So keeping with tradition I once again find myself sitting in the very back of an over packed van heading off on another road trip, the beginnings of another adventure! One chapter of my racing career has ended as a new one begins! Leaving Liberec and the U23 world championships signals the end of major competitions for me as a junior, it’s just senior racing for me here on in. Racing the big boys now!
So winding the clocks back a little to the start of the competitions on Monday week. Australia brought its largest ever junior/U23 team to this event, 10 athletes and 3 coaches. The juniors had their first hit out on Monday and then on Tuesday it was our turn to hit up the sprint. In the last 24 hours before the race they had decided to increase the length of the course again to 1.6km instead of the 1.3km it originally was. This added an extra hill and false flat to the course causing a whole lot more pain to the race and really changing the tactics. I had really liked the previous course and was a little annoyed there had been the change. In the end there was nothing I could do so I just reworked my race plan and went to business! It was a decent race but to be honest I’m still confused about how I should feel I went. I had a PB with the FIS points for the race which is great but I was really hoping to be a lot higher up on the result sheet. In the end I’m fairly content with it and with the warm up race for me over I looked to the skate 15km to really hammer! As I mentioned in an earlier blog a lot of my goals were around this race and the 30km a day after. The race was easily one of my worst for the season so it was extremely disappointing. I have been up at altitude all season and I basically forgot what it feels like to be at a lower elevation and I didn’t ski it at all well. It’s the second 15km skate that I have stuffed up in a row so it’s fairly annoying!
To be honest I was so disheartened by how I had skied that I strongly considered pulling out of the 30km Skiathlon (racers ski the first 15km classic then switch to skate for the second 15km) the next day and it wasn’t until I had a Skype call to my folks who both told me to harden up and race until I realised that I needed to race just to prove to myself I wasn’t in horrible form!
So knowing I was going to race I spent the rest of the day preparing as much as possible to race the 30km Skiathlon. The night going into the race I was again a little frustrated with the organisers, they had brought in the “lapping rule” which means that if the lead pack catches you, you are removed from the race. With all the lack of snow on the course the organisers had set out was a 2.5km loop. Basically with the caliber of the field that was at this event if you dropped any further than 5 minutes behind the lead you’d get lapped. In other words 25 seconds per lap.
I was the only U23 athlete to start for Australia, both Phillip and Alex Almoukov (who took a break from biathlon to join us for a week) when they heard the rule change burst into laughter knowing what brutal struggle I was in for and relief for themselves! I had a quiet chuckle knowing it was going to be a suffer fest. I guess it’s fairly obvious considering I’m a cross-country skier but I actually really enjoy the races where it just hurts from start to finish and you suffer! I knew looking at the times from the previous races I’d really need to lift my game if I wanted to stay in it for more than the classic.
Because I was the only athlete starting I was extremely lucky to have 3 coaches helping me out dialing the wax for the skis and just psyching me up! As a result the skis were rockets and I knew the race would be great! I was disappointingly lapped out but so were another 20 odd athletes so it just shows how hard it was. Realistically I skied the best I had all week so it was promising to feel energetic and dynamic skiing again!
I have possibly done enough talking now so I’ll just let pictures do the rest.
I’m now in Davos Switzerland and loving life in the sun!
Until next time.
Train hard. Rest easy. Live for the moment.