I’ve taken a long hiatus from my blogging, because last season was a real mixed bag and a blog post fit for public consumption wasn’t on top of my to-do list. Here are a few photos to encapsulate last year in a nutshell, but anyways…
From mid-October through early November, I spent three weeks in one of the places that terrifies me most: Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah. It is a beautiful place, but there are scary downhills. I was there for a two-week training camp ending with biathlon rollerski races, used to help determine early season IBU Cup and World Cup start spots.
A brief history of my tumultuous relationship with Soldier Hollow. The first time I raced at SoHo, I got into a tangle with anther racer (sorry Kelsey) in a 5k mass start and ended up with a very bloody face. The next two times were less eventful, but last spring we went back for Biathlon Nationals. This time, I did a lot of snowplowing on “Whale’s Tail,” probably the biggest downhill on the course. At the end of that racing week, I learned that we’d be coming back here the next October for rollerski Trials, and I promptly decided that I couldn’t do that and that I ought to quit biathlon right then and there (a huge exaggeration). I was particularly afraid of rollerskiing down Whale’s Tail.
I decided that quitting biathlon because of one downhill wasn’t prudent, so spring and summer full of training came and went, but I didn’t become any less scared of rollerskiing at Soldier Hollow. Finally, we flew out West and went to rollerski at the venue. Teammate Raleigh and I spent the first day going on a “nature walk” on the rollerloop at the venue. When we skied up Hermod’s Hill, I was shocked to see that the pavement only went right, not left down the dreaded Whale’s Tail! The hill that I worried about for seven months didn’t exist! This reminded me of a sports psychologist, Jerry Lynch, that came to Bates to speak to the ski team while I was in college. He taught that FEAR stood for false evidence appearing real, which was very much the case in this situation!
I spent two weeks getting more and more comfortable with the downhills that did exist on the course and continued preparations for the three upcoming rollerski races. I even hit a new max speed of 33.7 mph! I did suffer a slight setback in my rollerski confidence, but that’s not the point of this post. My downhills during the race were nothing to be proud of at all and there’s lots of room for improvement, but they were better than I expected based on my previous seven months of worry.
The first race was a sprint, and I did something that I had never done before-hit all the targets! I was elated, but couldn’t believe I had done that and had to verify with a brief mid-race chat with Alex. I placed 4th, quite solidly my best biathlon result yet. The next day, I cleaned the prone stage and was so excited! Then missed one standing, but was still grinning ear to ear. I was 3rd, or 2nd if you take out Estonian friend/GRP summer athlete Johanna. On the last day, we did a mass start, with 4 shootings and 5 ski loops. The managed to clean both prone stages (no missed prone shots all week!), then missed 1 shot then 2 shots- best 4 stage race shooting to date! This week of racing was the best that I’ve put together and I’m really excited about it. Because of these results, I get to compete at IBU Cups 2 and 3 in Ridnaun, Italy and Obertilliach, Austria next month!
Here a few pictures of the fun that we had during the training camp portion our Utah trip and a few racing photos as well.