While the skiers are becoming very well acquainted with the Snow Farm landscape, the biathletes stayed in the Northern Hemisphere and are training in various locations around Germany. Some we are familiar with and others are new.
Our first stop was Ruhpolding, where we enjoyed beautiful summery weather for the first few days. Our first order of business upon arrival was picking out a mountain and hiking/ running up it. We then checked out the range and rollerski loop. I thought the loop was awesome, as it featured all very skiable hills, but others deemed it not all that exciting. The coolest thing about the range was the amount of spectators that were in the stands on a random training day- in the middle of the week in the middle of the summer. I continue to be amazed at the popularity of biathlon in Europe.
The National Team is here as well, and we have teamed up with them for several training sessions. One particularly memorable one was the L3 rollerski up the Rossfeldstrasse, a sustained climb that took upwards of an hour along the German/ Austrian border. We were greeted by gorgeous mountain views as we neared the top. We could also see the Eagle’s Nest, a refuge of Hitler’s during World War II.
We also did some rainy rollerski combo intervals on the range with the National Team, where it was feeling a bit more wintery. This workout called for breaking out the wool shirts, full race suits, rain pants, and vests.
One afternoon I heard the sound of clip clopping horse shoes on pavement and polka music outside my hotel room. I went to investigate and turns out it was the annual St. George Day ride and horse parade, where people ride or drive their horses through the streets of Ruhpolding out of town to St. Valentine to be bleesed then parade back in. This tradition of horse owners and farmers asking for God’s blessings of their horses dates back to the 16th century.
We wrapped up our time in Ruhpolding with a great hike up the Sontagshorn. In typical GRP biathlon European hiking fashion, it became a two-country-slightly-longer-than-expected adventure, but still really fun!
Next stop: Arber. We had all been here during the winter within the past few years, but didn’t know what the rollerskiing would be like. The first day we had a nearly deserted roller loop and range and discovered that the paved section was on the mellowest part of the winter courses. Over the few days we were there, we saw the evolution from quiet training facility to bustling venue packed with racers and fans and sponsors for the Deutsche Meisterschaft Biathlon or German Biathlon Rollerski Nationals, which serve as important qualifying races for the Germans and good (hard) competition for foreign racers. We did two races, a sprint and a pursuit. Both the men’s and women’s fields were deep, with lots of speedy and sharpshooting Germany juniors, World Cup and IBU Cup regulars, and foreigners from Switzerland, Finland, the US, and other countries.
Bodenmais, the town that we stayed in, is known for their glass. We did some touristing and stopped in several glass shops during our down time. Rumor has it this is where they make the crystal globes for World Cup winners.
We are know in Oberhof for the last leg of our trip, skiing on SNOW! More on that later, but here’s a sneak peak.