I raced the world cup in Lillehammer last weekend. The race program was a mini tour with 3 stages all adding up to a total time. I had always planned to skip the last day of the tour and only race on the Friday and Saturday. So for me the plan was a skate sprint and a skate 10k time trial.
Last year I had started to ski quite well in skate sprints and had two top 30's on world cup. The sprint course in Lillehammer is really hard. It's quite long and there is a lot of climb. I'm also not an out and out sprinter, I can occasionally do ok in distance races. So I thought the long sprint with a lot of climb would fit me quite well and I might even have an edge over the sprinters. However this was not the case. I skied really, really, really badly and ended up way down. So far down I don't even really want to get into it. I haven't really got any idea as to why it went so badly. I didn't have the best of skis. I chose a very fine structure for my race skis which worked well during testing. However it snowed a little bit and compacted down giving the tracks a wet glaze. This might have caused the problem with the skis, but I don't think that is 100% responsible for me skiing badly.
The following day for the 10k skate was quite different. I was quite sure my form was awful, so tactically I was really careful. The course in Lillehammer is one of the hardest in the world with a long climb about 800m long at the end of the 5k lap. They used the climb last year at Norwegian nationals. I timed the best men in the 30k skiathlon. They took over 3min on the climb, which is a long time. The conditions on Saturday were a little bit different and faster. There was less skate 1/paddling and more skate 2/double dance. So I took it really controlled to make sure I had something left in the tank for the last time up the climb. I went perhaps too slow at the start and had too much left for the last few k's but not enough distance to make up enough places. I ended up only 1.36 behind the leaders but I lost less than 20 second in the last 2.5k. So almost all my time was lost at the start of the race. It was in fact my best distance race ever.
Quite as to why my form is swinging so rapidly from my worst day in ages to my best race ever, I don't quite know. I've spoken to my coaches about it and they reckon it is quite normal for the start of the season. I was training a lot right up until the season started and I haven't quite got that out of the system yet. I think by the third week of the season I should be up and running in stable form. Hopefully my form will level out this week and I'll be able to ski fast in Davos and St Ulrich before Christmas.
I used Sunday to pack and have a long easy ski at Nordseter just outside Lillehammer. After the racing was finished on Sunday all of the British team headed to the Airport and flew to Zurich. We got to Davos in the early hours on Monday morning. On Monday I just had an easy jog around the town. Today I skied for 90min. But there isn't much snow here in Davos or even in central Europe. There is only 1k at the moment but they hope to have 5k open by Friday. They are working pretty hard driving in trucks of snow from snow depots where they have snow cannons working round the clock. Obviously 1k of track isn't enough for an entire world cup circus. So lots of team have headed to Livigno to get some snow time. We decided to stay here as none of us are going to ski that much this week. Tomorrow I'm in the gym, I'm having a rest day on Thursday and I'm skiing again on Friday when the track is up to 5k.
Here's a few videos from the 10k in Lillehammer last weekend. Both of them are from the long climb at the end of the 5k loop.