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My first week back at work has been enlivened by watching the Tour de Ski on Eurosport online (and on one occasion, some Russian channel on YouTube). For the second year running there were Norwegian victories for both women and men*, but this year was also enlivened by serious British interest (men’s), with two top twenties in the sprint, a staggering fastest time in the fifth race, and after all that a slightly disappointing 20th place finish. Since the British cross-country ski establishment essentially consists of a small club outside Aberdeen and a minibus, this is not bad going. Having spent my adolescence wanting to learn and being fatally hampered by being British, I am slightly envious but realistic that while I have about the right basic shape for a female skier (if you took my height, build, and weight, and turned it into pure muscle), I completely lack the work ethic and need not to come down with colds in chilly conditions.

However, despite the inspiring examples in front of me over the weekend, as a bunch of the world’s fittest people skied up a downhill ski slope, some of them to a sprint finish, I nonetheless completely failed to go to the gym for my pre-holiday training. Says it all, really.

*Norwegian top four for the women, reflecting last year’s men’s result. And finally, Marit Bjørgen got it, and in barnstorming style. *waves little Norwegian flag*

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