Tuesday, December 14, 2010

IBU Racing: Martell, Italy & Obertilliach, Austria

We arrived in Munich one week ago for a tour of Central Europe.  Last week was a blur as we traveled to Martell, Italy and got a few days of training in before the Individual and Sprint races.
Martell Biathlon Range
The venue is nestled at the top of  a very deep and narrow canyon in the northern Dolomites.  As with most areas of the province of South Tyrol, Martell and its neighboring hamlets are quaint mixtures of new and old architecture, all with a distinctly Tyrolean flair.  The food too has a unique flavor given the French, German, and Italian influences.  Nearly everybody speaks both Italian and German because the region sits at the confluence of Italy, Austria, and Germany and was traded around during the second World War.  However, ask any of the locals to tell you about their region and it quickly becomes apparent that they claim direct roots to neither Germany nor Italy, but instead identify as Tyroleans.  The Tyrolean hospitality is impeccable so the Martell valley was truly a superb place to train and race for a week.
 The Martell Biathlon Stadium.  Above the Stadium is a hydroelectric dam.
The 20k Individual race started off very well.  The wind conditions on the range were some of the trickiest I've ever encountered so I was really pleased to make it through the first three stages with just two penalties and solid skiing.  The wind cooperated even less in my final standing stage and I added several more penalties to the tally despite my best efforts.  As I've said at other points, biathlon is the consummate love/hate relationship and my first Individual event of the season showed why that is.  Save for one unfortunate shooting stage and some leg cramping in the final two kilometers, the race was on a great trajectory.  Even so, I salvaged the effort and was pleased with how much did go well.  The second race, a 10k sprint, went similarly with a good ski effort and unfortunate misses on the range.  It's easy to get frustrated when all the pieces don't come together, but I'm inclined rather to be excited about how many bright moments there were.  

I traveled yesterday over the border to Obertilliach, Austria.  It's nice to move on to a new venue and refocus for the racing this weekend.  On Friday we contest a 10k Sprint and Saturday brings a 12.5k Pursuit.  The weather is 20-30 degrees colder so we're in for a taste of the frigid.  But given the Alpen scenery and fantastic snow, nobody is complaining. 
Obertilliach, Austria