Tahoe Training and West Yellowstone Race Report

I’ll admit straight away that I have been super lazy with the updates on this trip so far but hopefully I will make up for it with the Pure Awesomeness of the post that follows!

So a lot has happened between now and the last post – most good but some unfortunate.

A very cold over distance ride above Tahoe City

Over the 4 weeks that we were in Tahoe, around 3 weeks of those were on snow with another 2 storms coming through and topping up the cover of white stuff. It was in that 1 week of no snow that Paul-Break-a-Pole-Kovacs managed to lose his title, not by his own doing, but through my unfortunate incident. As a result of day-time temperatures of around 23C (which was amazingly pleasant to ski in shorts again) the snow melted out and we were back on the rollerskis. Most of the rollerskiing was done down the road from Truckee at a place called Boca where there are some pretty gnarly downhills, but plenty of cracks in the road which are probably large enough for small rodents to fall into! Anyway, I managed to land my pole directly into this crack on a fast section which ripped me around, snapped my first pole, and sent me to wash off the rest of the speed with a large amount of arm and knee-to-road friction resulting in another broken pole. So after a period, I’ve gotten up and am cutting circles trying to walk off the pain, PK is taking off his shirt to absorb some sunshine while he waits and one of the other athletes who we have been training with, Gus, is presumably practicing his dance moves….This is the seen that August sees as he comes rolling down the hill towards us thinking ‘what are these clowns doing now!’ Finally he sees what has really happened and is the unfortunate one to have to freeskate up the big climb as he kindly donates his poles to me to finish the session. The unfortunate thing was that it was such a great session otherwise, broken up into a 1.5hr ski then 1.5hr run in beautiful sunshine.

This crash got me pretty nervous for the whole next week as the swelling of my knee refused to go down and pain was increasing as I tried to continue training a full load on it. Luckily it decided to finally give me less grief ruling out the possibilityof a cracked knee cap. With training not really limited too badly by this issue, I feel a continued to make good gains and from the results of the two time-trials we did with Far West Nordic, it seemed like I was on track to some good form! The only other real set back was a result of a severe poling of my boot during a skate session in classic boots – a session designed to help increase stability and ski control. I poled my boot so hard that the sharp tip went through the boot and quite deep into my foot! Not sure if this has ever been done before, but as you can see, a decent puncture wound into a muscle on my foot which refused to stop bleeding for a whole night.

Getting back to the good stuff, Thanksgiving and my newly attained Pumpkin Pie baking skills has definitely suited my ‘eat more – train more’ approach. We also hosted an Aussie take on Thanksgiving which consisted of none other than your typical homemade meat pie! The crew of athletes we have gotten to know over the last few weeks certainly seemed to enjoy this new concept!

Last weekend we traveled to West Yellowstone for the opening US Supertour races. Unfortunately, similar to the rest of the US, early snow was scarce in West which meant that the races were held on the road up on the plateau. The new elevation that we raced at was around 2500m which certainly hurts the lungs and makes pacing much more difficult. To make matters worse for me, both the distance and sprint races were changed to very fast, flat and minimal rest courses as a result of being held on a road as apposed to a proper race course. Traditionally I hate these types of courses and often find steeper climbs the place where I can mentally relax. Over the last half year I have really focused on making my flat skiing faster and more efficient and it appears to have had some effect! I placed 29th overall in the distance, 1min 23s off the lead over 9km resulting in FIS points of 81. The sprint on the other hand was a different story. I felt  flat and paced it horribly resulting in around 60th place and 25s off the lead. I’m therefore looking forward to seeing what I can do on a proper sprint course with some big hills!

‘In the zone’ – Pre-race
Pk, making sure people are on the cautious side…. his old man would be proud!

We have now arrived in Canmore, CAN (after another 13hr drive) and the scene is incredible. The Rocky Mountains are spectacular, however what is more impressive to me is the size and steepness of the climbs here. After all, these trails were used for the Calgary Winter Olympic Games which means they are right up there with the toughest on the World Cup Circuit. Dry snow, big climbs and good rest – Right up my ally! Bring on this weekend’s NorAm races and the following World Cups!