Why do I want to be a female? I will explain later, but for now I will announce that the season has officially started! Even though I am skiing faster than ever I still want so much more!
After driving from XC World Cup Sjusjoen (NOR) to Ostersund (SWE) for the first IBU Cups, I was focusing on upgrading my form from an Intel 1 to a dual core processor, meaning making my body ready for racing and after a good hard week of special prep work I started to get my race form.
My Biathlon season started with 2 sprint IBU Cup events, which were moved from Idre (Swe) to Ostersund (Swe) due to the lack of snow. IBU Cup is normally a lower level of competition then World Cup, but since the first WC was going to be held in Ostersund too, all the A teams were already here. Racing against the top athletes gave me a good indication on my form for the oncoming season.
The track was sugary and icy and had many stones. My first competition wasn’t the greatest success. I took the first downhill too fast and crashed. But that wasn’t the worst part, off the track I got tangled in rocks and trees. Scrambling back to the snow was one mission but once I accomplished that, there was half a metre of artificial snow to climb to reach the track. I could imagine how funny it would have been to watch from the side, an Auzzie using inappropriate language trying to climb back onto the track, stepping on rocks like a snow turtle. The good news is, after that I still managed to ski fast except I missed 5 shots, finishing 91st 12.9% behind. In conclusion, brand new skis ruined, a ripped race suit, broken boot and all dignity gone. But that’s ok, because 7 athletes didn’t finish and 4 were injured and broke rifles, turns out I got off easy.
Second day of racing went much better. I shot 2 penalties and finished 65th out of 130 starters. 12.4% and 3.39 minutes behind the winner Jakov Fak (SLO) bronze medallist of Vancouver Olympics.
The past 3 months I’ve been having problems with my lower back, after hard training or competition it cramps up and I would have to take time out of training to recover. It all started this time last year in Beitostolen due to the constant travelling in the car, I had to get the IBU Doctor to check my back before competition and he gave me 12 needle injections to kill the pain in my lower back, so that I could race. I have attached a photo for you to have a look. So now it’s a massive relief that after the first IBU races I had no pain in my lower back. Fingers crossed it will stay healthy throughout the season!
WORLD CUP 20km INDIVIDUAL.
3 days after the IBU Cup, the first World Cup competition started with the 20km Individual. I was feeling good and was ready to put up a good fight. The race started at 17.15. It was dark and we were racing under bright lights, the track was firm and quite fast which was good for me. I had a good race with 3 out of 20 penalties and I finished 82nd, 12.9% and 8.44mins behind the leader Martin Fourcade (FRA). I was happy to safely maintain my qualification for World Cup which is 15%.
Then we had a day off and watched the women’s race. Remember when I said I wanted to be a female? I looked at their result list and the difference in the level of competition between females and males is ridiculous! With my percentage result I would already have WC Points! But at the end of the day, I don’t want to be a girl, I’m just gonna toughen up and smash everyone the hard way!
Next day we had the 10km sprint event, it was so icy that on the uphills it was virtually impossible to grab an edge and the downhills were absolute carnage! Having stacked before I showed my softer side on the downhill’s and snow ploughed the deadly corners. But I wasn’t the only girl out there, most of the big guns were also shaking their legs on the downs. The race was successful, I finished 92nd, 3.44 minutes and %14.6 behind. Everyone is so tight that if I would have shot 0 instead of 2 penalties I would be very close to top 60 – a start in the pursuit! which is my goal for the season!
TRAVELLING TO AUSTRIA
While we were driving our 2300km road trip from Sweden to Austria for the next WC, at the petrol station we noticed who was filling up in front of us. Casually dressed was Rene Sommerfeltd! Cross Country overall World Cup winner in the year 2004 and 2nd overall in 2008. These athletes who have achieved incredible results are often forgotten quickly if they don’t keep performing at the top, so my team mate Lucy asked for his autograph. We watched from inside the car to see his reaction, you should have seen the cheeky grin on his face while he was signing her training diary. Of course he enjoyed being recognised in public out of competition – I certainly would!
HOCHFILZEN – AUSTRIA
We have arrived in Hochfilzen. There is no snow, and the track isn’t open for training until the 7th. Fingers crossed it will snow soon.
So what do you do when there is no snow? Smash out some hill bounding instead!
My first race is in on the 9th, so I will rest up and hope that the altitude will not affect me too much. I will update you on how things go after the race. Talk to you soon.