Simi Hamilton

Heading east towards Ruka.

Cold, dark, humid Ruka

Topic: General News

We’re back. Ruka is one of those places on the tour that’s become a staple. From the same Finnish hit station playing in the restaurant, to the all-too-familiar long, slow, 10 minute uphill slog to every meal, some things never change. But it’s all good, because this place always dishes up a great race weekend and both the distance and sprint courses, as well as the unique mini-tour race format set the bar high for the rest of the World Cup season. I’ve been here in the past when the mercury hasn’t climbed above 0°F for a week straight. Exposed skin almost immediately flushes red and then turns to a ghostly pale white for the rest of the training session (or the walk to breakfast). Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, that seems to be less and less common up here in the far north, as Europe’s winters are becoming increasingly more mild. We’re looking towards a week of relatively warm temps here, although the ice-fog that makes its home here in eastern Finland anywhere on the landscape that rises more than a few meters, will surely find its way through however many layers of poly-pro and down we can put on. The FIS World Cup weekend opener kicks off with a classic sprint on Friday, followed by and individual skate 5/10 km on Saturday, and a pursuit start 10/15 km classic on Sunday. You can watch those races, and all other World Cup races this season, live here.

We had a great first week of training overseas in Gällivare, Sweden. Lucky for us, the small mining town 200 km north of the arctic circle got dumped on the day before we arrived. The 5 km World Cup course was in great condition for the whole week we were there, especially after about 20 volunteers from the local ski club spent several hours shoveling snow from the woods on the thin spots scattered throughout the course.

Looking from the Hotel Dundret, just above the races courses, towards town and the iron ore mines.

Looking from the Hotel Dundret, just above the races courses, towards town and the iron ore mines.


Sun setting on Gällivare.

Sun setting on Gällivare.

I took these two photos from my hotel window, the first showing the sunrise over town and the second showing the sunset over town. I think I took them about 30 minutes apart. It’s a pretty amazing part of the world, and when you start to spend more and more time here, you begin to understand why Scandinavians value long, warm summer days so much. They embrace the dark and the cold and skiing under the lights, but I think they absorb most of their energy to get thru the long winters during the summer months. When the sun does poke its head out in November-February, you’re hard pressed to find a more beautiful and rugged landscape anywhere in the world.

The warm-up FIS sprint race didn’t go superb for me last weekend. My energy just felt a little low and my body needed a good wake up I think. For some reason I’ve had a really tough time adjusting to the time change this time around, averaging only about 5 hours of sleep per night. But the good news is that when I am awake during the day, I’m feeling energized and focused, for the most part. I’m hoping that any day now my body will realize that it’s probably a good idea to be passed out in bed a little longer each night, and I’ll be able to start waking up to an alarm at 8 a.m. We’ll see how that goes. On the plus side though, our team as a whole had a really good start to the race season. We had 5 podiums, with Jessie’s double victory in the classic sprint and 10 km skate, Soph’s 2nd in the classic sprint, Caitlin’s 3rd in the 10 km skate, and Andy’s 2nd in the classic sprint. The team is fired up to really get the season under way and I’m excited to see what kind of results this weekend produces. More from the far North soon.

Jessie and Soph crushing the field on the first turn in the women's sprint finals in Gällivare.

Jessie and Soph crushing the field on the first turn in the women’s sprint finals in Gällivare.

Our radical "US Ski Temm Wax Trukk". Traveling incognito. That Norwegian truck doesn't have anything on our rig!

Our radical “US Ski Temm Wax Trukk”. Traveling incognito. That Norwegian truck doesn’t have anything on our rig!

Heading east towards Ruka.

Heading east towards Ruka.



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