August 15th, 2011
The men’s team and I have been down in New Zealand for the past two and a half weeks. Up until yesterday the weather has been phenomenal which has made for a great camp. For the past two seasons I have structured my training into three day blocks. The format allows me to train really big for a few days and then get a feeling for how I am absorbing the load on the easy day. Block one was 12.5 hours and included a 6×10 min L3 skate intensity. Block two was 12.5 hours with a 4.5 hours classic OD as the focus. Block three was 14.25 hours with a five hour (2.5 classic, 2.5 skate) OD as the primary session. Block four was only 9.5 hours but it included two races.
The first race was a 15k classic mass start on a perfect sunny hard track day. The field included Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey, Ivan Babikov, Lenny Valjas, Brian Mckeever, Andy Newell, Noah Hoffman, Tad Elliot, several Japanese, a few Koreans, and the top Australian and New Zealand racers. Based on the speed of the tracks it was clear that leading or attempting an early break away was ill-advised. The course 5k course loop meandered downhill for 2.5 k followed by .5k of gradual incline and 2k of varying terrain including two steep uphills.
It became clear after a few ks of racing that the pace was not going to be high and that the race would be decided over the last few minutes. As I was racing I debated whether to attack on the first uphill with 2k to go or at the second uphill with 1.25k to go. Last year I attacked with 2k remaining and broke the field up quickly. But I exploded with .5k to go and Devon passed me easily to take the win. I didn’t want that to happen again but I also didn’t want to have a footrace with Alex and Andy for 1k either. I decided to make the same move as last year. It was so predictable that Devon shouted “Here it comes” to his teammates as I accelerated at the 13k mark. My move broke the pack of eight down to a pack of four quickly. For the next few minutes Alex, Devon and Andy “Yo Yoed” off and onto my tails. On the final uphill I was able to secure enough of a gap to ensure the win. Andy was also able to sprint by both Canadians to take second.
The next day was a freestyle sprint race with the entire Russian sprint team, Lenny Valjas, Andy, Simi Hamilton, and Tad Elliot competing. I qualified 4th and earned 53 sprint points, my second best FIS sprint ever. Sixteen skiers advanced to the heats with 2 skiers advancing from each round. The Russians were struggling all day which resulted in an all North American final. Andy, Simi, Lenny and myself battled for the win. After coming out of the start in last I found a gap to get to the front of the race. I knew that my best chance of winning was to set as fast a pace as possible in order to tire the guys out. My strategy worked to a point. Simi and Lenny both got tired but Andy still had enough legs left to pass me in the home stretch. Simi took 3rd and the men’s team got to enjoy a podium sweep.
The weather was terrible yesterday with near white out conditions and vicious winds. I had an off day scheduled so I wasn’t too disturbed by it. However today the weather is still bad. A 10k skate race was supposed to take place today but it was canceled. Up on the snow farm you have to go big on the nice days and go with the flow on the bad ones.