The warm weather in Muonio has continued and it feels a lot like April in Vermont. The forecast had called for a fair amount of snow the past two days here but then the temperatures were a few degrees too warm and the precipitation came as rain. Luckily they spread the manmade and saved snow thickly and it is holding up quite well. The skiing remains solid even though it hasn’t even froze at night for the past few days, preventing any more snow from being blown. Thus, each day the white ribbon of a trail develops a bit more of a brownish hue.
Reports from around Europe and especially Scandinavia make us feel quite lucky to have our 3km loop. With incredibly few options for skiing anywhere on the continent, more and more skiers are travelling to Muonio in search of snow and ski races. The Czech and Belarussian national teams are the latest arrivals and we’ve heard that the Germans, Swedes, and others are on the way. Each day Muonio becomes a little busier. The ski trail is packed and we were even throwing elbows in Muonio’s small gym yesterday afternoon. On distance days I’ve realized it’s easiest to just ski my own pace and not worry about all the people around me. If someone wants to pass me, I keep going and let them go around and then do the same when passing other skiers. It’s easy to get intimidated and jump out of the way for every approaching skier but that just makes for a lot of stopping and starting.
Intervals on the busy trail become exciting and great practice for skiing in a pack. Today we did some 2 minute hard classic intervals in the rain and right in the thick of the crowds. We lucked out and the majority of people were skating today leaving the classic track a little more free for us. Still, there was lots of passing and jumping in and out of the track necessary. In the middle of one of my intervals, I was gaining quickly on another classic skier in the track ahead of me, another guy doing skating intervals was passing me and meanwhile we were all converging on a train of four Russian biathletes skiing distance with their guns. The skater doing intervals and classic skier tangled and went down, one of the biathletes let out a surprised and high pitched scream while another yelled something loudly in Russian and by sheer luck I was able to scoot around the mess to the far right being careful to not fall off the raised ribbon of ski trail.
Here are some pictures Hannah took of our rainy, hard, but fun workout. When winter does arrive, the hard extra blue tracks are going to seem just a bit too easy!