February 11th, 2014
If I had dedicated the last ten years of my life to writing instead of Biathlon I still wouldn’t be a good enough writer to truly share the Olympic experience with you but technically I wouldn’t be at the Olympics either.
I think I am a pretty sensible athlete, possibly even too pragmatic at times. You’re not likely to see me whimsically happy or shattered in tears. I just love my job and can smile through most all of it, but if I am truly sincere even I must admit the Olympic Sprint was one of the toughest days of my career.
It started like any other race day, I woke up headed to breakfast with the boys and started up the good old routine. It is a routine designed for consistency and performance and I expected nothing less than exactly that when the race rolled around in the evening. The last few days had been busy and packed with things I wasn’t used to, commitments that weren’t part of my usual routine but as the race got closer I felt I was getting closer to my comfort level and everything was going to go just as I hoped, dreamed and imagined.
But the time the race actually rolled around in the final hours I didn’t feel as hoped and even thought I might be coming down with something. But I had a plan and I was going to give it everything I had.
In many ways the race just felt like any World Cup or World Championships race, there is a zero, ski testing, warm up and a start. I don’t think I even realized how important the race was to me until it started to fall apart. Within the first 500 meters I knew it wasn’t going to be my day, my body had betrayed me or I it, regardless it wasn’t there. I stayed focused on the plan, just execute and it will be what it will be.
Looking back I can’t find anything truly discernible that I would change in my approach to the race. I would have come to Sochi a few days earlier as most teams did but that was hardly the difference between what could have been and what was.
The Sprint race at any World Cup, World Championships is often the most important and this Olympic sprint race was no different. It qualifies you for the Pursuit and possibly the Mass Start and if you do as I did and you qualify for neither.
As the race came to a close the disappointment came in fragments, at times it felt like a disappointing World Cup result and I’ll have better luck next weekend but when my eyes would close I could still see what the day was supposed to look like, again in fragments the successes I had imagined were being replaced by the reality that was.
Somehow I managed to combine my worst shooting and skiing of the season on the same day, and that day happened to be the most important race of the year. I just wanted to open my eyes and realize it was just a nightmare and the race is still to come.
You would imagine that this was the complete low of the day but it got lower, because I was unsure of my health status I would be shipped out of the Endurance Village and down to Sochi to ensure everyone stayed healthy. *edit – I managed to stay healthy.
Now that concludes the lowest point of this blog, of the day and of 2014. Some how the day still managed to be the high point of 2014, I had just finished my first Olympic race! and when I caught up with my family afterwards who had watched the whole race from the stands it was as though they hadn’t even seen the missed targets or the pedestrian like skiing around the course they were just beaming with pride.
So just like that you can both love and hate your job in the same day, minute and second.