First blog – Livigno and Chamonix

Here is my first blog…

Following a month and a half of racing throughout Europe, chasing the required standards to qualify for the Olympic Games in Sochi it was time for a period R&R (well kind of). I, along with several other members of the national team headed for the remote Italian ski resort of Livigno for a block of training over the Christmas period.

Livigno is a great training base for cross country skiers. It is at an altitude of around 1800m, high enough to give desired physiological improvements in endurance capacity but not so high that sleeping is difficult. It is also a duty free zone so living costs are pretty low.

On arrival the ski tracks were looking a little thin with some sections being right through to bare earth and gravel, not ideal although not surprising considering the lack of snow throughout central Europe and Scandinavia. This was soon put right with over 1 metre of snow falling between Christmas and Boxing Day. Getting down to the tracks to train on the 26th involved holding skis and poles above your head, leaning forward and wading through powder snow up to your ribs!

As nice a place as Livigno is, I was looking forward to moving on to another location by the end of my three week stint. The final 10 days of which being spent in an apartment referred to by the Hotel that owns it as ‘The Bunker’. An underground apartment with one small window in each room which sits below a metal grating on the street above. One bedroom had such bad problem with condensation that it was vacated and christened ‘The Aquaroom’.

On the 6th of January the team regrouped in Chamonix for a European cup race at the weekend. A firm reminder of how little snow most of central Europe currently has struck us when skiing round what was to be a race venue in just a couple of days. A mixture of sugar snow, ice, mud, stones and a fair quantity of gravel covered the open and skiable parts of the race course. The rest was covered in mounds of dirty snow brought in by tractor ready to be spread out into a track. Although not an ideal situation in the meantime, there will be a race this weekend and I’m very grateful to all the volunteers who are working night and day in order to make a skiable track for us to race round.

(This is a few days late, I’ll update with Chamonix experience shortly)

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