Friday, January 29, 2010

IBU Cups, World Cups, and The European Champs

The month of January flew by and we're now heading into the home stretch of the season. Post Olympic trials I had to do a quick turn-around to get ready for a second weekend of IBU Cup racing in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. Although very disappointed to be the Olympic Team alternate and not actually getting to compete in Vancouver, being successful as an athlete requires moving forward regardless of wins or losses. This was no different. The races in Nove Mesto were combined with the racing in Alternberg to determine which US skier would prequalify for the U26 European Championships to be held early March in Estonia. We had two races in the CR and I posted my best international results to date. In the 20km Individual race I finished in 36th place and in the 10km sprint broke into the top-30 with a 29th place finish. My results were good enough to move me into first place on the points list, which prequalified me for the trip to Estonia! I was very happy to nail the racing in Czech!

The Shooting Range in Nove Mesto

Based on my results from the racing in Nove Mesto and Alternberg, I was called up to race the World Cup races in Antholz, Italy, a beautiful town located in a long mountain valley in the Dolomites. On the way to Antholz I had opportunity to stop in Ruhpolding, Germany to watch the men's World Cup relay and get a feel for the World Cup. The race was exciting with our men posting a season best 6th place in front of over 25,000 spectators. The picture and video below will give you a little taste of the action.

video

Germany and the Czech Republic have a reputation of being pretty grey during the winter months and while we were there the reputation was lived up to. Italy, however, is on the other side of the Alps and because of this feature tends to get all the sun that Germans wish for. It was great going over the final passes into Italy and being greeted with increasing amounts of sun. The biathlon venue sits at the top of the 20-ish mile long valley like a cherry crowning the perfect sundae. I know, perhaps a cheesy comparison, but it's true. Antholz is the perfect combination of old world charm and modern flare.

The races in Antholz were my first World Cup appearances and I really enjoyed the opportunity. Over 15,000 spectators came out for each of the races so the atmosphere was electric. It's really cool going from the US where only a handful of people show up to an area of the world where biathlon is the most widely televised sport and spectators come out in droves for an all-day party.
The Range in Antholz
Biathlon Stadium - Antholz

I got back in the states just over one week ago and I'll be here for most of February. I have two weekends of North American Cup racing this month and then I'm taking a short trip to Vancouver to watch my girlfriend, Sara, in a couple of her races as well as a couple of the men's races. I leave on the 25th of this month for the European Championships in Estonia and will get to race at least four events there during a two-week period. I'll have some racing after Estonia as well but the final schedule is still up in the air. For now my focus is on nailing the training and racing week by week.
Nothing more to report for a few days, but do be sure to tune in to the Olympic coverage starting on the 14th. Biathlon isn't often televised in the states so I hope you'll take advantage of the opportunity to watch an event or two - I'm confident you'll love it! Speaking of biathlon coverage, in October I helped shoot video for a short feature on biathlon put out by Time.com. If you look closely you can also catch a glimpse or two of me. Check out the video short at http://www.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,64069733001_1957690,00.html .

10 comments:

Jean said...

Hey Zach - Congrats on your recent results. That is fantastic. I was wondering when you will be in Whistler to watch Sara race. We will be there starting the 21st - 27th. It would be great to get to see you if you have the time!

Jean

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