Once again, I find myself in beautiful Oslo, ready to race the 10km Sprint at IBU World Cup #7. It has been a whirlwind season yet again and I can’t believe we only have three more world cups to go. It seems like we were just in Ostersund awaiting the start of the season.
That being said, it has been a great season, albeit full of ups and downs, but I’m happy with my overall performance and I’m looking forward to the final leg of the tour. World Champs was a success for the whole team, the highpoint being Tim’s silver medal performance in the Individual – the first American WCH medal since Josh Thompson’s silver in 1987.
For me, Nove Mesto was a solid World Champs and I think it’s important to look at the positive side of my races there. With two 13th places, it represents my most successful World Champs to date. I shot clean in the Pursuit, my first clean four-stage World Cup race, and moved up from 32nd to 13th with the 4th fastest split time of the day. Nevertherless, I did come away wanting more. I suppose that is a good thing. If I was satisfied, I think that would signal that perhaps my career was nearing the end. Instead, I came away from Nove Mesto with a bittersweet mix of emotions, and a burning desire to make that tiny, yet excruciatingly difficult, last step to the podium.
It’s one thing to execute a perfect race in training. It’s another to do that in a World Cup environment. At this day and age, with the depth of the international World Cup field, it requires nothing short of perfection. In the Nove Mesto Mass Start, I raced a perfect race until the final stage. Other than that brief point where two targets didn’t go down, I had the perfect race. I was at the front, in third, within striking distance of the podium. But so were about fifteen other biathletes – and perfection is a tough thing to attain in biathlon. I missed two and raced to 13th, a great result… but not perfect.
And so here I am in Oslo. I’ve replayed that race, that stage, about a thousand times over the last week, and those targets are a lot easier to hit when they are in your mind! But, I can say this: I have never been more motivated, more hungry, more decided about where I am and where I want my career to go. Now I must put my faith in hard work, patience, and of course, as is always the case with biathlon, a little bit of luck!
I’ll finish with this: Part of the individual athlete’s motivation, drive, and focus arise from the environment he or she is placed in. We, as US biathletes, are fortunate in this regard, extremely so. From ski selection to wax, coaching to logistics, stonegrinding to apparel, we are given everything we need to succeed. Thanks to all of my coaches, sponsors, and teammates for making this past World Champs truly the best WCH experience of my career!
Here’s to the rest of the season!