Into thin air


A lot has happened since my last blog, probably because I’ve totally neglected my hardly ambitious target of one blog a month! In August I packed my poor car to capacity and began the LONG drive to Lillehammer, stopping off first in Lancaster to visit my pal Sam and secondly for a longer stop in Swansea to visit my girlfriend, Katie and her fam. I wouldn’t highly recommend the drive through northern France, Belgium and Germany with only 2 likeable CD’s and minimal sleep!

Out for a marsh run with some of Lillehammer’s skiers, including Finland’s Heikki Korpela who has also moved here with the hope of skiing faster

My new base couldn’t really be much more perfect for life as a cross country skier. In just two minutes of *slightly dodgy* descending on rollerskis you’re into the Birkebeiner stadium where there is, easily, the best rollerski track I’ve ever used, totally purpose build with 6km of tracks just like those we race on in the winter. There are no dog walkers, burnt out cars or kids on motor bikes in sight, quite a step up from the cycle paths around Edinburgh! The options for possible running routes are endless with literally thousands of little paths cutting through the forest and across the, many, marshes. Possibly the biggest advantage of living here lies with the sheer number of elite level skiers that base themselves in Lillehammer. Twice I’ve headed out to do a session on my own and somehow ended up doing it with a world cup medallist instead!






Getting my bearings around Nordseter
Running up past the snowline as autumn arrives in the Alps, the glacier at Tignes opens for skiing next week. James insists he didn’t regret the shorts
Chilling in a crevasse on a glacier above  Val’Isère

There wasn’t long to get settled in before it was time to jet off somewhere high. As could be easily deduced from watching cycle racing in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, having lots of red blood cells makes you go very fast. The synthetic manipulation of an athlete’s blood is strictly prohibited, but going and living somewhere above 2000 metres for three weeks will make your body produce lots of new red blood cells and may just give you a turbo boost on skis. This is the theory anyway, so I headed off to Tignes, France for three weeks of cheese and crème brûlée.. Possibly cancelling out any desired performance benefit.  There is a danger that pushing too hard at altitude can do real damage, so there was some serious chilling time outside of training! As well as reading I, along with James and Duncan, managed to get hooked on ‘Detectorists’ a BBC series centred round a metal detecting club in Hampshire. This possibly got slightly out of hand when Duncan started having dreams about the three of us going detecting together.  James, impressively, put up with sharing a small room with me for three weeks despite my complete Anglo bastardisation of his mother tongue and accidental theft of his clothing and towels. Although we had access to the internet, James and I took it upon ourselves to stick rigorously to our unofficial Tignes playlist, consisting of just six songs and listened to at every waking opportunity. I probably never want to hear any of the following songs again:

Feeling Good – Nina Simone

Ain’t it fun – Guns and Roses

Free Angel – T.Rex

Folsum Prison Blues – Johnny Cash

Ain’t no Sunshine – Bill Withers

Cocaine Blues – Johnny Cash

On another note, with the snow approaching fast (Natrudstilen is opening ski tracks next weekend!) I’m looking to upgrade my ski collection this season so that my skis can be truly competitive on the world cup. Salomon and the British team’s technicians are going to work with me to select and test skis that’ll hopefully let me go as fast as I plan to go! Unfortunately, this falls outside my budget for the season so I need your help! Please visit my crowdfunder page for more info. Any donation you could make would be greatly appreciated, otherwise PLEASE SHARE!

First race in Norway didn’t quite go to plan, taking a wrong turn whilst in the lead is never ideal!
After a precarious scree slope descent from a 3000m top, we found an abandoned ski from the winter season, an ideal opportunity for James to get some advertising material for his new knitwear line..
Just trying my best to show everyone I’m not too phased by heights or the 500 metre cliff on my left
Climbing Col de l’Iseran, 3 days later it was snowing!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Ian Cooper says:

    Hi Callum, I tried to ‘crowd fund you yesterday but for some reason I couldn’t complete it and then FB died on me. Will try again. I have a request, I can go for 1 ski at the moment, the only request I have is that you wear one of our Huntly Nordic Ski Club patches. I will post one out to you if you can give me an address in Lillehammer please. However you’ll have to sew it onto one of your jackets please.

    Ian Cooper (HNSC Chairman) for a few more weeks

    1. callumsmithskiblog says:

      Hi Ian, many thanks! I would of course be happy to wear a Huntly badge. I’ll send you an email with my address 🙂

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