Friday, February 10, 2017

Set Backs and Resets

Nice weather for our drive from Poland down to Slovakia.
        There are various levels of athletes in this sport. Some have been on the world cup year after year for more than decade, others seldom make it beyond the NorAm cup scene. Then there is the middle zone athletes. The ones that have been on top and had the time of there life while also having been kicked in the teeth and pushed straight down to the bottom. Guess which area I fall into? With that in mind, you never really know where I might end up. I was on the first and second WC trimester of this season and yet I won't be competing at the World Champs in Hochfilzen. Oddly enough, this didn't bring me home. The racing season in Europe isn't over for me yet, and I really do despise that transatlantic flight only to have to turn around and do it again.  So how did I tackle this dilemma?

"Deploy the cow catcher!"
        The last IBU cup was in Osrblie Slovakia. A nice course that I've skied well on before. After being sick with a cold and fever it was unclear what kind of ski speed I could produce. Not only that, but shooting wasn't what I had hoped for the week before at European Champs. Still, it was the last race before a long stretch. Unfortunately the race was a complete disaster. The zero before was solid, but as soon as I left the starting gate everything started to go down hill. I missed three in prone and four in standing. I took a second to glance at the targets in disbelief and contemplated dropping out. What precisely went wrong is beyond me. Ski speed was also off, which I attribute to being sick the weekend before. Recovery time is always hard to gauge. I wasn't enjoying life very much after that race. The year started off so well only to gradually fall down hill.

      Still the season wasn't over. I was pre-qualified for the last two IBU cups. Those races do not start until the end of February. Technically, there was no need to travel all the way back to North America. The catch was finding a place to stay and train for the time in between the races. After some logistical leg work and kind help from back home a room in Antholz was ready to go. From Slovakia the trip to Munich took about six hours. The following day I took a shuttle to the airport where I could buy a train ticket. Traveling via train is pretty slick once you figure it out. Still, I wouldn't recommend a 70+lb ski bag and duffel as a travel companion.

Skiing in Austria
        So this brings us to the current situation. I'll be training in one of my favorite places to train for the next two weeks. Antholz is a great place for a biathlete. The set up reminds me of training at the Fort Kent Outdoor Center in some ways. You can show with a rifle and ammo and have everything ready to go. The trails are always groomed very well, the mats are close by and zero paper has been available everyday so far. Today I skied up the pass into Austria. Once you're done with the climb there is wide open plateau of groomed trail to explore. The sun blazes the stadium most everyday once 10:30 rolls around. Antholz isn't so bad right now.
The trick is to trust that the sun will warm everything up by 10:30. You can watch this happen as the sun crest the mountain.

      I have a decent amount of time to work out the glitches that held me back these past few weeks. I'm not making any changes to the mechanical set up of my shooting. The goal now is to find the right mental focus that produces the best results under stress. When the chances to have a great race are so few you really want those good results. That overcautious second guessing and fear does not help my cause.
         Going home this time year would not help my confidence levels. If I can stay in the Euro racing, or even training, scene I'm better off. The exit strategy is unknown for now. As soon as I know what the exact details of racing from here on out is, I can start finding a way there. In the mean time I'm not giving up on the 2016/17 season. It's had it's highs and lows. Since there is still a chance that it could be a great one, then it is a chance worth taking. 
An interesting approach to room design for our hotel.

Also the color scheme of our bathroom in Slovakia was murder red.

Trains are great!!

The view from my hotel balcony. In the early
 afternoon it's warm enough to nap outside.

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