Tuesday, December 20, 2011

IBU cup trials


"Well that sucked. Not sure what to think. I thought we were done with this. The wind picked up as the race started, but turns out they were just bad shots. I think I could have used better focus in prone. I just thought I knew better than that?"

        That was an excerpt from an email I sent the coaches after the first race last Saturday. The lack of snow forced the organizers to change up the loop up. It was the same loop we had to do during Olympic trials back in 2009. The night mares were starting creep back in. I was not ready to deal with spending January in the US. Turns out I was right about the second to last sentence from that email sample.
        Saturday, Sunday and Monday hosted three races to determine the extra spots for the January IBU cup team. The IBU cup is more or less a B World Cup circuit. One that is getting more competitive every year. Success in these trial races was a key part of my "Operation January."
       Shooting percentages are in order as follows: 30%, 90%, and 90%. You can see the source of nervousness post sprint race on Saturday. In retro spec, I'm not sure what was going though my head during those four misses in prone. I was so frustrated when I crossed the finish line that I just wanted the next race to start immediately!
       It was exactly 23 hours and 30 seconds later when I was leaving the starting gate in the pursuit. It sure felt longer. I just wanted to prove that even I can hit targets. Focus was at an all time high and it paid off with a clean first stage. There was one miss in my second prone and another in my last standing. But That was all, only two misses on the day. Ski speed was decent. I will say I felt the best on day two than I did the other two days. I'm not a big fan of the course at Mt Itasca and I blame Kris Seymour for this. I hope he takes a gander at this article because he's the one who designed it. It simply doesn't flow well and it's hard to make it work.
        The mass start helped confirm my confidence on the range. Another 90% really helps up the season average. I broke out a move from retired French biathlete Raphael Poiree and waved to the crowd after cleaning my last stage. I'm not used to shooting this well so I wanted to make the most of it.
I strive to be more like OneWay poles in the way that they don't snap under pressure.

        The truth is I've been shooting much better for the past month. The changes that the coaches and I decided on back in Utah was the real turning point, not Saturday morning. When you focus on the process and stay loyal to it the probability of success is much higher. As always there is still plenty of room for improvement. Range times are anything but impressive and I hope to build off of current ski speed level as the season progresses.

Right now I'm in a hotel. I'll have a skype meeting with the coaches in the morning about training through the holidays. My flight leaves tomorrow afternoon from Minneapolis and eventually lands in Portland. From there I've managed to barter a ride home where I can enjoy Christmas back in the mother land. Then it's off to Forni Avoltri, Italy!

As much as it pains me to say this the Mt Itasca crew did a great job at making the races work. Especially when there was no snow to be had with in 100 miles. If you would like to see some pictures from the weekend you can check out minnesotabiathlon.com 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

An Update

       Alright here's a timeline run though of what been going on in the past few days.

Sunday Morning
Wake up feeling better than I thought I might have. Sinuses are clear, sore throat slightly remains.   Make the decision to race the NorAm at threshold. Mostly because there are no refunds and didn't want 60$ to go in vein.

Later Sunday Morning:
It's cold out, forecast said it was supposed to be warmer, it was not. Conditions are nice, ski feel fast, and zero goes well.

NorAm Pursuit
Didn't race the sprint so had to start in the back. First loop is a hectic mess of passing. Clean 1st stage, miss one in 2nd. Feeling pretty good about self until 1st standing stage. Dirty! Five misses! Bring it together for last stage with only one miss. Three good stages on the day is okay, just need to make it to four.

Post NorAm
Wait around in warm tent for awards. Consume orange juice and cliff bars. Leave on the back of a truck. Look forward to shower

Angry that we're leaving earlier than we have to. Carefully place clothes and equipment into ski bag. Heavy items go into carry on. Bulky cloths surround skis for protection. Search house for anything and everything that might have been forgotten.

Sunday Evening
Nice ride up Bozeman. Have dinner at pizza place. Get into hotel room for the night. Loose at rock paper scissors. Have to share a bed with Raleigh.

Monday Morning
Wake up at five. Shove tooth brush into ski bag. Load bags and rifle cases into airport shuttle van. Cram down continental breakfast in five minutes. Shuffle everyone's bag up to the ticket counter. Pray that I don't get slammed with over weight fees. Pack carry on to the brim with even more items to bring ski bag under 50lbs.

Pretty mellow. Flight to SLC was short. Had a row to myself on flight to Minneapolis. All luggage makes it over in one piece. Since the rest of the group doesn't get in till six pm we decide to venture into the Mall of America

Because ever mall needs it's own roller coaster.
Glace at map and decide to just wander aimlessly instead. Have some pizza and salad on second floor. Kill off some Christmas shopping.

Trip to Grand Rapids
Pick up the rest of the group and make our way to GR. Trip takes longer than expected. Have to ration off water.

Delighted to find out I have a room to myself for a few days. Sleep ensues.

Tuesday morning
Wake up wired and ready to go at 5:30. Not sure why. Breakfast and then wait for rest of team to wake up.

Later Tuseday morning
Training at Mt Itasca. Not a lot of snow, but don't care because it's warm. Legs feel great! Shooting not so much. Contemplate how I'm going to prep three pairs of skis.

Tuseday After noon.
Find a back road to run on that's not overly trafficked.

Tuesday Evening
Head out for dinner. Ends of requiring 90 minutes. 90 minutes of my life I'm never getting back.

Wednesday Morning
Intervals. 6x3mins. Legs are tired. Conditions are fast, but still a little soft. Decent shooting. Still no work on new race skis.

Fail afternoon nap project. Watch some internet and go for a run

Salmon with wild rice.

This will not be the first time racing at Mt Itasca.
Currently forcing myself to finish this article while watching the discover channel... Suspect clothing  is done in the dryer. That about sums it up for now. Races this weekend. Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

This One's Optimistic

       There will no racing for me today. I started to feel a potential sore throat yesterday afternoon. Reluctantly I gave myself the benefit of the doubt and shrugged it off as paranoia. My fears were confirmed this morning. This is very obnoxious timing. I was looking forward to this race for multiple reasons and now those reason mean nothing. On the contrary there is a plus side to all of this and the best I can do is be optimistic and make the most of it.
        First off I paid 60$ for this race. I don't make a lot of money so I try to make the most of it. There was also the so called promise of cash prizes! Perhaps there was a profit in this. With or with out cash prizes this would have been a great chance to get a real race feel. I wasn't the only national team athlete on the start list. Also being sick is just never fun.
        On the other hand it does give you some time to relax. Waking up to a scratchy throat on the morning of a race feels cruel. But this race was only a NorAm and historically thinking I've never been sick twice with in a ten day period. So the way I see it I'm golden for the races next week in Minnesota. Those races do matter. I suspect that this might only be a 24 hour deal too. So I might give the pursuit a try. Or maybe not. We'll see.

P.S. the title of this article came from a song that I was listening to this morning.

Monday, December 5, 2011

More pictures!

        It was cold today. But that didn't stop me from getting in a 2.6 hr classic distance. It was nice, real nice. Snagged a feel pictures that I thought were worth posting.

We're not along on these trails... That or they're just not grooming enough.  

Best classic skiing I'll do all year.

It's just the way Winter should look.
Fun with negatives.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Wes Yellingstonville!

         I could go on and on about how nice the skiing is out here, but there are more than enough articles to point that out. All for good reason though. The is my fourth trip to the West Yellowstone shenanigans. This year I completely dodged the ski festival. It feels like the few biathletes still lingering around are the only inhabitants of the this tourist ghost town. Training is going well. Shooting was good during intervals yesterday and I only wish it was a little warmer. Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what life has been like lately.  
Something bright and warm to look forward to when the temperature is below zero F.
I don't know where this ball came from but it does add some variety.

Smile like you mean it.

So anxious for racing season to start right now.

For the record I cleaned this stage.

Despite all efforts every range feels different.

All I see here is the absence of roller skis.
West Yellowstone happens to be the origin of my favorite photo on my hard drive.