I thought I had a great race last Friday in the 7.5 Sprint in Hochfilzen, Austria. Out of the starting gate I went "full gas" around the course, only backing off briefly before the shooting stages to slow my breathing. After missing one in prone, I came into standing knowing that in order to qualify for the pursuit, I would need to shoot well. I only missed one and left the range feeling thrilled. I thought maybe I could finish in the top 40 and score World Cup points. It wasn't until well after the race that I saw the results: 83rd. I couldn't believe it! Based on my 88th rank ski time, I would have had to hit all ten targets to finish in the top 60 to make the pursuit. And just one week earlier I skied the 40th rank time!
|Sun setting on the mountains in Hochfilzen|
|Not natural snow in the valley by the venue, but the mountaintops are covered.|
I think a combination of factors led to this slow skiing. One, my body was not at 100% because I was recovering from a minor cold and a major calorie deficit after the intense week of racing in Ostersund, Sweden. Two, the course played to all my weaknesses; it was very technical (icy with lots of transitions) and predominantly flat, so strong people with finesse on skis glided powerfully around the trail while I flailed without actually moving quickly over the ground. And three, because the course was so flat and the conditions so fast, the time gaps were tiny; feeling even slightly off or taking just one corner wrong meant I lost seconds that translated into places.
For Sunday's relay, in hopes of skiing faster, I made the mistake of trying to push harder, rather than changing the way I was skiing. In fact I was already going full gas in the Sprint, so the only difference on relay day was that I didn't back off at all before the range, and then I missed four standing targets in a row, and ended up with two penalty laps after using all three spare rounds. This was a real bummer considering that I wasn't just messing up my own race, but the whole relay effort.
|Where's all the snow? This is a man-made ribbon of white.|
|My teammates organized this photo in support of|
international agreement at the Paris climate conference.
At least I learned a lot after last weekend. Sometimes after bad biathlon performances I look back and think, "well, that was awful," and there is not much more I can take away. In this instance, however, several things were clear:
- It is certain that I need to back off a little bit before the range.
- "Going harder" is not a good strategy.
- It is not necessarily appropriate to make changes to my race approach based on one result.
What I was doing before was working well, so in the coming weekend's races in Pokljuka, Slovenia, I will go back to those basics.
|Trying to smile after a relay that took it all out of me, mentally and physically!|