That’s the sport.

Wow… wow!   Really.  I don’t really  have a good word for it right now…  but I’ve been grinning like a fool for the past 6 hours!  Like a huge ridiculous fool.

Today was a good day.  It was sunny and warm and the wind that seemed relentless and horrifying yesterday ceased.  They were pumping fun music in the stadium, it felt like spring.  Now that’s a dangerous thought!

The combination of white snow, no trees, white targets, and the bright sun meant you had to be careful not to go blind.  Actually we had to make sure to take our glasses off early enough before the range to give our eyes a chance to adjust before trying to shoot!

I headed out onto course in the bib number 118.  The Senior women got the normal numbered bibs (starting at 1) because their race was broadcasted live on EuroSport.  Not only was it bib 118 it was a men’s bib!  They gave all the men the women’s bibs and the women the men’s bibs!  It looked silly on the women, because they were so huge…but I felt bad for whichever big Austrian boy had to race in mine!

I’ve been feeling a little silly in the first 1km of all my races here.  A little spastic and all over the place.  but once again I was able to calm myself down and use a little better form than merely flailing my limbs wildly.  I actually went out too hard for the first part of the first 2.5km loop.  Coming through the first check point I had a big time gap on all the starters before me, but luckily our wax tech was on course and got me to slow down so I wouldn’t blow my first shooting stage.  I came in, settled down and cleaned my prone targets.  Prone has been going really well recently which is super exciting!  I headed out onto course and tried to keep myself from skiing too fast.  (now that sounds silly) The goal is for me to hit targets and since standing has been going so horribly we’ve been trying to have me ski the loops before my standing shooting more conservatively.  Its not perfect yet but I settled down enough to hit 3 of my 5 targets…and for me that’s pretty darn stellar.  I hurried off to the penalty loop to do my time and took off onto course again.

The third lap was challenging.  I was starting to feel tired and my right hand was going all tingly because my cuff was cutting off circulation.  I had a great coaching staff and team mates out on course yelling at me to give it everything I had….and I sure tried!  I came across the line slobbery and crumpled into a mess on the snow.

It wasn’t the perfect race but it was pretty darn close today!  I finished in fourth and only had to watch my name drop two spots while the rest of the girls finished.  Everyone was really excited for me, it was a little surreal. Other athletes, other coaches, team mates, it was pretty darn awesome.  I got to cool down and cheer during the women’s race and wait for our flower ceremony to begin.  In biathlon the top 8 are considered the podium.  Not only did I get to do the flower ceremony right after the races but they had an award ceremony tonight in the big party tent.  The top three were awarded their European Championship medals and the entire top 8 was awarded flowers and a funky wooden trophy!  I’m still not quite sure the best way to get that one home!

Biathlon is a funky sport.  Two funky sports and anything can happen.  Today was one of those days where things sort of came together for me.  My skiing was pretty solid and my shooting tied my best performance ever on the range!  I can’t really ask for much more.  Hopefully in the future I will have more good days.  I know there will days of good skiing and bad shooting and even good shooting and bad skiing…but the days where things come together are that much better because of that fact.

We have one last race here in Europe before we fly out of munich on monday morning.  Tomorrow afternoon, the last race of the day, will be my second true pursuit.  I’ll be starting in 6th position. 49 seconds behind the leader. 10 seconds behind 5th. and only 1 second ahead of 7th and 8th.  Anything can happen tomorrow.  We have 10km and 4 shooting stages…thats a lot of “race” to be had.  All I can do is try my best.  Hope to hit my targets, and never give up fighting on the skis.

I’ll try to get a quick post in tomorrow afternoon after we pack the ski room up and before the festivities commence!  Here’s to another exciting last 48 hours in Europe!!!

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