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Blink 2014 has come to a close. It was an exciting few days and a great addition to the summer training schedule. On Friday, we had the Mass Start competitions in the main downtown venue in Sandnes. This consisted of a 900m loop with an 11-point 50m shooting range and a traffic roundabout penalty loop. The whole stadium was lined with bleachers and it made for an incredible atmosphere.
After a decent run in the qualification rounds, I qualified for the final Mass Start – a nine-lap race with four shootings in the standard Mass Start format. My biggest goal for these competitions was to work on staying focused in the range and hitting targets, even if that meant taking a little more time. In these short races, the field shoots extremely fast on the whole but the average shooting percentage isn’t usually as high as the world cup. I missed one target in each of my first prone shootings and then cleaned the first standing stage. This put me in the lead coming into the final shoot. The crowd was incredible loud as I came down the final stretch and I new Emil and Tarjei were right behind me. This was shaping up to be quite the final stage. I have practiced this type of scenario many times in training, but there is nothing like being in that position in an actual race. I stuck to my game plan and shot in my normal rhythm. The other guys shot quicker, but I cleaned and left the shooting range for the final lap in first place. It came down to a sprint finish between me and Svendsen on the 300-meter final stretch. I tried to match his finish sprint but I couldn’t quite hold on and I ended up in 2nd.
I was psyched with the race and happy to be mixing it up with the top guys in the World Cup field. Yesterday, they held the Super Sprint competitions, consisting of a quarterfinal, semifinal, and final round. Tim and I both made it out of our quarterfinal rounds and were placed in each semifinal. Both of us ended up winning each semifinal, which put us both in the final, 5-lap Super Sprint. After second prone I was leading and Tim was right behind me. It was cool to have two Americans out in front for a big part of the race. By the last shooting, Tim and I were in the lead pack coming in to shoot. I had an ejected round when I tried to load my clip. This was exactly the wrong time for this to happen as the penalty loop is only about eight seconds. I had to hand load my last round as everyone else left the shooting range. I ended up missing that shot which meant I had to run a penalty loop. Tim shot fast and had one as well, leaving stadium in second and hanging on for 3rd. I was 22 seconds off the leader for 6th.
All in all, it was a great few days of competitions. Now we have one day more in Sandnes and it’s off to the Torsby Skitunnel in Sweden on Monday.