Sunday morning greeted us with more of the same weather that had proved so challenging the previous day. With limited time on our hands we affixed the British stiff upper lip and got back out in the snow.
The days plan was to head back to the Olympic stadium just above Lillehammer for an hour or so in the morning then to head to Sjusjøen in the afternoon, where we hope a greater altitude would give us colder temperatures and better performing ski conditions.
As the day before no combination of wax gave us the grip / glide performance we had seen in perfect snow back in November. The skis would glide with no grip or grip with no glide ... better to suffer these conditions now than on race day we hoped.
After an hour at the stadium and a lunch watching another Norwegian ski relay defeat we headed to Sjusjøen. Conditions were poor with very limited visibility and the same issues with the skis.
To make matters worse after stopping for a chat I pushed off but instead of gliding forward I simply pushed myself over forward to the sickening sound of an expensive SWIX pole snapping :(
We continued to rack up a daily total of 24km ...
An evening of good food and wine with Torbjøen and partner Dise was reward for our toil in poor conditions.
All along all hopes had been pinned on Monday being a fantastic day ... in cross country ski terms that is blue skies and -5 to -10 temperatures ... Monday did not disappoint !
Monday was a real test for myself and Henry as it would be the first time we were out on the tracks unsupervised, not only this but the days plan was to tackle the final descent form Sjusjøen to Lillehammer, the steepest part of the course !
The day was fantastic ... we had grip, glide and phenomenal views across the snow covered slopes with there heavily snow capped trees. We headed back up the Birken course for 5km before we turned to make our way to Lillehammer.
Straight away as we left Sjusjøen the track got steep and luckily today my snowplough had returned so when Henry switched in to speed ski mode I maintained a more controlled approach and ploughed my way down the steeper part of the slopes.
As the skiing was pretty relaxed we subconsciously took a decision for more climbing and took a wrong turn as we neared the stadium at Lillehammer. What should of been a gently rolling descent turned in to a roller coaster as we herringboned up some pretty steep slopes to be faced with, at one point, what looked like a ski jump we had to descend.
Arriving at the stadium, with another 25+km's under our belt, I think we were both now much more comfortable with completing the full course though come race day I am sure nerves will prevail.
Bring on the Birken !!
Huge thanks again to Jean Francois who though injured still orchestrated our whole training weekend and put us in touch with the excellent Torbjøen and Dise. Thanks also to Jon from the Birken organisation for driving us on the Monday so we didn't have to face a large climb back to Sjusjøen.