Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nationals 15km Skate

It snowed hard from the time I arrived at the site. We were told to be aggressive and get slower skiers to move out of the way, because there was only one well skied in line. I started out and my skis felt rocket. The best line was hard packed from the skiers going over it, but in some places there was huge ruts and big holes on the downhills. I didn't know the first downhill, because I had not ahad a chance to ski it ahead of time. Luckily, I caught Chris Cook on the first uphill, who had already skied a lap and he helped to show me the lines on the downhills. He was also setting a good pace, but most importantly he showed me a rhythm that suited the conditions. Today was not the day to be a glider like I usually am. The first 5k lap seemed to go by quickly as Cooker cleared the slower traffic out of the way for both of us.

I was debating whether to go by Cook and see what would happen. At some point somebody yelled "Go by him", although I forget exactly when and I don't know who it was, but it did affect my thought process a bit, because that is what I was already thinking. My plan was to go harder up the hills each lap. So, on the second big climb of the lap 2, I went by Cook and got a gap. But, after that push, I seemed to tighten up, and by the stadium Cook had passed me back and was hammering for the finish. I still had one lap to go.

It was still slowing heavily and now there was no longer any traffic on the course. My skis were feeling slower and my legs were heavy, and I started getting negative thoughts. I hadn't got a split in a while and that is usually a sign that you are not challenging for a top 15. I lost my concentration and tripped on a flat section. As I got going again, I could tell I was no longer moving well, and that just made me more frustrated. Nish and Gaustad were going well and blew by me. On the last uphill Stefan caught me and then stepped on my ski as he passed. So I stalled and chased as hard as I could into the finish. I ended up 24th overall, 15th Canadian, so it was not the result I was looking for. My laps times were 12:29.2, 13:07.4 and 14:14.7, which is obviously not good pacing. The strange thing is, the first lap and a half felt easy. I was quite annoyed and it felt like I had thrown away a good result.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Nationals 10km Classic

The Nationals 10k used the 3.3k (3500m) loop. You essentially climbed from the stadium to the top of the course, then worked your way to the low point over fast, twisty downhills and gradual uphills. Then, you climbed back up to the top of the last downhill, which takes you back into the stadium. I hadn't skied the course too much, but I found that the course suited me, because the climbs weren't too steep, and there were a few sections where I could really hammer double pole. I started near the front of the best seed and at the first split I was 4th, 10 seconds down on the leader, Koos. My skis were working well in the track, I had grip and they were rocket in the glazed track. I ended up on a klister/hard wax mix, although some of our guys had gone out on straight hard wax.

On the second lap, the track had changed and I started slipping in a few places. I double poled a few sections where I normally would have strided. At the split Dave told me I was 2nd, just 6 seconds down on Koos. I was encouraged by this result and was thinking I could be the leader when I finished. Later in the lap, Eric told me I was 3rd, 15 seconds down. This seemed a bit odd, because my skis were gliding well there wasn't any climbing between the two stations. It didn't matter though, because you always take splits with a grain of salt.

The last lap I tried to pick it up, but I was slipping a lot. I hopped out of the track on the climbs and my grip would ice and I could climb trees. This was an advantage until I got to the tops of the hills and I would try to kick off the ice so I could glide. Luckily the ice seemed to go away quite quickly. Somebody yelled that I was making time on Kershaw, which was encouraging. Nighbor caught me for 30 seconds and we skied together until he switched tracks to get around a couple Foothills guys. I followed, but my skis grabbed a bit in the non glazed track, and he got a small gap that I never closed up. He usually has a good finished, so I was happy I traveled at the same speed for the last couple k's.

I ended up 15th overall and 10th Canadian, so I was satisfied with the result. It turned out that I was 2nd when I finished, with Chris Cook holding the lead. In hindsight, I would say that either Dave missed him, or he absolutely motored in the middle of the race. It is hard to say, but I know a lot of guys who finished ahead of me used "zero" skis (special skis designed to be roughed up instead of using kick wax), so I may have been able to place better if I had a pair of those skis. I know Kershaw and Nighbor were on zero skis. It felt good to be able to unload, and have that feeling like you're "in the race".


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Nationals Sprint Relay

Luke and I finished 3rd in our Semi and I felt like I didn't have to bury myself to do it. We also had the advantage of the longest break before the Final. My skis were good, but I noticed Stefan was gaining on the downhill by taking fast lines through the corners.

Final Results  Semi Final Results