Tuesday, February 28, 2006

PS

Bjoern Lind is a monster, a machine and a very, very, very, very good cross country sprinter. Too bad he's Swedish or I might actually have liked the guy... ;) No, I don't mean that Bjoern - don't worry, you're still the number 1 Swede in my heart.

Dropped off the face of the earth... Sort of...

I'm back. The last few days have been hectic, very hectic. Between training, team meetings and speaking engagements - I've had my plate full.

The Olympics are over, a bit sad really. But there is only 2 year to Beijing and 4 year before Vancouver hosts the next winter Olympics. As any good, self-respecting Norwegian, I am hoping for better results then. Talk about let down! Torino was supposed to be our time to shine, especially considering the record 13 Gold medals from Salt Lake City and the even more impressive results from the World Championship in Oberstdorf last year.

So why was it a near-catastrophe? Bad luck, illness and a miss in peak form. But, maybe in the grand scheme of things, this is good. Maybe it's good to get some distance and perspective. Lets learn from the mistakes and come back stronger next time. Also, these Olympics have proven that the depth and level of competition is better than ever before. And what could be better than that?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Americans and the Olympics

What is the deal with ice skating and American viewers? After talking to a good friend of mine, who is racing in California right now, I've been led to believe that 95% of the TV coverage over there is about ice skating. Now don't get me wrong, I have the outmost respect for figure skating and the demands it puts on the athletes. But seeing that the USA has become a power-house at the Olympic Games, wouldn't you think that the TV coverage would be more balanced?

Since many of you who stop by this blog, are indeed from America, I'm eager to hear your 2 cents on this. Are you happy with the coverage?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Here we go again....

As you've undoubtedly heard, the Austrian Ski Team has yet again proven it's dubious ethics. Walter Mayer, the infamous Austrian coach from Salt Lake City 2002, has apparently continued his doping lab in support of the Austrian Ski Team. A handful of Austrian Olympians have already admitted to the use of PEDs and I'm sure we haven't seen the end of this yet. It's a damn shame, but at least we are catching them. Now it's up to the IOC, WADA, IBU and FIS to dole out sufficient whop-ass to these idiots.

the 2006 Olympics has been a fairly sad state of affairs for the Norwegian cross country team. They traveled to Torino as sky-high favorites, but with no gold medals as of yet, they have not met the expectations. But, in all fairness, the depth and level of quality over the last 5-6 years has improved drastically and it's increasingly difficult to consistently win. Sort of like what the Tour will be post-Armstrong.

But, the games are not over yet. Tomorrow the individual sprint events start. This is a fairly new cross country event, but highly popular and spectator friendly. Norway is fielding, yet again, a very strong team led by the monster from Egersund - Tor Arne Hetland. Ola Vigen Hattestad, Trond Iversen and Johan Kjoelstad complete the team. On the women's side we have Marit Bjoergen, Ella Gjoelme and Hilde G Pedersen. A healthy, on form Marit Bjoergen will be unstoppable...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Early season prep

Well, it looks like my early season prep is going down the drain.... I've lost another 6 days of training to a mysterious headache that is not going away. No diagnosis so far, but will do more extensive checks next week.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sick days

Went through my training log day. Since mid-August, 2005, I've been sick 17 days. That 17 days off the bike due to freakin' illness. Depressing, really...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

From road to track

So, can a roadie with potential do well on the track (pursuit)? A good friend of mine is sort of challenging me and before I put money on it, I have to consult with my very capable and experienced readers. :)

My experience on the track can very simply be summed up like this:

I know it's an oval and I know that the turns have banks...

For the lack of a better word, am I screwed?

What would it take for me to ride the 4000m pursuit with decent results? As far as I know, the pursuit demands similar physical qualities as a road race. About 80% aerobic and 20% anaerobic, I think (?).

But what about technique and tactics? I need advice and I'll promise to share my winnings with you once I rip the legs of my dear friend. I look forward to hearing your 2 cents on this.

For the love of the sport

For better and for worse, I love sports.

I love the struggles, the defeats and the victories.

But most of all, I just love being out there, doing it. Every day.

I love the simplicity of it all.

Happy Valentines Day

Monday, February 13, 2006

News from Pragelato

Seems like respiratory infections and stomach flus are defeating the otherwise superhuman strength of our cross country skiers. One hot, medal favorite after another falls victim to a very nasty virus these days. First to fall was Marit Bjoergen on the opening event, 15k duathlon, last Sunday. Then Jens Arne Svartedal and Hilde Gjermundshaug Pedersen got the same bug.

And if that wasn't enough, Frode Estil was involved in a crash at the very beginning of the 30k duathlon. The fact that Frode managed to fight his way back and capture the silver medal only shows how strong he is.

Tomorrow the team sprints start and Norway is putting Tor Arne Hetland and Jens Arne Svartedal on the line. This should be a strong team, but look out for Sweden, Russia and maybe even Poland. On the women's side, Marit Bjoergen will start, even though most news organizations seems to have missed that, along with Ella Gjoelme. If they both have a good day, the gold should be theirs.

The sprint events are very exciting to watch and should be entertaining, even for spectators that normally do not follow the sport. Calling it sprint, is however a bit of a misnomer. The distance is normally between 1.5-2km and is much more comparable to 800m or 1500m in track and field. Since the FIS introduced these new events, we have seen quite a bit of specialization. The skiers that win the sprint will normally not win the longer events. For us cyclists, you can think of the sprints in cross country skiing as comparable to maybe the kilo and pursuit distances on the track.

The altitude of Pragelato is claiming victims every day. Competing at this high of an elevation means that once you pass into the red zone and lactic acid starts to accumulate, it takes an awful, awful long time before the body rids itself of it. By the time you are fit for fight again, the rest of the field is long gone. This means that during events such as the sprints, the winner will most likely be the skier that can keep his head cold and preserve energy when needed. This will be exciting, very exciting indeed.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Mr. Hemoglobin

After more testing today, another 4 athletes have tested above the legal hemoglobin limit. Gold-medal favorite, Evi Sachenbacher from Germany is one of them. Alen Abramovic (CRO), male Pavel Korosteljev (RUS), male Nikolai Pankratov (RUS), male Robel Teklemariam (ETH), male Sean Crooks (CAN), male Sergey Dolidovich (BLR), male Jean Marc Gaillard (FRA), male Aleksandr Latsukin (BLR), male Natalia Matveeva (RUS), female Kikkan Randall (USA), female Evi Sachenbacher (GER), female Leif Zimmermann (USA), male

Opening Day

Let the games begin! After much anticipation and doubt whether or not the Italians would be ready in time, we will now know. As promised, I'll try and post some coverage of the cross country skiing and maybe even the biathlon.

The controversy about the use of PEDs and hemoglobin values has started, as well. Nine cross country skiers and Nordic combined athletes have already measured above the allowed hemoglobin limit. Just as in cycling, this does not mean they have tested positive for PEDs, but rather that they are deemed "unfit for competition". The skiers cannot compete for 5 days and will therefore lose at least 1 event during the games. As long as their values are below the allowed limit after that time, they are back in the game.

Among the athletes we find three from North America, including Sean Crooks and Leif Zimmerman. Considering that these games are held at altitude (1600 MSL), it really is no big surprise that this is happening. As I've discussed earlier, the hemoglobin values are simply too low. Many clean athletes will test over the limit, especially during the conditions we find in Italy. Most athletes have already been on location for a while, preparing at high altitudes. Naturally, hemoglobin values will elevate during these conditions and the medical support structure is without a doubt monitoring the values very closely.

The first cross country event is the 15k and 30k duathlon for women and men, respectively. Skiers to watch on the men's side are Frode Estil (Norway) and Vincent Vittoz (France) among another handful of others. On the women's side, Marit Bjoergen (Norway), Katerina Neumannova, Julija Tsjepalova, Hilde Gjermundshaug Pedersen (Norway), Kristina Smigun and Becky Scott (Canada) are hot contenders. It all starts on Sunday.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

cyber cleanup

I've spent the last hour organizing and cleaning up my laptop and my favorites in Explorer. It's truly amazing how much shit I accumulate over time, both tangible and intangible stuff.

Time management is one of the most important aspects of my life and I've started to look for ways to make things more efficient. The more I can simplify things, the more time I would have available for things that really matter, such as sleep... :)

I just had my fat pinched and measured the other day, 5% is the verdict and I'm happy with that. Now I have no excuse for not flying up the hills, which in itself can be a problem.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Cake for me!

37 hours, baby! 37 hours full of quality and concentration. Now it's time to enjoy a well-deserved week of low volume and lots of cake. Well, maybe not so much cake, but plenty of rest, for sure.

Next week marks the beginning of 17 wonderful days, the 2006 Winter Olympics. Stay tuned to this space for some inside information on the cross country competitions. First event up is the Women and Men's Pursuit on Feb 12th (next Sunday).

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Max strength training vs. Endurance

Ah yes, the debate rages on. It seems as if this debate has gone on forever and most likely, it will continue to be a hot topic among trainers and athletes. Are there any quantifiable, proven benefits of maximum strength training for endurance athletes? And if so, what is the most effective method of training?

Research conducted over a decade has shown some interesting benefits for cyclists and other aerobic athletes. It appears as though very high resistance and low repetitions (3-4 reps, 4 sets) conducted 3-4 times a week greatly improves Max V02 and work economy without increasing the size of the muscle mass. In other words, it's a win-win scenario for cyclists.

There are, however, some things to keep in mind when performing the training. The motions have to be slow and deliberate, no jumpy, jerky or explosive motion. You are not focusing on explosiveness or speed, but rather trying to improve your body's ability to rally and effectively use the existing muscle mass. Lets take a well used exercise, such as leg press; slowly lower the weights to the lowest point and stop, hold for a few seconds before pushing away. This will improve the connections between muscle tissue and nerve-endings, resulting in increased efficiency. In other words, your muscles can do more with the same amount of energy spent (02 and glycogen). For more on this very interesting topic, take a look at this old, but very interesting article: http://www.ntnu.no/gemini/1996-04/35.html Enjoy!