Milan Baic has won the first medal for the United States, a bronze in the 30 K freestyle, M5 class. Conditions were "brutal", according to Milan, worse than the cold White Pine of the past. Temperatures were -16C, or about 3F, with a brisk wind, and very slow new snow. Even the fastest skiers were over 3 minutes per kilometer. Cliff Onthank finished seventh and Don Camp 14th in the M6 class.
The course was two laps of 15K (really about 14.6),with a great deal of long climbs in the first half, and a strong headwind climbing out of the stadium. There are no steep climbs or very technical fast sections. The venue is the Falun ski stadium, site of many World Cups and Championships, and the race headquarters are in the large, beautiful, and well equipped and staffed community sports center.
The country is as ecstatic as the usually reticent Swedes get, following an incredible men's Olympic pursuit last night, in which Thomas Ohlsson finished third after leading most of the freestyle sections in a long breakaway, and Marcus Hellner outsprinted Angerer and Ohlsson for the gold. The race has been over and over on the television, (no commercials), and listening to the Swedish commentators trying to contain their rising excitement during the freestyle portion is quite amusing.
Falun is a very nice city, very walkable. with good walking and cycling paths all over. Many Swedes continue to commute by bicycle, even in this very cold, windy, and snowy weather. Having "fika", or coffee and Swedish pastry, in a "conditori", is a civilized traditional comfort here. Alcohol is very expensive. We took a very interesting tour of the large 1500+ year old copper mine here, now a World Heritage Site.