My first time on the World cup team was a week of mixed emotions. First I watched my teammates racing in the mixed and single mixed relays. Which was fun to watch but also a little disheartening not to participate. After all we train all year round so we can race. So whenever I miss out on racing I feel a little low.
However I then had longer to prepare for the individual. Which was ok. I didn’t have the best ski technique or legs on me for the 20km race, and it is a HARD course. Somehow the 4km loop seems like it is all uphill. But I was content with it as my first race. Yes I could have shot better and yes I would be happier with a faster ski time. But I am ok with it being my first race.
After the two days of recovery between the individual and the sprint race, I was feeling significantly better on my skis. I felt confident in my technique and was ready to push myself hard. Also the 3.3km loops of the sprint were a little bit easier with some added flats, which helped me be mentally ready for a strong ski performance. Feeling ready on the snow and also feeling ready to hit my targets on the range. I was gearing up for a good race. Also taking some energy from my bib, number 99, a very special bib to any Canadian. Knowing all this I went to the start line ready to compete and give it my best.
Starting the race I was feeling good, and really pushed myself on my first loop. I know that every second counts in racing, so I made sure to be going fast right from the start. After I finished a quick first loop I came zooming into the range, and that is when I realized that I had only loaded one of two clips………….
After I had loaded my clip into my rifle and laid down to shoot prone. I closed the bolt and could feel that no bullet was pushed into the chamber. So I opened my bolt and looked to make sure that my clip was inserted correctly. It was in the right place, just didn’t have any bullets in it. My mind starts racing. I didn’t load my clips?!?!?!??!?!? I’m sure I did! But there is no time to think about that; I hope my second one is loaded. I pull it out of my stock and see the shiny brass of bullets. Thanks God! I had at least loaded one of the two clips. So I settle back into position and start shooting my five precious bullets. I can hardly think and just let my body take control of the shooting. All five shots go down! I am happy to have hit them all, especially in the windy conditions that we were having. But the happiness was short lived. Now I had to get another clip. How am I supposed to do that? I can’t remember the rules. This has never happened to me before!
After a few hundred meters of skiing and debating what to do, I climb the first hill up to our head wax tech and my coach. They both start to cheer me on and I cut them off.
“I don’t have a second clip!” I yell. They stop yelling, but it didn’t look like they heard me, I yell again. “I need a clip!”
The second time they understand just as I am rounding the corner to the downhill and speeding away from them.
Ok, I have told the team and they will figure it out, just keep skiing. But I was trying to remember how I was supposed to pick up a clip again. Was it one of the rules they had changed this summer? Or was that only for your bolt? I don’t know. Hopefully I can figure it out, I only have two hills left on this loop, then I’ll be back in the range with or without a clip.
I see my coach on the second last hill. He must have some news.
“Macx! You will pick up the clip in the range! Just go to a lane and raise your hand! An official will hand you a clip!”
Pheeeewwf. That seems simple. Just get to the range.
Before I know it I am on the mat. I see the official, raise my hand and the clip is in my fingers, Now all I have to do is shoot. Look down at the clip before I insert it into my rifle. IT WONT FIT!!!! THAT CLIP IS TOO SMALL FOR MY RECEIVER!!!!
My mind starts to whirl again. Then I remembered, I have five spare rounds on my rifle. So I load an empty clip and grab the first spare round with my fingers and push it into the chamber. I need to hit! That is the only thing on my mind. Bang! The first shot hits. Next spare. Bang! Another hit. Next spare. Bang! Hit! I load the next spare. Bang! Only one more. I grab my last spare and look down the sights, and smile as I pull the trigger. Bang! The final shot goes down.
Before I know it I am ripping past the penalty loop and climbing the hill to Tom. I am feeling good, I managed to hit all my shots in a tricky conditions and I know that I will be in the pursuit tomorrow. The stress of the clip scenario and my anticipated result dissipate. I will probably be in the top 40. I think, just before I hear Tom yelling,
“YOU’RE IN 10TH, MACX! YOU NEED EVERY SECOND! 7 SECONDS TO TOP 6!”
Wait?!?! What did he say? 10th?!?!?!? Like I’m the 10th person right now! No that can’t be!
“ YOU HAVE TO PUSH MACX! 11TH IS ONLY A FEW SECOND BACK!” He yells.
Holy crap!!!! I am in 10th!!!!! 10th!! I am 10th!!!!! Finally it registers with me and I know what I have to do! I start to bury myself on every climb. Hoping that each downhill will give me enough recovery to climb the next hills even faster. My legs feel heavy, my forearms ache. I just throw myself at each hill hoping that I will be strong enough to get to the top without slowing down.
“GO MACX!!! ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP!!!! YOU’RE HOLDING TENTH!!!!!!”
The whole wax team is out there cheering me up every climb. I can do this! I reach the final hill before the fast descent towards the finish line. SPRINT! That is all that is in my mind.
I am done! I look up onto the scoreboard before catching my breath. There it my name! Where is the placing…………………. 10th! I couldn’t believe it! I had kept my position! I finished in the top 10!!!
What a race. What a crazy, crazy race!
More to come….