Monday, January 12, 2009

Germany & The Czech Republic

Hello from Altenberg, Germany. The past week has been a whirlwind of travel, training, and racing. This being my first time ever across the big pond, there are definitely a number of things that I've never encountered before. However, I think the transition was as seamless as could be expected.
Leaving the Range
It's hard to explain what biathlon means to Germany other than to say that it is pervasive here as the NFL is in the US. Just this past weekend over 5 million Germans tuned in each of three days to watch the World Cup biathlon events. And that doesn't take into account those throughout the rest of Europe and Scandinavia that were also watching. Needless to say, it's quite an experience to finally get the opportunity to train and race in a place where everybody understands what it is that I do.
Fans in the Stadium
The races this past weekend went extremely well given that they were my first ever European competitions. The field consisted of over 125 men and included elite racers from several of the powerhouse biathlon nation's World Cup teams. To finally get to step onto the same snow with many of these men is what I've been training months and, indeed, years to do. In the 20K competition the windy conditions contributed to poor shooting conditions for most of the athletes. Each miss automatically adds one minute to your overall finish time, so hitting targets is paramount in the 20K competition. With an unfortunate 7 misses I finished in the middle of the field. The 10K sprint went substantially better on the range. I only had 2 penalties and felt like I had a solid day on the ski tracks as well.

Sprinting for the Finish

Tomorrow we'll be leaving for the drive to Nove Mesto, Czech Republic to begin preparing for the two races there this coming weekend. It appears that Russia ended its gas dispute with Ukraine so the heat will be back on in much of Europe. We're very happy for that because the Czeck Republic has been without heat for the past week. That would have made for an interesting race experience. There's not much more to report for now, but hopefully I'll be able to find an internet source at some point during the coming week to get some more pictures up along with another post.