Last week was the fifth world cup series of the season. Not unlike past years the staple that is Ruhpolding was the site of a relay, sprint, and pursuit. Winter was in full force. Snow fell in thick flakes for about five of the seven days the circuit was there. In the end, the upward trend I set in Oberhof took a dive with one too many trips to the penalty loop. Hopes are still high and theses days any start spot on the world cup is a learning experience. Good results or not so good are helpful in building to the next race.
My one and only start was the sprint race. With a full team of five men I was the reserve for the relay. Relay's tend to favor fast and accurate shooters which is not my strong point yet. For the first time in my (world cup) racing career I was bib number one. It's technically random, but the coaches put me in the first seed, thus giving me the chance of drawing bib one. The crowd was about what I expected from Ruhpolding. This means large and energetic. Still, after the WC in Nove Mesto the energy in the stadium hasn't been the same. It's much more calm by comparison. The first three shots in prone felt like hits and were. The last two slipped out of my focus and didn't go down. Standing was a repeat story. I knew how to hit the targets, but wasn't able to execute it five times in a row. Biathlon showed it's cruel side yet again. 60% shooting on a day that demanded 90% or better was plenty to put me out of the glory zone.
Not all was a loss. As I said, the first three shots in prone felt like hits and were. In the past I've had stages that ended in with a question mark over my head. The feeling behind each shot would be unknown, regardless of whether or not it was a hit. In this most recent race, I can recall the hits feeling solid and and the misses feeling like poorly timed mistakes. I deserved the results of my shooting that day. The Ruhpolding course profile isn't the best for my style. The conditions were hard packed and it's not devoid of steep climbs. However, the flat stretches and broken up climbs make it a challenge for me. Oberhof was great, with the brutal unforgiving hill right out of the stadium and simple downhills. If you could stack the two hills in Ruhpolding's 3.3km loop one on top of the other I would be ready to go. With that in mind, I was pleased with the ski effort on the day.
When you don't make the pursuit you're left to ensure that you'll be ready for the next race. In this case, it's next Friday. Just because you don't have a race effort in the mix for Sunday doesn't mean you get to sit in the hotel room and bide your time. No, you pack up your gear and get ready for a workout hard enough to replace the race you're not competing in. The women and men both had the their pursuit on Sunday. This meant leaving from the hotel early. The real let down in this session is that it's obvious what you're up to. You didn't make the pursuit and now you have to weave through the wax techs to make up for it. I've been in this slot so many times before, I've started calling it "shame training."
With the penalty loop and loss of a pursuit start behind me I can move on to the next opportunity. Currently, the team is in Antholze. At the the SeeHause. This hotel restaurant is about a five minute ski up from the venue. I'm anxious for a another start. The energy in the legs is feeling good; better than it was in December. It's never fun to have a poor result and have to wait it out for another week to prove otherwise, but compared to past years that's a significantly reduced wait time.