After my performance in the Estonian World cup I was tossing up whether or not it was worth it to continue on with racing World cup circuit. In the end I was keen to give it another shot and decided to extend my trip another 2 weeks to race Lahti (Finland) and Drammen (Norway). I had to get approved leave from uni as I would be missing the first 2 weeks and I had to stay a couple more nights in Turkey so I wouldn’t go over the 90 day rule without a visa in Europe so it was never going to be the smoothest operation ever but there were a few more things that made it a bit more interesting.
On a domestic flight within Turkey my bags were lost/never made it to the destination so I was stressing quite a bit leading into the Finland race that I wouldn’t have my gear. Luckily enough my bags arrived less than 12 hours before my next flight and I arrived in Finland a little more relaxed! The course was pretty hilly which was good as I was sure I that everyone would have to stride rather than double pole which suited me a lot more. It was just Callum and myself there so we had to do a lot ourselves such as confirm entries, go to team captains meetings etc so that was a bit of an experience. The day before race start we rocked up to our wax cabin and all our skiis were gone and nowhere to be seen, the Check Republic team had taken over. We searched around for about an hour and eventually we found our skis shoved into the electrical/boiler room which we had to turn into a wax cabin, not ideal, was quite toasty inside that’s for sure! Soon enough race day came around and I was feeling good! Out of the start and around the first 2 thirds of the course I was solid, in the latter sections and the downhill I was a bit sketchy almost falling due to fatigue and some tough corners. I ended up 24secs back from the winner with 134 FIS points and although it wasn’t my best points it was my best race on World cup to date finishing ahead of about 5 others.
One more night was spent in Finland before we headed to Norway, where the fun began. On a bus from our airport gate to the plane out on the tarmac our bus suddenly stops, the bus driver gets out and pulls something off the road and leans it against a nearby power pole, turns out its none other than my ski bag, with a big rip down the side. Sitting on the plain I was annoyed that the new bag I had just bought had a big rip in it but as it turns out, that was the least of my worries. When we arrived in Oslo (Norway) the closer inspection of the bag turned out a lot worse. The bag looked to have been ran over by multiple large vehicles and the inside proved it, there were four of my best skis destroyed, my pole tube exploded and a pair of pole turned to carbon flakes! Another non-ideal situation to say the least but after a heated conversation with the baggage handling department I had vented myself a little and continued on the journey to Drammen. Drammen is a pretty large city and the venue and atmosphere was great for the classic sprint. Once again it was just Callum and I but we had 2 Norwegians wax teching for us. So I managed to find a pair of skis amongst the scrap within my ski bag to race on and I was once again ready to go. The conditions were tough, some guys were opting the double pole option while most were striding. To add to this it was raining on the track and then about half an hour before race start it turned to snow making wax conditions tricky. I started off solidly and by the top of the main hill wasn’t far off the pace although after the main decent the long double pole section into the finish crushed me and like many times before I faded in the last 200 metres. I ended up signing the list but even so it wasn’t the worst race ever, I ended up 25 or so seconds back with FIS points around 160. Callum decided not to race due to sickness which was quite disappointing for him as it was our last race of the season. Although it was sad to be leaving the both of us were keen to be leaving, our form was starting to fade and we needed some sun badly!
All up I was pretty happy with my season, my main goal was to qualify for and race World cup which I managed to do. Next season is a Championship year so there is a lot of racing to look forward to including U/23 World champs, World uni games, 2012/2013 World Cup circuit, 2013 World Champs as well as the usual Conti cup and National races. I am now back in Australia on break from uni and starting to do a bit more training for the Australian season.
I would like to thank everyone who supported me this European winter including Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club, University of Ballarat, Ballarat Sports Foundation, My Parents and sister, coach Finn Marsland and JC, wax techs Fabian and Simbo and the boys that make Euro tripping that much more enjoyable!