Ahh…hard work pays off. I qualified for the pursuit at world champs in 58th place. It is the first pursuit that I’ve qualified for on the World Cup and I’m pleased and excited to have a go at this different race format. It was a decent way to end the day after all the tumult of the morning and previous night.
Archive for February, 2009
We touched down in sunny Seoul, South Korea on Sunday around midday after a 9.5-hour flight from Amsterdam. I really appreciate the fact that we were able to stay in Europe during the two-week break proceeding World Championships because the flight from the US would have been much more taxing on our acclimation abilities. This year the IBU volunteers from Korea who met us at the airport led us straight to customs with our rifles and everything seemed to go many times more smoothly than last year when South Korea welcomed their first biathlon world cup event. We then took a 3.5-hour bus ride through some more low-lying but hilly fields that still didn’t show any promise of snow. At the very end of our journey we began to ascend toward the Yong Pygong alpine resort, a relatively upscale village of condominiums and high-rise hotels by the side of the alpine ski hill.
We arrived in Ruhpolding, Germany yesterday to kick off our pre-World Championships training camp. This is a first for me, since I spent this time last year competing at Junior World Championships, also in Ruhpolding, so I missed the majority of the pre-World Champs camp. Before we got here, however, we had a short break after the last world cup in Antholz, Italy. Some members of our team went to Ridnaun, a cross-country ski resort town in northern Italy. While we still logged quite a few hours of easy training at altitude, we were able to enjoy the spa, good food, and more lenient training schedule (we were, for once, without coaches).
So, upon leaving Ridnaun, I had spent about 1.5 weeks training and racing at altitude. The toughest part was the sprint race in Antholz. We arrived there only two days before the first race without any time to acclimate. To make things tougher, the range approach is uphill and you have to expend enough energy to get up the hill without coming in too hard for shooting. I learned the hard way just how slow I really ought to approach the range: during the sprint race I had a good prone stage, missing only one, but when attempting to make the same approach for standing, I came in with what I was thought was a relaxed body but my breathing rate was still elevated due to the effects of altitude and I missed. Two days later I had a chance to give it another shot. We had a 4-stage mass start time trial during training and in absence of the stress and excitement of a race situation I was able to force myself to slow down and only missed 2 shots the entire race. I’d like to say I’ve learned my lesson. Luckily, I’ve been told that the race course in Korea has a downhill range approach, similar to the one in Ruhpolding where we are training.
While the course in Ruhpolding may have a downhill range approach, the rest of the tracks are anything but easy. Ruhpolding is famous for its “wall”, the last climb before the range. Since last year the wall has been heightened by at least one meter, making it even steeper; it is now hardly possible to glide while skiing up it. Yesterday morning we started off with threshold combos, six repetitions of about nine minutes a-piece. I felt pretty fresh after returning from altitude and had to remind myself to reign in the pace at times in order to maintain a good feeling throughout an entire hour of threshold. After this workout, we had a relay competition against the men’s team, doing an “impulse”, or sprint, into the range before shooting and then another one out of the range to the tag zone. There are a few other teams training here as well, as Ruhpolding is home base for many biathletes from different countries. The rest of the week will include some more highly specific combo workouts and a time trial as well as volume and technique training before we begin to taper for world champs.