Satisfying steps forward

Ski racing and more broadly speaking, being an athlete, is all about making small incremental improvements and gains in every aspect of the sport. Mentally, physically and technically. They are all little steps we need to take to improve. Sometimes it feels like we are walking backwards and at other times we stride forward with ardour and vigour.

After the Perisher weekend and some solid races, I knew things were going well. I happily plunged back into hard training with renewed gusto . Suddenly the steps really seemed to start lining up and I could feel great technical and physical gains being made. Valerio has had a lot to do with this. We work almost daily on my technique together with video or verbal feed back and I’ve actually started to really glimpse what my skiing could be like, once I master the technical changes we are trying to make to my skiing, especially skating.

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One of my Alaskan teammates from APU has flown over for some training and racing. It’s been great to have Andre as a training partner for August.
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Outside of skiing, gym work has been a huge factor in my improvements.

The week before nationals at Falls Creek was one of those weeks I felt like I made big steps. During some speed sessions and intervals, everything clicked and I just felt like I was finally there and flying. As a result I skied really well and finished each session with a lot of satisfaction and confidence for the upcoming races. I don’t have any photos to share from these days because all the training was done in the pouring rain and no one was feeling like a photo.

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Phebe, aka Physio Phebe has been awesome working with me to fix a few lingering injuries and problems. Ovens Valley Physio in Bright have been extremely generous with their help.

Falls Creek designed a new course for the sprint and it was fantastic. They made a huge effort to make it technical, hilly and much more like the courses we see in Europe and on World Cup.

It really suited me with lots of striding climbs where I could maximise my style of skiing.

Talking with Valerio the plan was to focus on the time trial at the beginning of the day. Being able to time trial well is crucial overseas in Europe so the plan was to nail the time trial and then refocus and race heats.

Ironically I was worried I wasn’t doing a very good job of my pre race warm up. I felt a little rushed and not quite ready. I had run out of time during the warm-up and needed to get in the start pen. Lining up, all that pre race chaos left me, I found I could just focus on the race that was in front of me. I came out of the start flying and the plan was to just charge from the beginning, holding nothing back.

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The first hill of the time trial on Saturday.
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One of the small problems with the course was that the classic tracks and some sections of the course had accumulated a lot of wind blown snow.

I ended up winning the time trial by just 0.04 of a second. I couldn’t believe it, but I was so happy to have met that goal and time trialled so well.

So with the first goal met, the plan was for a podium at the end of the day.

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Racing the heats in bib number one!

I won both the semi final and quarter final comfortably and was into the final. I didn’t quite manage the podium, I skied to 4th, 3rd Australian. I didn’t execute the last 4 minutes of the day how I had hoped, but I finished the day very happy to have been so successful with my main goal.

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The mens final, where things just didn’t quite play out the way I had planned.

Sunday I had the aim to be on the podium, my first and third laps were extremely solid and good, but in the middle I seemed to fade a little and although I brought it back fast, I just didn’t ski the perfect race I needed for a podium, again finishing 4th, 3rd Australian.

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Start of the 15km.
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15km.
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The Australian Podium. Miles Havlick (USA) was actually third.

So I finished the weekend of racing satisfied that things are going well. I know if I bring my A game on race day, I can ski extremely well, I just need to find it every time I race now, not just once in the morning.

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Post weekend racing vibes, making crepes and eating nice cheese to relax a little.

There are only two more races in the Australian season now. The night sprints at Falls Creek on Thursday and then the Kangaroo Hoppet before we fly to New Zealand for 3 more races.

This winter has seen some great progression made. I was once never considered a sprinter and to have time trialled to 1st and 3rd at the two National Championships sprints, plus a podium has shown me things are finally coming together. I’m excited for what’s next.

Train hard, Rest easy, Live for the moment.

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One thought on “Satisfying steps forward

  1. Hi Paul, Helen and I are heading to NZ and the Muster on Monday morning 28th August – 6:15 am departure. Staying in Wanaka for a week then travelling via car for two weeks and flying out of Auckland. We will see you there. Paul L’H…

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