To sum up, Gallivare is cold and very dark, but even with these far from comforting factors it’s been quite enjoying skiing and racing here. I arrived on Thursday at mid-day and getting off the plane at -22°C was a bit of a shock, but this was nothing compared with trying to ski later that afternoon. It had cooled down even more (around -25°C) meaning the planned level 3 intervals were quickly dismissed from the schedule. The downhills were brutal on the face and within an hour with some speed work my lungs were already feeling quite sore.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBAZyEA8N6w]Other than this, preparation for the race went well, but the key to success is obviously Muzzy’s (Andrew Musgrave’s) track visualisation techniques – check out the video! An extremely variable indoor climate in the waxing rooms caused a bit of ruckus along with a light jog where we encountered a humorous drunken miner confrontation and witnessed a crazy man running from someone who came inches from becoming road-kill.
Race day gave us dropping temperatures that started at -5°C but soon feel to around -11°C by the end of the race. For the first lap I felt quite strong with good speed and recovery on the downhills. Once the 2nd lap come around however everything changed. It was not really the usual feeling of muscle fatigue and pain, but more a lethargic, weak feeling. I had the mental determination there, just no spark. For the third and final lap I found a little more but was still not the kick that I was craving for. I shouldn’t be too dissatisfied as the past few weeks of training have been quite intense and for my first race of the season I should be content with the result as it was decently better than last’s years first race in the Norwegian Cup in Beitostolen. At the finish I placed 99/104 with 105 FIS pts. British skier and track visualisation master Andrew Musgrave gave the field a decent work over with 52nd and Noah Hoffman from USA just missing on WC points in 31st. I should thank Christer and the team at SkiGo for their efforts this weekend as I was very happy with my ski speed.
As any athlete however I am seeking improvement so it has further increased my urge to race and see what I am capable of, however I need to keep in mind that the main goal is the Tour de Ski and World Championships which are a long way into the season. I look forward to another 2 weeks of hard training before Dusseldorf on the 4th of Dec for my first World Cup Sprint start.