The Globe and Mail's Allan Maki covers Sochi medal hopeful Len Väljas - a proud Canadian Estonian.
There are moments when he is right there with his teammates, talking snow, talking skis, talking what wax should go on what skis, because for cross-country racers this is all very important stuff.
And then there are moments when the lively mind of Len Valjas waxes over and he daydreams of Hawaii and righteous waves with faces five metres high beckoning him to try his luck. Oh, how he’d love to be back out there on the ocean, sitting on his board. Waiting for the sun and the surf to rise.
“I’d be up on the water at 6 a.m.,” he says with contentment in his voice. “You’d never get me out of bed for skiing at 6 a.m.”
His teammates have a multitude of nicknames for him – Big Lenny, the Friendly Giant, Surfer Dude. They view Valjas as a wondrous, perplexing contradiction: A 6-foot-6 racer among smaller rivals who does less cardiovascular training than most and yet could end up being spectacularly more successful. Maybe even the Surfer Dude who changed cross-country skiing. His teammates are into that.
Canadian has unparalleled natural ability that could change cross-country skiing - G&M