New Zealand Conti Cup Race 2

Unfortunately the amazing weather came to an end for Sunday’s race – the 1.5km Freestyle Sprint. This was just the start to quite a very uncommonly fierce storm. Snow fell quite heavily Sunday morning however the temp at around -9°C was quite an irregular occurrence in this part of the world. Luckily the wind remained very light for the duration of the racing however this was about to change in a big way!

Warming up before the time trial was quite concerning as the fatigue built up from Saturday’s classic race was being felt in full force! After completing a short 1min30s effort and feeling quite lactic and generally sore I was not expecting big things at all, however after this I began to relax more and gradually began feeling remarkably better. My Time Trial was decent, and I certainly worked to my complete capacity, however probably the most satisfying part of it came in the finishing straight where I felt much more controlled and efficient than I normally would with legs overflowing with Lactic Acid. This has been a huge problem for me to overcome and I now feel as though I am gradually improving in this area which feels great. I posted a time some 19s off the winner’s time – Simeon Hamilton (USA) which gave me 122 FIS points and 12th rank. Phil Bellingham also skied well, a further 6s off my time but only one position behind in 13th.

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NZ Continental Cup Race 1

It’s been a while since my last update, however as indicated in my last post, whenever university is involved in my life, spare time hits an all-time low. This semester I have taken a similar approach to last year and have restricted myself to the one subject. To any university student, this sounds unbelievably convenient however I can confidently say that studying Maths by correspondence is no easy task. It takes me honestly 2-3 times longer that it would take a normal student who actually attends class. I find this incredibly frustrating, however I should realise that life is good – I don’t have to travel to Sydney each week and I’m up on snow training every day so it would be disrespectful to all university students to be seen complaining!

With this studying arrangement I have managed to put together some very consistent and effective weeks of training.  This year I have altered my training plan slightly with a higher focus on the European season.  As a result, there is minimal race preparation for these Southern Hemisphere races and a strong focus on maintaining the strength and volume aspects of my training. Last week, in an attempt to prepare just a little for this weekend of racing in NZ, I completed my first lactic acid tolerance interval set for quite a few months and this definitely allowed me to notice that I am not in top racing form at the moment. I have done this session quite a few times over the past year and a half, however it was a lot tougher than I ever remember and it was incredible to feel the full lactic experience again. In general however, my overall fitness feels really good and this has been reflected in my results so far this year in Australia.

For me, everything has gone extremely smoothly here in NZ so far. This is not the case for team mate Phillip Bellingham who has had an inconvenient experience with some lost baggage – this being his ski bag containing near enough to everything he had taken for the trip! You would think that for a trip from Melbourne to Sydney then onto Queenstown (NZ) you would be pretty safe in betting on having your bags at the other end, but it amazes me how frequently it simply doesn’t! I’m going to say however that I was most inconvenienced by this far from ideal situation – As anyone who knows Phil, or as his most commonly used name (Philthy) suggests, he is not the kind of guy you want to be lending out your thermals to! No, I shouldn’t be too harsh, but the vast difference in leg width has meant my best pair of thermal pants are a good three sizes bigger as a result!

As always, the food here up at Snowfarm is by far the best bulk produced goods I have ever tasted and it certainly feels awesome to be skiing on some really nice snow once again. It has stayed cold and sunny for the entire time so far, making it perfect for classic skiing, however this is about to change over the next few days. I should also thank NZ athlete Andy Pohl for letting us stay in his ‘shed’ which is actually quite accommodating despite what the name suggests. We even have two top of the line Porsche supercars parked in the front room which we have spent the odd hour or two sitting in and admiring. The keys sitting in the centre console has been a ridiculously tough temptation to shake off! Andy is also training hard and lives in Canada where he studies and competes. He also writes a blog which is close to an equivalent Kiwi version of what you read here so check it out at: www.andrewpohl.com !

Today’s race was the 15km mass start. There is an extremely competitive field here this year with World Cup Teams from Canada (including Oslo World Champs Alex Harvey and Devon Kershaw), USA, Russia (including 2 Olympic Medallists), Korea, and Japan. As a result, the FIS point penalty was minimum at 15 allowing for some good points to be up for grabs. I had the best Mass start race of my career and this was helped largely due to perfect skis. I don’t mean to pump up my own tyres by any means, however we managed to nail both the grip and glide which is a very rewarding feeling when you have waxed your own skis and almost everyone else has wax technicians. I held onto the lead pack for the first 12km, at which point they upped the paced dramatically leaving me in huge amounts of pain simply trying to lose as little time as possible. At the finish I was 1min 28s (~3.8% and 68FIS Pts) off the winner (Kris Freeman USA) in 12th overall and 1st Australian/New Zealander. Phil had a good race finishing 20th overall (4th AUS/NZ) also with good glide, but a bit light on with the grip. It was such a good feeling for me to be able to keep with these guys who are literally some of the best in the world right now and I am excited to see what results I can produce in the next two races. Tomorrow we have the freestyle sprint, then a rest day on Monday, followed by the 10km freestyle on Tuesday.

Thanks for reading and will update you on our progress over the next couple of days.