Sunday, December 14, 2014

And a Series of Unfortunate Events, again.

          Racing on a narrow ribbon of forced snow is becoming all too common these days. Unfortunately for my season thus far the lack luster results are on the same all too common pace. But hey if you want to win the race you have to pace yourself.  Leading into the finish is the important part. Everything before that isn't relevant. Hochfilzen has been good to us in some ways and believe me when I say I'm still happy to be here and have the chance to bang heads on the WC.  But the raw honey comb and sunshine doesn't compensate for the sprint result and unlucky relay. This is the run down of what happened during our week in Hochfilzen, Austria

          The flight from Ostersund was one the smoothest travel days in recent memory. Nothing went wrong. It was a charter flight so they didn't even bother giving us seat assignments. Everyone was offered a full meal and the flight attendant just so happened to look like a supermodel. The bus ride to the hotel wasn't even the usual four hour sauna trek. Our hotel is great. There is always a large wired box of raw honey comb for breakfast. This gold could be considered candy if candy was locally produced and surprisingly good for you. I've considered buying some from the hotel. The only motivation not to is due to the fact that the excess "stuff level" is overwhelming and with only 23kgs allowed for flying it's best not to add to the pile.
Last night's desert. 

           So anyways aside from that there is the racing portion this update. I had high hopes for the sprint race. What else can I have? Naturally I was in the last seed. The difference this time was that the conditions held up better than they did in Ostersund and the last starting seed wasn't being ignored by some top level biathletes.  Bjordalen and Fourcade were both around my start time. This is what eventually  made the race even more painful. I had my focus ingrained into my head. Stressed or relaxed it didn't matter. I refined the process down to a few key words and held on to those the best I could.  It helped, but wasn't enough to stop two rounds from missing the eight ring. With two penalties a clean standing would have to be in order. Of the 20 shots standing I've done this season I've only had three misses. The second stage of the sprint race had one of them. With three total on the day I knew it was going to be close if I wanted to make the pursuit. It was... The first split had me at seven seconds out of the top 60. The next one was two seconds out. Then two seconds in. With not much course left I should have been safe right? When I crossed I was listed as 59th. The clutch was that Ole and Simone Fourcade had not finished. Ole had shot the same as me but skied faster. I was ahead of Simone ski speed wise that day, but with his clean shooting he was going to be in the pursuit and I was not. The two knocked me down from 59th to 61st.
            It happened to me in an Oberhof race, at the Olympics, and last Friday for the third time. I wasn't feeling to well. The goal was a top 40 and there I was knowing that I would be left out of the pursuit. It wasn't a very happy post race cool down.

             The relay was a second chance. A good relay could do a lot. Well folks that was not the case. We have a very talented wax team. We're one of the most organised teams out there. We can expect to have skies as good as any other team despite not have the limitless resources that the bigger teams have. Only on the rarest occasions do we miss the mark. Saturday was one of them. There wasn't enough time to switch out the skies before Lowell's and Tim's leg. They both had solid races but when your skies are clinging to the snow you don't have a chance. Trust me I've tested this out by accident and it's close to hopeless. Leif and I were able to get on the corrected grind for the day. We both had fast skies, just like anyone else. Leif has been shooting well this year, but Saturday was an off day. No one is safe. It happens. There's no better way to describe it. With a few penalties it wasn't shaping up to be the day I envisioned. I was the last leg and was tagged off with the Belarus team. It made for a good draft the first loop. I thought we were going a little too hard, but I figured one of us would lose it on the last loop if that's what it came to. Prone went clean with two extras. The group around me had to have used at least this to get out, because I was ahead leaving the range. I came into standing pretty hot. With the range approach in Hochfilzen it's hard not to do this. Standing went well. One miss from the clip and only one extra to clean. I raced around the corner onto what I thought was my last loop. Instead I was met by IBU officials who were waiting for me and anyone else still racing with there arms waving in the air. The lead team had crossed the finish line before I left the range. Via IBU rules we were not allowed to finish. I was denied my last loop.
           This may have been the worst relay team USA has ever had. No one is really thinking about it. It was a lot of bad things crammed into one race. Even more there was no race to be had the following day. If only I had been two seconds faster. Place 60 didn't even race the pursuit, nor did Bjordalen. It was rough having to watch the men's pursuit on Eurovision yet again.

           As always, if there is ever a chance for success then it's reason enough for a full effort. The next chance lies in Pokljuka, Slovenia. The season is just getting started and the parts of slowly coming together. It only takes one good day to start a catalyst. If that's a possibility for me then I'm going to go for it. The hiking was good today. Tomorrow will be a semi rest day. Tuesday similar with some easy combos. The sprint race is on Friday.

         Some things never change. Some things need to change. Wish me luck in trying to break those thresholds next week by having a better day. Then I can relax and come home for Christmas. I hope you've enjoyed reading this as it's not the most exciting way to spend an afternoon. I like to keep anyone back home who's interested up to date. Maybe it would be enjoyable to write if I had better news.

Okay probably not.

Hochfilzen in June? No no. This is earlier today. 


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