gest chal­lenges for us on the road is to find ac­cess to a wash­ing ma­chine. Some places (Davos, [Switzer­land]; Val di Fiemme, [Italy]; Ku­usamo, [Fin­land]), we have hook-ups, it’s su­per-easy and we can do it our­selves, but some other places, it’s ei­ther im­pos­si­ble or just crazy-ex­pen­sive.

In Oslo, [Nor­way], you pretty much need to take out a mort­gage to get them to wash your clothes at the ho­tel. So here’s the story. Af­ter ask­ing around to many peo­ple in Oslo, one morn­ing right af­ter break­fast, I ended up giv­ing a gi­ant bag of dirty laun­dry to the one-and-only Marit Bjo­er­gen.

I went for a ski, came back to the ho­tel, had lunch and then, as I walked away from the buf­fet, I saw Marit walk­ing in the ho­tel lobby with a gi­ant pile of clean, freshly folded clothes. Not only is Marit the best cross-coun­try skier [who] ever lived, she’s also one of the most gen­er­ous peo­ple I know.

KIKKAN RAN­DALL

One of the cra­zi­est things that ever hap­pened to me was break­ing my back in a race called the Flat­top Flyer in 1999. Not a typ­i­cal cross-coun­try-ski course, it be­gan in the moun­tains above An­chor­age, [Alaska] and de­scended about 1,500 feet into a main Nordic-trail sys­tem. An end-of-the-sea­son fun race, it in­cluded roller jumps and a prize for the best cos­tume.

I was re­ally let­ting it fly and un­ex­pect­edly en­coun­tered a roller jump and lost my bal­ance go­ing off the jump, land­ing hard on my back­side. My back tensed up and I was car­ried off the course on a back­board and rushed to the emer­gency room.

The di­ag­no­sis showed four com­pressed ver­te­brae in my mid-back and a cracked rib. Be­ing 16 at the time, my bones were still grow­ing and I was able to make a full re­cov­ery af­ter wear­ing a full back brace for six weeks. I got re­ally lucky in that the frac­tures in my ver­te­brae slid away from my spinal cord and that I didn’t suf­fer any last­ing ef­fects.

They can­celed the race af­ter the ac­ci­dent. Re­gard­less, I still like to have fun go­ing fast and tak­ing jumps on my Nordic skis!

DEVON KER­SHAW

There are a lot of sto­ries in the vault, but this one in Italy dur­ing the 2013 Tour de Ski sticks out as an es­pe­cially funny ex­pe­ri­ence.

It was Jan. 3 and Lenny [Val­jas], Ivan [Babikov], my­self and Alex [Har­vey] were all in the top 25 to start that day’s Pur­suit race.

We had been stay­ing at one par­tic­u­lar ho­tel for decades – Ho­tel Dolomiten – and that day be­gan like the rest. In a quiet hush with the Pur­suit chal­lenge loom­ing, we sipped our cap­puc­ci­nos and ate the stale white buns that are the sig­na­ture of any Ital­ian break­fast

Back in those days, Cana­dian cross-coun­try-ski rac­ing was flush with fund­ing and we were able to af­ford some novel things like a “rock and roll” tour bus to aid in our re­cov­ery be­tween stages of the Tour de Ski.

It was our third year rolling in style on the Tour, and while oth­ers had RVS and the like, we were the only team at the time with a true “Team Bus” – a blacked-out-win­dowed bus with our white CCC logo pop­ping in stark con­trast on the side. It was both a lux­ury and an ad­van­tage.

The plan was sim­ple. Our bus driver would drive to Cortina early in the morn­ing and park the bus as close to the race start as pos­si­ble. Some hours later, Head Coach Justin [Wadsworth] would drive us in a team van to Cortina from Toblach (25 kilo­me­tres or so) – stop­ping along the race route so we could test skis and warm up on the race course. The plan was to fin­ish our warm-up at the bus about 15 min­utes be­fore the race start, change into our rac­ing gear and walk two to three min­utes to the start­ing pen.

A lit­tle note about our bus driver, a Brit named Paul. He was a stout, bald, a beer- and foot­ball-loving English­man who mainly drove tour­ing bands around Europe – the world of cross-coun­try-ski rac­ing was new.

All was go­ing ac­cord­ing to plan. The ski test­ing passed without is­sue, as did our warm-up. Soon we were in front of our bus, parked on a ter­raced square above the race start. Ivan tried to open the door to the bus, with us stand­ing and chat­ter­ing be­hind him. Locked. We tried again, this time with a lit­tle more gusto. Noth­ing. Alex, not be­liev­ing that this was re­ally hap­pen­ing, gave it a col­lege try. No luck. I started laugh­ing. What else could I do? Af­ter some pan­icked min­utes, we re­al­ized we weren’t get­ting into that bus to change into our dry cloth­ing, race bibs, dry toques, gloves, gear, etc., – and the most im­por­tant Tour de Ski stage was about to start.

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