Saturday, November 27, 2010

Europe Bound!

The past few weeks have been busy. Much as we skiers love when the leaves fall, the nights are cool, and it seems as though the woods are holding their breath in anticipation of the first snowflakes, there is always lots to get done in a hurry in preparation for the first on-snow camp and races. This year seemed especially harried as we worked to get all the loose ends tied up before making the trip to Canmore, Alberta to get ready for the World Cup and IBU Cup trials races.
Whiteface Mountain, Adirondack Region, NY

The highly variable weather in early November graced us with a grab-bag of 60 degree days and then a few when the temps dipped below freezing and we had a skiff of snow and ice on the ground. My training progressed smoothly despite having to be extremely flexible with working our sessions around the whims of the weather. The East is always temperamental, but Global Warming/El Niño/La Niña or whatever other phenomenon happens to be running things at the moment seems to have been amplifying the mood swings.

The funky weather carried over to the Canadian Rockies. The Canmore Nordic Centre went out of their way to store snow over the summer in a huge pit that was insulated with wood chips and tarps. This method has been used with great success in several European countries. The organizers had grand plans of extending skiable days by 2-3 weeks, which could be highly advantageous to American and Canadian skiers. They did get about a week out of their stockpile before the 50+ degree weather helped them water the trails. Unfortunately that meant that we arrived just in time to help sweep the remaining sawdust base off the shooting range so we could get back to rollerskiing. Nature can be a cruel partner and she definitely won that one. The Canadians called the early snow effort 'Frozen Thunder' anywhere it was advertised. Somebody offered that it was more like a 'Melting Blunder', which seemed far more fitting considering the suntanning weather.
Trail running in the Canadian Rockies.

Joking aside, we were able to do great dry-land training until the weather cooled and the venue was able to make snow. It was iffy for a few days while snow was being blown and then pushed onto the trails, but the temps kept dropping and the piles grew. By the morning of the first race there was a one kilometer loop and athletes were scrambling to put on more clothes. The thermometer read -3 at the start of the final race. Go figure.
The Women's 12.5K Mass Start.

We contested two sprint races and a mass start. All the races went well in my estimation. I've worked extremely hard on shooting this year and was excited to come out of the races with an 85% average. I felt somewhat unstable on the skis, but each race my ski speed increased and by the end of the week I was feeling ready to race. Overall it was a great start to the season. I qualified for the IBU Cup tour so I'll be heading to Europe for several weeks. Prior to Christmas I'll be racing in Martell, Italy and Obertilliach, Austria. It's been a long and productive year of training and I'm excited to start competing!

I'm back in Lake Placid until the team departs on December 5th. One week ago it was a balmy 45 degrees here. Today it snowed several inches and dipped into the single digits with windchill. Bet you can't guess what the forecast is for next week. Who said 50 degrees?


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