First Relay Start

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Ruhpolding, Germany  
Jan. 11, 2008

Here is the post-race interview after the Ruhpolding World Cup Relay yesterday.

Hello to everyone in cyberspace. I’m in Ruhpolding, Germany at World Cup #5. Last night was the first of the three-race series here in Bavaria and it proved to be an exciting night. For the first time, the coaches chose to have me do the starting leg for the men’s relay. In the past, Jay Hakkinen as raced in that slot and I have usually gone on the second leg. It was a little bit different to be on the starting line with 19 other nations, waiting for the gunshot from the start official. To say the least, it was an electric moment. 15,000 people in the Ruhpolding stadium held their breath and then, as the signal shot went off, released an incredible blast of cheering that carried all 20 starters through the main stadium and out onto the course.

It was a lot of fun to be racing neck and neck out of the start and I found myself in a good position coming into the first shooting. I was able to hit all five prone targets and leave the range within contact of the race leaders. During standing, I used one extra round and was out of the range in a pack of three or four skiers from fourth place to around eighth. The last loop was grueling but I was able to stay with the pack and tag off to Jay Hakkinen just behind Sweden.

Jay had a great leg, skiing well, and shooting all of his targets using only one extra round. This put us in fourth position when the tag was handed off to Tim Burke. Tim has been at home training and this was his first race since the Hochfiltzen world cup almost a month ago. He was able to hold his own despite having traveled to Europe only a few days prior to the race. The final leg was handled by Jeremy Teela and he hung on to out-sprint the Czech Republic for an eighth place finish.

The eighth place is encouraging but I think we can do much better as the season progresses. Our main focus of course is the world championships in Ostersund, Sweden – more than one month away. For now, we are happy with the result and looking forward to the next couple of races here in Ruhpolding. We race a Sprint on Saturday and the top sixty competitors from that competition go on to race a Pursuit on Sunday.

I forgot to mention the Oberhof, Germany world cup last week! 22,000 people at each race! It was unbelievable to see that many fanatics of the sport in one arena. My parents, sister, and cousin (George and Elizabeth Bailey, Kendra Bailey, and Greg Hamm) made an admirable trip across the globe to see the competitions and I think they were quite impressed at the magnitude of the crowd. It was great to have the family support with so many German and Norwegian flags waving in the stadium. During the Sprint race there, I was able to clean both prone and standing, something which I had not done in world cup competition since last year’s Lahti, Finland world cup. It was nice to have a good shooting race but I was disappointed with my skiing. I felt flat and I just couldn’t get my body to hit a high race pace. In a field this competitive, it meant that I was pushed back to 46th place by the end of the race. However, I do feel better this week and I hope that I continue in a positive way throughout the coming weeks.

One of the coolest moments in Oberhof was before the Mass Start competition on Sunday morning. I brought my sister out on the course with me to take a few laps. We headed up the first ad biggest hill on the course to be greeted and cheered by around a thousand fans (prepping for the race, more than two hours ahead of the competition). I took out my digital camera and to take a small video and the crowd went crazy. Once they saw they were on camera they brought out their loudest cheers! I hope to post that video on the website soon but it will have to wait until another time. Until then…




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