Wally Magill and Will Koch:
Greetings from Wally and Will in Finland! Currently, we’re on the bus to the airport. Just finished the last race, ran back to our room and packed our bags as fast as we could to make the 2 and a half hour bus ride to catch our first flight tonight to Helsinki. Then we sleep for a bold 4 hours until we head back across the globe.
So how has our trip been so far? In a word: frigid. Both of us have come from 40-50 degree sunny weather in Colorado. By the end of the trip, we found ourselves saying, “Wow it’s cooking out here” at 12 degrees Fahrenheit! With a wide temperature range dipping from -20 to 14 it was definitely a tad bit chilly. It was still super fun to explore the new town and fun trails, but we’re both looking forward to the sun and warmth of good old Colorado.
We both went twice to the ropes course that stood at least 25 feet above the snow. It was fun to climb through the trees; some of the obstacles were a little on the sketchy side, but hey we survived! We also went sledding on our puffy pants down the tourist hill, skiing through the lucky warm tunnel, and occasionally got lost on the vast 300 kilometer trail system that Vuokatti had to offer. The warm ski tunnel was a life saver on the cold days as you stay plenty toasty warm surrounded by a concrete dome.
The week leading up to the races was full of training on new trails with friends we had not seen for a while, both from America and around the world. The cold weather did bring amazing snow. It’s super fun to ski out on these long loops, and attempt to find your way back, creating an interesting distance ski.
Then we got to the race week – and if you have heard of the craziness of this trip, it only got crazier. The first day went well with the junior sprint. The time margins in the sprint qualifier were unbelievably thin- Will, Finn, and Michael were all within 2 seconds of qualifying. Zanden had a rip, racing through semi-finals!
The very next day the U23 race got canceled because of the cold! We found it ironic that even after being allowed to race during a pandemic, they had to cancel due to temperature. This caused some major rescheduling, and all the distance races got moved to the same day. Both of us raced in this 10km skate and had some mixed results, but still had fun! Will had a good race as he ripped through all three of his laps with a great pull from Edvin Anger, his friend from Sweden. Wally, on the other hand, was having a good race until the final lap when his binding twisted and popped off of his ski on the second to last downhill. He went down hard and looked at his boot. Still attached to his boot was his binding with his ski starting to slide down the hill. Luckily he was able to get up and reattach his binding to the ski to be able to finish the race. Even though it did not go his way he was very happy that he finished the race!
Will was chosen to race on the relay team in the first skate leg. He had a wicked lap with many fast skiers to ski against. His first lap went quite well, as he moved up into podium position. Unfortunately, the pace was fast and he was cooked by the second lap after trying to catch up. Wally on the other hand raced in the 30 km mass start. Sadly the race did not go his way, however he is happy to have learned from the race to hopefully come back next year. He was also very happy with the strong results of his teammates.
Now back to where we are now, sitting on the bus and hoping that we make all of our flights back to the US. The US Ski Team put on an amazing trip, especially given the current state of the world. We want to give a special shoutout to all the staff on this trip, who worked tirelessly to give us the best possible racing experience! And trust us when we say we are excited for the warm weather and sunshine back home.
Wally in the men’s 10k skate.
Zanden McMullen took fifth place in the men’s 10k skate.
Photos: @tomimakipaa1, U.S. Ski & Snowboard, Bryan Fish, Alex Jospe