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Blink 2014 has come to a close. It was an exciting few days and a great addition to the summer training schedule. On Friday, we had the Mass Start competitions in the main downtown venue in Sandnes. This consisted of a 900m loop with an 11-point 50m shooting range and a traffic roundabout penalty loop. The whole stadium was lined with bleachers and it made for an incredible atmosphere.
After a decent run in the qualification rounds, I qualified for the final Mass Start – a nine-lap race with four shootings in the standard Mass Start format. My biggest goal for these competitions was to work on staying focused in the range and hitting targets, even if that meant taking a little more time. In these short races, the field shoots extremely fast on the whole but the average shooting percentage isn’t usually as high as the world cup. I missed one target in each of my first prone shootings and then cleaned the first standing stage. This put me in the lead coming into the final shoot. The crowd was incredible loud as I came down the final stretch and I new Emil and Tarjei were right behind me. This was shaping up to be quite the final stage. I have practiced this type of scenario many times in training, but there is nothing like being in that position in an actual race. I stuck to my game plan and shot in my normal rhythm. The other guys shot quicker, but I cleaned and left the shooting range for the final lap in first place. It came down to a sprint finish between me and Svendsen on the 300-meter final stretch. I tried to match his finish sprint but I couldn’t quite hold on and I ended up in 2nd.
I was psyched with the race and happy to be mixing it up with the top guys in the World Cup field. Yesterday, they held the Super Sprint competitions, consisting of a quarterfinal, semifinal, and final round. Tim and I both made it out of our quarterfinal rounds and were placed in each semifinal. Both of us ended up winning each semifinal, which put us both in the final, 5-lap Super Sprint. After second prone I was leading and Tim was right behind me. It was cool to have two Americans out in front for a big part of the race. By the last shooting, Tim and I were in the lead pack coming in to shoot. I had an ejected round when I tried to load my clip. This was exactly the wrong time for this to happen as the penalty loop is only about eight seconds. I had to hand load my last round as everyone else left the shooting range. I ended up missing that shot which meant I had to run a penalty loop. Tim shot fast and had one as well, leaving stadium in second and hanging on for 3rd. I was 22 seconds off the leader for 6th.
All in all, it was a great few days of competitions. Now we have one day more in Sandnes and it’s off to the Torsby Skitunnel in Sweden on Monday.
Hi again! Here’s a second, and more complete installment of my original post from yesterday. We walked down to the Sandnes Marina docks at about noon yesterday and the entire men’s field boarded three different boats to make the journey towards Lysebotn. The Lysebotn Uphill race has become one of the most popular summer events in Norway. Over 1.5 million TV viewers tuned in to the NRK broadcast of this 7.5km roller ski climb in 2013. The course climbs from sea level to the top edge of the cliffs overhanging the Lysebotn fjord. It is, by far, the most spectacular hill climb event I’ve had the chance to be a part of.
After a 1.5hr boat trip through the islands north of Sandnes and then winding 42km up the Lysebotn Fjord, we finally arrived at the start of the climb. The race started with a 1km flat which then quickly ramped up to an eight to ten percent grade for the rest of the climb. At about 1.5km the road entered a dark tunnel. When I say dark, I mean that for certain points it was impossible to see the man in front of you. At this point in the race, the pack was relatively close together, and with a field of almost 100 men, this made for a challenging race environment for the kilometer-long tunnel.
Soon we came out the other side of the tunnel and on to the winding switchbacks which would take us all the way to the top. Tim and I were in a pack of ten or so guys towards the front of the field as we came out of the tunnel. I was redlined and tried to hang on as long as I could but eventually lost contact with about 3.5km to go. Tim stayed with that group and ended up in 15th. I placed 35th and was happy with that considering that most of the best biathletes and cross-country skiers were present in the field.
The final two kilometers of the event were lined with hundreds of spectators and it felt like a Tour de France-style mountain top finish, complete with the finish lane, overarching sponsor-banners, and no less than four helicopters circling the race. It was quite an experience and I’m glad to have been a part of it. I wasn’t able to take any pictures of the actual race, but you can see some videos of past Blink competitions at their website, http://www.blinkfestivalen.no.
Below you can see some photographs I took on the boat ride to and from the event. There’s also a few pics of the start area before the women’s race. You can see the tv helicopter hovering above the fjord if you look closely.
It’s the first day at Blink Festival in Sandnes, Norway and we just completed the Lysboten Uphill Race. Helicopters, tons of fans, boats, fjords, tunnels. You name it, Lysboten has it!
The conclusion of Frassinoro Biathlon Fest!
We arrived in Rome yesterday and by 4:00pm we were front and center at Circus Maximus, ready for The Rolling Stones! This is just the beginning of a whirlwind trip to Italy which will take us from Rome to Cinque Terre for a couple of days and then finally to Frassinoro, where I will compete in the Frassinoro Summer Biathlon Festival on Saturday. Then, it’s back to the States on Sunday. For now, enjoy the pics from last night. It was a night I will never forget!
Saw this guy on my ride the other day! It’s been quite a week of training and wildlife. I saw this fox on my way through Wilmington, NY early in the week, just after seeing a Pileated Wood Pecker about a mile previously. On Wednesday I witnessed a newborn White Tail fawn in a field in Vermontville. It must have only been a couple of hours old because it couldn’t even stand up yet. I almost stepped on it as I walking through the tall grass. After a few hawk and blue heron sitings on various different rides and roller skis, I found myself on one of my favorite trail runs, just a mile or so from my house. It was a torrential downpour and as I approached a small pond I surprised a huge beaver that jumped out off the bank, just a few feet from where I was running! Today is the Mountaineer Trailrun, an 11.5-mile run through some of the most rugged terrain in the Adirondacks. Looking forward to a different sort of race!