In contrast to the road and off track skiing we did at Kaukopartiohiihto we also did a little skiing at the Lahti sports center and at the ski trails in neighboring Hollola. These trails might be a little more like what you think of when you think of cross country skiing. Freshly groomed corduroy and set classic tracks. Needless to say this is the worst kind of luxury for someone from Iowa. It makes you think that if only someone would make some nice groomed trails maybe you too could be a contender.
These are the same trails where, while we were at KPH, world class skiers (including Kikkan Randall) were racing. In fact, the days before the race when we skied there we were skiing right alongside those skiers who were testing skis and getting warmed up for the races.
These trails also made it clear to me just how bad of a skier I am. My classic technique is bad and skating is even worse. I suppose I shouldn't feel too bad. I don't have trails like this near home and have only been skating for a year (and a bad snow year at that).
Since I cut our KPH experience short we were able to spectate at some of the Ski Games events including the ski jumping final and the 1.4k classic sprint races. Ski jumping is something I had never actually expected to see in person so that was a treat. All I can say is that the jumpers make it look easy. I expect that when you get to the top of the hill it doesn't look so easy anymore.
Watching the sprint race reminded me how much different the on piste skiing is from the off track skiing we had been doing the previous day. On track skiing is all about double poling. So much so that the Vasaloppet was won this year by a skier without grip wax on his classic skis. He double poled the whole 90km. I have always been taught that since my legs are larger than my arms I should be using them to ski, a philosophy I agree with, but good double polers use their abdominal muscles more than their arms anyway. I'll work on my double poling (it needs it), but I don't think I'll ever be converted over from the kick and glide.