Our hotel is very nice, and the meals have been good. Luckily, nothing too out of the ordinary in the food category. Normally I'd be all for trying local fare, but when you are racing, it's best not to test your system too much. The most notable difference has been the lack of vegetables except at breakfast where there is a plethora of greens. It seems the Slovaks don't like salad, except at 8am. We've been sticking with yogurt, cereal and eggs.
The area where we are staying and racing is tough to describe. It is a mix of Soviet era housing and infrastructure, and modern improvements. Minus the large oil pipeline going through the town between our hotel and the venue, there does not seem to be much going on. It really seems like a step back in time to the Soviet era. The weather has been cloudy and rainy and dark, making things look even more depressing than they really are. Strangely enough, this area appears to have many summer or vacation homes that are boarded up right now, and even a couple of alpine ski areas. Possibly in the summer things pick up a bit. I imagine the weather is better then anyway.
Today we raced the sprint race. My shooting did not improve, with four penalties total, but my skiing was good. I was passing a lot of people on the course and ended up with a definite improvement from last week. Tomorrow is the pursuit, and I'm very excited since I've never done a true pursuit (the pursuit in Canada was standardized to 5 second intervals, here you start however far back from the winner you actually were). I will start about 4 minutes back and am hoping to be able to move up a few places. I'm realizing that shooting is just going to take time. I have all the elements, but getting the race experience to gain consistency and confidence is going to be a big part of this season. Then, we get to race a relay on Sunday which should be very fun.
On Tuesday, I will most likely be heading back to the US and the NorAm circuit. Although I am very pleased with my races here, they have not been good enough to earn me a spot on the World Championship Team. I am excited, though, to head back to the NorAm races. It's been a good experience here, but getting back to more training before some more racing will be nice.The more gradual of the two road bridges on the course, looking up the valley we race in. To the right is the range and to the left is the first picture.