The Russian Experience
The Continental Cup season has come to a close with the finale going down in Russia last weekend. As I mentioned before I went to that event with Ben, Jared, Grant, and our coach Tomas. Other than Ben I haven’t seen the other boys all that much this season so it was great to spend more time with them. I have also never been to Russia before so it was cool to travel to a new country. Most of the traveling that we do in Central Europe is fairly similar to the US in regard to the culture, cuisine, etc. Or perhaps I have spent so much time in Europe it starts to feel very similar to me, but Russia was different. For starters they have a whole different alphabet that I can’t even pretend to understand. We were also very far East, so far that we were technically in Asia. Naturally our travel there was not ideal, we took two red eye flights and then a bus ride on very bumpy roads to finally reach our hotel around 8am (after leaving GER at 5pm the previous day). We all went straight to our rooms, set alarms so we wouldn’t sleep to long, then proceeded to sleep right through them we were so tired. Check out the map below of where we traveled to.
For the final weekend of Continental Cup Competition’s we had a three day event, starting with a 1 jump 5km race. The venue in Russia is extremely windy as well adding to the mental challenges each athlete is facing on comp day. With the first day only being a 5km race it isn’t possible to make up as much time on people in front of you during the race, you end up skiing with the people you jump close to. It turned into a fun race, both Ben and I ended up in the same group of about 6 or 7 athletes jockeying for positions throughout the race (I believe we finished in 15th& 18th). On the second day of comps was a 1 jump Mass start 10km. This is different from most days as we race first thing in the morning, and it’s a race that turns into mayhem for the first bit. I started right in the middle of the group and it was a wild first lap of people trying to move forward, getting their poles stepped on, getting cut off and spending too much energy. Nordic Combine skiers are not experienced mass start racers so when all 57 athletes line up together everyone thinks they should be at the front. A lap or two in however the race works itself out, at that point its quite fun as you are really skiing with people who actually ski your pace. Towards the last lap or two it starts to get tactical as I was in a group of about 20 skiers and everyone wants to finish at the front, thanks to our awesome wax techs and good line choices I was able to make well timed moves on the last lap and have a strong finish (18th). We then have some time to rest and refuel before the jumping portion later that afternoon. The jumping is then based on how you raced, so the fastest skier jumps last with no deficit. Each athlete behind him has a certain amount of minus points based on how far behind you finished in the race. I finished a minute back from the leader so I had ‘-15 points’ that was subtracted from my jump score. FIS then does the math and works out the winner after the jumping, it is an interesting way for a competition to go for us. I am always used to finishing a jump and then mentally preparing myself on how I am going to race of that, instead that was it, fun but different day.
On the final day of competition we had a 2 jump 15km race. I had never done a 15km Nordic Combined race so I was psyched to try something new. About an hour before the start of our race the weather gods decided to start snowing on us, not a good thing. All of the wax techs were scrambling to figure out what would be fast or at least faster than everyone else because man was the snow slow. It felt like a brutally long race especially on the third day of racing, I had also gotten a bit sick from the travel day to RUS and had been fighting a cold all weekend. It was fun to push myself in a slightly different way though, you have to be really smart about how hard you are going and make sure not to blow up early on because it is a rather long slow course to have no energy on. Overall the weekend was fun, great team, fun comps and something new, if you want to check out results click here.
I am now taking a few days off with friends in Davos, SUI before we head to the final competition of the season in Schonach, GER. I will post more on that later, I also have some big news coming in regard to the future (all good things!) so stay tuned!
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