Sunday, January 6, 2013


        With no exaggeration what so ever we have not seen the sun since Ruhpolding. Large crowd numbers make for good trump card; Good enough to override the least favorable weather conditions. I know the sun is there somewhere. We're not in northern Europe anymore. I think you can find the sun a few km up and out of the perpetual cloud. Somethings never change while some things do. Sometimes they get intertwined and you get days like the past few.
      The Oberhof WC brings the largest crowds. Ruhpolding is the only one that can compete. I've come to notice that the smaller the spectator count the better run the event is. I know first hand that Fort Kent, and Presque Isle do everything they can to ensure a flawless WC. Pokljuka is another good example. When the organizers know the IBU will give them there week unconditionally the motivation seems less. This is a poor year for snow in Oberhof. I know they have a ski tunnel full of snow year round and yet the 200 meter warm up loop was reduced, due to lack of snow? I'm trying to break in a new pair of boots and thanks to the rocks, mud, pavement, and poorly structured venue design the bottoms are wearing thin. It's gets worse. Yesterday there was not one but two mud and rock strips on the 3.3 loop. Canada's top racer JP snagged a rock hard enough to go down. Tim nearly did the same. I know the weather isn't helping, and it takes a lot of work to stay on top of these things, but it's a WORLD CUP! Get your act together Oberhof!... End rant.
       In other news the USA mens team did what we knew we could do a busted out fifth in the relay. Lowell took up the first leg wearing bib 16... A couple good shooting stages and some good drafting put us into seventh. Tim proved to be very competitive again with only one extra and some strong skiing in the last km. This put us in the lead group after the lone Norwegian. For the first time in a decade neither Hakkinen or Teela was taking over. From there on it was up to Leif and I. I led out of the stadium and up the first climb. For the sake of good tactics I didn't want this to continue. The two behind be took over after a downhill. If you were watching it would appear that I almost went down at about that time. While true, I never felt complete out of control. I can honestly say I had my head in the right place for shooting that day. Aside from setting up on point four I had no idea what was going on in the race. I was in my own world. I missed the first two shots and I'm sure anyone back home watching this was biting there nails. I managed to hit with next five rounds and stayed even with the group. There was a brief moment of question coming into the stretch to the stadium. The wind is always up through this part and leading can be detrimental. The Russian slowed down and pulled off to the left to let me take the lead. I've made that mistake to many times to do it again. I stood up and stayed right behind him. I was willing to scrub any amount of time to prove my point. This is when Arnd took up the task and lead us into the range. It took an extra breath or two but I was able to get out of standing with only one extra. I was about ten seconds off the lead group when I tagged off to Leif. Leif held his own and solidified our top five with an impressive standing. The energy after the race was a relief to stress of a long day. The anti-doping testers "randomly" selected me which made it a little longer, but with a good race behind me I didn't mind the inconvenience.
      Naturally I had high hopes for the sprint race. After all performance had been looking up since last year. It was another late start. These races always take the most out of you. I'm not much for sleeping in and thus have a lot of time to not relax. It always feels nice to just get out of the starting gate. Less thinking, more doing. Conditions were much better than the day before (for the record that's ignoring the mud sections) and this allowed me to have better transitions. Ski speed felt under control. Good enough to keep the hope up even after two misses in prone. I needed a clean standing and was pretty well convinced I going to do just that. Ironically, the more I think about it the more I think this lead to my demise. There's no point in going into detail, but I took on another two penalties. I did everything I could on the last loop and just missed the pursuit. You can imagine how this made me feel.
I'm resisting the urge to put up any more pictures from Ruhpolding. Seems appropriate to wait for next week. 
      I did the math afterwords. There were a couple of races in December in which clean shooting would have just put me into the pursuit. Had I cleaned yesterday I would have made the top 15. So if you break it down, performance really is on good pace. We head for Ruhpolding tomorrow. That will be my next chance to put myself to good use. As I said earlier, the relay was a good example of what the team already knew we could do. Now it's just a matter of even more proving to the world and less secretly knowing.

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