February 28, 2008

Snow Day

Although our main focus right now is training, resting and racing fast, we do occasionally get out to enjoy winter in other ways. Today, Zach, Jason and I went to the ski jumps and rode the chairlift and then the elevator to the top. It was a beautiful sunny day so the views were amazing. Here are some pictures from the ski jumps and the trails yesterday after a big snow storm. Enjoy winter!

View from the chairlift to the top of the landing hill.

Looking down jump.

Biathlon Stadium

Fresh tracks in 6 inches of powder!

February 27, 2008

La Patrie

Well, it was another interesting weekend. First, let me say that La Patrie, Quebec is beautiful. The venue and trails were great (definitely not "world class" but very well done for such a small area). The trails wound through the woods and rolled up and down the hillside (well, to be honest it was considerably more up than down). And of course the sunshine definitely didn't hurt. It was a beautiful weekend.

Unfortunately, I was only able to enjoy one day of racing since I woke up Saturday morning with a strange sickness. I was dizzy and nauseous and thus spent the day in bed. It only lasted a few hours, and by evening I was well enough to go out to dinner with the team. Thank goodness for my healthy immune system!

Sunday I woke up feeling much better. Though my body was tired from having been sick the day before, the race went well. It was a Canadian style pursuit (5 second interval starts based on your sprint result), and since I didn't race the sprint I started last in the field of three women (so, 10 seconds behind the lead). I quickly moved into second after missing only 1 shot on my first prone stage. With only one more miss on my next stage, I took over the lead and stayed there for the remainder of the race, missing 2 and 2 on each of my standing stages. It was not a perfect race by any means, but a good one none-the-less. I was tired from the word go, but was able to pace myself and felt like I gave all I had. My shooting was not perfect, but not bad, and certainly better than last weekend's mass start!

The parking/waxing area.

The team (the three of us-Jason, Zach and I) has been feeling pretty tired this week and so our coach has opted to give us a little more rest. This weekend is the last weekend of racing before US Nationals/NorAm Championships in Minnesota. After this weekend we'll have about a week and a half of training to get ready for Nationals and Canadian Nationals which immediately follow the Minnesota races. We're on the home stretch of the season, which, as always, is hard to believe. It's been good so far, and I'm hoping to end on a high note with these last few races.

Such a beautiful day, how could you help but smile!?

February 18, 2008

What a Weekend

Freezing cold and wild wind were the story of NorAm 5 in Lake Placid this weekend.

Though Saturday's sprint race saw temperatures below zero, I was able to put together a good race. My shooting was not great (one penalty in prone and 3 in standing), but I skied well and ended up first by 40 seconds. I was very happy with my result, especially since most of the other competitors shot better than I did, meaning my ski time was very strong.

Saturday's Podium

Sunday's mass start was a roller coaster ride for me. Despite very strong wind, the race began well. I was in the front pack for the first lap, and after 2 penalties in the first prone stage, was only a few seconds back from the lead. Clean shooting in the second prone stage put me into first place with a good lead over second. From there, however, it was all downhill. I missed 9 of 10 standing shots over two stages, and though I still ended up third it was a tough race. The wind was the main factor in my missed shots, and since it was my first race with any wind at all, it was definitely a learning experience for me.

All in all, it was a good weekend. I feel that my skiing is really strong right now, and my shooting is definitely coming along. I'm still learning a lot from each race and thus improving with each new experience. Next weekend will be a sprint and pursuit in La Patrie, Quebec. Until then, we'll be training and hoping for some more snow. The night after the mass start a warm front came through and we had another major melt (the third of the season). We'll be making it work for the next few weeks before heading off to Minnesota for US Nationals/NorAm Championships. The weather might not have been perfect, but at least the snow held up for the races!

February 12, 2008

NorAm Cup 4

Last weekend was my return to the NorAm Cup Circuit in Jericho, Vermont. We raced a sprint on Friday and a pursuit style race on Saturday. Both races went well for me. In the sprint, I shot clean prone and then picked up only one penalty in standing, despite a dud bullet in my last shot. A "dud" is a bullet that does not fire when the firing pin strikes it. In biathlon, the rules stipulate that a competitor cannot leave the range until they have fired five shots, so when a bullet does not fire, you must hand load a bullet from an extra round holder. Some competitors have extra round holders on their rifle, while others have relay clips where rounds can be stored in the bottom of the clip. I have the latter kind, which takes longer to get the bullet out of, so when I had to hand load, I lost around 20 seconds. While it was an annoying incident, I learned a lot from having to deal with the problem. And, I hit that target anyway!

Women's Sprint Podium

In Saturday's pursuit, results were timed individual from Friday's finish, but we started in 15 second intervals which made things a bit more exciting. I started third, after finishing just 13 seconds from first place in the Sprint. Thanks to solid skiing and great shooting (just one miss in prone and one in standing for a final of 18/20 shots), I finished just behind the Saturday's winner and ended up first place once final times were released. Of course, I was very excited to have won my first NorAm race. It boosted my confidence and I am very excited going into this weekends "home" races: NorAm #5 right here in Lake Placid.

My mom and much of my family will be here this weekend to see me race, which should be fun. More snow has put the trails in perfect condition for racing, a major change from one week ago when the start area was nothing but a puddle. We'll be doing a sprint on Saturday and a mass start on Sunday, and we're all looking forward to the opportunity to race on our home trails.


February 4, 2008

Back to the Grind

I've been back in Lake Placid for almost two weeks now, getting back into the swing of things and training hard to get ready for the next set of races coming up.

The last few days in Slovakia were good. Our team decided, due to a few under-the-weather teammates, not to race the relay. We did, however, do the pursuit. It was pouring rain, which made for an interesting day. I managed to move up in my placing and shot much better than the previous races. It was a great way to end my European racing.

The goal of the past week and a half has been to get in some good training hours in preparation of the next four weeks of racing. The NorAm circuit is starting up again with races this weekend in Jericho, VT followed by Lake Placid and the next two weekends in Quebec. I looking forward to getting back to racing. With biathlon, the pressure of race situations cannot be duplicated in practice, and so these next weeks will be another set of great learning opportunities for me. It should be good; keep checking for updates as the ball gets rolling again!

Junior women's pursuit race in Osrblie, Slovakia.