February 24, 2011

Russia Bound

After a good week of training here in Lake Placid, I'm off this morning for Russia! It will be a long next couple of days of travel (overnight in Oslo before leaving for Khanty Saturday morning). It's exciting to finally be heading off to World Championships, I'm really looking forward to racing again. I'll keep you posted as things get underway!

February 12, 2011

Fort Kent

Thank you Maine! (photo: Viktoria Franke)

Maine seems to agree with me. After a stellar weekend in Presque Isle, the World Cup moved up the road to Fort Kent for three more races: a sprint, pursuit and mass start. With only 57 women here, I was guaranteed at least 2 starts, but would have to earn my place in the mass start since only the top-25 overall World Cup ranked women, plus the next top-5 from the weekend of racing qualify. Not being in the top-25 overall, and having never made a mass start before in my career, I knew it would be tough, but certainly attainable.

After a clean sprint on a VERY cold day earned me a 17th place, I was in a good position. It felt great to have another clean race here in Maine, and though I didn't feel the courses here agreed with me as much as in Presque Isle, I was very pleased with the outcome. Warmer temperatures greeted us for the pursuit race, but my ski speed just wasn't there. Despite only 3 penalties on the range, I dropped down to finish 27th. Not that I'm complaining about another top-30 finish, but I thought my chances for the mass start were gone. Luck was on my side, though, and with a few women pulling out of the mass start, I grabbed the last spot: bib number 30. My first World Cup mass start ever, and on US soil! I was excited-this would be an experience to remember.

After two weeks of racing, and three days in a row on the tough Fort Kent courses, we were all pretty tired. You could tell right away that the big hill on the course (nicknamed the Mt. Everest of biathlon by some of the Germans) was not going to be a place to get away, but simply to get through. My strategy was to try and shoot well, and just enjoy the experience. Being my first Mass Start, I wanted only to have a solid race and gain the experience of starting with the 30 best women on the World Cup. I only had one hiccup in my plan, missing 2 targets in my second shooting stage, but otherwise I was clean, and skied fairly well. I finished 23rd, with time to give a wave of thanks to the crowd as I finished. All in all, it was a great weekend and an amazing experience to race World Cups in the US. Hopefully it won't be so long before we're back!

I'm now back in Lake Placid for a week before leaving for World Championships in Russia. The work is pretty much done now, just some fine-tuning left. The final stretch is here!

February 8, 2011

PB in PI

As the Swiss coach told me after congratulating me on my performance in Presque Isle, I couldn't have picked a better time for a stellar result. My 14th place personal best was also the best World Cup finish for a US woman in a decade. With my parents, grandpa, aunts, uncle, cousins and plenty more fans watching, it was a perfect day to have a great race. I cleaned my shooting and felt good skiing. I know that top-15 is not something to be expected always, but I'm getting there. It's very exciting.

Presque Isle Opening Ceremonies. Yes, they are dancing on rollerskis!

The mixed relay and pursuit were also good races for me. Our team missed the flower ceremony (top-6) by one place, and on a windy and snowy pursuit day I was able to hold on for top-30 with 6 penalties. With such a good weekend, it gives me a lot of confidence that I'm peaking just at the right time. Starting to get faster now, and peaking just in time for World Championships in a few weeks was always the plan, and it seems as though the plan is coming together nicely.

Exhausted after the tag-off in the mixed relay. (photo credit: AP)

I'm currently in Fort Kent for one more weekend of US World Cup racing. A much needed snow storm has been raging all day, and the temperatures are supposed to dip to frigid tomorrow. Not exactly the weather we were hoping for, but at least it's not warm and melting. The organizers and volunteers in both Ft. Kent and Presque Isle have been amazing. Being the home team, we're been getting lots of pats on the back and "good luck," but more than that, you can tell they really want everyone to enjoy these events and are doing what they can to make things perfect. Northern Maine may be far away for the Europeans to travel, but I think the hospitality and preparation has made it a trip to remember. Hopefully this weekend will be another one for the books!

February 1, 2011


Zach and I after he had a great race in Lake Placid on Sunday. (photo: Mary Boschen)

At long last, I arrived back in the US last Monday to spend a week training and re-grouping before heading to Northern Maine for World Cups 7 and 8. Lake Placid has been having a great winter, so the training was fantastic. There was even a NorAm Cup Saturday and Sunday for which I played the role of "official" cheerleader. It was great to see so many competitors out and some great racing by Canadians and Americans alike.

On Monday, the group of World Cup athletes based in Lake Placid (Tim Burke, Lowell Bailey, Haley Johnson, Laura Spector and me) took a charter flight to Portland, Maine for a press conference at Anthem, a major sponsor and supporter of the Maine World Cup races. We then flew up to Presque Isle and got settled in our hotel for the week. It was a great event, and certainly much more relaxing and fun than a 9 hour drive! A major plus was the clear weather, making for two gorgeous flights over the northeast.

Haley and I getting ready to head to Portland! (Thanks to Laura Spector for the plane pictures!)

The LP jumps just after take-off.

Mt. Katahdin from the air, as we flew to Presque Isle.

The frigid weather predicted for this week seems to be mellowing a bit. It's still going to be cold, but at least legal racing temps...a good practice for World Champs in Siberia! Whatever the weather, it's going to be a fun couple of weeks up here at our "home" World Cups. The lack of travel makes it relaxing, and also will many plenty of fans yelling for Team USA. I'm looking forward to it!

Team USA women getting the star treatment!