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Thu, Feb  15, 2007 - By Pete Vordenberg -

Asahikawa... site of our pre-worlds camp.  click it.

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Japan is surreal...


The day of the distance race in Davos I traveled over to Japan.  I missed the race weekend but thought it was neccisary so I could get stuff sorted out in Japan before the team arrived.  Leaving Davos the morning of the race was like leaving the theater after the previews.  I wasn't happy. But my arrival in Japan made it obvious that missing the race was for the best.

The rental car agencies close at 8pm.  You can't rent a car in Japan without an international driver's license.  The last train from Chitose Airport to Asahikawa leaves at 8:10.  These were just the first three things I learned within the first 20 minutes landing in Sapporo at 8:30.  Had the team been with me at this point it would have been a real mess.

Three days later I'd figured out the car, arranged a bus to get the team to the hotel in Asahikawa.  It has been a learning experience.  You have to be flexible and able to take on challenges that are unforseen and seemingly unrelated to the actual act of ski racing if you want to be a great ski racer.

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The team at dinner in the Asahikawa Palace Hotel.  The Palace Hotel gave us a great deal and is taking great care of us.  In Davos we stayed at the Hotel Kulm (Davos Wolfgang) and they also take great care of us and give us a great price.  It's nice to feel at home when you are on the road from Nov 1 to April.  Not all of us are at home with chopsticks... yet.

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The Snow Festival was in full swing in Asahikawa last weekend.  Teams from all over the world compete in ice sculpting.


And these little guys were all over town.

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Atsushi Shibano is our savior.  Atsushi has the answers - an exporter of Japanese electronics and a hell of an attache.  Here with his nephews over some sushi.


We's.  Because when you need Fresh Life and Delicious The Street, We's just can't be beat.

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Barb Jones came over to Japan to visit me.  Barb is a medical resident... this is my first day off since Dec 31 but my days on are mostly pretty sweet.  Being a medical resident is really tough - for one month every third day she worked from 7am through the night to 3pm the next day and otherwise worked 7am to as late as 10pm with only one day off every week.  Most months it is 7am to late with one day off a week.  And peoples lives are on the line.

Here we are high in the mountains on my day off...

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A day of backcountry skiing in Japan.

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Where we took our skis off was an Onsen - bath house.  The water was straight from the ground and heated by the volcanic mountains we had just skied down.  At the highest point of our ski we could look down into a volcano that was steaming and stinking like old eggs.  The water in the bath was super hot.  At the hotel we also have a great spa...

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Kikkan Randall enjoying some well earned rest at the Asahikawa Palace Hotel Spa.

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View of the city from our hotel... it snows a lot here.

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Monkey-eye view of the city.

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Bear's-eye view of what could make a great lunch.  Afternoon at the zoo...

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March of the Asahikawa Penguins.  Everyday at 2:30 the Penguins take a walk.  The crowd went wild.

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Seal Tube.  Happy Faces.  Camera ready?

I know there wasn't any real XC in this post... but man I need a break every now and then...

Kikkan Randall, Torin Koos, Andy Newell, Kris Freeman and Coach Chris Grover, Waxer Roar Lillefjell and Per Erik Bjornstad as well as Director Luke Bodensteiner took off this morning for China.  They race tomorrow and the next day!  We'll be back to the XC soon enough!

(Photos by Jones and Vordenberg)

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