By Jennie Bender
For those of you who like to read blogs, this one’s for you. For everyone else, I included pictures.
Living large in Latvia –
Wow, this place is cool. I never thought I would find myself here, but that’s what I like about life. If I were to just drive through Latvia, I would think “Eh”, but spending even only three days in Madona , I can say that we have been treated magnificently. We got hooked up with this bed and breakfast type house (called Janis), where the food that they cater in is amazing, and the rooms are painted warm colors with lots of woodwork interior. The twelve of us took up the whole house perfectly, and everyone who worked there was suuuuuper nice, despite our lame inability to speak any language other than English. (Side note – I asked one of the workers at U23s how many languages he spoke. He said “Oh not many, you know, about seven.” A majority speak at least three.)
The Training Venue –
Apparently this is the first big race (or race ever?) to be held at our venue. Might I say that, as the theme of this blog goes, I definitely would never have known this fact. They had to make some snow to fill in the 3.3k and 1.1k loop, but the trails were at least world cup standard width or wider. Along with the athlete warming houses, podium arrangement, rockin tunes, wax trailers and jumbo result screen with a calming spring pictures slideshow, I would say they are well underway to top notch.
The Last Night –
“We go to house, you eat, we have pool party, then who knows!” were the words of the young blonde intern who was working there as part of her hotel management degree. SO, we all piled into our cars having no idea what we were in for, where we were going, who would be there, or really anything. As we were following the intern in the car ahead of us, we started to worry as she took us into the dark wilderness on snowy back roads. At this point we realize that they could be completely ransacking our rooms back at the hotel at that moment, and we would be totally screwed as they pop all our tires in the woods. “Make sure you take your bags” she says to us as we unload into a dark empty parking lot. By the look on our faces, she then follows with “Don’t be scare! It is ok I do not bite!” A short walk down a snowy driveway later, we are at a big, two story log lodge. Janis’s “sister” lodge. Inside there is an amazing dinner set up waiting for us, as well as a few other guests that the intern and owner brought along. Following dinner we wet sauna-ed it up, drank sauna tea, played some casual pool dodge ball, and headed home all soft skinned and full of joy. We miss you Latvia.
Welcome (back) to Estonia –
We just arrived at a Europe version of the OTC in lake placid, but with a whole lot more. All the teams are staying at the venue, partially because we are on the trails, but mostly because there is nowhere else to stay. We are, or so it seemed driving in, a ways from other civilization. Speaking of, stay tuned for some good stories of inter-team socialization. Or you might just have to ask Skyler yourself.
The classic sprint race was today, and I just got back from watching Ida place 5th in the A final after qualifying 14th. For myself, well I qualified 15th, and got knocked out of lucky loser because of my high bib number. I need to work on that. Just didn’t have the energy today. Classic 10k tomorrow, then spending a night in Tallin before we all fly somewhere. For some it’s home in the US, and for others more racing in Europe. Wish us luck!