Caitlin: We have flown through Reykavik, Iceland on our way to Europe for races in the past. We loved checking out Iceland and exploring the beauty of the country. Many of the other skiers we met took a day to do the Golden Circle tour and visit the Blue Lagoon. We will have to do those on our next trip. Icelandair makes it easy to explore with free stopovers on your way from Europe.
Caitlin: Yes, this is the first time for both of us. All of our American friends who have done the race before have told us how incredible it We have often looked at options of spring races to extend our winter season and the timing of the Fossavatnsgangan is perfect.
Caitlin: The course is amazing with one large 50 km loop. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful race course we have ever skied.
What did you think of the snow conditions, grooming, race prep?
Caitlin: The grooming and snow conditions were fantastic. Race day we were lucky with the most beautiful day of our trip. The weather and snow conditions can be tricky as the snow in the stadium can be transformed and wet, yet the snow at the top of the course can be fresh and dry. This adds to the challenge and the excitement of the race.
Brian: The Fosstavangangan organizers and Icelandic people are incredibly welcoming and helpful. Bobbi (Race Director) and the Fosstavangangan organizers have set the standard for making their guests happy and their experience wonderful. Everything is taken care of so you can focus on enjoying the scenery and pondering your wax and ski choice. The spread at the Seafood Buffet and Dance party after the race is unbelivable and some of the best I have ever had!
Caitlin: On race morning (50K classic) we awoke to blue skies and firm tracks. We both decided to go without kick wax and double pole the entire race on our classic skis. We were both in Norway prior to the race, and picked up a pair of specific double-pole-only skis that Madshus has developed called the Propulsion.
How were your skis prepped or waxed?
Caitlin: We were lucky to have Coach Steve ‘Musky Stalker’ and Scott Putman wax our skis for the race.
What was your race strategy? (50k classic)
Brian: When we learned that most of the top racers were going to be double poling, it became a race strategy of experience. Three of the racers had trained specifically for double pole racing and our plan was to match them for as long as possible. We ended up taking a pretty relaxed first half of the race, but I fell behind on the flatter sections when the pace increased about 25km. I will be working more on my double poling this summer, surprisingly I felt more comfortable on the uphill than on the flat.
Caitlin: The athletes training for double poling, double pole everything. When double poling an entire race you can actually go pretty close to all-out on the uphills, yet still recover quickly because you aren’t using your legs as much as in striding so it is quicker to clear the lactic acid.
How did you decide to compete in this event?
Caitlin: The wonderful reports of past participants put this race on our radar last spring, and it fit in to our schedule as preparation for the 2017/2018 race season.
Brian: Caitlin and I are both focusing more on our classic skiing and double poling this spring and summer, so getting on snow is a priority for us. We will drop our volume slightly during this Olympic year.
You are in Norway now (after the Fossavatn), what are you doing there?
Caitlin: We have been training on snow in Sjusjoen, Norway and testing skis with Madshus. We have incredible skis but Madshus is really focused on innovation and we find that our new skis each year are even better than our current favorites. Skis are such an important part of racing and enjoying your time on snow. We are really excited to kick off our 2017/18 season with our training camps in Iceland and Norway.
What are your goals for the upcoming ski season?
Brian: Caitlin made the Olympic team in 2010, we were married in 2011 and she helped me make the team in 2014. She took a medal in the 10km at the Falun 2015 World Championships and our goal is to both be competing for the USA at the Olympics in South Korea with a focus on the 10km and 15km.
Final thoughts about your Icelandic experience?
Caitlin: A huge thank you to the Fosstavagn race organizers and volunteers for a wonderful event. We have three Worldloppets now under our belts and are excited to compete in more in the future.