My last race at World Championships was the women's 4x6k team relay. It marked the third time that Susan, Hannah, Annelies and I competed as a foursome in the event, in that order. The first two times we placed 12th and 18th, and both times I had two penalty laps in standing. It is crucial to stay out of the penalty loop in the relay because for each shooting stage you have the five bullets in your magazine plus three spares you can hand-load if needed, and if you use eight bullets and still haven't hit all five targets, that's bad; you not only have to ski the penalty lap but you've already taken 10-20 seconds to shoot each spare.
|Our relay team with our biggest fans- my brothers!|
L-R: me, Hannah, Graham, Annelies, Susan, Guy
Susan got our team off to a great start, with the fastest ski time from the first leg, and used only two spares in prone and zero in standing to tag Hannah in 3rd out of twenty-five teams. Hannah had to use five spares and tagged off in 11th. Annelies kept the team in 11th, using two spares in each stage. She tagged off to me, right in front of Sweden, one of the teams we were trying to beat in the season-long Nation's Cup.
I got off to a strong start: I cleaned prone and left the range in 8th place! Out on course I think I passed at least one team and came into shoot standing around 7th place, leading a train of teams. Then came the moment of reckoning: would I end up in the penalty loop like I had in the other relays?? I missed two shots out of five on my first pass. I was taking a lot of time on the range and some of the other teams had already shot clean and left the range, but I tried to stay focussed on shooting my spares. I had three spares for two targets. I hit the first one! Then I missed the second one! So I had to hit my last spare in order to stay out of the penalty loop. I took my time and I HIT the last target. After using all three spares and shooting pretty slowly, I left the range in 13th (you see, it really is better to hit all five on the first pass).
|View of the lake "Kontiolahti" with some Czech fans in the foreground|
Heading out for my final lap, I was about five seconds behind Poland, and twenty-five behind Austria and Canada. I passed Poland, and was gunning for the next two teams! Our coaches were screaming at me and I was skiing my heart out and trying to maintain hope that I could catch them. In the finishing stretch I crossed the line .8 of a second behind Austria and a few more behind Canada. I wish I could have brought us into 10th, but as a team we were happy to tie our season-best performance of 12th place, and although we used too many spares (eleven total), we all managed to stay out of the penalty loop. It was a very exciting race for me. I have so much work to do this summer but I am so excited to improve with the goal of doing even better on the World Cup next winter.
We did not beat Sweden in the relay, but we managed to stay in 15th place overall in the Nation's Cup score, which means our team will have four start spots for women again on the World Cup next season. If we had been 16th place, we would only have been allocated three spots. As the fourth woman on the team right now, this is a big deal for me! It is always better not to be on "the bubble", so both individually and as a team I/we will work towards being farther ahead in the rankings next year.
|L-R Hannah, me, Annelies and Susan, with our head women's coach, Jonne|
As a season finale, I am now in Truckee, CA competing at US National Championships. Susan and Hannah are at World Cup finals in Siberia (both racing in the mass start tomorrow, Sunday 3/22!!) and Annelies closed out her season at World Championships. Without those three women here, the "National Champion" crown doesn't tell the whole story, but I earned it in both our races here this weekend.
World Championships Highlights Photo Gallery
|Carrying the flag at the Opening Ceremony|
|Russian fans with great hats|
|Sunset over "the wall" on course in Kontiolahti|
|Graham's arrival in Finland!|
Guy came one day late with a new passport!!!
|Graham rep'ing the U-S-A!|
|Graham in his stars and stripes cheering shorts|
|The best part of World Champs for me- Guy and Graham on course!!!|
|Guy, Graham and I|
|Sunset on World Champs with the Stars & Stripes|