All of a sudden half of the season has gone by and I haven’t sat down to write any sort of blog, so here’s a wee update. January started off with some promising results at the Tour de Ski, both in the sprint where I moved up considerably on my ranking, and in the mass start in which I managed to move up a few places, but more importantly held ground on many of the more highly ranked skiers from bigger ski nations, whom I hope to be competing for positions with another year of full time training under my belt.
I jumped ship after the second stage, leaving for Slovenia to race at the continental cup the following weekend. Racing can be pretty draining, both mentally and physically, but leaving all my thermals and t shirts in the hotel room at the tour set a new standard for post race dopiness (possibly even outdoing the time I fell asleep wearing my jacket, ski boots and rucksack after my first ever world cup, much to my teammate’s amusement!)… but thankfully I had deodorant and I couldn’t really sweat much without any thermals in minus 10 anyway.
Planica just worked for both myself and teammate Annika, we both pulled out races worth writing about and convincingly scored the FIS points we needed to qualify for the Olympics next year (there is more to the qualification than this, but I’ll hopefully meet this soon). For my part it was a relief to finally just feel like I could get absolutely everything out, hold my technique mostly together, and finish feeling like I could give absolutely no more on that given day. Thomas sorted out great skis and I had a support team of both my coach, Roy (who was hitting the throat lozenges pretty hard by Sunday) and several foreign but friendly faces chasing me round and giving splits.
After Planica it was back to Lillehammer, racing and tapering is great, but doing too many weekends back to back doesn’t do wonders for fitness and form over a whole season, so it was time to train! In a race week I’ll typically cut down both the number and length of sessions, dropping the hours down to about 14 or 15, sometimes even fewer for a big race. It felt good to get a couple of 20+hr weeks and some good quality sessions in whilst at “home”. I’m still getting used to just being able to ski from the door, scraping ice off both the inside and outside of my car multiple times a day whilst simultaneously still being able to walk round in a t-shirt in my insulated apartment… it was thermals and sometimes salopettes from October to March to avoid hypothermia in my Marchmont flats!
Being a skier, despite all the complications and faff storms you come come across as a disorganised Brit, boils down to a pretty simple lifestyle of training, sleeping and eating (all in copious quantities). Leaving quite a lot of free time, particularly compared to what I was used to whilst trying to combine it with an engineering degree, so I’ve started a couple of (highly ambitious) little projects to keep myself occupied… Being totally unmusical but having an ever growing appreciation for music, I’ve started trying to learn to play the guitar, possibly an insurmountable task but I’m having a crack! I’m also making an effort to read a lot of books written by people with considerably more brain cells than myself, instead of resorting to too many TV series. I’m going to try and write a little review/precis of each on my blog, under the “what I’m reading” tab. Not sure my English teacher at school was really convinced it was worth letting me sit the standard grade exam so these could be a good laugh!
This season’s big goal, the World champs in Lahti, Finland are only a couple of weeks away now. Currently I’m back up in Livigno with Andrew Musgrave for a final altitude boost. We have it pretty good here with 30km of tracks just a 2 minute walk from the hotel, friendly waiting staff who are always trying to feed us dessert (my resistance isn’t always that convincing) and great food.. although I wouldn’t recommend an Italian “curry”. I think their take on Indian cuisine could be even more blasphemous than the British addition of red dye and mystery meat. Following some complaints from the other guests we’ve even had our clothing washed for us!