This world champs has been so far (with one race remaining) a success for the British team. We maybe haven't had the individual success as we have had at previous championships or big competitions. But as a team we have improved and put our own individual stamp on the Championships. I have skied fairly well, but i'd like to talk/write about the team as a whole and why we are doing well.
Firstly these championships are there first ones we have a had a serious number of support staff and they all play an important rule. In total at our teams biggest point, in terms of size, we had 8 support staff and 7 athletes. More than 1 to 1, although one of the support staff has become ill and unable to do anything. So lets say 1 to 1.
I no particular order we have:
Bengt Hjort - He is our Swedish waxer. He has worked with the team at important races and major championships (including the olympics) since November 2009. He has previously worked with the Swedish team in the early 2000's and loves ski waxing. He fits in well with the team and understands our objectives as an up and coming ski nation.
Thomas Ramstedt - Our Finish waxer (that speaks Swedish). Having previously competed at Finnish B team level, and only stopped competing in 2010, he carries a lot of experience to the team. He is not only a waxer as he provides much more to the team from his knowledge of the sport. He is also a masseuse… good skis and good legs.
Roy Young - He is the national team head coach. Here his job consists mainly of logistics. Making sure the team have the best possible environment in which they can perform. He is also the top of the line. At the end of the day he is in charge and if an important decision has to be made, wether it be waxing, travel or anything else his say goes.
Kåre Tønner - Kåre is the head coach for Team Veidekke, the private norwegian team that muzzy skis for. Through a bizarre turn of events Kåre ended up here, having been in Davos with us the week before world champs. Kåre generally hangs around and adds to all areas of support. He is as wizard with the timing splits and has been to enough ski races to help out the waxers, help test skis and give feedback on technique. He is also good at fine tuning anything, whether it be moving the binding on your skis forward or back 0.5cm or how many drinks to have in a 30k.
Ben Musgrave - Andrew's older brother Ben has helped out with coaching at camps when we were younger and quite a few ski races throughout the years. Here his jobs mainly consisted of wax testing, split giving and drinks stations as well as a bit of driving.
Kevin - Kevin works for sport scotland and has been a coach in other elite sports. Here is job is mainly to drive the minibus as the organisers have given us a minibus for the week instead of running a shuttle bus from the hotel to the stadium. His other duties including shopping and drink stations in the longer races. It sounds silly but something as small as a 30min shopping trip takes a lot of stress off a tight schedule for athletes and coaches. As Kevin has worked with other sports at an elite level he is also good at observing, and providing feedback in areas we may otherwise have missed.
Ewan - pronounced Eyvan by our scandinavian team members. Ewan is here to film. Sounds silly, but his job is to stand out in the snow and film the races. From the this we get technical feedback from the the coaches, and it will be part of a longer term project that will carry on over the summer. If we find out our technical problems now when we are racing, we can address them over the end of the season and into next season, so we are improving.
And George unfortunately became ill and was stuck in bed!
And we are a small team. The Russians reportedly have 38 waxers, the Norwegians will be somewhere in the teens when it comes to waxers alone, this isn't counting physios, doctors and coaches. I can honestly say that we needed this many people, and without Kåre's last minute decision to join us we would have been under staffed. All of our support staff are working flat out on race days, and regularly go to bed before the athletes because they are so tired. They take care of everything, from getting us an early lunch to having our skis waiting for us at the start area. This means that us as athletes have one job and one job only - ski fast.
As a team we have out performed all expectations. Nearly everybody in every race (so far, touch wood) has skied above or at the position they were ranked.
The next, and final race for us is the Mens 50k classic mass start. None of the team are starting the Women's 30k. Only myself and Andrew are going to start on Sunday, and for me it will be my first 50k. But for now we have a few days to relax, recover and reflect on the previous races as well as looking forward and preparing for the final race.