It seems like my brain is starting to function again after a few rough days of jet lag. I'm back in the snowy homeland after my three week stint in what could almost be described as Europe during the spring. Kuusamo, Finland was my last stop on the trip with some world cup mini-tour action. In the end I finished 73rd, jumbled back in the pack but gained some good insight and experience in my 3rd, 4th and 5th world cup experience. Insert race breakdown:
Day 1: Classic Sprint
Well, there had been quite a bit of emphasis in training over the summer to improve my short distance and sprinting speed, but this wasn't exactly the race to best gauge how things fared. Not to say that it wasn't a fun race. The course in Kuusamo was to my liking, with some good steep climbs and little of the double pole stuff. I'd say of the sprint qualifiers I've done over the years, this one felt relaxed, fast, and with not a huge amount of pressure going into it, pretty controlled. I crossed the line in 111th and 20 seconds back. On to the good stuff.
Actually before we get to day two, a special note. Moustachioed Len Valjas started his season off pretty decently with a 5th place finish in the sprint, keeping the energy going from Harvey's 5th the weekend before in Norway. It must be the intimidation factor of his Movember Mo.
Day 2: Turkey Legs in the 10km
It's funny really. For dinner the night before we were served turkey, and the joke at the dinner table was if you eat too much of it, you'd be plagued with turkey legs the next day. The claim of turkey legs doesn't really have any scientific backing, or well so I thought. Saturday's 10km skate race was turkey legs buffet. Just after the first climb my legs locked up, unable to clear lactate quick enough to maintain any sort of fresh feeling for the remaining 8km. It was a battle between mind and legs as I tried to ski smooth to the finish line, and ended up with the 69th fastest time.
Day 3: Semi-redemption in the 15km
With yesterday's race behind me, I was focused on finishing the tour on a positive note. Because it was a pursuit style start, I started my race about two minutes after the leaders. Skiers were starting every second, so there was a long line of skiers going around the course and plenty of positions to move forward. The body was night and day compared to yesterday, and things started off smoothly and controlled. Things were going well until mid-way through the race on the downhill we had to repeat six times I had a small lapse in judgment.
Deciding to try the furthest right track for a change I got in my low tuck and gunned it on the downhill. Near the bottom of this hill is a slight left turn that flatten out before hitting a steep climb back into the stadium. Upon hitting the curve in the trail, I jumped out of my track to navigate the turn. Carrying a bit too much speed, and having to cross two other tracks, my one ski decided not to join me and gave me a sudden encounter with the ground. By the time I hopped back up, I lost all my speed for the next climb, and the time I thought I was making had slipped by. Shit happens.
It took me a while to get back in my groove and I did my best to try an regain some spots. By the end I finished the overall tour in 73rd, but withholding the result and the faceplant, Sunday's race felt good. So positive beats out the negative, 9 times out of 10.
I'm hoping a photo turns up, but in the meantime was reminded of the sweet crash I took of Brent McMurtry a couple years ago... O, the memories
So I'm back in Canmore... for now:
I've had a few days at home to ponder the overall early Europe experience, and well, I'd say it went by way too quickly. Seem's like not that long ago I was in Sweden praying for some cooler weather and less rain. Like all my trips across the pond, this one was a blast, with a sweet crew and some valuable racing moments to take home.
There isn't a pause yet, with Canada starting it's racing season this weekend with some Alberta Cups in Canmore. Next weekend I'm off to Vernon for the start of the NorAm series and then to Rossland. Awesome.
Have a good one,