New Zealand Continental Cup Race 2:

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!

New Zealand Continental Cup Race 1

Today’s race was the third race of the Australian / New Zealand Continental Cup Series with the 15km classic Mass start. Travel to NZ went very smoothly this year, with no loss of baggage which is always a huge positive and the race preparation training yesterday felt really good which has led to a building of confidence in my form. Unfortunately, good preparation for the event ended there, with one of the worst night’s sleep I’ve had in years leading to me feeling far from fresh!Gradually I got myself going and in the right frame of mind, but this was all made the more difficult given the tough waxing conditions. A tough klister or a soft stick wax was the question, in the end I went the faster stick option which was, in the end, not so fast. The problem with soft wax in abrasive conditions is that it gets ripped off very easily and today I learnt this the hard way!

I had a great start and this was essential as it was a mass start with only one classic track the whole way round the 5km course due to a lack of snow. Being at the back would surely mean dealing with a constant concertina effect which is about as enjoyable as driving a heavy truck in traffic. So when I say I got a good start, I mean to say I was in front, for most of the first lap in fact. I let the No.1 ranked Russian take the lead for some work on the second lap and that was all fine. I was sitting comfortable and relaxed, however could feel my grip fading very fast. By the last lap, and with a bit of a mishap on a fast corner, I managed to tear almost all the remaining wax from my base. This unfortunately came at the same time as the guys at the front began to pile on the power that little bit more. Being restricted to herringbone running the steeper hills and double poling the rest, I lost 1min 46 to the winner Maciej Kreczmer by the finish. A decent result considering the dilemmas with 4.5% back and 105FIS points but disappointing as I knew it could have been so much better!

Good news is that I still believe that my form and confidence is on the rise so with a Skate Sprint and 10km individual start skate to come, I look forward to see what I can pull out!