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I awoke today to find the winds howling outside my window next to the last uphill on the World Cup course here in Ostersund. I had heard that the winds were going to be strong today and I had prepared mentally for a battle against the elements both on the shooting range and out on the ski course. After watching the women’s Pursuit start in what could modestly be described as “blustery” conditions, I had my doubts as to whether the IBU would let the race run to completion. The winds gusts seemed to pick up even more as the race went on and while some competitors had a bit less wind than others, the wind was definitely wreaking havoc by midway through the event. As Ann-Christine Flatland got into position for her second prone stage, a gust blew her glass off the top of her head. Russia’s Ekatarena Iurieva stood on her shooting matt in dismay for what must have been three minutes, waiting for an especially nasty wind gust to pass, before she finally was able to complete her shooting bout. Given the worsening conditions, I wasn’t surprised when officials cancelled the race and waived competitors off the course.
The conditions were definitely challenging as I prepared to head out for the men’s race, but two things stuck in my mind as important factors that would keep the Men’s race in play. One, with the race later in the day, the wind was projected to drop and thus the conditions might improve. Secondly, there are gigantic sums of money wrapped up in the TV contracts surrounding World Cup biathlon and it is in everyone’s best interest to see a race to completion. So it was a huge disappointment when, after testing skis and on my way to zeroing, that I got the message of the race’s cancellation. The worse part about this decision is that we had three guys in great starting positions today with Tim in 3rd, me in 14th, and Leif in 41st. We had a great chance to do well and that decision was erased with the race’s cancellation. In all probability, they will not reschedule this race at another point in the season so I just have to take my 14th and head for Hochfilzen. The real disappointment came about an hour after the race was originally scheduled, when the wind slackened significantly (as the weather forecast had predicted). By the time I finished a 10km time trial in place of the biathlon race I was supposed to do today, the wind was well within manageable limits for holding a biathlon race. The picture below of a few minutes ago shows a calm and pleasant Ostersund World Cup venue. It’s really too bad the race committee didn’t hold off an wait a few extra minutes, an hour even, to make their final decision. If they had, I think I would be writing a race synopsis right now rather than a Swedish weather report.
At times like this, you just have to put things behind you, maybe write a blog post, and then move on. And that’s what I intend to do. I am satisfied with my performances here in Ostersund and I’m looking forward to the competitions in Hochfilzen next week. I hope everyone back home in the States had a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend.
A few shots from the last days leading up to the World Cup. The weather has finally stabilized here in Sweden and it looks like it will be decent conditions for the World Cup Opener tomorrow night!
I spent last night wondering if the walls were going to cave in. The wind so strong that the bark was blowing off the trees outside our apartment at Camp Sodergren atop the Ostersund Biathlon Venue. It has stayed steady since then and took a heavy toll on the biathlon stadium construction project underway to the left of the shooting range. By morning, the scaffolding/barrier wall that had protected workers from the shooting range had nearly collapsed. Because of the high winds, the range officials cancelled all shooting today so I just had an easy classic ski in the morning before we head out for intervals in the afternoon. By the time I finished training, the wall had completely collapsed. At the moment, the entire wall is laid out across the last ten points of the shooting range. On the bright side of things, the trails are still in relatively good shape, the wind is supposed to die down this evening, and the temperatures are projected to drop below freezing. Find the videos and pics from this morning below.
After a relatively painless trip across the Atlantic to Sweden, I am now in Östersund, Sweden for the next few weeks. As I write this, it is 2:30 in the afternoon and the sun has already gone down. Fortunately, this venue has some of the best lighting of any place I have ever skied. Apparently the stadium lights are the brightest in the entirety of Scandinavia. At full power it’s hard to tell what time of day it is in the stadium. Once again, the Östersund organizing committee has created an incredible early-season training site with almost 5km of artificial snow, roughly two feet deep and twenty to thirty feet wide. The snow we are currently skiing on was made last winter and stored in a huge pile under three feet of saw dust until about a week ago when they spread it out on the race course. The temperatures look rather warm for the foreseeable future so it doesn’t look like we will be skiing on anything other than last year’s artificial snow for some time. I’ve included a few pics from this morning. Notice there’s almost no snow on the side of the trail. Winter definitely hasn’t arrived here yet.
After a brief trip around the Northeast which took me from Lake Placid to Boston, to Portland, I am now headed to New York City and on to Sweden this evening. On Thursday, I had a great evening at the US Biathlon Foundation dinner at Ray Bourque’s Italian restaurant, Tresca, in the North End of Boston. It was great to catch up with some of the Trustees and cap the evening off with box seats in Ray’s suite at the Bruins game.
After the Boston evening, I travelled northeast to Portland for a few days to visit my sister, mom, and various Portland friends over the weekend. I took advantage of some of the great rollerski routes I have grown to love along the coast between Freeport and Brunswick.
And now my rollerskis are packed away – hopefully for the rest of the year – and now I look forward to the snow that awaits in Östersund, Sweden. See ya’ll across The Pond!
After almost three weeks of training in Soldier Hollow, it’s time to pack up the rifle and rolleskis and head ever eastward. After another few workouts, I’ll be flying back to Lake Placid for a few days, then a few shorter trips around the Northeast to tie up loose ends before I head across The Pond to Sweden. It’s been a great camp in Midway. The weather cooperated and allowed us to complete all of the biathlon-specific biathlon training that we had planned and even work in some on-snow skiing up at the higher elevations in Park City. I won’t bore you with the details of my day-to-day training regiment. Suffice it to say that there was a lot of shooting, a ton of roller skiing, and a smattering of cross-training workouts this camp. After around 75 hrs in three weeks, I’m ready for the upcoming recovery week!
Other than training, my life has featured a fair amount of guitar playing and coming up with a new Fast Big Dog hat design. For the benefit of those of you unfamiliar with Fast Big Dog Racing, I will elaborate a bit. FBDR is my newest sponsor and perhaps one of the most unique due to the fact that FBDR does not have a headquarters, a product, or even a website. They/he does have a mission however: To foster and sustain U.S. Nordic Sport through supporting athletes and teams seeking international success. FBD himself may argue that the mission statement is a bit more nuanced, but generally speaking, he’s a great guy who has and continues to help out myself and bunch of other American Nordies.
I was entrusted in heading up the 2014 FBDR Biathlon hat design team this season. After many many hours of deliberation, I believe we have reached a final design which will go to press next week. I can’t release it now as that would spoil the surprise and anticipation that I’m sure tens of people across the world are feeling right now.
For now, it’s one more afternoon workout, then a quick trip across the States back to LP.