Happy New Year!

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Hochfiltzen (In The Austrian Tyrol Region), Austria
Jan. 1, 2008

Christmas at the Bailey residence: George/Pop (top), Elizabeth/Mom (mid-left), Kendra/Sis (middle), Me (mid-right), Caitlin (bottom), Flo (bottom-right), Daisy (bottom-left)

The New Year has arrived and so far the outlook seems good. I am at an Austrian hotel in the Tyrolean Alps. After spending about two weeks at home, I flew to Austria on the 28th of December. I was definitely a little bit sad to take off after such as short trip home but I am really excited for the upcoming races in Oberhof. The Oberhof races host some of the biggest crowds of any winter-sports venues. Numbers are routinely in the tens of thousands. If I’m not mistaken, last year there were roughly 20,000 people in the stands for each of the six world cup races there.

I will wait until the Oberhof world cup is over before I write too much about it. Instead, I should probably recap the last few weeks since I last posted. The results for the last two world cups were not what I would have hoped for but they were also not that bad. I had a 37th place in the opening 10km Sprint race in Hochfiltzen. So far, this has been the high point for the season.

After racing three times in Hochfiltzen, Jeremy and I headed to Pokljuka, Slovenia for World Cup #3. As you can see from the picture, Slovenia is a beautiful country. The town of Bled (where we stayed) is about thirty minutes’ drive from the venue. It has a medium sized lake with a few castles bordering the shore and an ancient church on a tiny island in the middle! All of these structures were definitely around long before any Europeans thought of traveling west to the Americas. That is one thing about Europe – When people refer to something as “old” it usually means several hundreds of years.

Getting back to the update, the Pokljuka Individual 20km was a bittersweet experience. Due to some tricky shooting conditions, I missed three targets in my first prone shooting. As I set out on my second skiing loop, Bernd showed me a magnetic board of my shots – all five of them sitting directly at 3 o’clock on the edge of the hit zone. I had miscalculated the winds and didn’t make the necessary site corrections. After this disappointing setback, I adjusted and hit the next 14 of 15 targets. This pulled me back into the top 50 but it wasn’t enough to get into the top 30. This left me in a typical biathlon situation – If I had taken a few site clicks, conceivably I would be looking at a top 20 finish rather than a top 50 performance.

Christmas skiing with Cait’s cousins. (From left to right) Cait, Molly Dingley, Austin Scholl (brother), Matt Oppenheim, Me.

I returned home, tired and in need of some rest after a grueling three-week racing stint. It was so nice to return home to Cait and Flo (our mutt) and our new house. In my seven-week absence, Cait had really spruced the place up! Rooms were painted, new furniture was in place, and a few cords of wood were stacked outside. It was a great homecoming.

The training conditions were great and I had a lot of fun skiing to the biathlon range from my back door for workouts! It just so happens that our house sits adjacent to the Mt. Van Hoevenberg cross-country and biathlon venue.

Christmas was a wonderful experience in the new place. Lake Placid has almost three feet of snow and looked idyllic on Christmas morning. Cait and I made the rounds to both of our families’ houses and finally ended up at a big Christmas dinner at the Scholl residence.

New Year’s Eve at Austrian Trend Sporthotel in Fieberbrunn, Austria. I can’t quite figure out the significance of the chimney-sweep and chinese chef outfits but they were wishing everyone good luck in the new year.

Sporthotel in the daylight. Beautiful weather in the Austrian Tyrol!

So now, I am training in Hochfiltzen for a few days, enjoying the New Year, and preparing for the Oberhof world cup. My parents, sister, and cousin will be in attendance in the Oberhof crowd and it will be good to have a few American cheers in the German-dominated stadium. I hope all of you are in good spirits. Until next time,

Auf Wiedersehen!



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