Sunday, January 10, 2010

Olympic Trials Update

It has been a whirlwind of a week. I hoped to have more time to update you on the races, but alas the racing and training ended up taking up consuming our time. The weather and skiing in Altenberg spanned the gamut from clear, hard conditions with no wind to stormy soft tracks complemented by snow-storms and some of the nastiest wind I've shot in all year.


The team time trial dawned clear and cool. We arrived at the venue to find perfect hard corduroy tracks and no wind to speak of. There were only the six of us U.S. athletes starting so zeroing, warming up, and getting the race started was a cinch. I felt really solid during the race and was ecstatic to shoot clean on the range. I finished just 9 seconds behind my teammate who has been viewed all year as a lock for the team. That was the second clean shooting race I've had this season, which is more than any other US athlete. My shooting all season has been drastically improved from last year and having two clean races shows that the work I’ve done this year is paying off. Of course, having a clean race in a high pressure situation makes it that much sweeter.


A few hours after the race on Thursday clouds rolled in, snow began falling, and by Friday the conditions were completely changed. On Saturday the tracks were really soft and the wind was randomly coming from every direction, which made zeroing our rifles frustrating and, depending on how you look at it, nearly pointless. In Oberhof, Germany the World Cup athletes encountered very similar conditions, which the U.S. athletes poignantly described as, "a Las Vegas-style lottery." Unfortunately my race Saturday wasn't as smooth as that of Thursday. My legs felt like mush, which didn't help with the skiing and I missed 5 on the range. The other guys also missed 5 or 6 targets as well, which unfortunately put us a ways down the results sheet and out of the running for Sunday’s pursuit (only the top 60 in the sprint race are allowed to start the pursuit).


After the race on Sunday I was in a very close third place on the points list. The first racer was automatically named to the Olympic team and since the 5th spot was by coaches’ discretion, the decision came down to a couple of us men. I’ve been thinking about this day for a very long time and I can tell you the wait for the final decision was horrible. Nothing quite like waiting for a decision and knowing that there is absolutely nothing more you can do to affect the outcome. There’s no way to sugar coat this so I must unfortunately relay to you that the decision didn’t come out in my favor. I’m in the process of regrouping and doing my best to get focused on the remainder of the season, but it’s going to take a few days to get over the disappointment.


I traveled to Nove Mesto, Czech Republic today to get ready for two more IBU Cup races this weekend. I can tell you that it’s quite a process to have to immediately refocus after not achieving the goal I’ve been pursuing as a biathlete for two and a half years and as an athlete for over fourteen. However, I now have a chance to qualify to race at the U26 Championships in Estonia in early March so that’s the next marker for me.


While the season is far from over I do want to take a moment to say a huge thank you to all of you who have supported me in my athletic endeavors thus far and joined with me in this Olympic dream. I’m only the motor that makes the skis move and the bullets fly. Without the continued and generous support of friends, family, fans, and sponsors, my dream of pursuing the Olympics would have never taken flight. I do want to mention my three sponsors for this season as their financial support has made my pursuit possible. I would first like to thank ConocoPhillips, my title sponsor for the season. Dykon Blasting, my cousin’s company in Tulsa, OK, generously gave their support this season. And Larry & Allan, good friends and owners of Alaska’s very own A Wildflower Inn and The Arctic Fox B&B, have been supporting me since I started biathlon. Athletics at all levels is a community event and those communities take many forms. I am proud to represent my home town of Nikiski, the state of Alaska, and my extented community from numerous states and countries around the world. You're the best!


Just so I’m clear, I may not have made the team this year, but this season is only half gone and 2014 isn’t that far away. I’ll be back for more!

16 comments:

SHAUNA HALL said...

Love you!
You are my HERO and SUPER STAR!
Keep your heard held HIGH.

Hope you are doing great! Have a wonderful day!

~SIS~

Emilee Gillaspie said...

Hey Mr Hall,
Looks like things are great. I am so proud of you and look forward to tracking down your progress :) Good luck my friend,
Emilee Gillaspie

Tom Pillifant said...

Hey Zach -
Great effort. I'm mighty impressed by what you have achieved - and I hope you can stick with it until the next go around. Best of luck with the rest of the season. - It was a pleasure working with you on the commercials we did in December at Kincaid.

tom p.

Joel said...

Germany is a long way from HAMMCOT. I'm proud to come from the same town as you. Is their a site that streams your races?

- Joel Ribbens

Dale said...

Congradulations Zach,

I've been watching your race results this winter and am really proud of how you have been working and training. I remember that you felt bad for only about 2 minutes when Justin Singleton beat you in the last race at State, and then that "Gonna use this to make me better..." attitude kicked in!! You have got some great biathlon years left in those legs of yours, besides you have to try and catch up to that gal of yours.
We'll be watching on the IBU site how this 20k goes! Shoot straight and ski fast.
love ya, Dale & Elaine

Bob Troutman said...

Jan. 16. Way to go for getting your head back in the game so soon after the trials. Your Sprint result today demonstrates real maturity.

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