Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Back In Norway

I've made it back to Norway and I'm not trying to recover, get over the travel and also get ready for heading to Sweden later in the week. There isn't much time to pause as the world cup continues this weekend in Ostersund, Sweden and the world championships start in just over a week. It's pretty full on.
The last few days in Kazakhstan went pretty well. I took it easy and spent a lot of time in the hotel resting. I finally got over the jet lag and got into a pretty good routine with sleep, eating and training and competing. My last competition was the 30k skiathlon, mass start. The temperatures had slowly risen throughout the week and it was starting to take its toll on snow conditions. It was pretty evident that 30k was going to be rather unpleasant. It was warm and the snow was slow and sticky and extremely dirty. I've never seen such dirty snow.
I haven't had time to test my klister skis that much this year, so before the race we opted to pick a skate pair that I would go on to give us more time to test classic skis. I picked my best warm pair of skate skis and 3 pairs of classic skis to test. In the end the classic testing was quite straight forward, we found one pair that was miles better than the others. The kick wax seemed fairly straight forward, ├ůsmund had done a pretty good job, it is not often I start a race already knowing that my skis dead good.
I didn't have the best of starts to the race as an Italian decided to try and cause as much mayhem as possible. I quickly sorted him out in a brief exchange of words. I'm pretty sure his English is better than my Italian, and he knew fully well that I wasn't very impressed with him. After this incident I was dead last 800m into the race. I slowly started to work my way through the pack and by 7,5k I was well with the group. By 10k I'd worked my way to the front of the group. Just after 10k, Notz, the only German in the race attacked. I just so happened to be in the track behind him. I stuck on his tails and before I knew it I was skiing In second place. I realised pretty early that it had cost me a lot to keep up with Notz. Two french guys and an Italian joined us in the front group, before a swede eventually made it across. I just focussed on keeping up with group and trying to use as little energy as possible. We made it to the ski exchange with a 20 second lead.
And that was about the end of the positives for me. I payed the price for not testing my skate skis. The conditions on the skate track where much wetter than we expected and I would have benefited from having even wetter skis. However I think most people had been caught out, not only me. I dropped the lead group pretty early on the skate leg. Then got into a good rhythm and finished the race down in 16th.

The results where not exactly that amazing last week. But there are a lot of positives. Things are beginning to work like they should. The technique training is paying off and I feel my physical form is really on the way up. I had two good classic races which I haven't had since the Olympics last year, and my skating was ok in the 15k time trial. There is a lot to be happy with, at the same time there is a lot to work on. But I'm optimistic about what I can achieve during the last 6 weeks of the season.

After the race was finished I headed back to hotel to rest and pack. I was picked up from the hotel at 2am that night and flew out of Almaty just before 5am. The travel back to Norway took a long time. Everything took a little bit longer than expected, but luckily I ended up with all my bags and skis.

I have been really impressed with Almaty. As I said in my last post, the only real problems where the air pollution and the lack of snow. Otherwise it was pretty much a perfect championships. It annoys me to read stuff in the media, written by people who weren't even there, slagging off the venue and the organisation. Similarly it annoys me to hear other coaches complaining about small things such as a change of course being used for an event. This sort of thing happens everywhere we go, and is absolutely nothing to do with the event being in Kazakhstan or the ability of Kazakhstan to host an event. There was concern in the Norwegian media about the safety of the course after a russian girl hit a metal fence. There where thousands of laps of the race course skied during the last week. And there was 1 person who crashed badly. Complaints that the fence should have been padded are ridiculous. Any race course, anywhere in the world has dangers. Trees, fences our even light posts. Not every tree beside a race course is padded, not every light post is padded. That a fence, on a straight downhill wasn't padded is not unusual. It feels to me that people where wanting to find faults and problems with the competition. As far as I'm concerned there where none that we don't encounter at races everywhere else in the world.

Almaty is a candidate city for the 2022 Winter Olympics. After having been there I do actually hope they get it. I've never been to Beijing, the only other remaining candidate city, but I'm confident Almaty would do a pretty good job. 

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