6:45 am and the alarm goes off. Unlike most days I quickly jump out of bed, no time to roll over and snooze for a few more minutes, it’s Saturday. I head off for a pre breakfast run through the snow heading towards the lake in the pre dawn light. It’s race day. I’m only out for 20 minutes before I do some stretches and then head inside for a big breakfast. Why all of this you ask? It’s Saturday the 14th and that means it’s time for the 30km World Cup skate In Davos, Switzerland. The first race of the season to qualify for the 2014 Olympics.
Now just winding back the clocks a few days. The World Cup team arrived on the Sunday afternoon into Davos and we all settled into our usual accommodation. A small apartment block right on the World Cup trails just on the edge of town. After taking things easy in Austria I was really itching to train again and get back onto the snow. That being said we took things relatively easy, just focussed on the races ahead. Davos is pretty much home so it was quite relaxing being in familiar surroundings, even better my parents and brother arrived to watch me race for the first time overseas and it was great see them and spend some time catching up with them.
So this winter the selection races for the Olympics were broken up into two weekends of races. Two in Davos and then two in Poland in January. Sadly “selection” isn’t a great term for the weekend with “knock-out” being more appropriate. Australia has only been given two men’s starts and with three of us qualified at the moment our two best World Cups will be used as an average and the two athletes with the best average will be taken.
So winding the clocks forward again back to Saturday. After My stretching and breakfast it was on with the new race suit and warm up gear. Then I headed down to the waxing area where I was met by Head Coach Finn Marsland and we headed out to test skis and work out which set I would race on that morning. After the testing, Finn left me out on the trails and I did my warm up for the race.
Originally talking amongst the boys we had predicted a large field of athletes with Davos being the first Central European World Cup and the first of the season with normal format (one sprint and one distance race). However due to how close the Tour De Ski and the Olympic games are the field was a lot smaller, just over 70 athletes were starting and I was basically the only first time starter on the list. Yes in hind sight I managed to time my distance World Cup Debut to perfection with a 30km time trial on one of the toughest World Cup courses. Perfect to ease into things really. I was feeling a bit nervous heading into the stadium and the start list didn’t calm my nerves much. I was starting between the best Italian and the best German skiers on World Cup. The race format was 4 laps of 7.5 km’s and the in the entire course there is basically no rest. Even on the down hills you have to keep working and skating because they aren’t steep enough to glide.
So I’ll try and refrain from giving you a blow-by-blow story of the race. The first two laps went well and I was really happy with how things were progressing. Then the third lap hit me hard and I really started to hurt and lose a little time, I managed to rally in the fourth and regain some time I’d lost in the third but not all of it. In the end the race wasn’t the perfect opener for my Olympic selection race but I had a lot of positives to come out of the race. Apart from the 3rd lap I was really in there skiing well, I had a personal best time for 30kms even though it was on the Davos course, It was my first distance World Cup and I wasn’t blow apart or off the back of the finish list.
The next day I geared up for the World Cup sprint. My sprinting is improving but not as fast as my distance. I skied the first 800m lap well but ran out of steam in the second as the day before caught up with me very quickly! A fun day but nothing special.
It wasn’t the perfect weekend for me but I’m very excited with what I glimpsed and I just hope to carry it all forward! Next it’s onto World University Winter Games in Italy.
Train hard. Rest easy. Live for the moment.