Friday, February 21, 2014

Meanwhile In Mother Russia: Round 2

         Who would have thought the Olympics would have been this busy. To be fair, probably a lot of people. I don't know why I didn't see this one coming. The race itinerary for biathlon got off to fast start with the sprint and pursuit and only a couple of days rest before the individual. After that there was actually a brief rest period. I wasn't in the mixed relay and at the time wasn't even sure if I would be in the men's relay or not. Well now we've arrived at the 21st of February. Closing ceremonies are drawing near. Before we go through that experience we have one more suffer fest to dual out. Here is a brief run down of the past couple of weeks.
         The sprint race close to something great. Not in the medals but a season best by a lot. Unfortunately this cruel and vicious sport held it's cut throat standards. While skiing was solid with the 28th fastest time and standing was clean in about 26 seconds, the prone shots, though close together were all on the left side of the target. This granted me four healthy penalty loops. I was 17 seconds away from making the pursuit. I didn't think I had a chance. I gave it my best shot and was a narrow three seconds from 60th. I've never been 61st before. Someone has to do it. I wasn't too excited with the results, but the break down of the race was enough reason to stay positive.
         With no pursuit my next chance was the individual. The four kilometer course at Laura biathlon venue is brutal to be put lightly. Basically you start the loop out with a wall, then you have a couple of sharp corners all the way to the bottom of the course. These corners are not hard to handle if the conditions are normal. Either way, your legs are fried by the time you reach the bottom. After that you climb up just far enough to get run through another short series of corners. This brings you to the real climb of the loop. The hill is hard before you even start it. You still have another three minutes of ascending after you realize you're hurting. There is a long gradual stretch at the top of the course. It's actually the most dependable place to make up time. It holds up when the rest of the snow starts to fall apart. The downhill into the range is the only straight forward rest on the course. You can really generate a lot speed going into the range or finish.
          Long story short the individual was nothing great and nothing too bad. Ski speed was decent, despite not having the most favorable snow conditions. I missed two on the first stage and anther two in my second stage. With the level of competition of today's mens biathlon four is too many for anything special. Thankfully I was able to bring it together and do some damage control by cleaning the last two stages. Range time was the best it has been all year. Similar to the sprint race it felt like I was close to putting it together, but still not able to cross the threshold. On the other hand Lowell had a stellar performance. With one miss he was eighth! The rest of us were hoping for something better, but it was still great to see one us pushing the podium.
          With out a start in the mixed relay I was looking at a stretch with out any racing. I was able to have one full day off. As in an actual day off. There was no two hours of walking and no headaches caused by everyday Russian logistics. These days have been hard to come by lately. I was happy to manage one.
        Training went well, but was subjected to some changes due to weather. The men's mass start was postponed again and again. It wasn't until a the day after the women's mass start that the fog cleared for a long enough time to host the race. The visibility was around three meters for a most of  the day. I'm not exaggerating on that. For training that day I had to find an easy loop on the XC course with a classic track that I could follow closely.
        After about two and half weeks in the Endurance Village the guilt of not being able to say I left or did anything else was starting to build. To be positive I'm glad to say that I ventured out and put in the effort. I saw the Olympic Park and ate at the Coastal Village dinning hall. It wasn't very exciting and only helped to further prove how awful Russian logistics are. "The dedication to inefficiency" is an appropriate phrase. Still, managed to leave the EV. At least there is always that.
        In case you were wondering I will representing USA in the  relay tomorrow. We're not running at our best capacity. From the sounds of it a lot of team are in the same position. Just watching the women's relay you could see that some of the normal expectations were off. Tim is sick and will not be in the race. Lowell is our first leg, I'm second, Sean is third and even though Leif is sick he will be our anchor leg. It's not the best, but there is still reason to be positive. So that's the route I'm taking.
        That's the quick run down of my time up to now. The relay starts at 18:30 Sochi time. I think that's 9:30AM for anyone on EST. It's been a busy few weeks, but none of it for a bad reason. This weekend is going to be very exciting. Hopefully because of a good result. Not to mention being able to attend the Closing Ceremonies this time.

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