Last Thursday I left complete moving chaos, work and research and took my brick heavy moving-in-legs to go skiing in, drum roll…. : GREECE! I was a bit anxious about traveling here to race without a solid couple of weeks of training behind me, but if I want to be a candidate for Lahti I simply had to go.
The week before and all of Christmas passed in a haze of sickness, and with a sensibly slow build-up of training volume and intensity, I felt as far from ready to race as you can imagine. I just want to fast forward 3 weeks, so I can feel fit and strong again. However, I had to attend the races here, and part of me wanted to see everyone here again too. So I was going no matter what and here I am. The experience turned out to be a great one!
First and foremost one word comes to mind: Hospitality or filoxenia, which is the Greek word for it. From landing in Thessaloniki and arriving in the beautiful mountain village of Metsovo, I have been taken such good care of.
In Thessaloniki, a friend of my father and his wonderful family picked me up at the airport, treated me to dinner and dessert and put me on the buss to Metsovo. In Metsovo, I have been to dinner in the club presidents home, had lunch and coffee with different people. The invitations have been more than I have been able to attend, so I feel really welcome here and the hospitality in this village is truly heartwarming.
The buss ride is 3 hours on the big freeway and at the bus stop, the president of my Greek xc-ski club picked me up and took me to Hotel Kassaros, a cozy family run village hotel. I love staying here! The bed is so comfortable and the breakfast has all you need, including silky smooth greek yoghurt. Yum! Mr. Kassaros also has the cutest, kindest alaskan malamute you can imagine. The dog lives outside the hotel and is not exactly a guard dog, since he loves to be cuddled and wouldn’t hurt a fly.
The trip from Norway was so long and It’ll bee the same going back! I left Norway at 4am and arrived here in Metsovo at 11pm! Because of moving and working I got very little sleep the last week, but I was just going to power through this weekend and catch sleep wherever I could. Thank heavens for the comfortable bed I am sitting in right now!
AT THE RACES
On both Saturday and Sunday, the ladies were going to ski 5K skate. I have no idea why they don’t let us ladies ski longer here distances here (the men ski 10K) or why the distances were the same both days. But I’d rather do this, than sprint!
There was good and firm conditions around the 2.5 km course, which is not at all a given in this area. The XC-ski course is situated at the bottom om a downhill course in a hilly area, approximately 1400 meters above sea level (which a sea level Oslo-girl like me really feels!). There is about 6 seconds of sitting in hockey in this course, which means you have to work all the way and there is NO rest. The course has three long hills ending in steep, short inclines and one small hill, followed by the longest downhill with 3 easy turns in it. After each long uphill there was a short downhill with some sharp turns. The course is a lot of fun to ski and they prepared it so well!
On the first round everything felt horrible, but on the second round I picked up steam and worked in full concentration. I felt okay, but it also felt a bit like “skiing with the breaks on”. Which I probably was, because I was a bit scared of “doing a Brink” (Google it! It’s horrible to watch) in the medium altitude. Finishing the race I promised myself to just go for it the next day.
3rd in the Greek cup – 12 in Balkan Cup.
I had a such good night’s sleep and felt good, LIT actually! Different day, same distance and same course. Today the course prepp was a little wobbly here and there, but all in all quite good and firmly packed. I fought the whole way and was really stiff with acid on top of the last two hills, and as a result I was faster today, but so was everyone else it seemed. Competition was also a bit harder today.
5th in the Greek cup – 15 in Balkan Cup.
All in all
With a terrible December-training wise in mind, huge work loads and in addition to moving apartments, I am generally happy with my performances. I came and did the best that I do right now. There is no doubt that I’ll ski faster in just a couple of short weeks, but now is now and that will be then. Now, I am eager to get back to Oslo and continue training. Fingers crossed that I get to represent Greece in WCH Lahti 2017!!! NOTHING is for sure yet, and I don’t have the financial opportunity to travel all over Europe on my own expense to work on my FIS point, but I am still hopeful. Anyhow, I am super-proud to represent both EOS Metsovo and LYN SKI, lucky me! I wish the best of luck to all the Greek skiers and biathletes in the coming races.
Thank you for having me, Metsovo-friends! <3
Enjoy the picture show!