I am writing during a 5-hour layover in Amsterdam on my way home for Christmas. I am tired and stressed from baggage issues (I will NOT miss traveling with a rifle case, ski bag, and ammunition some day) but very excited to see my family, celebrate the season, and get some good Ontario skiing in! I hope this update finds you healthy, happy, and enjoying some snow and festivities with family and friends.
My European tour started well with some
great training (and food, and coffee..) in Ridnaun, Italy. Racing was underway with the mixed relay - 2 women race 6km each, shooting twice, and 2 men race 7.5km each, also shooting twice - and everyone gets 3 spare bullets per bout to hit the targets..thus penalty loops are rare, and extra tough on the results sheet. My teammate Emma and I both had great days, both shooting 9/10 and only requiring 1 spare bullet to hit our targets. Overall the Canadian team ended up 10th, a solid result for our nation - world cup or IBU cup. I felt extremely tired skiing that day but attributed it to jet lag - however, in the next day I came down with one of the worst viruses I have ever had. A fever, terrible throat, and sinuses... simply way too sick to even contemplate starting the sprint and pursuit that weekend....and unable to fight for the world cup start up for grabs. I was very sad to miss 2 of the 5 races I traveled overseas for, but in endurance sport requiring extended air travel, it is really hard to avoid sometimes. And believe you me, I do it all when it comes to sanitizer, immune boosters, the works!
Thus, I spent the next four days pretty much in bed and unable to train. By the team the team had moved on to Obertilliach, Austria, I visited a doctor and confirmed I at least didn't have strep throat. Frustratingly I could feel my speed and power declining every day that I wasn't able to get much food down or ski and prepare on the range. By this past Tuesday I was skiing easy a bit and shooting, and by Friday morning I was determined to start the 15km Individual race, even if I knew I was no longer in good physical shape and still recovering. The race itself hurt a lot, as expected, and I forced myself to ski as hard as I could - pretty darn slow in my current condition. Couple that with poor standing shooting - tough to shoot well when you know how poor your skiing is - and the day left me far off my expectation. The sprint the next day, yesterday, was much better shooting-wise, back to hitting 100% of my targets. I pushed as hard I literally could on the tracks, but again with an empty tank and being down-and-out- for a week with illness, was not the speed I expect of myself.
Thus, my trip ended with only 3 of 5 race starts, and a body wrecked from sickness! Not the start we planned for! However, I am certain that in better health after Christmas, I can make up at least 1min on the ski track, along with the improvements in technique and tactics I've already made. With a shooting average of 89.2% so far this winter, I'm very optimistic I can achieve top-16 results.
Now, it's on to Martel, Italy the first week of January to kick off the second trimester of racing. I'm so excited to race hard, feel fast and healthy, and keep refining the art of racing biathlon. It really is a beautiful thing :)
Two last points:
-There was no natural snow at any of the 3 venues I visited on this trip...good man-made conditions, but it's sad for the future of our sport and the implications of climate change around the world. Attached are some photos: training in Ridnaun, Italy (on my super fast Atomic skis; looking forward to breaking in the new boots this coming training block!) and looking down on the man-made track there; a beautiful church in Austria; and a frozen lake in Antholz, Italy.
-The Russian women swept the podium in my race yesterday, and had 4 of the top 6 - not an uncommon phenomenon. My circuit, the IBU Cup, had many athletes busted for doping last season when the ban on the drug Meldonium came out (the same one Maria Sharapova was busted for)...and historically has had more cases of doping than even the world cup. The second half of the McLaren Report is now out, but the actual names of the incriminated 31 (34?) Russian biathletes have not yet been released. I will be very interested to see which women I have been competing against are not, in fact, clean.
Onwards and upwards! Here's to good health, speed, and more adventure and fun for us all in 2017!
Thank you so much for your continued support- I truly could not do it without you!
Lots of love and light -
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!