Saturday, March 11, 2017

Back to Otepaa

      The Tehvandi stadium in Otepaa Estonia is a nice venue. The presentation of the whole facility is impressive. The wax cabins to starting pen isn't far apart, despite the size of the place. That much, is rare with the modern biathlon venue. I wish I could say my performance this week was as equally impressive. I'm happy to say it wasn't that bad either, all things considered. What's more, is that it's not fully over either.

      Grinding out this clingy cold and sore throat from Kontiolahti was the focal point of my week. The sooner I can rid myself of it the sooner I can race at full capacity. Every time you get sick you never truly know how long it's going to last. This time around it was a solid ten plus days. I was tired of having to sit back and willfully retreat from racing because I simply got unlucky. That's often what it seemingly amounts to. My chances to prove myself on the Euro circuit were dwindling. The only option was to go for it, 100% or not.

      The races consisted of a single mixed relay, followed by two sprints, and a regular mixed relay on the last day. The single mixed relay only uses 1.5km loops. It's a little difficult to explain the mechanics of the single mixed relay, but lets just say I wasn't up to the task skiing wise and while shooting was actually not too bad, it wasn't enough for a note worthy result. That was okay with me, I wanted something to wake system up both mentally and physically.

      The first sprint was an odd one. In most cases you want to start in the first or second seed. This means you are on the course while it's still in the best shape. Thus giving you an advantage in ski time. On Thursday's sprint this was the case ten fold. It wasn't exactly snowing, but the snow was losing it's form fast. Even starting in the top ten vs the top thirty made a noticeable difference. I was lucky just to have bib 26. I recall finishing the race and assuming that it wasn't a good day. Shooting was solid 1,1 80%, but the system still wasn't firing at max from being sick. In the end it was on the better side of decent. Whether it was from the top quality training in Antholz or the relatively early start number is unclear, but I was aiming to improve on it.

      Today was the closest I've been to homeostasis since the individual in Finland last week. My throat is still a sore and sinuses aren't clear yet, but it's not consuming my full attention anymore. Nothing went colossally wrong today. Everything went somewhere between okay and mediocre. I'm not convinced we hit the skies today. If we did then the Norwegians and Russians hit it much better than anyone else.  Both teams were able to glide away from me when I was in there draft. I missed my first shot in prone, but carefully hit the next four. I wanted a clean standing so badly it worked against me. The pressure got to me and I missed two in standing. Still, 70% isn't terrible. The conditions were slushy. I had an early start number, but the start order was less detrimental today. I'm not as doomed in slushy conditions as I used to be. I've worked on the technique needed to race in this stuff. Still, whether it was the skis, the week plus of sickness, or unfavorable conditions I was unable to have the result I knew I could have had in different circumstances.

       That's how the sport works. One of opportunity and frustration. Tomorrow is the last race. The mixed relay. I seldom have the chance to race in relays because I'm usually told they favor shooting too much. The way I see it, one of the best ways to be better at relays is to do them in the first place. Which is exactly what's happening tomorrow. Overall the past few weeks have been alright. I was able to recover from the low point of the season that was IBU cup 6. One last race and then it's a shenanigan to make it back state side. Wish me luck for both endeavors.

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