The Black Forest

So Firstly I should apologise for the lack of updates, but basically it seems like we have been on the road ever since Campra. So to bring you all up to speed, again I’ll have to back track a little.

After the races in Campra we hung around there for a week or so, seeing out the year with the Under 20 Swiss ski team that was also hanging around for a training camp. New years eve with the Swiss boys was one of the best I’ve ever had and went off with quite a bang!

So on the third of Jan we packed our bags and road-tripped it to Seefeld, a village nestled in the mountains of Austria. The road trip was pretty hectic at times but a lot of fun! Even though our van is a 9 seater with 5 athletes and over 35 pairs of skis, a wax table, wax boxes and bags it was fairly tight!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One full van                                                                                                                                                                     Skis anyone?

 

So in Seefeld we meet up with Head Coach Finn Marsland who immediately put us through our paces doing some tough interval sessions in preparation for the upcoming German Cup races.

A rare glimpse of sun in Seefeld!

Feeling pretty good we loaded up the Blue box once more on the 6th and headed to the Black Forest in Germany for the weekend of races.

Getting there was a battle and a half! A 3 hour trip for us turned into 5.5 (head coach Finn had a 11hour driving day) because of the huge amounts of snow that has been falling. Since my time in Europe I could almost count the days on one hand where it hasn’t been snowing at some point during each day! Around the Alps the snowfalls have been phenomenal with Austria recoding some of its heaviest falls in history. Streets that are normally two cars wide can barely fit one now. There is literally nowhere for the snow clearers to move the snow too, so it just piles up on the sides of the road. So with the Autobahns down to 60km an hour we pottered along to Nortschrei where the races were to be held.

On the Friday we tested our Ski’s trying to work out what would be the quickest and then did our race prep heading off the hill as quickly as possible before we got to covered in snow!

The Saturday was a 1.3km Sprint on the 2010 Junior world champs course. I have spent a bit of time recently with our German wax magician/assistant coach Fabian Mauz who has the philosophy that sprints should be aggressive. Just go out there and throw it down on the table as hard as you can and say “there that’s what I’m doing, that’s what I’ve got. What are you going to do about it?” So with those words in mind I just hit the time trial as hard as I could hoping to qualify top thirty and get into the heats. To my surprise on the first climb I caught up to, and passed the skier in front of me. On the downhill I could tell my legs were hurting a little and then on the second grinding climb my thoughts were confirmed as they got heavier and heavier. In the end it was one of my better sprints, I qualified 21st which meant I advanced into the heats.

Again Fabian suggested I do the aggressive approach and lead if possible and let them be on the back foot. I’ll be honest it didn’t go planned.

We were the first heat and everyone one was very nervous. One German jumped the gun, which put as even more on edge. Like track events whom ever broke next would be disqualified. So the gun went and we were away, on the first hill I was equal second but on the outside. Taking Fabians approach I moved right slipping back a place but effectively blocking the other races for the inside line. On the descent the two other Germans sitting in 4th and 5th edged along side me and it was skate for skate, pole for pole up the second grinding hill. In XC sprinting the first two automatically qualify for the next round but there is also a lucky loser system where the next two fastest skiers from all the heats qualify, so with that in mind it was on! On the grind, my legs felt like they were melting and the two other Germans where starting to pass. Into the finish I had well and truly cooked my goose and the other two gapped me, finishing with a lot more than I had.

The pack forming at the very start of the First sprint heat.

In the end I was happy how I raced, I couldn’t of gone harder and was just beaten by better skiers, It was just awesome to be amongst it all and putting it all out there. Sadly the points were abysmal. In each time trial depending on the quality of the skiers in the event and who comes top 5 a penalty of points is set. Normally in Europe this is between 30-50, however only one know skier with good points qualified top 5 in the TT meaning that points skyrocketed to 134. If the penalty had of been normal I possibly would of recorded my best sprint points to date.

 

Waking up Sunday I was already feeling a little zapped, to be honest I’m not used to racing heats so I felt I’d already raced the 10km. Warm up was ok and I just hoped I’d settle into a rhythm on the course that would get me through it. The course was 4 laps of the 2.5 km loop. The distance course in Nortschrei was designed for World Cups and major races so the hills are long and steep with the downs being very technical. I hadn’t taken this into consideration enough. I went out hard on the first lap and caught up to the racer who had started 30 seconds in front of me. The second lap I still felt really strong and I had gapped a few more skiers but I was struggling to find a rhythm that I could relax into. On the third lap I was burning up fast, without a groove to settle into I was skiing like a donkey on ice. For the last 1.5 kilometres I just started to ski hopping to not blow up.

 

Fabian, Mark, Myself and Callum.

In hindsight I perhaps went out to hard but I also think that on a good day I can ski much better than I did with that same intensity the entire way through the race. That being said I did one of my fastest 10kms, 27:36min. We are back now in Seefeld for two weeks and I’m hopping to do a lot of training in preparation for the upcoming racing block. I’m really hoping to iron out a few more technical problems and to get my legs ready for the European races ahead.

 

Train hard. Rest Easy. Live for the moment.

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2 thoughts on “The Black Forest

  1. Well done, Paul. You seem to be improving at every outing. Paul and I love reading your reports. So much interesting detail. Keep up the great work.

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