Sunday, 30 January 2011

otepaa

I came to Otepaa, the home of Estonian cross country skiing, 12 days ago. With some high ambitions and goals in mind I was set for some good competitions. Firstly I had to world cup sprint qualifier on Sunday, a week ago from now. It was to be my final warm up competition for the World Junior Championships (WJC). Held on the same trail as the WJC sprint it would be the perfect warm up race.

The race actually went surprisingly well compared to how I had been skiing in Liatoppen earlier in the month. I skied to my rank of 74th. Probably a few seconds down on what I needed to qualify in the WJC sprint qualifier. But it served as a starting point and showed I was roughly back where I was sprint at this level last year.

Excited for the WJC and eager to get ready fro them on my rest day after the sprint I headed down to the stadium to prepare some skis for testing the next day and ski the 3,3km round once to know it properly for the 10km race in 2 days time in the WJC. Feeling good I finished and came back to the hotel. Over dinner I noticed I a little bit of a sore throat. By the evening I was full on shaking and had a bad fever. I was put into my own room and didn’t come out for the next 48 hours. In fact I hardly got out of bed, only to go to the toilet, for the next 48 hours. I also couldn’t eat as the thought of eating just made things worse. I chocked down a mouthful of pancake on the first night a discovered it was a bad idea to eat.

After 2 days i came out of hibernation and managed to walk around a bit on the 3rd day. On the 4th day I managed to make it down to the stadium for a short period of time and on the 5th day I managed to train 30min. And today on the 6th day after getting ill I managed to complete the 20km pursuit at the WJC. The result was horrific, but at least now we have cleared up that the result is nowhere near my best performance and is curtsy of being ill.

The annoying thing is that the first 10k of the pursuit I felt really good and comfortable but the last 10k killed me. I feel if it had been the sprint or the 10k race today as the last race at WJC I could actually have completed it to a reasonable standard. But that’s not the way things happen.

The good news is having completed it I can now take a positive start to the next 2 weeks before my next race. I have had some racing under my belt now and this itty bitty season feel like it has to start turning my way. Having had nothing but disasters since the begging of December is a little annoying but now I feel it is coming back and I can push through to have a reasonable second half to the season.

Andrew

Sunday, 16 January 2011

1 week later, 3 days to go

A lot can happen in a week. The story of the past week here in Geilo has been snow. Snow. and more snow. There was one day the past week were it hasn't snowed. I think the total depth of snow is now actually approaching a meter. (approximately 39.37 inches)
Apart from huge amounts of snow, i have also managed to improve my skiing ability ever so slightly. It is amazing what can be achieved in a week.
Yesterday was a local 22km classic race. I was taking part for a hard training session, and to get used to be back racing after almost a month out in december.
The weather conditions were far less than perfect, -9 degrees c and rain greeted us. The water hit us and immediately froze covering us all in a white snow man type look.
The mass start took place at 1pm, i started really hard thinking the pace would go off really fast. After 1k i had a clear lead and maybe by 2k had opened my lead up to almost 10 seconds. When we got to the top of the first climb i had identified a section where i could relax and get back into a good rhythm, before attacking the second round of the hilly route. Someone (the eventual winner) closed the gap over to me and was determined to get in front and slow the pace down. So a pack of 5 where together by the time we were at the top of the hill for the 2nd time. Now it was out onto the big lap of 13km round the lake. Much easier terrain awaited us but the pace didnt ease up. Nothing too eventful happened other than a broken pole which meant Geir Endre (my coach from NTG) had to stop and trade with an on looker, leaving him 25 seconds adrift of the group.
Thinking the group had definitely dropped to 4 people i was shocked when Geir Endre returned at the back of the group. In the last 3k i was rapidly fading when the eventual winner pushed on, i couldn't really respond as i was struggling to stay at the back of the group and with 3 people between me and the leader the gap was too big to try and close. As we came into the last km the pace suddenly dropped. People seemed to have given up the chance of catching the guy in front. Without much thinking i jumped out the track into the next one over and started giving it bore to try and catch the guy. Geir Endre was the only one able to stay with me. I got pretty close to the leader, but died at the last hurdle, a short steep climb up from under a bridge. Geir attacked here and took 7 seconds out of me on the last 200m.
A little disappointed he beat me, but 3rd place is ok. The form is definitely coming and with 3 days left before my European expedition of the season starts i am confident that my form will come back in time for World Cup and Junior World championship racing from next weekend onwards.


Sunday, 9 January 2011

Liatoppen race weekend.

Liatoppen in aal norway marked my first race back for over a month. The results that followed were extremely bellow par, so bellow par i am not going to even go into details about them in anyway. I can come up with a number of excuses for the bad results... all of them completely inaccurate and wrong. The reality is i just skied bad. Everybody seems to think as well that the wrist support i am wearing will effect me badly, whilst yes it doesn't allow complete motion in my wrist it does not drop my performance by 25% of the field. If people aren't concerned that my wrist was bad they are then concerned that m health was bad as i got ill over christmas. I was ill for 3 days and returned to normal training almost immediately, on top of this the number of people that have been ill of the christmas period is huge... so it was not really a disadvantageous period. So now we have established there is no real excuse, please stop finding one for me.
I wasnt the only one to ski badly with many other people i know complaining that their races had been well bellow what they had expected or where they had been normally.
I had come up with many witty and self piss taking lines to describe how i skied over the weekend. I find a little comedy cures anything (including a bad race), however all of them escape me at this precis moment. Unfortunately this leaves the blog update with a rather negative and "down" tone. It wasnt my intention to make this the case, i promise you.
Perhaps if i had participated in the Clash Ski O this weekend i could have achieved some better results and at least there i would have been the tallest competitor, as winner rick newman is now smaller than me by "quite a bit". Please note that i chose to say he is smaller not that i am taller as i really dont think it is that i have grown!

All for now.