by Thomas O’Harra
After the races last weekend in the Czech Republic, we packed everything up and drove ten hours through five different countries to end in Campra, Switzerland. After the smog of Kazakhstan and the general gloom of Czech, Switzerland is a veritable paradise.
I did not have great races at Nove Mesto for a couple of reasons. I think that the gloominess of the place that we were staying at coupled with sitting around all the time and not getting enough to eat led to me having very low energy levels going into the races. Subsequently, I didn’t perform very well, certainly not as well as I had hoped.
However, all of that turned around when we got here to Switzerland! We are staying at roughly 1300 meters up in a valley, in the south-central area of the country, close to Italy. The ski trails are only about a ten minute drive up the road, and we are staying at a little hotel barely big enough for the small team that we have here. I am pretty excited, because the rest of my team (APU) will be arriving today!
Speaking of the skiing; it is incredible. Before, it was kind of hard to get up and go skiing because the skiing was not that good, or fun. Here, there is about 30 kilometers of immaculately groomed trails, winding through meadows, woods, small canyons, streams, all under the amazing, towering, mountains that dominate the sky. On days like these, it is easy to love skiing; because everything is there that I love. Skiing is fun and warm, the snow is white and clean, and the trails are perfect.
And the mountains! For one, I love mountains. Growing up in Anchorage, I spent a lot of time in the mountains as a kid, when there aren’t any mountains I feel kind of exposed. Without mountains, it is very easy to get lost. Mountains provide a vantage point, as well as a good point of reference. They are unique and interesting, and I would never be able to live anywhere without mountains, I think.
Anyways, we race soon! The races this weekend are what are called a, “mini-tour.” This means that each race determines your starting position in the next, and the final race is a 15 kilometer skate pursuit, meaning that if anyone has an overall lead, they get to start the final day with that margin over the next skier, and so forth. The first person to cross the line on the final day is the winner!
Thank you for reading once more!
Thomas O’Harra is a full time student-athlete at Alaska Pacific University. Growing up in Anchorage, he spent a lot of time outside and in the mountains—hiking, skiing, and generally having fun. He now races and trains with the APU Nordic Ski Center while taking a full course load at the university. Currently, Thomas is on a two-month trip for racing, starting in Kazakhstan, then traveling to races in Czech Republic and Switzerland before returning to the U.S. to race at Junior Nationals in Truckee, CA and SuperTour Finals and Spring Series in Sun Valley, ID at the end of March.