After a rest day yesterday (Friday), it was back to business today with the Freestyle Sprint. With the Russian World Cup Sprint Team taking part, it was a great race to see just how I now compared against some of the best in the World with Olympic champion Kruikov, 2011 World Champs silver medallist Panzminsk and several time World Cup winner Petukhov all racing. The Japanese team once again showed their strength today with Naruse winning the prologue so this resulted in a small but very competitive field. With a new Warm Up routine in place (courtesy of August Teague), I was a little worried about just how I was feeling. During the efforts I felt fatigued and flat, but by the time the prologue started I was feeling right in the zone.
I felt that I skied the prologue much more efficiently and relaxed than what I managed in the Australian Sprint champs a couple of weekends ago. Up the final climb I was completely spent but managed to finish reasonably strong in 9th fastest, 12.2s back off the winner’s time which correlated to a percentage of 6.5% back and FIS points of 94. With this being my second best FIS points ever I am pretty happy with the result. With only 16 going through to the heats, it was pressure time for my quarter final as I would have to beat my rank by one to get through. With probably the only good tactically executed race of my life, I managed to make a pass on the flat section before down and the final climb and made it through to the Semi Finals. With two Russians and the fastest qualifier from Japan in this Semi, combined with this being the fastest Semi, I gave it everything at the beginning of the heat and then once I realised they were simply too strong, I conserved energy for the B final. By the B Final I was really feeling the fatigue, predominantly from the effort I put into that quarter final, however managed to pull through with 3rd which meant a final result of 7th, two places better than what I qualified which is probably a first for me as I usually ski much worse in the heats!
Racing the prologue and then all 3 final races has left me extremely fatigued! As I manage to improve my sprinting each year I feel as though Sprinting is probably often a harder discipline than distance. With each effort being absolutely 100%, the legs in particular are making it very clear just how unappreciative they are of what I put them through today. Hopefully I can get them back in shape for tomorrow’s 10km Freestyle!