Davos World Cup

The transformation that has taken place here in Davos over the last week has been quite amazing! We traveled straight from Lillehammer last Monday to find the Swiss Alps missing what they are so renown for. With only a 1.2km loop so far, and the weather not really being cold enough most of the time to make snow, the organisers had a lot of work to do! Despite all this, they managed to pull it all off.

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Unlike many teams, we don’t have a support team travelling with us for this part of the trip. With no car, this can make things difficult, especially when you decide to do a week’s worth of shopping at one go. No, not our smartest move, but the solution of taking that massive trolley to the other side of the city with us on the bus was just pure genious! So innovative in fact that people were amused and shocked at our creativity….

With solid tracks I was excited to see what sort of result I could produce on Saturday’s 15km classic. After last weekend I have the confidence that I have reasonable shape so went out reasonably hard catching up to and skiing with a lapping Italian athlete. By the top of the climb, I felt the same tightness and ‘stitch’ type pain forming under my ribs as I felt in Lillehammer’s classic race. After the long down It had subsided but quickly returned after another 3-4mins of work. Just like last time, I struggled to control my breathing as the tightness and pain increased. I tried to push through it but as the muscles began to cramp I found myself completely oxygen deprived.

Photo Cred: Marcel Hilger

Photo Cred: Marcel Hilger

It’s strange that it only occurs during maximal intensity in classic. It has to do with possibly a more tense movement, and higher core activation all creating a lot of strain on an area which is obviously not completely recovered. I will try and commence physio treatment this week to help the recovery process, it’s just lucky I can continue with skate racing with no concerns.

View from the top of the Sprint Course

View from the top of the Sprint Course

Sunday’s Sprint was another reasonable result given my poor sprint preparations this season. I placed 88th but the main purpose at this point is to better prepare myself for World Championships. The Team Sprint has always been a bit of a special event for me and Phil, and I intend to not only obtain a start in the event, but also ski to a level that will not let down a solid performance from my team mate.

The great news is that due to a lack of snow, next weekend’s French World Cup that I never intended on competing in has been moved to here in Davos! The events have also been changed to a 15km skate (PERFECT!) and another skate sprint. So Davos 2.0 gives me another shot to try and see how my shape is coming along.

Lillehammer World Cup Mini-Tour

The first World Cup of the season is always a little heavy on the nerves. For me this year it was even worse and with an amazingly tough field here in Lillehammer for the first World Cup mini-tour of the season it only made things worse! Yesterday there were 120 starters – the largest World Cup field I have ever been a part of. For me, with the implications of this years preparations, I have done next to no sprint training what-so-ever. Both Sprint and distance courses here are arguably the toughest on World Cup, the vertical climb is torturous! To place 108th in Friday’s skate sprint in my mind was an ok result, and realistically on par with what I achieved in Sprints last year. After feeling good last weekend I was hoping to put down solid results in the two distance stages to come!

Lillehammer Stadium

Lillehammer Stadium

Fortunately, a tough skate distance course is what I prefer so it got me a little excited to see what I could produce and how close to last year’s form I would be. Amazingly its even better. In terms of percentage and Points, it’s my best 10km result in World Cup and right up there as one of my top 3 distance results. With that I am completely shocked, but happy that the recovery plan has worked so well! In terms of position I climbed the ranks a little placing 99th which gives a little perspective on just how fierce the competition was.

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For Sunday’s 15km classic, I had high aims of climbing further up the field – using the climbs to my advantage! Unfortunately it was disastrous. With snowfalls stopping just before the race, the chosen wax didn’t work. I struggled and continued slipping, each time resulting in severe jarring to my upper abdominal and chest causing the shooting nerve pains I have spoken about. The expenditure from day before along with this was too much and after one lap I began cramping in my diaphragm which hasn’t happened for almost one month. Continuing was out of the question.

Luck doesn’t always go your way, but I am satisfied knowing that I am right back up there with some of the best form I have had in a long time. Phil and I just traveled to Davos Switzerland to prepare for the next World Cup events this weekend. Looking forward to seeing a bit more of the sun here in the Swiss Alps!

Idre Fjäll and A Return to World Cup

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The training leading into the races at Idre remained perfect! Good weather, snow and company! Here are a few of the local reindeer we came across.

2014-11-27 10.28.47Training remained fairly hard throughout the week with the idea that it would place me in better shape for later in the season. The races here were more of a test for the body and to get the feeling of skiing with urgency but maintaining efficiency. The results at this point are not too important. With colder conditions, the snow was exactly what I love to ski on. This colder weather unfortunately however brings out the Philpot’s home-made ‘bulletproofs’ (a.k.a. Windbriefs). To his Mum Ann, this is wonderful craftsmanship as always! The ‘double jock setup’ howeve is just not so visually appealing!

2014-11-28 09.05.33Despite feeling tired earlier in the week, I began to feel better towards the weekend and by Saturday’s Sprint my body was feeling great! It was decided that it would be beneficial for me to do the prologue with the consideration that if I was to start in Lillehammer’s World Cup Mini-tour next weekend, I’d need to have the confidence I could put down a reasonable result. With a complete lack of Sprint training since the start of the Aussie winter, I was obviously slightly concerned about how I would perform. To my surprise, even with a crucial mistake on the bottom corner I sprinted better than I did all last season and made finals for the first time here in Scandinavia. 28th and 9.5s off the winners time with around 110 Points. This was certainly a rewarding surprise and no doubt is completely attributed to technique gains. I stuck to the plan and didn’t start the finals – the goal was achieved and the additional physical stress was not deemed worth it.

Sunday’s 10km skate was just as pleasant of a surprise. Last year I struggled with the fast 10km pace in general so a flat fast course meant it certainly wasn’t my cup of tea! With the focus of urgency and skiing powerfully and efficiently I had some good non-result based goals to work on. I went out hard and somehow my body felt good enough to hold it up for the most part of the race. I placed 18th overall, 1min38s off the winner Anton Lindblad who was a full 30s up on second place! With points blowing out a little, my position showed that it was still one of my better results outside of World Cup. Not sure how my body is feeling so good already but I’m prepared to go with it!

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With another ~90 Point race under my belt and my form feeling better and better Mattias and I made the decision to make a return to World Cup Circuit next weekend in Lillehammer! If you had of asked me 3months ago, I would have said Mattias was crazy and that I wouldn’t be anywhere near returning this early. Sometimes I guess luck is just on your side. Phil also had a great weekend placing 7th overall in the Sprint! Watch out for this guy this season…. www.pbellinghamxc.wordpress.com