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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.