Conditions: pretty much perfect. Cloudy, temps in the low 20s, plenty of real snow expertly groomed.
The women's relay was a little bit anticlimactic, with not very many teams and the skiers were pretty spread out. The American women who did relay are the top of the heap in American cross country skiing, and it was fun to see them in action.
The men's relay was more exciting, with more teams in each age group, head-to-head sprints, and exciting finishes. Rune was the lead-off skier on his team and actually double-poled the whole 5k ... on Kent's skating skis! Is this officially the end of classic skiing??? His team was in the lead throughout the relay and ended up winning by two and half minutes. Kent's race was a little closer; he had the fastest third leg of the age group, and his team's anchor and the next-place anchor came down to a sprint to the finish, with Kent's team winning by nine seconds. That makes three medals for Rune and two for Kent, with one more race for each; I'm hoping they'll wear their medals on the plane home, all lined up across their chests!
At the awards ceremony this evening, the organizer of next year's MWC, which will be held in Beitostolen, Norway, gave us the scoop on the plans for next year and showed a slide of gorgeous snowy above-the-treeline Norwegian mountains, just to whet our appetites. As has become customary, when the medals were handed out, we heard the Finnish national anthem many many times; the Finns have owned this MWC! But there were also plenty of American medals and a rousing cheer from the Canadians when their team stood on the top podium for one age group. The medal ceremonies are fun!
Tomorrow, the long classic race (15k and 30k), and the word is that, thanks to the Blizzard of 2018, there is now enough snow and cold enough temperatures on tap that the much-desired 15k course will be in action, which means two laps for the 30k instead of four laps of the 7.5k. Everyone is happy; the new trail is supposed to add a trip through rolling golf course meadows, which will offer a little respite from the hills, and sounds lovely! With the temperature expected to stay cold until after noon, the waxing should not be too much of a problem (although it seems like there are always wrinkles), so everyone can sleep a little easier tonight than we did before Blizzard Day!