August wouldn't feel the same without a few days at the Ethan Allen guard base in Jericho, Vt. At first glance it would seem that Jericho has a great roller loop and is within striking distance of Burlington, but nothing more. To be completely fair, to this day the best sandwich wrap I've ever had came from the Jericho center general store. So, it has at least three high points going for it.
This year we were only around for a quick three day trial situation. It was the exact same formula as the previous year. That is, a sprint format on Saturday and a mass start style on Sunday. Gone are the days of moldy downhill corners and multi colored grades of pavement. The redone roller ski loop is much easier to work with. The mostly functional internet in the barracks was a break though that I never thought I would live to see.
Not all has changed, however. The overbearing heat and humidity this place is know for lived up to it's reputation. To put it another way, (hypothetically) if there was a race to be held strictly in a sauna I would be better prepared for it after that weekend. Saturday's sprint was much warmer than anticipated. Some athletes can handle hot days pretty well. Others, not so much. I'm in the later category. I've raced tired and I've raced out of shape. This was neither. It's a strange feeling to be at max capacity in these sorts of conditions. Rather than just becoming overly dizzy and pass out I tend to ski just slower than I would on a cooler day. This was the case as ski speed was not what I expected in the sprint. It wasn't bad and as always it's fair to point out that it's August. Still, an extra 40 seconds faster would feel more accurate. On the plus side there was one miss to be had in prone and none in standing. 90% shooting was a nice advantage to what could have been a much worse day. In the end I concluded that it was a solid race and not worth worrying about.
The mass start was slightly better in some ways and still off expectations in others, yet still better than it could have been. It was a few degrees cooler and as a result skiing felt a few seconds faster. The overall feeling was still below expectations. Some of my technique on the climbs wasn't as dynamic as I've been trying to force it into being. Excuses aside, the effort was there and I used whatever drafts I could. Of the four shooting stages, one was brilliant and the other three were missed opportunities. There were two misses in each prone stage. All of which were pretty much "head case misses" as I described after. There was no wind, just some breeze in my head I guess. Cleaning the first standing stage was a nice confidence boost and put me with in striking distance of the podium. Since this sport has a way of kicking you in the teeth I unfortunately missed anther three in the last stage. Despite some lack luster ski speed and one too many poor stages I wasn't too far out.
That's about as much as I know for now. The next weekend of trials is in October. It's a best three of four system, plus some other confusing parts in the mix. Naturally, the best move is to stay focused on the process and train well. That being said, the races were great from the experience side. That's the conclusion that's going further better results. I have a lot of feed back to work with in training now. There is a brief camp in Lake Placid on the schedule. The rest is in the county. So if you see a short little idiot flailing expensive equipment around it's probably just be me.