Friday, February 21, 2014

Baltic Tour

I am currently in Otepaa, Estonia doing a Scandinavian Cup B Tour. At the end of January I had a couple wins at the Eastern Canadian Champs which qualified me for this Tour. This is an action-packed week trip with 6 races in 9 days then 2 World Cup starts in Lahti on Feb.28/Mar.1.

We started in Priekuli/Cesis, Latvia after a ferry ride from Helsinki and a long drive across Estonia and Latvia. Cesis was a pleasant surprise, it is a medieval city and our hotel was right in the old part of the city. That meant there was lots of exploring to be done, the perfect way to keep my jet-lagged brain awake in the afternoons!

The hotel was a block away from the ruins of a medieval castle. Little bit of history: the castle was first built in 1209 which is about when Cesis became an official town. The castle was partially destroyed in the 1500s when the residents blew themselves up (in one of the biggest mass suicides) to prevent Ivan the Terrible from taking over the castle. It was later rebuilt and we had fun exploring what remains!

Olivia and I scouted the perimeter on the only sunny day:

We toured the castle on our last afternoon, this is the view from the castle grounds:

Climbing down into the dungeon:

We were able to climb to the top of the tower on the left:

Dahria climbing the narrow spiral staircase to the top of the tower, we were given candle lanterns for light:

There were lots of other interesting things spread around town, this is a sculpture near our hotel:

The first 2 races were near Cesis at the Latvian Championships. I used them as warm-up races to get my legs back after the travel as the race fields were quite small. I got the cobwebs out of my system on Saturday in the 5km classic, coming 3rd, then won the 5km skate on Sunday with a Canadian sweep of the podium: (Anne-Marie was 3rd but missed the awards).

Next stop was Madona, Latvia for some mid-week Scando Cup races. The competition here was much fiercer with full Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish contingents and multiple top-10 World Cup skiers!

We stayed in cabins right above the race course which made for optimal race viewing:

Photo: Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt
My fitness and race speed finally feels like it's coming around and had 2 solid races, finishing 11th in the sprint and 18th in the 10km skate. I had a blast skiing with the fast Euros - each heat in the sprint was tight with crashes and aggressive moves and it was fun to be right in the mix! 

After racing yesterday we drove to Otepaa, Estonia. This is our house for the next few days:

Today was a day off then we have a classic sprint tomorrow and classic 10km on Sunday. I'm planning to do both races as long as I can continue to avoid the cold that has been working its way through the team! I will then travel to Lahti, Finland for the World Cup next weekend.

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