Touching down in Australia after being away from home for almost two years was quite amazing. I arrived at 8:00am and my brother picked me up from the airport and took me straight to his place in the city. I just crashed for a few hours napping.
Then I had to rally for the whole night and find my feet because it was his engagement party! I ended up booking my flights so I’d arrive the morning of the festivities and the plan was to soldier through the jet-lag. It was a great night catching up with all my extended family, but by 11:30pm I was dead on my feet!
I spent a few days in Melbourne having some doctors appointments for the Olympics and this years World Cup. Just getting check-ups and blood tests done. By the fourth day I was feeling a little cooped up and desperate to get back to the country and home.
Finally getting home to Porepunkah was just the best! Being able to head out on all the old trails I used to run was quite nostalgic and really fun.
Apart from the obvious benefits and pleasures being home and spending time with my family, it was great to get back training with the Aus team.
There is a small group of the senior and U23 guys training at Falls Creek this winter with the head coach Valerio Leccardi. One of the key reasons for my return to Australia was to come back and train with the team and Valerio and already I can see it paying off. We have had some really solid weeks of training, on and off snow and I hope it all will just continue to stack up and I reap the benefits in the long run. Technique work with Valerio has been invaluable and I hope to continue to make improvements there too.
We have already had one weekend of serious racing. The first round of National Championships in Perisher, NSW. I went into the races pretty unsure of how I would perform. I was really eager to be on the podium both days, but I was also lacking time on skis unlike a lot of the other guys who had already been on snow for a month.
Saturday was a skate sprint in extremely windy, but sunny conditions. I qualified 3rd and was feeling really good considering it was a skate sprint and such nasty wind. I won both my heats and in the final was in a good position for the first half of the race. I lead from the gun till around the final bend, hoping to have a big kick down the finishing straight but coming into the corner there were two other racers behind me and it was tight. We were all clashing gear coming around the corner. It came down to a final sprint and I was edged out to third. Considering how frustrating skate sprints have been for me in the past, I was really happy to have felt so good for most of the heats.
Sunday was a classic 10km. I was really excited about this race. It was the only classic distance race for the whole Aus season. I would have preferred 15km, but I was still keen for a podium and realistically hoping for the win. Again the day started windy and cold. Basically standard weather for Perisher I feel. Being only 10km the plan was to start hot and just go for it. It worked really well. Early on in the race I was passing people and on the final climb of the first lap I was sitting in second, just 6 seconds from the leader. During my first lap the sun came out heating the snow a lot. It suddenly really changed the wax, making it far warmer and wetter, meaning my skis stayed fast, but really started to slip. As I tried to turn it up another notch and push harder, I found my skis were getting worse and worse and it was really frustrating. I ended up again 3rd in the race. 17 seconds from the win. First went to a Swiss skier who was over racing and second was an Aussie and I was only 11 seconds behind them. So to know I was right up there and second Australian was really satisfying, but I did want to try and get the win.
Since then it has been just lots and lots of hard training. I haven’t got many photos of training because it’s been just too busy. I don’t have time to stop and take happy snaps, which I guess is a good thing.
Recently we have done a number of sessions which I finished thinking, “Wow that was the hardest interval set I’ve ever done” and then the next set of intervals that week have been even tougher and harder. It’s been really great to be pushed so hard.
But with all the training I’ve been also pushing my body to breaking and sometimes a little too far. So I’m really fortunate to be supported by Ovens Valley Physio and Physio Phebe who have been taking care of me. My elbows and back are basically being saved by them! I’m very grateful for that!
The next round of Aus champs are in a weeks time, so fingers crossed for two more podiums.
Train hard, rest easy, live for the moment.