Sunday, June 26, 2016

Second-Toughest Man in Norway

If, when you think of cross-country skiing, you think of nothing but spandex, stopwatches, interval training, flourination and carbon fiber, I understand. The envelope around a ski-racing lifestyle can get pretty narrow for those who dream of being the fastest spook in their realm. But of course skis are used for far more than just glide-testing. They're for having fun. For exploring around the countryside. For traveling efficiently from place to place when there's snow on the ground. And they're good for reindeer herding.

The Lapp people of northern Scandinavia have been herding reindeer for a very long time.  And just as the native people of Alaska have incorporated modern tools to fish, hunt, and work more efficiently, so have the people of Lappland. Reindeer are central to Sami culture and lifestyle, and they must be herded from place to place as the seasons change. During the spring migration, this work is typically done with snowmachines.  But the treeless arctic landscape makes for great spring crust skiing, and we all know how fast and far we can go on a pair of skate skis on a good crust.

Aslak Ole Eira

Aslak Ole Eira is from Karasjok in Finnmark.  He's the UAA Ski Team's newest recruit.  He's a fast ski racer. He's also a proficient skate-ski reindeer herder. I'll let you read this article for yourself, but basically Aslak says that he prefers to herd reindeer on skis instead of on a snowmachine whenever conditions allow. Not for the training, but for the experience. It gives him time to think and relax.

NY ROLLE Aslak Ole Eira som er en av landsdelens mest spennende langrennsjuniorer blir snart TV-kjendis.
(Foto: Svein Halvor Moe)

This won't be Aslak's first time to Alaska. He has been here before.  He competed in Fairbanks a couple years ago when the Arctic Winter Games came to town. He won three golds and a silver - not too shabby!

Aslak Ole Eira

We are looking forward to skiing with Aslak this winter, and to his contributions on the results page and on the podium. But I am also looking forward to the chance to learn more about the Lapp culture. One of the benefits of being on a team such as ours, with members from such a broad geographic area, is having the opportunity to learn more about places we've never been before and cultures we've never experienced before.

Welcome to our team, Aslak Ole Eira!

(By the way, Aslak is also a Norwegian reality TV star, and is known as "Norway's second-toughest man".)

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