Sweden, Week 2
Ulla, the head of the Explainer Program, is working with a local theater company, Slava, to create four performances for local students.
The shows last about 15 minutes.
A scene from Airflow. The blower inflates the chemical protection suit. One arm and two feet are sealed with duct tape. The performer exploded with laughter when the air was turned on.
Mirror Dance. The two dancers dance as mirror images.
Notice the wonderful performance space on the fourth floor of the mseum, This is in the Human Body Exhibition.
Lindvallen Ski area on day 2, a sunny day.
The highlight of week 2 was a long weekend skiing in Salen, near the Norwegian border about a 5 hour drive northwest of Sodertalje. I had my choice of cross country skiing with the marathon runners or telemark skiing on lift serviced downhill slopes with college student Gustav, University student Ia, and her mountain guide boyfriend Michael. I chose telemarking. Ia had only started telemarking last year and I thought I might be able to keep up with her.
I rented scarpa T-2 boots and parabolic skis, this was heavier telemark gear than I owned and I was pleased to be able to test it out. All day lift tickets were $24. The weather wasn't very good,near freezing light rain. The lift turned out to be a T-bar. I had never used one before. I got on fine and rode up in good balance. Two-thirds of the way up, my glasses were covered with raindrops, the wind began to blow harder, the temperature dropped and the water drops began to freeze. Before long, I couldn't see a thing. A quick glimpse over my glasses showed me it was time to get off the lift. I got off safely and had just congratulated myself on surviving the lift ride when a 50 mph gust slammed into me. One of my telescoping ski poles collapsed and I was slammed to the ground. While I was flat on my back, the wind ripped off my hat and glasses and my hair tie. My hair whipped around in the wind and slashed into my eyes blinding me. I made a quick choice and grabbed my glasses as I watched my hat blow away.
This fallen clothing dummy blown down on the ice should have been a warning to me.
I went into emergency mode and worked hard to keep things from getting worse, I held on to my poles and gloves and glasses. The wind continued to blow ferociously. Eventually, I pulled myself together, tightened my glasses retaining strap to keep my useless glasses around my neck, cranked down hard on my pole adjustment to lock it into place, and started to ski down to the others. Michael had grabbed my hat, I jammed it on and put up the hood on my mountain parka then tightened the straps to hold everything together. The ground blizzard made it so I couldn't see the icy slope, so I fell a couple of times on my first run down to the bottom.
It was obvious that Michael, and Ia were used to skiing in conditions like this, which were the worst I had ever attempted to ski in. This was going to be an interesting day skiing! This first run was an intermediate run, it was also the easiest run we would do all day.
Michael and Ia are smart people, they realized that another run like the last one would kill me, so we rode the lift once more and then headed off on a connector ski run to some slopes surrounded by trees. Things got better as soon as we entered the trees. The wind quieted down some. Michael said that this was the first snow they had received in 6 weeks. So I was skiing on hard ice covered with some "skier groomed" mashed potatoes. "skier groomed" meant that other skiers had scraped the snow into ridges snaking down the slope. The boots were very good, supportive and responsive. The skis were a bit too responsive, they turned so easily I would occasionally turn too far. I slowly remembered how to make telemark turns without over-turning.
I found out quickly that the pace that Hal and I normally ski was about 1/3 as fast as Michael and 1/2 as fast as Ia. We'd start out from the top together and just about the time I was making my fifth turn and they would be at the base of the slope waiting patiently for me.
Telemarking slowly came back to me. Michael is a ski instructor and reminded me of several important points including balance between downhill and uphill skis and hand position. As soon as he mentioned these I remembered them from my classes. The reminders helped.
The slopes were rated on the international scale of difficulty: green circle for mycket latt (very easy), blue square for latt (easy!) so I had trouble on an easy run!, and black diamond for svar, (hard). They have one more symbol however a red rectangle, medel svar (medium hard). We skied all day on red rectangles. In California these would be the easiest black diamond runs. On telemark skis, in the best of conditions, these runs are at my limit. So I was really struggling down the hills on ice covered by random piles of mashed potato snow, skiing without glasses in eye-stinging wind driven ice pellets. I kept remembering the line "That which doesn't kill me makes me stronger." I hoped that I would survive to become stronger for this experience.
The slopes were crowded. I wondered, if this day was good enough to draw a crowd, what were the bad days like?
Toward the middle of the afternoon I began to get better, I remembered to rise and sink and to keep my body pointing downhill as my legs twisted from side to side. I speeded up a bit and that helped me punch through the thick snow piles. It was actually fun. Later after Ia had finished for the day, I began to fall and realized that my leg muscles were probably tired and that it was time to stop. So I called it a day. When I got back to the car my quadriceps muscles were on fire and I realized that stopping had been the right thing to do.
We drove back to the house and I treated my sore muscles to a sauna. Saunas must have been invented by Scandinavian skiers to ease their aches after a day like this.
The next day was bright and sunny, the slopes were covered with 10 cm of new snow and the wind was down. I had a great day skiing. Michael gave me good pointers and my telemark turns definitely got better. Ulla, Ia's mother joined us. She joined the rather large set of people labeled "Swedish skiers who are much faster than Paul." My crowning achievement on day two was that on one run, where Ia was almost falling over from exhaustion, I just barely beat her to the bottom. As you can see, my Swedish hosts are very good skiers.
I wonder what adventures week 3 will bring?