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Bloggers and IOC Need to Give Olympic Athletes a Break

Yeah, I know, it's the Birkie...I'll write about that tomorrow. I'm just pre-posting now in anticipation of being tired and probably hung-over on race day.

It seems like you can't turn on your computer today without having some blogger or some member of the media or some nameless, faceless guy in a suit bitching about the behavior of some jubiliant athletes who have just won a medal. I mean...come on!!! These people are under an ENORMOUS amount of stress. Give them a break if they get a little excited when the monkey is finally removed from their back. Sure I'm all for "appropriate behavior" (well, not really, I actually think appropriate behavior is complete bullshit...but I don't complain about it all that much) but what about just having a little tolerance for the fact that these athletes are, after all, human beings (tolerance is my favorite word because everyone always claims it's a virtue but very few people in positions of power ever show any "tolerance" for things they don't like)?

Take, for example, the jubiliant Canadian women's hockey team:

Now, these women are in all kinds of trouble for cracking open beers and firing up some stogies on the ice shortly after their victory. Give me a frickin' break. I mean, these girls probably are such health nuts that they just took one puff and then threw the thing onto the ice (thus wasting a perfectly good cigar) because their bodies just can't take the posion of hardcore drinking and smoking. It's not like they were tossing empty bottles of Captain Morgan into the garbage like they were empty beer cans. Does anybody really give a shit if an 18 year old girl who has just won a gold medal sneaks a sip of beer in the post award ceremony celebration? I know that I don't! And now there is some talk that they're going to send them home early so they can't enjoy the closing ceremonies. Now THAT would be an unjust act that would be worthy of some retribution...but where the hell is the ruling body to reign in the IOC (or whatever governing group is even debating this). It's a bunch of nonsense...but still not as bad as what happened to Scotty Lago.

I don't know if you know who Scotty Lago is, but after winning his bronze medal, he was sent home because the following pictures started floating around the internet:

Again everybody's talking about what an enormous scandal this is...but the way I look at it, if putting all the time and effort necessary into getting a bronze medal isn't worth a couple of anonymous hummers then I don't know why people even bother. From MY perspective, this guy's being pretty tame...I mean, he's using the medal to BLOCK OFF ALL THE ACTION! The guy should be heralded as a hero by abstinence groups ("Use your medal to prevent unwanted sexual contact like the heroic Scotty Lago").

But in all seriousness, let's put it this way...EVERYBODY'S got a frickin' camera these days. If it's not an actual camera or videocamera (the size of your fingernail) it's a cameraphone or a credit card phone or some other stuff. I guess we're collectively as a society taking our first baby-steps into a world in which EVERYTHING is digitally recorded, and what people haven't figured out yet is that EVERYBODY does stuff like Scotty Lago and the Canadian Women's Hockey team. What everybody DOESN'T do is pull a bunch of selfish crap like Lindsey Vonn who screwed up Julia Mancuso's run the other day and didn't even show the slightest bit of remorse about it (she was laughing all the way through the damn interview...but nobody's complaining about HER because she's the frickin' golden girl [I like Mancuso better]). The only thing I ever hear is how Vonn's pinky is broken or her shin and it's all a bunch of transparent nonsense designed to build in an excuse in case she fails.

All this nonsense has to be stopped. I mean, when a guy hits the absolute PEAK of what they've been working for for years and years they deserve a couple minutes of absolute euphoric self-indulgence (see Tiger Woods...and personally I think the only people who can be critical of Woods are those who have spent as much money on charitable foundations as he has...yeah, you don't see all those starving orphan kids he's helped out pointing the dirty end of their finger at him now do you?).

All this nonsense has got to be stopped because if it keeps going like this, you'll probably wake up one day to read "American Evan Lysacek disgraces the US and is sent home in shame after reports were leaked to the media that he had a bowel movement shortly after the medal ceremony. A spokesperson for Mr. Lysacek is quoted as saying, 'Evan is deeply sorry for what he has called a temporary slip, he hopes the American People can someday forgive him, and he knows that to have a bowel movement is simply NOT appropriate or acceptable behavior for a gold medal bearing athlete.'"

You see, it's frickin' ridiculous. Get a life people!

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NBC's Crappy Olympic Coverage is Really Starting to Irritate

I wrote this rant after NBC cut away from the women's 4X10 relay to show some idiot on a snow tube. As you can probably understand, that put me into an unreasonable rage. Sure, this might not be an exactly "fair" article, but it exists and it's NBC's fault that it exists, so I don't feel bad in publishing it (secretly I've been pleasantly surprised at how much XC has been on the TV this Olympics...but I'm still furious about that cut-away...and there's always room for improvement).

The one thing that you can depend on with the US coverage of the Olympics is that it's going to be crappy. Yet, every year I'm mind-bogglingly amazed at how utterly crappy it is. Although we've been getting plenty of XC coverage (usually at 2 in the morning...but whatever), it's generally interrupted by the trite, nonsensical rants of that idiot Al Michaels who sits there in the studio with his legs flapped wide open and a "service me" look on his bland, moronic face.

If it's not Al Michals, it's Bob Costas, or that utter moron from the NFL world Chris Collensworth who wants to compare every XC skier or figure skater to some NFL athlete ("Bjorn Daehlie is like the Tim Brown of skiing"...frickin' idiot, that means nothing!!!!!). Watching the Olympic coverage just indicates that the job of television sports announcer can be competently done by a lobotomized monkey with it's tongue and lips removed (it'd just sit there and grunt like a sex addict humping a doorknob...a better sound than the moronic dribble that comes out of these sportcasters' mouths).

They make me want to turn off the TV during the NFL season...next they'll bring on the certifiably brain dead idiot Troy Aikman who who couldn't even write his own name in the snow even if Sandra Bullock was guiding the stream (the two were rumored to be together years ago...I know this because it's the kind of asinine garbage which is the only thing the US media ever reports).

Today in the midst of the 4X10 women's relay they inexplicably switched from the action to show some idiot journalist's little cutesy pie human interest story about going down a hill in an inner tube. What the Hell? Here are these athletes who have been training for fifteen years in pursuit of a medal in one of the most challenging sports in the world, and their moment in the sun is superseded by some trust fund whiny baby who wants to do a story featuring predominantly himself? When are these reporters going to learn that THEY'RE NOT THE STORY!!! THE OLYMPICS ARE!!! The less we see or hear of the commentators the better.

Hell, frankly they could just shut their commentary completely off because they never say anything useful. I was pulling my hair out as some idiot (accompanied by that moron from ESPN who used to call the Tour de France...Not Phil Ligget, he's good...that big blond idiot who was narrating the event when Bobby Julich finished third...moron) started explaining to us what kick wax was. Heck, if you don't know what THAT is, why the hell are you watching an XC race?

If this is the best that the "experts" can do to explain an event I actually know something about, it sheds a little bit of light at how competent they are (not at all) on the races I don't know anything about. Instead of starting at a lower than pre-school level, why don't they just assume you're experts and dive right in. Sure you may be lost 90% of the time, but at least you might learn something (or be inspired to go and learn it) and over time you'd get it sooner or later.

Oh yeah, the reason they don't do this is that the only brain dead idiots they get to blabber incessantly over the events (TRIPLE SOW COW...DOUBLE TOE LOOP....OH MY GOOOODDDDD!) don't know what the hell they are talking about and love themselves above all other things! I'd like to grab them all by the back of the head and rub their faces into the doggy mess and say "No, No" gently but firmly (especially that idiot Al Michales...am I wrong, or didn't that guy get caught with a hooker not too long ago...and wasn't he biting her...and didn't she turn out to be a man? It's a rumor I heard...I don't know maybe I don't have my facts straight).

And quit spending 98.3 percent of the broadcasting time on the figure skating. Judged events aren't "sports," it's all about who crossed the line first (and Weir got robbed for being too....hmmmm, what's a good word here...let's just say flamboyant and leave it at that).

Are you hearing me NBC? Less Al and Chris and more of this:

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More News from Fallun Sweden

10 Km Summary by Allan Lindsley

I felt overall the 10K race was much easier. A 5.3 Km climb, some rolling terrain for a few Ks and then down we came. The hole shot was the most important part of the race. If you could hold close to the leaders and go as hard as you could for the first 3 Km up hill, the race settle in as much as a 10Km could and you could actually ski with control. If you did not make the top ten on the trail going into the woods, the course narrowed after a half a Km and it is very tough passing on the classical trail going up hill. Starting in the second row I lost contact in the first Km with the leaders and picked my way through skiiers for the first 2km. The race was one of who could just hold on to the 5Km point. Few position changes took place past this point unless you had great skis on the down hills. I was able to finish in the middle of the pack (17th) and felt much better about the race.

Dave took off and put himself in 5th place in the first Km. Unfortunately, he felt himself go under at 3 Km and the top guys started to gap Dave. He was able to hook into the second group recover and the clip of video I took was the last 500 M of the race coming off the mountain. Again if you didn't have the fastest skis there was no way you were going to pass anyone on the long 1.5 Km downhill into the stadium. Dave finished 17th and felt it was more the body than the skis in the race.

Some great lessons were learned here in Sweden like: When you think you have a ski and a wax for all conditions think again; Cold waxes run well in cold and dry conditions; Ski fit is everything in cold conditions; Swedish people are very friendly but I still love Wisconsin and our food diversity.

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Dave Landgraf and Allan Lindsley tear it up in Falun Sweeden

World Masters Update - Falun Sweden

by Allan Lindsley

I led off for CyclovaXC in the M3 41-45 age class with tough morning conditions on a two lap (15Km per lap). The snow conditions were something that we do not see often in our midwest skiing. The combination of 2 inches of new fine snow and windchills at -25 F with the temp at 0 F at starting led to tough waxing conditions for both Dave and I. Although the humidity was 75%, the snow was very wind blown and dry. Toko was holding the line on high flural combinations but after glide testing our skis we decided that this combination vs straight cold wax was little to no difference. These conditions really came down the finest grind and the softest ski you could find in your ski bag. Leaving the Madshus at home, I used the new Salomon skis which ended up being a bad choice for the climbs. At 1000 ft per lap of climbing the snow on the uphills really broke down and it became tough to pull the skis together after the first lap. I can see why people drop out in conditions like those today, the only place I felt it was fast was in the old track. I just ended up grinding it out while hoping not to free off too many appendages. I remember thinking that this is great Birkie training. I finished toward the back of the pack very humbled and tired.

Dave Landgraf raced the M7 61-65 age class with close to 70 skiers. Dave was able to really push himself on the single lap race. There probably isn't a harder 15 Km race out there due to the amount of climbing you do in the first 11 Km without getting a chance to recover completely. Watching the race, I quickly realized that the best gliding skis would win the race seeing the racers finish the last 1.5 Km coming back down the mountain into the stadium. Holding the main group for several Km there was some separation on one of the larger climbs at 7 Km where Dave was forced to settle in and try to maintain contact in the second group. Dave finsihed within 1 minute of the leaders finishing in 8th place. If he had been able to nail the waxing he would have been battling it out for a medal. At this level of racing the smallest advantage makes a huge difference. I really believe the locals have the biggest advantage in understanding the little subtle differences in what makes a ski run in this cold snow blown weather. I think everyone believes that every condition could use some level of flural. If we learned one thing from all of this, it seemed the most successful races ran low or no flurals with a cold powder or similar product for the final layer. Interesting enough Dave settled on his 13 year old atomics with an old wax job for the race. Nothing we seemed to do made the skis run fast.

Side note: As I was sitting in the local cafe today I noticed a pair of Fisher carbon lite skis against the wall. I noticed they had a hole in the shovel of the ski that had been machined out to help the skis be a better climbing ski. I have a couple pairs exactly like this but can not get them to climb. I found out the owner was an older Norwegian man that had not only won the 30Km skate on them but also the 10Km skate with the same skis. I asked him the best I could through our language and lots of hand signing how the skis climbed. He said they were great. [Editor's note: I would have loved to see Allan communicate with this guy using "crude hand signals..." he probably thought Allan was asking to come over and meet his daughter] I noticed after looking down his ski he had a fine structure rolled into the ski. I asked him how he waxed the skis and he said green vaughti and then Swedish SkiGo 380 powder and and then he put structure on top of that!!?? with a Swix 025 riller. I would have never believed the skis would run but the proof was in the golds they had been putting around his neck for the past two days.

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SKI TECH: How to follow published wax tips

As you likely are aware, Fast Wax, Toko, and Swix all publish wax tips for hundreds of XC Ski Races across the country. The people putting these wax tips out are professionals and do know their stuff.

As tempting as it might be to guess against them, odds are that they are correct, so I would suggest sticking with the wax tip unless you have a really good reason not to!

We are now at the peak of XC Ski Race season and I've been getting a lot of questions lately about how exactly to follow the instructions that ski wax companies provide in their wax tips.

As an example, following is the official Fast Wax Wax Tip for this year's Pre-Birkie which had excellent results.

Official Fast Wax Glide Wax Tip:
  1. Apply 2 to 3 layers of HSLF-10 Teal over 1 layer of HS-20 Blue
  2. For maximum speed top coat with Flite 11 Arctic 100% Fluoro speed additive
What exactly does this mean and how exactly would you go about applying this wax job?

Following you'll see each and every step that would should be followed in applying the above mentioned wax tip. As you read through this, you'll notice that most of the time in this process is spent scraping the brushing. HERE is a video showing exactly how to properly scrape and brush your skis. There is a wealth of other waxing tech info on the cyclovaxc.com (just do a search for “ski tech”).

Here we go...

  1. Brush your ski to clean it with a soft metal brush (soft steel, copper, or soft brass)
  2. Wipe the ski base off with Fiberlene or a piece of paper towel to remove any dirt or left over dust from brushing

Layer 1:
  1. Apply the Fast Wax Blue HS-20 (drip on the wax and iron it in using 3-4 iron passes from the tip of the ski to the tail of the ski)
  2. Let the Wax Cool for 30+ minutes at room temperature
  3. Using a multi-purpose scraper or groove pin, remove the wax from the groove of the ski
  4. Using a sharp plexi glass scraper, scrape the wax off of the ski. If in doubt, stop scraping and move on to the brush. It's very easy to over scrape.
  5. Brush the ski vigorously with a stiff nylon brush until most wax is removed from the ski base surface
  6. Brush the ski gently with a soft metal brush, being careful to only move the brush from tip to tail. 5-6 passes should be good.
  7. Brush the ski moderately with a horsehair brush until all wax is removed from the ski base surface

Layer 2:
  1. Apply the Fast Wax Teal HSLF-10 (drip on the wax and iron it in using 3-4 iron passes from the tip of the ski to the tail of the ski)
  2. Let the Wax Cool for 30+ minutes at room temperature
  3. Using a multi-purpose scraper or groove pin, remove the wax from the groove of the ski
  4. Using a sharp plexi glass scraper, scrape the wax off of the ski. If in doubt, stop scraping and move on to the brush. It's very easy to over scrape.
  5. Brush the ski vigorously with a stiff nylon brush until most wax is removed from the ski base surface
  6. Brush the ski gently with a soft metal brush, being careful to only move the brush from tip to tail. 5-6 passes should be good.
  7. Brush the ski moderately with a horsehair brush until all wax is removed from the ski base surface

Layer 3:
  1. Apply the Fast Wax Teal HSLF-10 (drip on the wax and iron it in using 3-4 iron passes from the tip of the ski to the tail of the ski)
  2. Let the Wax Cool for 30+ minutes at room temperature
  3. Using a multi-purpose scraper or groove pin, remove the wax from the groove of the ski
  4. Using a sharp plexi glass scraper, scrape the wax off of the ski. If in doubt, stop scraping and move on to the brush. It's very easy to over scrape.
  5. Brush the ski vigorously with a stiff nylon brush until most wax is removed from the ski base surface
  6. Brush the ski gently with a soft metal brush, being careful to only move the brush from tip to tail. 5-6 passes should be good.
  7. Brush the ski moderately with a horsehair brush until all wax is removed from the ski base surface

Structure: Also, if you're going to rill your skis (put structure on the base for warm/wet conditions), after your layers of hot wax but before the Pure Flourocarbon is the time.

Layer 4:
  1. If you have Fast Wax Arctic Flite #11 (or a similar pure Flourocarbon) following are the application steps for that. If you don't have a Flourocarbon, you're ready to race at this point.
  2. Now take the Flourocarbon block or powder and carefully apply a layer on the ski base surface. Just enough so the base is barely but entirely covered with a think layer is all that's necessary.
  3. Using a new cork, that is only used for Flourocarbon Application (not for grip wax), vigorously cork the Flourocarbon in using a lot of pressure and elbow grease. Work this in for a few minutes. You should be out of breath and maybe sweaty if you're doing it right. Think of it as a pre-race warm-up.
  4. Using a new fine nylon polishing brush (or horsehair will do) that is only used for Flourocarbon application, lightly brush the ski using very short, lengthwise, and back and forth motions. Simply work the wax dust around on the ski base. This is called "brushing the wax into the ski base" and actually increases the durability of the application.
  5. After brushing the Flourocarbon into the ski, use the brush to "sweep off" any remaining Flourocarbon dust.
  6. Lastly, take a polishing pad, such as the Fast Wax Speed Block to vigorously polish the ski base.
Lots of steps, but you’ll be ready to ski on rocket fast skis on race day. You'll also notice that the same exact steps apply for each layer of hot wax, so it is relatively simple, just some repetition. Hang on and enjoy the ride, and let us know if you have any further questions!

SKI TECH: Early Cyclova XC Birkie Wax Tip

Being an avid ski waxer (and skier too) and a former professional wax tip creater, I'm always thinking about what the wax job will be for the coming races.

So, based on popular demand, I'm putting out the preliminary Cyclova XC Wax tip for the 3 major wax brands of the region. Note that these are not officially endorsed wax tips by the wax companies, rather these are tips that I have personally put together based on my 11+ years of professional experience in creating race wax tips.

Following you'll see data on anticipated track conditions, weather, ski selection, structure, glide wax, and grip wax. Additionally, this will be updated on Thursday, should that be necessary.

Anticipated Trail Conditions: The leaders of the race can expect nearly perfect machined snow conditions, composed of a tilled mix of older snow crystals and some new flakes that are expected to fall in the week leading up to the race. As thousands of skiers go over the course, the track will become skied in, glazed, and likely a bit faster than for the leaders. With the cold overnight temperatures, the track should remain very firm and hold up well, even for late wave skiers. Classic tracks should be firm, fast, and ideal.

Anticipated Weather:
A stable weather patter in is place that will likely yeild cold overnight temps in the single digits in the days leading up to the race. Daytime highs should be consistently in the mid 20's to low 30's throughout the week. We can expect a few minor snow falls over the course of the week, just enough to freshen up the trail a bit (nothing major). This weather pattern looks to continue straight through to race day. Generally forecasts are calling for an overnight low of about 10'F with a race day high in the low 30's with mostly sunny skies. A perfect Birkie Race Day!

Ski Selection: With a firm skate lane and classic track expected, a relatively stiff ski will be optimal for both techniques. Stiff skate skis will provide stability and the stiff classic skis will ensure that your grip wax lasts the duration of the race.

Structure: A Cold Universal Stonegrind (fine non-linear) wil be optimal. If in doubt, take 1 pass with a non-linear (broken lines) strcuture tool. A diagonal or v pattern will be ideal.

Cyclova XC Glide Wax Tips by brand:

Fast Wax:
  1. 2 layers of HS-20 Sport Blue (scraping and brushng each layer)
  2. 1 layer of HSF-20 Tan (scrape and brush)
  3. 1-2 layers of Flite 11 Cold (1 layer ironed in or 2 layers polished in)
  1. 1 layer Dibloc LF Grey (Moly) (scrape and brush)
  2. 1 layer Dibloc HF Blue for Elite & wave 1 or 1 layer Dibloc HF Red for wave 2 and back (scrape and brush)
  3. Jetstream Blue for Elite & wave 1 or Jestream Red for wave 2 and back (1 layer ironed in or 2 layers polished in)
  1. 1 layer LF4 (scrape and brush)
  2. 1 layer HF6 (scrape and brush)
  3. Cera F FC-7 for Elite & Wave 1 or Cera F FC-8 for wave 2 and back (1 layer ironed in or 2 layers polished in)
Cyclova XC Grip Wax Tips by brand:

  1. Roughen grip zone with 120 grit sandpaper
  2. Apply Base Green Klister, iron, and smoothen with you thumb. Allow to cool at room temperature.
  3. For Elite through Wave 2: Apply 2 layers Carbon Violet with 1 layer Carbon Blue on top, thoroughly corking each layer. For Wave 2 and back: Apply 2 layers Carbon Red with 1 layer Carbon Violet on top, thoroughly corking each layer. If you're concerned about losing your grip, you may want to carry a Carbon Red and a cork for possible re-waxing on the course.
  1. Roughen grip zone with 120 grit sandpaper
  2. Apply a thin layer of Base Green KR-20 Klister, iron, and smoothen with your thumb. Allow to cool at room temperature
  3. For Elite through Wave 2: Apply 2 layers Extra Blue (V40) with 1 layer VR40 on top, thoroughly corking each layer. For Wave 2 and back: Apply 2 layers Violet V50 with 1 layer VR-40 on top, thoroughly corking each layer. If you're concerned about losing your grip, you may want to carry a V50 or VR50 and a cork for possible re-waxing on the course.

My Wish List

by Andrew Johnson

For those of us who live to ski, February is something like a second Hanukah/Christmas /Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice/Festivus season. It is in that holiday spirit I present my wish list. Unfortunately most of these things don’t exist so don’t rush out and try to buy them for me.

#1 Heated Grips

Snowmobilers have them, why not cross country skiers? It seems like during the first 10 or 15 minutes of most races my fingers are cold. If I wear warmer gloves my fingers are fine at the start line but partway through the race they are soaked with sweat. How complicated would it be to slip a single AA battery and heating element into the grips? How heavy could it be? Come on One Way! Get on it.

#2 Winter Formula GU
Have you ever had to chew your GU? Summer marathoners, triathletes, bike racers, adventure racers and the like don’t know how lucky they are. You all know that when temperatures drop GU gets thick. Could someone come up with a non freezing formula for cold weather activities?

#3 The St. Paul/Minneapolis Ski Tunnel

Germany just built one, why don’t we do the same? You really need to watch this before you read on. Can you imagine being able to get your ski fix in the middle of the summer without an airline ticket? How about the annual 4th of July 5K time trial? Who needs fireworks?

#4 Ski-Over Waxing Stations

Maybe the weather changed or maybe you weren’t paying attention when you waxed your skis but you’ve got the wrong wax. Your skis are painfully slow and you still have 40K to go to the finish. What to do? How about some sort of two stage pad you could ski over in the middle of the race? The first portion could be saturated with a broad temperature, fluorinated wipe on wax and the second would be some kind of buffing pad or brush. I think FastWax could develop an IPass type system for the Birkie. Your timing chip functions as the sensor, there special are waxing lanes, and you get charged every time you choose to ski through one.

#5 Season Extending Ski Surfaces

Every ski area has it’s problem areas. South facing hills, wide open areas, and cart paths all lose snow quickly and cut the ski season short. I propose that some sort of plastic material (white in color to reflect the heat) be laid down over these areas. I’m thinking of something like this. Actually, now that I think about it, this stuff should be laid down on the whole trail so we can ski any time we want! I wonder what kind of wax you need for plastic?

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Getting Over the Jet Lag...Lindsley's report from Sweden

by Alan Lindsley

Here's a report from Alan Lindsley who is skiing at the Championships out at Falun, Sweden. Enjoy!
All things are well here in Falun, Sweden. We were in route for almost 20 hours before arriving at our hotel. True to form, Dave was chomping at the bit to go ski, so after a quick change and no sleep off we went to conquer the mountain. Having a 5, 10 and 15KM loops to choose from Dave felt a minimum of 15Km would be necessary to really add to the jet lag. Of course we did not review the course profile............... hm after 9 Km of slugging through 3 inches of ungroomed new snow and a 1000 vertical feet, we reach the pinacle of the course and were able to navigate our way back down to the stadium area. We were both thinking that the ski was like going from Telmark to double O twice, just harder and slower.
After a good meal and a good nights sleep we attempted the course yet once again. With freshly groomed snow under our skis we felt it much easier even though you basically climb for the first 9 km before the course gives some rolling terrain back to you.
We will start racing on Sunday. The 30Km race for myself will be two laps of this, that will be a humbling experience, Dave will be doing one loop but with over 80 starting in his field and the course narrowing tightly within the 1st Km, Dave will have his work cut out for him to establish himself without blowing up in the lead group. I have already reserved myself to just skiing strong and calling it one heck of a birkie tune up.
Monday will bring us the 10Km race that is basically 5.25 Km with about 700 feet of climbing and then straight back down into the stadium via a winding trail with a few tricky turns.
Friday brought us an easy 15Km classic ski in falling snow. The mountain is starting to grow on us, just wish it had a few rest spots in all those climbs.
Friday night watching ourselves and three other americans burn up their wax irons after about one hour of waxing. I think its a plot by Toko to sell some of those 1400 Korona irons in the shop next door. Maybe not, Ben Lund the Toko rep burned up his iron too, maybe Ian gets a little kick back.
We were pouring in some cold powder and cold waxes as each day we are here the temperature continues to drop, we are looking at a maximum of 10 F at the start with snow falling, could be a slug fest!!!!!!!!!!!
Attached are a few pictures from our hotel, the stadium and the waxing area. We will send some race updates on sunday!
Look for travel deals and come enjoy Falun, Sweden.

Dennis Kotcon and Frank Lundeen at the Pre-Birkie

I really don't have a lot to say about this picture except for the fact that it highlights how awesome our warm-up jackets are. I only have a couple left and I believe the ones I do have left are all Large and X-Large so those of you who want one of those better get in touch with me pretty pronto.

This picture is cool because it kind of takes me back to the old Riverbrook days when our contingent of skiers could be found at basically any event. We're just getting started at CyclovaXC, but the old magic is already spreading through the air. Even at the Pre-Birkie I ran into three or four CyclovaXC skiers, and this number is only going to go up and up as the races and the years continue to pile on.

The other day I was chatting with Aaron Sturgis of Eau Claire (who has also subsequently joined the team) and he was pretty excited about the idea of a club like this for adults. As I've mentioned before, it was initially Frank and my idea just to get something like this going and then to kind of sit back and see what we could do with it once it was established. Now, a couple months into the enterprise, it's fun to kind of reflect on where we're at and how it's different than maybe where we thought we'd be (but not all that much really). Aaron's comments were along the lines of how there are teams for high schoolers, and teams for college age people, but then you're just supposed to kind of hang it up when you hit your thirties and you get married and have kids. Sure, none of us are really entertaining dreams about going to the Olympics anymore (although I could actually probably go since my wife is Peruvian and all I'd have to do is get my Peruvian citizenship and then less than 300 FIS points), but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be skiing seriously...After all, it keeps you fit, keeps you eating right, and in the long run XC-Skiing will probably save you a lot of money on doctor's bills that you aren't getting by being sedentary.

So, hopefully as the rest of this mighty train rolls on, I'll be able to bring you more and more pictures but with CROWDS of CyclovaXC skiers standing around eating donuts and exchanging war stories!

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The Things you see at the Mora Vasaloppet

I was wandering around the finish area of the Mora Vasaloppet when I kept running into this guy who'd trained his dog to stand on his head (that sentence wouldn't make a lot of sense if you didn't have the photo to guide you in the right direction). Somehow I got the impression that this was a result of the winters being long and cold and boring in Mora. Imagine the training this must have taken since standing upon his owner's head is hardly a natural position for a dog. Furthermore, this isn't the type of thing that just happens by accident and continues because it's charming. Training your dog to stand on your head takes a bit of work! It takes dedication! It takes hours and hours of not caring how foolish you look.

The thing that was great about this guy was that he just stood around like having the dog on his head was the most natural thing in the world. He also kind of posed for pictures if he saw you were aiming a camera at him. He wasn't so crude as to come up to you and start talking, but it was clear he liked the attention wearing a dog on his head brought him.

My guess is that if you go up to Mora in future years, you'll be able to find this guy hanging around the finish area at the end of the Vasaloppet and any other event that draws a crowd in the Mora area.

The city with the guy with the dog on his head...it could be a catchy nickname for the town.

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The Spoils of War

Yeah, I know, I keep saying that the big thing holding me back this ski season is that in my last year living in Peru working as a gourmet food critic, I really packed on the weight. I just couldn't let them walk away with an empty plate, and if you're sitting at a five star restaurant and they bring you EIGHT delicious meals each of which goes for $75 a pop...heck, you just can't take a little nibble and let them scrape the rest off into the garbage (unless by garbage you mean my mouth, then it's OK...and yes, I was the exception to the rule in terms of what restaurant critics are like...as in everything else I've ever done or been involved with).

But, as nice as it is to scarf down $500 worth of food, you sure as heck pay for it when you're trying to climb a hill. So, for the most part, I've been avoiding the bad stuff (you can still see some tummy in the above image, so imagine what it was like 3 months ago before the snow got here).

HOWEVER, there are exceptions...like at the end of a 42 Km race. If there's a big box filled with lucious chocolate covered donuts, I'm EATING those! And, as you can see from the above image, I'm not eating just ONE...that would be STUPID! I'm eating at least THREE and that's just on my first run to the donut box.

Actually donuts were the last thing on my mind when I crossed the finish line. The first thought was some kind of curse regarding the fact that I was going to have to bend over and take off my skis and then my timing chip. However, that little curse evaporated as somebody else there at the finish line knelt down in the wet snow and did it for me (I love that guy...Frank was doing that for thousands of people at the City of Lakes Loppet and it erased a good 5 years worth of evil deeds...Frank really stocks up on the evil deeds you know).

Then after the ski removal thing I started thinking about changing out of my wet clothing. I was just on my way to get my gear bag when a guy walked by with a half eaten donut.

I grabbed him by the larynx and demanded, "WHERE DID YOU GET THAT!!!!!!"

"Over there man...what the...what's the MATTER WITH YOU???"

But I'd already forgotten about him. He was nothing. Weak. Pathetic.

I headed over to the donuts and unabashedly grabbed three and just hoped that somebody would put up a stink so I could just unleash a whole frickin' barrel of primordial feral justified donut devouring rage. But fortunately for everyone else...nobody said anything (I probably wasn't even the biggest glutton there).

And let me tell you something else, some sick little truth that a select few people in the world know but which nobody wants all that wide spread.

A chocolate donut at the end of a 42 km ski tastes about a million times better than the best $75 meal at the greatest five star restaurant in all the world.

Skiing rocks!

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Birkie Fever!--Cyclops 2.4

Hello all you fearless CyclovaXC warriors! I trust you're feeling exhausted but exhilarated after a phenomenal couple weeks of skiing! Since I've last cluttered up your inboxes with my deranged ranting, there have been a plethora of tremendous XC events in the North country (the City of Lakes Loppet, Badger State Games, The Pre-Birkie, and the Mora Vasaloppet to name a few). Word on the grapevine is that we've had CyclovaXC skiers (resplendent in their magnificent CyclovaXC gear) in all of these events, and if you have some photos or war stories to share, don't hesitate to send them (cyclovaxc@gmail.com)

Throughout the next couple weeks I'll be posting from the vast collection of photos I've acquired over the last few weeks. I've got a guy with a dog on his head at Mora, various images of us skiing, a little kid bundled up to the gills to keep out the cold, and a few more little knick knacks that will just fill you with love and joy and an overwhelming desire to just hammer out about 76 consecutive kilometers up at the Birkie trail.

Also of interest to many of you is that Frank's really been turning up the heat in terms of his SKI TECH articles. In this issue of the Cyclops you'll find a couple links to waxing videos that show the proper technique. Remember that Frank used to wax for the US ski team (so he knows what he's talking about). Frank's one of those guys who gets irritated when his skis are "only as fast" as everyone else's, because he PRESUMES that his skis are going to be outrunning the rest of the pack (which is a good place to be in any kind of a race). Even if you already think you know what you're doing (which all of us kind of do), these videos can help you tweak a few areas that might shave an extra minute or ten from your Birkie time!

So anyway, without further ado, the much anticipated article list:

1. A Birkie Tale...: Andrew Johnson got this edition of the Cyclops going with a bang with what proved to be a very popular article about a little Birkie mishap involving a packet of GU, a leak, and some embarrassing freezing. Check it out!

2. Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival: Hurry, enter the Lottery: Frank worked some magic here to allow CyclovaXC members an early bird link to enter the fat tire.

3. SKI TECH: What Makes a Fast Ski: Information that all skiers want to know.

4. SKI AREA PROFILE: Frederic Village / Coon Lake Trails. Sick of your local trails? Frank points you in the direction other places you can go and ski!

5. SKI TECH: Base Basics. More information from the master!

6. SKI AREA PROFILE: Timberland Hills. More new places (for some of you) to ski!

7. The Finish Area at the 2010 City of Lakes Loppet: I caught some guy styling in some all white arctic/urban wear. Check him out!

8. 2010 City of Lakes Loppet Slideshow: I wore my darn GoPro camera on my head to bring you these images, so you better appreciate them!

9. VIDEO: Proper Scraping and Brushing Technique for Cross Country Skiing. A video everyone who has ever thought of cross-country skiing NEEDS to see!

10. VIDEO: How to Apply Pure Fluro Waxt to your Cross Country Skis. Another vital video for the eyes and minds of XC aficionados.

11. Here Comes the Pre-Birkie! Pre-Birkie preview.

12. The Mora Vasaloppet: Mora Vasaloppet preview.

13. SKI AREA PROFILE: Soldier Hollow. Another place that's worth the drive.

So there you have it folks! Stay tuned to CyclovaXC where Frank will be presenting his wax recommendations a few days before the race! We'll be seeing all of you after the Birkie (hopefully at the Sawmill Saloon slamming one or two or a dozen beers)!

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SKI AREA PROFILE: Soldier Hollow

Location: Midway, UT.
Trail Distance: 34+ K groomed to perfection for skate or classic with extensive man made snow if necessary
Trail Terrain: Generally very challenging. Come to "SOHO" if you want to get in a hard workout.
Warming House: A beautiful chalet with bathrooms, concessions, ski rental shop, and lounge.
Favorite Stretch of Trail: "Flying down through the curve into the stadium in a rock hard classic track, gliding through the stadium, and sprinting to the stadium finish line!"

Review: I realize that Cyclova XC is a Midwestern based ski club, but Soldier Hollow is just one of those places serious XC Skiers have to ski sometime in their life, so here is my review of it!

Recently, I skied at Soldier Hollow after having not been there for a couple of years. First off, I had a great time at this world class venue. I was quickly reminded how skiing in Utah is so very different than skiing in the Midwest; the hills go on for kilometers at a time, the air is thin, the snow is dryer, the vegetation is different, and there are of course mountain all around. All of these contribute to making soldier Hollow great!

Of course, part of the allure of Soldier Hollow is to remember the epic battles that happened there during the 2002 Olympic Games. Throughout the venue, you see reminders that the games were here, these reminders inspiring you to keep on moving around on the trails.

The Olympic Biathlon Range and Cross Country Stadium at Soldier Hollow

To get you situated, Soldier Hollow is located in the foothills of Mt. Timpanogas, one of the biggest and most rugged mountains in the Wasatch Range. The elevation ranges from roughly 6000 - 7000 ft with the trails constantly going up and down. Certain loops such as the appropriately named Roller Coaster, Spin and Grin, and The Finger of Fate are either entirely up or down. As I mentioned above, come to Soldier Hollow if you're looking for a hard workout, but note it is difficult to do an easy ski here due to the terrain.

The view from the top of Spin and Grin

The aptly named "Finger of Fate"

While this is a tough course, I've got to say that it is one of the funnest places to ski hard that I've ever experienced. Once you get out on these trails, you just want to go hard and while you'd normally be grimacing, you somehow work out a smile!

The author working out a smile when he'd normally be grimacing.

Finally, Soldier Hollow will spoil you with their perfectly machined tracks (grooming). I recall when I lived in Utah they used to plow the "natural snow" off of the trail because the man made snow is so great here - that's how serious they are about grooming the trails to perfection!

So watch for a cheap airline ticket to Salt Lake City, drive over the pass, and check out Soldier Hollow!

Going up!!!