The individual was a decent race for myself, but with a minute per miss these races are not my style. I took my time shooting. I was bib 127. The race didn't start till 5:15. This made for a long day. Range time wasn't a concern for me that day as I was just set on hitting the targets. I had a miss in each of my first three stages. Ski speed was on good pace that day. There was no doubt that we had fast skis. When I came in for my second prone Tim was charging for the finish in second place. I tried to keep in together for the last standing. The focus was on process more than anything else. Or so I thought. Missing the first two shots was enough to put me out of the “good race” zone. At this point the coaches were only giving me Tim's splits and less details about my race. At the end of a long day I was 60th with only five misses. Ski rank was 35th. Not great and not bad.
I wasn't even sure if the relay was going to be my last race of the season or not, but at least I was in it this year. I was alone for a brief time when Tim tagged off to me. We were somewhere around 10th or so. The Italian put ten seconds on me before the first hill. I lost a few more meters to him by the end of the down hill that followed. I thought the pace was a little quick for the first loop. This was only a 2.5km loop and I was getting a little worried about the ski shape that day. I cleaned prone with no extras. This was a good feeling and good thing I did so. With an already slow range time I would have lost a lot of time going into the spare rounds. I made good use of drafting on the second loop. The range approach was slow, but If there's anything worse than losing time coming into the range it's leading the pack into the range. I almost made it out with no extras and a fully clean day of shooting. Unfortunately that last shot didn't go down. But hey, nine out of ten with one extra isn't too bad. I felt like I had more control in those ten shots than I did any other race that week. I made a strong surge on the last hill and the last loop as a whole wasn't too bad. In the end ski speed was still pretty slow, but it's only one day and similar to the pursuit, there are too many variables to consider to warrant much worry.
No mass start for me this year. Theses days it takes a race of your life or two to get on that mass start list. I watched the race from the starting pen. There were a few questionable moves out there. One of which brought a few athletes down. This included Tim. Lowell cleaned through both prones and his first standing. At this point he was safely in distance of medal. He had a two misses in the last stage. Now you would think with good skiing and 90% shooting you would still be around top five or so, right? Wrong! The field on that day required perfection. It was an exciting race to watch and long awaited victory for Norway's Tarjei Bo.
I really like the course in Nove Mesto. The venue layout is almost perfect and the crowd numbers were better than I expected. No, the sun did not shine through the clouds once, but not once did it rain either and I never lost feeling in my fingers. The weather was just fine the way it was. Most of the team is in Inzell at the moment. Not much in the way of stress for the week. After this it's off to Oslo. I hear good things about that place.
Czech isn't the easiest language to pick up. The mens team usually adopts a few random words and phrases from what ever dialect we're soaking up. I'm not sure how or why, but we started exclaiming “počítač!” (computer) and “jahoda!”(strawberry) this past couple of weeks. Gosh, aren't we cool. Pictures to follow shortly.