I’ve been on the road now for 4 months and I think last week I finally found winter. Maybe in Davos, Switzerland I had a taste of it but I really got to enjoy this last week skiing in Vermont, USA. The first time I’ve skied on great trails with some awesome snowfalls! It has been a while since my last blog, I had a little time off after Europe. That being said a huge thank you should be sent out to everyone who sent me emails, messages and comments after Europe! I really appreciated the support and have not forgotten them!
After Europe I decided to head back to Alaska for almost two weeks, the week before I arrived up there they had received a foot of snow and I had heard it was sunny and great skiing. I arrived up there feeling a bit battered after a 30 hour delay in Chicago airport only to find I’d brought the European winter with me. The skiing was still good but the weather turned to rain and grey days, not exactly what I was hoping for! Still the chance to ski with some of the APU athletes was great and I enjoyed it up there.
Not long after my arrival it was time to board a plane again and head to the East Coast, which was a new experience for me! I’ll easily remember Vermont for two things, their obsession with everything maple syrup and their racecourses. They manage to slip maple syrup into everything they cook from dressings and gravy to just straight up candy bars. Lots of sugar!
All the races I did wound through amazing forest and the course flowed over continuous rolling hills. The result was a very winding course that you constantly had to keep working but never any monster steep hills. A lot of fun.
After a week of easy skiing and recovering from travel it was time for the first set of races. A Eastern Cup race that also coincided with a university carnival race. The combination brought large fields (150 in each field) but a range of ability and just a great vibe and energy with large amounts of spectators and awesome camaraderie.
I still have a number of result and performance based goals for the year but perhaps the overriding aim for the next few weeks of racing is to go out and enjoy the racing and have fun. Trying to stay relaxed and just having a good time. Too often I stress on results and placing and what each result means for the future and then I choke in major races or not enjoy the moment.
The races for the first weekend were a classic sprint and a 10km skate. Because I don’t race for a college nor have a US racing license, on both days I was ranked low and started up the back. In the classic I warmed up and was ready to go, looking forward to my first classic sprint for the year. I came out of the start hard and as I climbed the first hill I realised I was catching the man in front of me. As I crested the first hill I passed him (this is extremely rare for me considering my average sprinting ability) and the rush of adrenaline and excitement helped push me on, and I climbed the last hill into the finish fired up and thinking I perhaps had had one of the best sprints of my life and excited to think I might of made heats (top 30). Well it turns out that the starter in front of me must of just been having a horrible day because I missed heats by just a few seconds and I didn’t have the stellar performance I had hoped for. However with the energy from the sprint I was excited for the next days 10km skate.
Again I was ranked out the back, but knowing I’d have the chance to pass a lot if people (which dose wonders to your confidence and motivation) I was happy to work my way up the start list. The first lap went really well and I skied a quick first lap. Every time I passed someone I seem to get a great kick of energy and motivation and so a positive flow on effect was created. You get the point, I was flying high. The race turned out to be a solid one for me and the second best points for the season. It felt great to finally find some form again, I’m still not skiing as fast and ferocious as I’d like but with the way the season has unfolded I’m just stoked to be close again.
So with a bit of spark found again I looked forward to the Supertour the following weekend, which is part of the national circuit and a step up in the quality of competition.
The races in Craftsbury were 10km skate, a 20km classic and a skate sprint. After skiing the course and finding it again that classic rolling twisting Vermont style I was really pumped for the distance events but especially the 20km classic.
The conditions in Craftsbury were amazing. Great snow and cold (-10) temperatures. Warming up for the 10km I got cold before the start due to a cold wind that had come in making things freezing. I didn’t have a repeat of the week before where I felting I was flying high. Perhaps from the cold or not enough warm up but I felt I left my legs at home. After the disappointing 10km I really was keen for a good result in the 20km classic.
The unique thing about the distance race was that it was individually started with athletes separated by 15 seconds. Normally it’s either mass start or separated by 30 seconds. By having the 15-second gap meant there was a lot higher chance of athletes forming packs and skiing together.
This is luckily what happened to me. Two Canadian lads caught me after a few kilometers and we worked together swapping turns at the front and really putting down some solid lap times and passing a few people. I’ve been working on my classic technique a lot recently and it all seemed to fall into place on the course. I definitely had a big smile on my face racing!
Sadly due to not having any support staff there I wasn’t able to take on any feeds like the rest of the competitors and slightly fade in the last few kilometers. The races didn’t end up being my best result or best FIS points but it was by far the funnest race of the season and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of hanging with the other racers and realistically the feeds didn’t matter too much in the end.
The sprint the next day was same old same for me. Especially after all the previous racing I just didn’t have the speed needed for qualifying into the heats. I’ll keep working on it.
I now heading on to St. Paul, Minnesota and I’m hoping the distance form especially will improve. After all racing in a city with such a great name I must be in for some great racing!