Santa, Austrian dinner, stealing a Christmas tree and sad songs...
Christmas is a special time of the year for most of us. A time to spend time with your loved ones, eat traditional Christmas dinner and of course; open presents. For the top Cross-Country athletes, Christmas is at the busiest time a year, and some of them are not able to make it back home. To get the best possible Christmas feeling, the various teams have their own special ways of celebrating. Let it be with their families or with a team-mate playing sad songs on the guitar…
In Canada, Christmas morning (December 25th) is the big day to celebrate. Because of the intense World Cup schedule and Tour de Ski being too close to Christmas, the team wasn’t able to fly back home. Based in Davos for their training camp, the team did their best to celebrate Christmas. Although, they admitted it was a bit sad. “I pretty much played guitar every evening, crying because I was not allowed to go home to Canada. I’ve been playing sad songs, only sad” Kershaw says with a smile. “Christmas was good, Davos had plenty of snow, and I’ve been staying there the last 6 years, so I’m used to celebrate Christmas away from home. It’s always a day that you kind of feel bummed out being away from friends and family though”. The Canadian team did a gift exchange on Christmas Day, but it was a cut through gift exchange for the Canadians over sea. Basically each of them buy one present each, they open them, and then you’re allowed to steel from the others. “The present I bought for the gift exchange was the one I really wanted, so I strategically stole the present I got. So I got a couple of cappuccino mugs” Kershaw gladly explains. Alex Harvey on the other hand got the best present he could ask for, his girlfriend came to visit. And to top it all off, his mum is coming for the Tour.
For Justyna Kowalczyk and Rolland Clara, the best Christmas gift was to be with their families. In Finland, supposedly where Santa lives, the Finnish ladies Riitta-Liisa Roponen and Riikka Sarasoja-Lilja must have been good this year. Riitta-Liisa got a pair of diamond ear rings she was really happy about. “The main thing was to spend time with friends and family, relax and eat good food” Riikka said. The modest girl was paid a visit by Santa himself though, the real one. “Of course Santa visited us, we got presents! But we didn’t see it, that’s how he works”.
As the Canadians, the U.S. team celebrated Christmas in Europe. Their location was Ramsau in Austria and according to Kikkan Randall, Andy Newell and Elizabeth Stephen, Ramsau is not the worst place to celebrate Christmas. Telling them that the Canadian team was playing sad songs on the guitar, Kikkan rapidly responds “Oh, we were shooting up fireworks and had a really good time. Santa even came”. They even got their own Christmas tree! Or… let’s be honest, they stole it. “We found a Christmas tree and decorated it together” Andy said. You found one? “Ok, we stole it from the woods”. “It had fallen down” Elizabeth ensures. The US team even found time to bake Christmas cookies, and Swedish “bulle”. Topping it all off with a fancy Austrian Christmas dinner and a gift exchange, they all agreed that Christmas in Austria was quite good.
With New Years approaching, and yet another year to wait for Christmas, some of the athletes don’t have to wait this long. In Russia Christmas is celebrated on January 7th, and Alexander Legkov is looking forward to it. And he knows what he wants for Christmas. “I want to win Tour de Ski”.
Sofie Torlei Olsen