Every year I look forward to coming back to Davos. The skiing here is fantastic. I get excited about racing here like a little kid gets excited for Christmas. To put it simply, Davos is quite possibly my favourite place to ski in the world.
I came to Davos 2 weeks ago. I decided to skip the Lillehammer world cup which would give me an extra week of training here at altitude. It was a bit of a shame to miss the world cup in Lillehammer as it is as close to a home competition I ever get. But it made sense to skip the tough 30k there and focus on the sprint in Davos.
The British team has rented out an apartment here in Davos. For us being a small team this works out much better than staying in a hotel. We get a living room and our own kitchen so we can make our own food and have more space. Annika claims she really enjoys cooking and baking and so took it upon herself to make sure the British team were fast on the downhills. Last week she baked two different types of cookies and pancakes in quantities big enough to feed a small army. It took a lot of restraint not to eat only cookies and actually eat some normal food
Training went fairly well in the build up to the world cup here at the weekend. There isn’t much snow around in central Europe but they’d made two different loops here. An easy 2km loop on the golf course and a harder 1.5km loop at the top of the 5km loop used for the world cup. Eventually they made an 800m loop at the stadium and then the whole 5km world cup track. The man made snow here is impressively clean. Even though it’s trucked in there are no stones and no dirt in the tracks. It’s much better than any man made snow I’ve skied on in Norway. I don’t know what they do differently here, but whatever it is it works. Davos runs a «nordic week» every year. Basically a week where lots of middle aged tour skiers come here and get coaching and learn to ski better. Our first week coincided with this. So skiing for 2 hours on a 2k track became 2 hours of slaloming around middle aged men skiing on the latest carbon skis and boots. I did get some good training done, including a speed session with the Russian athlete, Gleb Retivykh. We had been skiing one behind the other zig zagging our way through the crowds on the track when he turned to me and spoke in the scariest accent I’ve ever heard and asked if I wanted to do some sprints with him. I was so scared I didn’t really have an option but to say yes. I also had a ski with Brian Gregg an American skier. He’d lost his ski bags on the flight here. The rest of the American team was in Lillehammer so I helped out a leant him some training skis and poles. Last weekend I got up early and had a sprint session on the competition track. I did 4 prologues and tried to increase the speed each time as well as trying out some different tactics and techniques.
This past week was quite a normal training week. Some long easy sessions and one interval session on Wednesday. I went into the weekend feeling good and ready to race. I’d never planned on racing the 30k here and always had my focus on the sprint. The sprint started pretty early on Sunday with the prologue at 8.30. The women went first so I didn’t start before 9.15. But that’s still an early morning start, getting up before 7 and testing skis by 8am. For some reason I put together a pretty amazing prologue. At about half way I’d really closed the gap to the guy starting in front of me and then I knew that I was going to make the top 30 cut off. The second lap was actually quite fun. I relaxed and just focussed on skiing technically well. Whatever I did it worked as a finished 4th.
There is now a new system by where athletes choose their own quarterfinal. I chose heat 5 in order to get the longest possible recovery and hopefully the easiest route to the semifinal. The quarterfinal was quite hectic. I didn’t have the best of starts but managed to fight may way through to 3rd. I had a good finish straight but I couldn’t get round into 2nd place. Luckily the speed was good enough and I got a lucky loose spot for the semi finals. I skied the semi final fairly well, I had a good start and skied relaxed through the first half. Somehow everybody else was extremely fast at the end of the long flat section. I had no chance to keep up and everybody went past me. I kept fighting and ended up loosing the photo finish for 4th so ended up 5th in the heat and 9th overall.
I had a recovery day yesterday to try and get over the race on Sunday and make sure I’m ready to return to normal training again today. I jogged for an hour with our waxer, Åsmund. The world cup organisers had sorted out free tickets to watch the local ice hockey game. So last night we headed down to watch Davos against Biel. Biel ended up winning 5 – 2. The rest of this week is going to be fairly easy, but still quite a few hours of training. I’ll leave for Toblach on Friday and race the world cup there next weekend.