WEEKEND WEB: Snow contest for winter Olympians
MUM’S GONE TO columnist Trish Burgess and husband Dougie take to the snow tracks in Lapland...
It’s only taken a couple of days and already I’m hooked on the Winter Olympics. I watched the Opening Ceremony on Friday, transfixed by the all-female drummers and equally beguiled by the bare-chested Tongan flag-bearer.
I can forgive the organisers a very dodgy version of John Lennon’s Imagine because of the sheer elegance of South Korean champion, Yuna Kim, who lit the Olympic flame whilst ice skating on a rink perched high at the top of the stadium.
Now the sporting events have begun, I’m finding my way through the intricacies of slopestyle, luge and moguls. I’m with them every step of the way, wincing as elbows clatter against ice walls and worrying about how their knees are coping with the heavy duty hammering they’re enduring.
One of my favourites is the gold medal winner of the men’s slopestyle, American youngster Red Gerard.
The 17-year-old turned in a superb final performance, executing incredible aerial gymnastics. I gather he’s become a firm favourite in Liverpool now.
Of all the events I’ve watched so far, I’m particularly drawn to the skiathlon. Having spent a week in Finland learning how to cross-country ski, I now know the rudiments of the sport, at least for classic skiing, which is performed in parallel tracks.
It’s the strength and speed of these athletes which blows my mind. I picked up the technique reasonably well but I really lacked stamina, needing to stop every few minutes to admire the scenery.
The winner of the women’s skiathlon, Charlotte Kalla, completed the 15km course in just under 41 minutes. On our best day, Dougie and I skied 13 km in about four hours, stopping for coffee and doughnuts halfway along. We were exhausted at the finish, requiring a lie down to ease wobbly legs.
It was great to hear on Sunday that Brit, Andrew Musgrave, came seventh in the men’s 30km skiathlon, having been in second place for much of the race. This is a huge achievement for a British competitor, when the highest result in a cross-country skiing event in previous games had been 29th.
Andrew grew up in Scotland and, although he is now part of a local skiing club in Oslo, learned his sport in Aberdeenshire. I’m keen to see him ski again on Friday: the 15k freestyle is his preferred event, so there’s a real chance of a medal.
I watched a video of Andrew training for this gruelling event. Apparently he gets so hot when practising, he often skis in just his pants. No wonder I was always stripping off layers when we were slogging across the Lapland wilderness. I thought I was just having hot flushes.
Thankfully, at the speed I was going, my undressing only went as far as taking my jacket off and unzipping my fleece. I’m sure the local residents of Ylläs were very relieved.
You can read Trish’s blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk