Written: Thursday 23rd of February
As the rest of the world championship commences it has ended for me. It also feels like the CC season has ended really quickly, mostly because I got a late start with competing this season and coming here was my only goal. All in or nothing, you know? Now I am left with many thoughts and feelings, but most of all these last 4 days have given me really important experiences that will shape a lot of my future athleticism.
Made all the difference
Three things made all the difference in this particular stay for me:
1.) Eirik was here too (obviously) and he has been so supportive to both me and my team mates. Having my husband and coach here has helped me a lot mentally and practically. First of all he connected me with super skiwaxer, Tord, who was a complete angel and helped out three of us with our skis on race day. He and Eirik also assisted me with me with my skis on all the days. Skis are alpha and omega in this game. It is a combination of ski properties and the person on top of the skis, with a dash of tactics and sprinkle strong mindedness that will make up an individual performance. The skis were great by the way! On the mental side of things,
2.) Meeting Maria Ntanou was great, not only because she is such a great lively person, but also because I got to know a fellow team mate with the same skiing ambitions as me. She lives in Lausanne in Switzerland, but originally comer from Naousa – a beautiful mountain village in Greece. Maria is a working athlete, with all that entails, and she works in the sports industry, for the fencing federation to be more precise. She also participated in Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010 and she worked on the Rio Olympic Games, so she has lots of championship experience.
3.) The support from the people who came out to see me race is so special to me and it really means the a lot! Of course then it feels especially bitter not to qualify and not reach any of my goals (except for just participating, that is). I also received massive support form my family and my dad was extremely engaged. He picked me up and drove me to trainings, and called me every day just to check in. My friends are always very supportive and even though I have abandoned all social life the last month, I know they understand. Those are the real friends, right? What took me by surprise was all the support and cheering I got from complete strangers both leading up to and during my days here i Lahti. Every little “good luck” and well-wishing word means something and gave me energy. From the bottom of my heart: Thank you to all of you!
Let me entertain you!
I probably spent more time on press and media than the actual race. I don’t tak myself all that seriously, so I don’t mind being the nine o’clock news entertainment story. Don’t get me wrong I take what I do and how I do it very seriously. I was asked to take over the NRK Sport snapchat account the night before the race and until after. A fun and strangely calming activity when you are nervous before a race. So thanks NRK! I decided to start a question round to get some action going, and seriously, the question I got asked the most was if I was single! There were all kinds of questions, but mostly about me, cross-country skiing, training and my predictions for the championship in general. So many of Snapchat’ers wished me good luck and sendt pictures of them following my race on Eurosport. If you were following me on @nrksport-snap: Thank you for all the great comments and questions! <3
The morning of the race when I was on my way to the stadium yet another NRK journalist called me and asked if he could follow me around with a camera until I was done. I was just going to do my normal routines and preparations, and it that would be interesting to other people, then be my guest. It was kind of nice to have the company of a nice camera man when I was heading towards the starting area by myself. Later that night I was apparently on the news, but I haven’t seen it, but I hope I did an okay appearance at least!
This however I found a bit entertaining! First, I found it funny because of multiple spelling mistakes, mis-quoting on Eirik’s behalf and wrong facts about the qualification rules. Secondly, I just had to laugh out loud when I saw the ridiculous still photo they used of me (nooooot my best side haha), but you just got to love VG anyway! You guys are awesome and thanks for taking the time to wait in the mixed zone for an interview with a lone, disappointed Greek-Norwegian skier.
The most inspiring place
Like in Falun 2015, being here lin Lahti is fantastic! There is a special vibe in the championship arenas that I haven’t experienced on any other competition arena in cross-country skiing. The mix of so many nationalities present and languages spoken, with the excitement of what is coming lingering in the air makes the stadium feel a little electric. Over 2000 volunteers are helping out, and even though English may not be the second language of most Lahti inhabitants, they were all so friendly and extremely helpful with whatever we may need. Of course it is also inspiring to train and ski in the same arena as all the stars of the sport (which is often the case back home in Holmenkollen too, but there is a different vibe here).
Before a race starts the atmosphere becomes a little frantic and service people are running around to get everything ready. Lucky for me that I had my very own service men, and I could to all preparations as I normally would. Unfortunately Eirik didn’t get to go out in the course, because he didn’t have the right bib for that day. To be honest, I really would have needed to have him there to give me feedback and cheer me on. Out there, I had no one. At least no one that I knew of. Luckily, a Norwegian guy yelled that I was 5 seconds behind the lead when I was in the uphill from the stadium, going into the last 2.5 km. Eirik and I had planned that from there on I’d fight and ski as hard as possible, so that was great timing. From the stadium and to the finish I really picked up speed and passes a lot for people. Thank you Norwegian guy! You really helped me out there since I had little control over the situation until that point. Bless you!
I know my last blog posts are a bit scattered in the writing, an so is this one. It’s just that I am not exactly sure what to say about everything. To sum things up: I failed to reach my goals, learned a lot and am hungrier than ever for more!
Now, I am beyond excited to follow the rest of the championship on TV and I really hope for a golden streak for the Norwegian team. Heia, Norge!