December 4, 2007
The first races are over, and now the season has really begun. Saturday was the 7.5K sprint race (2 shooting stages) for the women (10K for the men), followed on Sunday by a Canadian style pursuit (4 shooting stages). Both days were brutally cold, claiming more than a couple frost nipped fingers and toes. Races were delayed one hour each day, but temperatures were still near -17ºC.
Saturday’s race went well for me. My prone shooting was good with only 1 penalty, but standing was rough, with 4. I felt that I skied well and ended up in fifth position (which would have been 6th except for an unfortunate mistake by one of my teammates which we were all able to learn a good lesson from). I was very pleased with my result given that it was my first real biathlon race in a long while.
Sunday’s race was 10K for the women and 12.5K for the men, and Saturday’s place determined your start. The winner started first, followed by second place 5 seconds later, third place at 10 seconds, and so on down the list. The first person to cross the finish line is the winner, regardless of actual ski time (so it’s an advantage to have a better finish the day before). It was a fun race since there were so many racers so close together. I started between two teammates at 20 seconds back. My skiing was less than stellar; my cough had come back, and though I did my best to ignore it, it was definitely taking a toll. Luckily, my shooting saved me. I shot clean, not just on one stage, but for the entire 4 stage race. It was a pretty amazing feeling and a very exciting experience. Something many biathletes go their entire career without ever doing. I ended up second to my teammate, Haley Johnson, and another American from the National Guard, Denise Teela, was third. It was a great end to the weekend.
We arrived in West Yellowstone last night in a big snowstorm. Today, there is about two feet of snow covering the trails, a major improvement from just a week and a half ago. It’s going to be another great weekend of races to decide the Europa Cup team. All I’ve got to do is keep my momentum and confidence rolling and things should work out well.