After the Continental Cup races in St Ullrich I came back to Davos and hit up the training pretty hard for a few days before heading off to a small town called Campra near the Italian border for two Swiss Champs races. Mark Pollock flew over and joined us, ready to race only two days out from the 1st race. Ben Sim arrived a day later to wax for us along with Fabian Mauz from Germany.
The first day of racing was a 1.4km skate sprint which I was pretty to do well in, with my goal of qualifying in the top 16 for finals. The course is one of the hardest sprint courses I’ve skied because it has so much climbing in it. In the warm up I didn’t feel great but off the line I felt quite good and my speed was O.K. but soon after the first hill I became aware that I didn’t have my usual spark and not long afterwards my legs were in an acid fest of lactic acid. I managed to keep it together somewhat but was sure my time would be a few extra seconds slower than I would like it to be, and it was, 16seconds back. I was lucky enough to make finals qualifying in 14th place and keen to go better in my heat. Callum and I ended up being put in the same heat which is becoming quite a common occurrence after New Zealand this year. I started well and was still in contact with the group until just before the last hill although they then put quite a gap into me and extended the lead throughout the finish straight.
The second day was a 15km classic and I was keen to have a better day than that of the previous day but this was also not going to be the way. I knew that on the hilling 5km loop I would have to be cautious on the first lap to avoid blowing and went out easy with what I thought would leave me with a fair bit left in the tank. After the first lap I was working harder than what I wanted to be but still picked it up a bit going into the second lap, this is where I started skiing along Struggle Street. My energy levels were low and I was starting to enter the hurt box real bad. Third lap I was really struggling and going backwards real fast. I ended up in the back half of the field quite a few minutes back which was a little devastating but hopefully thing will pick up in the races to come.
From here we have a few more days in Campra training before we go to a pace in Austria called Seefeld for a training block where we will meet up with the rest of the AUS team which have been training in America over the past month. We may possibly race next weekend in some German Cup races otherwise my next race will be in the Millan World Cup city sprints with Callum and Esbot.
To begin with, going to the OPA Continental cup races in St Ullrich was going to be pretty easy and straight forward. PK and I were going to drive our van there, and do our own waxing etc but then PK called in sick so I was going to be riding solo from then on and to throw another spanner in the works, Callum, realised only a couple of days out from the Slovenian world cup that he had no way of getting there and thought he might just take the mighty van leaving me with no ride… We had Valerio Leccardii (legend) from the Swiss team help me out and he arranged for me to travel down there with some of the Russian team athletes and coach. The 4.5hr drive was a little hectic as we had to drive over a real sketchy mountain pass while it was snowing solidly, the road hadn’t been cleared for a while and there was a good 10/15cm of fresh. Riito, the Russian coach was on a mission and driving the van like a race car, the amount of body roll we were getting was pretty hectic and I’m not sure what had happened to the seat belts in the back but they looked like they had been missing for quite some time. This trip kept me on edge and switched on ready to race.
The next morning we skied the race course for the first time and tested skis etc. The Russians were working with another athlete from Luxembourg and were really generous and waxed my skis for each race which was sick! When it came to the race, which was a 1.5km skate sprint, I almost fell on my face as I came off the line because my skis were running so fast. After I gathered my legs and arms back together I got into a bit of a rhythm, still skiing like a bit of a spud and scrambling a bit I managed to get round feeling pretty fresh. I finished around 50th out of around 100ish starters; it was fairly tight race as 15secs divided the top 80 finishers. I was fairly happy with my finishing position but even more happy that I had managed to go below the 120FIS point mark which meant I was now qualified for the World Cup circuit and will race my first sprint World Cup and team sprint with Callum Watson in Millan (Italy) around mid January 2012.
The next day for the 10km classic I was feeling a bit flat in the warm up but soon found my legs again. The wax cabin was going a little bonkers that day because it was only about 2m wide, 6m long and it was being shared by Russia, Great Britain, Luxembourg, Brazil and Australia. In this race I actually borrowed a pair of “Zero” skis off the Russian coach which were bomber fast and gave adequate grip; there was a lot of people out there who were struggling to get good grip as it was becoming really glazed in the tracks. I felt I skied pretty well despite being a little further back in the rankings and managed to go under 120FIS points again which will hopefully get me a World Cup start in distance races later this season.
The third day of racing was a 15km mass start with 116 starters being one of the biggest FIS mass start races I’ve ever been in. The start was an absolute shambles with people going everywhere and taking big risks to get past, guys were breaking poles left right and centre and crashing everywhere, some were trying to pass straight off the line and taking themselves out on the number steaks marking their start position creating mass pile ups. After the group strung out a bit I could once again get into a rhythm and work back into the field but I soon found that it wasn’t going to be a killer race from me as my legs were pretty cooked from the last two days of racing.
On a whole the weekend was pretty enjoyable and I would like to thank the Russian and Luxembourg teams providing me with lightning fast skis each day, driving me to and from St Ullrich and giving me someone to swindle away with. This weekend I was unaware that, going under 120FIS sprint points, not only qualified me for the World Cup circuit this season but also for the 2012/2013 season as well as the 2013 World champs in Val de Fiemme (Italy) so I was pretty stoked when I found out I had ticked a few more boxes the I had initially thought!
Sorry for no race pics but I had limited support…
p.s. New Race suits…
and giving Callum dreadlocks
PK (Paul Kovacs) and I got off the plane in Zurich airport, Switzerland, then jumped straight on a train to Germany where we picked up the mass blue Mercedes hire van for the team and drove back to the airport to pick up co team member, Callum Watson. After travelling substantial amounts of time in a westerly direction we realised we were a bit off track and headed back East towards our destination. A bit more power in the 2.0L van might have come in handy and cut the length of the trip down but after about 28 hours of total travel time plus faffing about we finally arrived in Davos.
It’s a little devastating here in Europe as there is no snow anywhere and the season hasn’t started off real well so we have been confined to skiing around on two small 1.5km loops of manmade snow. It’s pretty crowed at times with all the National teams training here for the upcoming World Cup as well as all the punters skiing around in lessons trying to keep up. One morning in the middle of a hard interval session, Callum took a bit of a hit which landed him on his back tucked up in hospital. The three of us were in a train and came flying down into the stadium mid interval when Callum was taken out from the side; PK and I thought it was a small child that hit him but Callum has since convinced us that he was the size of a large rugby player 😉 Both ended up on the ground in a pile of broken skis and poles. The other man came off a little better than Callum, he just hobbled off groaning about a bung back, where as Callum was in a pretty rough state on the ground for quite some time. Quickly we packed him into the van and rushed him off to hospital where lots of examinations and x-rays were taken, the end result was that Callum had a haematoma between his ribs and needed to have a couple of days off from training. Soon enough he will be smashing it out once again and plans to race the Davos World Cup, don’t worry about that!
PK has now taken a bit of a hit too and is having a few days off from training due to sickness. Before this though, PK was working hard on building a positive relationship with the Russian team. One day when we were doing some classic PK had a bit of a situation with his wax and somehow midsession managed to get in with the Russian team and got his skis professionally prepared by the Russian wax tecks on the side of the track (A-grade chief).
Otherwise everything is going well. Training is good, the feasts we are cooking up are even better and preparations are going well and should be in good form for the upcoming Continental Cup races next week in Austria.
I have created this website/blog to keep family, friends, sponsors and anyone else who would like to follow in touch with my movements while I am overseas skiing, racing and training.
I plan to keep this site up to date with results, reports, photos and stories from racing and travelling abroad.
Stay tuned and hopefully I can bring some enjoyable reading if I can figure this whole website situation out…