Tuesday, December 13, 2016


       The second world cup weekend took place in Pokljuka, Slovenia. An always favorite among the teams. Great views and A+ weather this year help keep Pokljuka in the top tier for race sites. There was only trace amounts of snow at the venue and no snow to be found down the mountain in Bled. Still, this past week proved how significant a trace amount of something can be. Whether it's a slight miss hasp with a magazine sending it over the firing line, a slight lack of confidence on the downhill corner or simply taking a little to long on the range, it doesn't take much to push you back in the result list with today's world cup field. Here is the limiting factor to my not making the pursuit, why the US team was not in the relay, and what I'm going for this week.

One of the start up default pictures for Windows 10 is a picture of this exact view. I knew it look familiar.
      Ski speed was decent. I did some intensity without shooting a few days prior to the sprint. There were a lot of hidden places to gain and lose time if you weren't paying attention. The snow was perfect all week; firm and responsive to a ski, but not bullet proof. At only a minute out from the race leader Martin Fourcade I had the 44th ranked ski time. The top 15 was a list of zero's stacked one on top the other. The wind was down and anything less than zero misses was a flaw. But the further down the list the more you could see ones and twos. I only had two misses. It was the first shot of each stage. Missing your fist shot means holding on to the next four for dear life. That mentality coupled with an already slow range time in general did not help my cause. It wasn't the tight ski times, it wasn't the high level of shooting that pushed me out of the top 60. This time it was the amount of time I spent on the shooting mat. A couple of decades ago and I would have been average. These days anything more than 40 seconds in prone is a free giveaway. Two less misses sure would have been nice, but even a five second drop in prone time would have put me in the pursuit race the following day.

      It's not easy to bring range time down. When you only have 10 shots to work with and the standards are high you tend to be a little more cautious. However, shooting well and skiing fast aren't enough anymore, you have to do both of those and not waste anytime doing them. With virtually no time to carefully solve this, my coach and I decided that I should do the pursuit on my own, later on the day when the world cup pursuit races were over. This time I was supposed to simply "go for it," for lack of a better description. As if cleaning a stage under pressure and a heart rate of 180 wasn't enough challenge, try doing so in no more than 40 seconds. It ended up being a solid time trial. Shooting was 75%, but the drop in range time made it a better overall performance than the sprint race the day before.
       The sprint race last Friday was my one and only world cup race. There was a relay on Sunday and all three of us were feeling good to go. With five start spots it's hard to think we wouldn't have a relay team available. Unfortunately Leif broke his toe while roller skiing on a treadmill. That's two bad things in one setting. Sean hasn't been with us this trimester because he is still recovering from mono. Instead, the team went for an easy classic distance the morning before the race. Admittedly, it was a nice day for easy classic, but we sure would have rather been competing.

        Now the field is in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. The first race in the men's sprint starting Friday evening. I'm not much for evening races, but I do like the course here. A push for better range times is a must, but with this sport you can't make any bold promises. So, with that said here's to one last shot at glory before the Xmas break.
The hotel manager said he used to enjoy walking out on the lake this time of year when it used to freeze  over.


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