Today we checked out the Vasaloppet cross-country ski race course. We started at the Vasaloppet Museum in Mora. I watched a short film of the first race in the ’70s. The racers poled exclusively, never kicking, using their feet only to steer. They hopped up, lifting one or both skis off the ground, landing on their pole-tips and doubling over to thrust backward with their falling weight. They popped up and down as if they were on pogo-sticks. At Gronklitt I’d been passed by several young men skiing this way.
Outside of Mora, we crossed a single-lane bridge that the highway shares with a railroad track. I wondered who has the right of way. “Tonnage counts,” Mark guessed.
We went to the start of the course, on the side of an icy hill. The cabins and buildings were all buttoned up. Low steel rails ran along roof edges over doors and other areas where people might stand or walk underneath them. Lance said they are to keep slabs of snow from sliding off a roof onto someone’s head.
Next we visited a way-station with a small lodge; and a grassy hill for fans that had been trampled and frozen into a knobby, somewhat furry slope (the race was two weeks ago). Lance and I put our skis on and tried a little of the course; it was mostly icy snow, and the rest was just ice. No wonder they don’t kick. I tried this style of skiing; it’s exhausting, and the jumping part feels unstable.
Finally we visited a high section, which runs thru open forest and along a frozen lake. There was lots of snow here, so we stayed to ski for several hours. The course had just been groomed and was in perfect shape. But I quickly discovered that the tracks were too narrow for my skis; the edges of the bindings scraped against the sides of the tracks. Shelley had the same problem. We guessed that the tracks were designed for racing skis. The groomed course was icy, too.
But the country was very open, and the ungroomed snow had a thin crust with a faintly wind-rippled texture. As soon as the sun found it, it was pretty good. I spent the time gliding thru woods looking at animal tracks and investigating burbling holes where a creek was just starting to thaw out.
Back in town, I hurried around to some shops. Most of the clerks spoke English well, and all were friendly and helpful. The shops in Mora close at 5 or 6 PM, and then the gritty streets become very quiet.