Tuesday, December 6, 2016
"One miss and good skis, I thought for sure a top 15 was doable." That was Tim commenting on the sprint race last Saturday in regards to finishing 29th and the standard the men's field had set that afternoon. It's nothing shy of hostile on the results list out there. Still, if you break down the numbers this has been one of the strongest starts to the season yet. I can't recall ever having a super result in Ostersund. Last week didn't prove otherwise, but the reasoning to stay optimistic is still alive.
Ostersund's facility is enormousness. The stadium is surrounded by two large buildings and the smaller storage buildings are around every corner. It dwarfs other venues like the one here in Poklijuka, Slovenia or the two in northern Maine. The course has it's nice parts, but is far from my style. It's wide enough to have your own space and still closed in enough to feel like home. On the other hand the less than stable conditions and technical downhills bring it down a notch for me. The temps this year were on the warmer side compared to past experiences. The "feels like" temps were on the colder side with the humid wind always making an obnoxious appearance.
The individual must have been an interesting one to watch because racing in it certainly was. I used the first loop as a chance to see how the corners were holding up after the early race seeds had been on it. The loop wasn't getting any worse. It was in that sugary deep form before the race started. One of the faster corners on the loop was surprisingly staying solid. Still, this wasn't enough to stop me from losing the skis from under my feet. I went down on the first loop in a section that you wouldn't want to lose speed on. I had hoped the loss of time was the only set back the fall had caused. Unfortunately, the rear side of my rifle's stock took on some damage. This was made clear during the set up for my first stage of prone. The now free moving and component missing stock didn't help with the already chaotic winds. The end result was a decent race that could have been much worse and also much better. With two races into the season I had yet to have a glitch free experience.
The sprint was actually a solid race. No falls, a fully repaired stock, and no MIA magazines. Even the wind took a break for our race. The result list post race wasn't what I was hoping for, but with so many athletes jostling for their own good result it's difficult to leave a mark. We're looking at about 80 athletes that are all capable of a top 40 fighting for the top 60 cut off. Skis felt fast. Our wax team did what they are good at. Energy was decent, sub perfect, but better than training season level. With no wind, shooting 2,1 (70%) wasn't good enough. Other years, my average was in the 50% range, with less than expected ski speed. So you can see why the break down holds promise despite not making the pursuit.
Just when we all thought the level of the men's world cup field had reached it's peak, the sprint race in Ostersund proves otherwise. That didn't stop Tim and Lowell from a few top 15 results. I was about 15 seconds down from the those two in ski speed. With Ostersund over another chance for success is near. Everyone is in a good mood to see the sun blazing through the windows right now in Bled, Slovenia. All I can do is take the learning experience from last week and apply it to a new race this week. Keep the IBU site open on your browser this Friday!