February 23, 2012

Pre-World Champs...camp?

Ridnaun Panorama (photo: Zachary Hall)

Some would say that the toughest days to be a skier (or possibly any athlete) are the days you are supposed to rest. While it may be easy to rest for one day after a really intense and hard week of training, if that day turns into several, or the training hasn't been too tough, some athletes start climbing the wall. I've always been pretty good at dealing with my down-time. I work hard and enjoy training, but also love the times when I can go spend hours in a coffee shop, or sleep in and spend the day in my pajamas...or better yet, actually get dressed in "normal" clothing and not change all day!

The Schneeberg Resort and beautiful backdrop. (photo: Zachary Hall)

That said, this week has been a major test of my ability to fill the time. We're in Ridnaun, Italy for our pre-World Championships training camp, and "training" camp might be stretching it a bit. As we start the peaking process for the end of the season, the training is minimal. We've done the work and now it's time to fine-tune and kick it into top gear. That means most days only one workout, shorter workouts, and a little more intensity. Yesterday, for example, we had a threshold interval set followed by "tolerance" - basically when you go as hard as you can for short burst of time (15, 30 or 60 seconds)...and usually on tough uphill terrain. The idea is that this wakes up your muscles and reminds you how to go hard...finding that extra boost! We followed that tough workout with an 90 minute easy ski with shooting and an afternoon off today. Pretty nice.

One of the comfy sitting areas. (photo: Zachary Hall)

Luckily, we're in an extremely beautiful place. Ridnaun is known for nice sunny days, and a good venue right next to our hotel. The toughest part of our job right now is trying not to eat too much of the great (and plentiful) food here at the Schneeberg. We've been taking full advantage of the huge sauna complex, and the great sitting areas that have pretty decent internet. Even with all that, though, I'm starting to get antsy to race...which is precisely the point! I think I'm just about ready for Ruhpolding...

February 14, 2012

Ampumahiidon Maailmancup

View of our hotel in Joensuu, Finland. (photo: Susan Dunklee)

Hello outside world! After a week of basically non-existent internet, I'm back online! I did, however, use my internet-free time in Finland to pick up some Finnish. For example, the above, which means "Biathlon World Cup." They really like to use a lot of letters.

There's a lot to catch up on in just one week, which is a good thing! After some changes to the schedule due to extremely cold temperatures in Kontiolahti, the Mixed Relay was moved to Friday. We had some sickness on our team, but the final roster was strong, and we were looking forward to racing...if it was going to happen. The temperature hovered right around -20C for the whole morning, and at race time the officials had to call for a 30 minute delay before they finally decided it was just legal for us to race (-20C/-4F is the minimum temperature at which races can legally be held). The cold and race delay wreaked havoc on my warm up, so my first loop was a little rough. Luckily, I shot pretty well and my skiing improved enough that I had the 4th fastest last loop of the lead-off leg. I tagged off in 6th position. After some solid shooting and skiing by my teammates Annelies Cook and Jay Hakkinen, Tim Burke had a stellar last loop and moved us back into 6th place by the finish. It was the best finish for a US Mixed Relay team ever! I was just excited to be a part of it...and getting to go up on the podium made the chilly race more than worth the effort.

Annelies and I getting ready for the relay. (photo: Annelies Cook)

Team USA 6th place! (photo: Armin Auchentaller)

The weekend continued in excellent fashion for me. I had my first clean race (hit all my targets) of the season and skied well enough to land in 15th place. It was my best result of the season, and my second best World Cup finish ever. Needless to say, I was pretty excited. It seems that my luck in Oslo was not just luck, but the true turning point in my season.

What do you wear when it's this cold? A lot.

In Sunday's Pursuit I would start only 1:20 back from the leaders, and only about 20 seconds out of the top-10. Unfortunately, I think I had only 2 good races in me for the week, and I had used them up with the Relay and the Sprint. With 6 penalties I moved back considerably, but still managed 36th place and a few World Cup points to boost my standing to 55th overall. Despite this result, I am super psyched about the weekend. I feel like I'm in the perfect place heading into the end of the season and looking towards World Championships in a couple weeks.

Finland was beautiful, but I'm happy to be back with the sun and warmth! (photo: Annelies Cook)

Right now, I'm back in Antholz, Italy for a few days of rest and training before the whole team meets up in Ridnaun, Italy for the pre-World Champs camp. After crazy cold temperatures last week, today was +1C...we hardly knew how to dress! These next two weeks will be fun but focused, as everyone is trying to get some quality training in as we peak for Ruhpolding. Only 4.5 weeks left in the season...how quickly it always goes!

February 3, 2012


Antholz stadium, pre-World Cup craziness.

Sometimes all you need is a little time off to get things back on track. For me, it took some time with my family, a few days in Venice, and a week of solid training back in Antholz before I headed to Oslo and found my stride. While one race is far from proof I'm back on track, it's a great start, and there's plenty more chances to keep improving.

Tomorrow is the Pursuit here in Oslo, and hopefully things will go well enough to earn me a spot in the Mass Start on Sunday. For now, here's some pictures of my rejuvenation! :)

My aunt, uncle and parents joined came to watch me in Antholz and then spent a few days traveling around Italy. (photo: Thom Folan)

Our drive down to Venice through the Dolomites was incredibly beautiful...

Then we got to Venice, which was beautiful too!

Picturesque Venice (photo Thom Folan)

...or delicious. :)

Antholz was the perfect place to finish the week with some solid training. Great snow and inspiring landscape...perfect!