The 2015 Blink Festival brought numerous of the world’s greatest cross-country skiers collectively for 3 days of rollerski racing in Sandnes, Norway. But the festival is considerably a lot more than just a race for World Cup degree athletes. There are open races for junior athletes ages 11 to 20, as nicely as possibilities for these with reduced sufficient Worldwide Ski Federation (FIS) points to race against the very best seniors in the globe.
Any person can try to sign up for the large-caliber race series, but due to the fact it has grown to be so popular, the 150 athletes with the lowest FIS points get chosen for the senior races. This 12 months, 1 of them was 23-year-previous Jørgen Grav of the University of Vermont (UVM).
Grav was born and raised in Oslo and is coaching at property in Norway for the summer season ahead of his senior year at UVM. He lives just five minutes away from the Holmenkollen ski leap and works at a nearby boat-classification business that certifies and insures large ships. He has an agreement worked out with his employers in which he will get a week off every single 3 weeks or so in buy to a lot more effectively train for his senior year of college racing. His work routine also gave Grav an opportunity to compete in this year’s Blink Festival.
He began the festival with a sturdy exhibiting in the Lysebotn Opp. He completed 45th in the 7-kilometer uphill rollerski race, ahead of family names like Petter Northug and Finn Hågen Krogh. The UVM Catamount described the location of the race in Lysebotn, located at the finish of a fjord, as one of the prettiest areas in Norway.
“[The race] starts at sea degree and it actually goes straight up for 640 meters and it has 27 switchback turns. It goes through 1.1k of tunnel, and the first k is fully flat. So it is fundamentally all that climbing in six k,” Grav said in a latest cellphone interview. “At least we do it on variety one wheels, since it would be brutal on amount two wheels.”
The fastest racers in the Lysebotn Opp, Finland’s Matti Heikkinen, Russia’s Alexander Legkov and France’s Maurice Magnificat, manage to V2 the complete climb, which has an regular incline of ten %. Grav was in a position to V2 most of the race, but had to consider a few breaks and switch to V1, he mentioned. His hard work was great enough to put him within five minutes of the leaders and shatter his personal record from three years earlier.
“I completed at least two minutes more rapidly than what I did three many years ago so I am super content about that and something less than 5 minutes behind people guys up a difficult course like that you need to be satisfied with,” Grav said.
Friday and Saturday brought two a lot more days of rollerski racing and other events in downtown Sandnes. A single such occasion was the shooting duel, a variety-targeted event for the biathletes the place they run about 10 meters to the shooting mat, shoot 5 targets as speedily as feasible, and then run 10 meters back to the finish. The occasion goes quickly, with the winning occasions for each the guys and the girls currently being below 20 seconds.
“Its genuinely entertaining it’s great Tv I consider,” Grav stated about the shootout format.
For individuals who attend Blink in person, like Grav, there are some added perks. The festival has a VIP tent with dwell music and bleachers set up all the way around the 900-meter program so spectators can enjoy the action. The organizers even temporarily pave element of a pedestrian-only street so the race goes correct by the supporters. They also include bridges and turns to preserve it exciting for spectators.
Due to the fact of the tight course setup, Friday’s mass start off could only accommodate 30 racers. Globe Cup skiers get a totally free pass to the final, but the rest of the participants have to qualify with a short, two-lap race to figure out the remaining spots. There had been only twelve available, and Grav completed 15th, missing the final by seconds.
“I wish [the Globe Cup skiers] all had to race the qualifier so we all had the same opportunity, but I feel it’s very good in a way because then in generates far more exposure [for the sport] on Tv,” Grav mentioned.
He had strong races on Thursday and Friday, but met some problems in Saturday’s sprint qualifier — and he wasn’t alone. Rain poured down all day, making an previously technical program really slippery.
“I was way off. I couldn’t ski correctly and I feel a lot of individuals just did not want to race since it was not secure,” Grav said about the sprint. He finished 30th in the preliminary round, but significantly like the mass commence, some spots in the heats were reserved for Globe Cup athletes who bypassed the qualifier. As a consequence, Grav’s 30th place was not ample to put him in the heats.
Although there are many items about Blink that Grav appreciated, he said the kids in attendance were one of the highlights. They all get a chance to race, and then they remain to cheer on their idols and get autographs.
“They really like standing all around outside of the finishing area and are up in your face for receiving you to indicator their bib number or their autograph book and everything,” Grav mentioned. “You feel like a actual celebrity. It’s super awesome.”
The vitality from the spectators also impressed the incoming college senior, though at a rollerski festival in Norway, he didn’t expect significantly significantly less.
“It feels like a festival with folks that love skiing,” he explained.
Grav also attended final week’s Toppidrettsveka, exactly where he completed 41st overall. He said feels he is in his very best form ever since he has been able to focus on his education and has a rapidly group of peers keeping him motivated and setting sturdy examples. Grav also feels he has manufactured some promising technique changes this summer time.
“I’ve been switching much more in excess of to elevated double poling in my training which is the growth of the sport appropriate now, a lot more upper entire body strength,” he stated. “I think that is going to be a massive factor this winter.”
Hunting ahead to this winter, his main goal is to place in the top 3 at the 2016 NCAA Skiing Championships in Steamboat Springs, Colo. Final season, Grav completed ninth in the 20 k traditional mass start off.
As for soon after school, Grav plans to proceed skiing. He will try and reach one particular of the recruit teams for the Norwegian Nationwide Team and then in the long run hope to get picked to the group. Grav is aware of it is a tall purchase, but as long as he continues to really like skiing, he sees no cause to end his career.
“It’s the toughest nation in the world to get on the nationwide crew so its undoubtedly a commitment to get all the way there, but as extended as I have the motivation in the spring every yr to start off up a new 12 months then I am probably going to maintain going!” Grav stated.