I apologise for not updating this blog sooner. I’ve unfortunately had a catastrophic computer failure resulting in my computer being nothing more and a glorified coaster that can occasionally make a few noises. I’ve managed to get my hands on a computer and thought I’d take this opportunity to update you all on what has been going on the past month or so before someone notices I’ve nicked (borrowed) their computer.
I raced Ski Tour Canada earlier in the month. I had planned on completing the tour and so being the first tour I would have completed at world cup level. But I came down with a flu/cold type bug after 4 stages. I tried to push on and do the 5th stage, but it became clear that it was pointless to try and complete the tour. I spent the rest of the week in bed and recovered almost enough to race RedBull Nordix.
The racing in Canada was extremely frustrating. I was in pretty good shape but I just couldn’t convert it into a top result. I had 2 good sprint prologues but my heats were awful. I thought I skied well and got into positions where I wanted to be. But then I found my self blocked in and getting tangled with other skiers. I was irritated and angry with the situation. Normally when I finish a sprint heat I really am on my last legs. But I did 2 sprint heats were I hadn’t even managed to get up to top speed as I’d gotten myself tangled and blocked at the back of the field.
After I had to pull out the tour it gave me time to think about the season as a whole. Although the results in Canada were not as good as I was hoping for, the rest of the season does have some real positives. I’d set my self the goal of reaching semi-finals at world cup level sprint races. I reached 2 semi-finals and 1 final, where I went on to podium. So it goes without saying that I am extremely happy with how the season has gone. However that doesn’t mean I don’t have things to work on.
I raced 7 skate sprints on world cup this year. If we discard Lenzerheide , where I was taken out by a rope across the track, then I raced 6 races. But I only achieved my goal in 3 or 50% of the races. This is clearly something I need to work on. To succeed as a skier you have to consistently be at the top. I have only ever scored a top 30 in skate sprint and even in that I can’t consistently be amongst the best. So for next year I need to work on converting quarterfinals into semifinals.
For me classic sprints are like a long lost relative. They show up on my doorstep out of the blue and catch me by surprise. At first the conversation is awkward and weird but after a short while it starts to go better. Just as I’m starting to feel comfortable it’s time for the relative to go again and they disappear until I meet them again at some point in the distant future.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I turn up at the start line of every classic sprint overwhelmingly underprepared that the best I could even hope for is just to not fall over and make it to the finish. Needless to say, it’s not all that surprising that I’m off the pace in classic sprinting. By focussing on sprint skiing and sprint skiing alone I am drastically cutting the number of races that I can really obtain a good result. By cutting that even further to only skate sprinting is unsustainable and unrealistic if I wish to continue as a skier. The way the world cup calendar is planned and the major championships programmed to be successful you have to at least be a bit of an all-rounder. You have to be able to skate and classic, whilst doing distance and sprint is not completely necessary, it gives you a lot more opportunity if you can tackle a 15k just as well as a sprint or 50k.
And so it is quite clear that I need to learn to classic sprint. I fully intend on reconnecting with the long lost relative of classic skiing and hopefully next year I can turn my disappointing classic sprint results into to positive experiences.
If classic sprinting is like a long lost relative then distance skiing is and old friend. We’ve grown apart over the years and the relationship has been somewhat neglected. I’m more focussed on my newer relationships that seem to be more fruitful and thus not so bothered about the results of distance skiing. I’ve still done some distance races this year. But the races I have done have been done with a focus on training and getting ready for future sprint races. Having said that I did still manage to produce a few good results, notably 15th in the 15k classic in Beito, and 40th fastest time on the day in the 15k skate pursuit in Quebec. It’s not my intention to neglect distance skiing completely, but for immediate future sprinting will remain my focus.
I decided to finish my competition season after Ski Tour Canada. It’s been a big season where I have taken a large jump forward. You don’t get anything for free in life and a big jump like that has to cost something. It this case it is my body and mind that pays the price. I need time to shut off and reset. So I’ve stayed in Canada after the tour and had a bit of a holiday. At the start of April I’m going to be back in Scotland for a while and hopefully after that I’ll be ready to get on with training again. And as you see from what I think about the season I’ve got more than enough to train for this season. Until then though, I’m enjoying not having to think about training every day.