Slovenia, France: On Snow in Sjusjøen
The Slovenian team got a jump on some of their rivals, when they moved north from their home base at Pokljuka to Sjusjøen, Norway on October 25. In the days just before the trek north, the team’s ultimate cross-trainer Klemen Bauer was on the sunny Adriatic coast one day and then doing combo training in short tights near his home the next day. “I was swimming in the Adriatic less than 10 days ago and the guys are still kidding me about that!”
Bauer added, “When we arrived and for the first week, we were the only people here, except for lots of Norwegian club teams that we had to work around. But now some more teams including France arrived as November started.”
Fairy Tale Conditions Missing
However the early arrival did not turn out as planned for much of the first week. “It has not been the winter, fairy tale conditions as we expected. It has been warm with some rain, and a little afternoon snow, but the area is not even white when you look outside; mainly cloudy and foggy. There was just a short loop that we have been working on so far…It is not that romantic looking now. What we are really missing is those 1.5 hour classic ski afternoon sessions with your headlamp through the forest. It is just not possible now.”
Quentin Fillon Maillet voiced a similar opinion a couple of days after the French team arrived. His first training session consisted of countless repetitions of the small loop with teammates in light rain. “The conditions here a not excellent, while the weather is not so good just like the snow but we can ski on a 2.5K loop and running outside.”
New Loops on Tap
Fillon Maillet and his teammates are making do in the current conditions, but are hoping for “some snow and cold.” With Mother Nature being somewhat uncooperative but temperatures below freezing at night, the Sjusjøen Skisenter produced roughly 12,000 cubic meters of snow that they put on the tracks on November 1. That gave the increasing number of teams 2.5K and 3.5K loops over the weekend.
For Slovenia, this is their first on-snow training of the season, unlike many other teams that went to the glacier or Oberhof to get on snow a few weeks ago. Yet the transition and getting on snow was not hard or as anticipated as it once was. “10 years ago, it was really exciting to get on snow for the first time. Now, it is just, ‘okay, we are on skis tomorrow.’…I am used to the quick transition to the snow. There was not much problem with the transfer from rollerskis to skis; I could easily make the transition just a week before the first competition. I have noticed this for several years; it is either experience or age! 7 or 8 years ago, we made that quick transition before Östersund and were quite successful.”
Speed and Test Races
On the snow, the Slovenians are doing what everyone else is doing as the days count down to the season-opening first competitions in 27 days. They picked up speed in their final rollerski sessions and now are doing “intermediate speed” sessions with a higher pace. Yesterday, they conducted their first on-snow “test” races with another scheduled later in the week.
Football and Gym
Even the season is very close; there is off-snow work still to be done. Last Thursday, while the new snow was being laid on the tracks, the team went into Lillehammer for some strength training and a bit of indoor football. Just as in the summer, two teammates were eager for a short game. “No matter how tired after intervals or what, Jakov (Fak) and Miha (Dovžan) are always ready to play.”
Opening on Home Ground
Despite not as good of conditions as hoped for, Bauer and his teammates are excited about opening the new BMW IBU World Cup season at home in Pokljuka. “That will be something new, since everyone is used to opening in Sweden. Hopefully, this will be good for us, starting on the home venue. We hope nature will cooperate and the organizers get a lot of spectators. Everyone is excited; I personally have high expectations for these home venue races. It will be a chance for us to show our best on the home ground for the first time in a couple of years. We are looking forward to it!”
Yet before those first competitions, there is another dilemma for the Slovenians after they leave Norway later in the week. “Uros’ main concern is where to go next for the weeks just before Pokljuka…Personally, if I have to, it is better to do some good quality rollerski sessions than do it on skis in poor conditions, since it is warm in many places.”
In the meantime, they and the other teams gathering in Sjusjøen and places like Vuokatti, Kontiolahti and Tyumen are getting in every bit of snow time possible, regardless of conditions, counting down the days in anticipation of the new season of BMW IBU World Cup Biathlon.
Fillon Maillet summed up everyone’s mindset at this stage of the year. “I’m very impatient to put a bib.”
Photos: Klemen Bauer, Quentin Fillon Maillet, Rene Miko