A Junior Trip Update by Nick M (dated 17.12)

This past week we have left one of my (Nick M’s) favourite countries, Austria, and moved to another highly rated country, in this case Germany.

After a busy two days of racing, we were relieved to have the pressure off for the next few days, so on our last day in the European Alps Nick Grimmer and I planned a little ski tour (or ‘adventure’ as I have begun to describe anything not directly linked to racing). I had discovered that the St Ulrich trail network was rather large, so Nick drove us to the very edge of the trail system, about 15km away and in a different Austrian province, near the town of Leogang. From there we would skate back, and although the persistent rain had made the snow difficult to ski we had a nice time. Kudos to Allison for not only managing to get up close and personal with the snow during one particular descent, but also having the willpower (and mind control?) to make me fall over in exactly the same place, just as I was having a great time laughing at her misfortune. Lesson learnt.

We then packed up and started our six hour drive to Klingenthal, a tourist town in Saxony, part of the former East Germany and right up against the Czech border. The journey there saw some of us disappointed but also relieved that German autobahns now have a speed limit of 130km/h, instead of the previous situation where speed limits didn’t exist. The German countryside seemed covered in a few things: snow, fields of hops (German beer has to be grown somewhere), and thousands and thousands of solar panels. It’s amazing that a country without much sunlight for months of the year can not only put dozens of panels on each large roof, but also have whole fields devoted to rows and rows of panels.

As we neared Klingenthal, our GPS showed that the quickest way to get there was through a certain other country, which shall henceforth remain nameless. As we made our shortcut through the woods, villages and mountains of this country, Linky unleashed with her myriad jokes about this country, then to confirm all our suspicions and prejudices we saw a man walking his fridge along the highway. Because people can have fridges as pets too, y’know…

Anyway, we arrived in our apartment block near Klingenthal, which is opposite a hotel where we receive delicious meals three times a day, and have to resist the temptation to overeat. It has been foggy most of the time, so we haven’t actually seen much, but I think there is just rolling hills covered in trees. There are also communist-era buildings, and even the odd hammer and sickle on some of the signs, such as the one for ‘birthplace of Germany’s first cosmonaut’. This place is in a bit of a time-warp compared to the rest of Germany; fortunately the prices are also those of twenty years ago. The skiing is nice and there is plenty of snow, so we are happy here, despite the ever-present threat of rain.

Yesteday we skied at Oberwiesenthal, about an hour east of here. Our journeys both to and from were interesting, including our GPS suggesting a route through ‘that other country’. Seeing a very thin line on the map, I had my doubts but we followed anyway, only to encounter a grumpy old man in a very large truck, who had no qualms blocking the road for what he said was 20 more minutes. Fortunately Anna speaks the language of this country and was able to find this out, as the rest of us only know the Czech word for ‘subordinate’ (podrizeny) which we thought would get us a cool reception from the truck driver. We beat a hasty retreat back into Germany.

Our ski in Oberwiesenthal saw us investigate what looks like a rather painful racecourse, on which we will be racing on the weekend. They hadn’t had any rain up there so it was looking very spectacular with heaps of snow, and the sun even made an appearence for the first time that week.

We are now about to head back to Oberwiesenthal for a weekend of German Cup races, but will be returning to our lovely buffet meals here in Klingenthal. Sorry there’s not much about the actual training we’ve done, but I struggle to write about interval sessions.

by Nick Montgomery

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