Another One in the Books

I finished out the season this weekend with what I think will be my two final races of the year!  We had a pursuit on saturday and a mass start on sunday.  The races got longer and longer as the week went on progressing from a 7.5km to our final race which was 12.5km…but so did my shooting!  I mean…it progressed!  from 60%…than 65%…than 80%!  It wasn’t a bad way to end the year.

Saturday’s race was one of the nicest skiing days we had all week.  It was sunny and the tracks were fast.  It wasn’t a true pursuit as we used a standardized interval start of 5seconds between each skier, but 5seconds is nothing.  We were all out on course in no time, the game of chase was on!  I got a little too excited to chase and came into the range a little too hot…and so my penalty loops began.  2 in both my prone stages, and then 1miss and 2misses in my standing stages.  All in all it wasn’t terrible, actually shooting 70% standing was huge for me…I haven’t hit that many standing targets since Junior Trials!  I won the Junior women’s race…but mostly I enjoyed teasing the youth men.  You see we raced the same distances as the boys for the first two races.  You have to keep those kids on their toes, and of course none of them like to lose, much less to me!

Sunday morning we woke up to rain.  Yep more of the wet stuff.  I pulled on my snowpants once more and oumpalumpaed around the course until race time.  I don’t mind skiing around in my snowpants, what I found in Ruhpolding is that they keep me really warm which is really nice for my legs before I head out onto course.  When I slipped them off before heading to the start pen steam was rising off my tights!  The junior women started together with the senior women which was a lot of fun.  I look up to a lot of those girls so its fun to rub elbows with them every once and a while.  We took the first loop pretty easy.  I found that although I don’t mind skiing behind people I struggle to ski in a group, I can follow, but it drives me crazy when people ski right behind me…I’ll have to work on this.  I felt too antsy and so part way through I thought, “What the heck!” and took the lead.  I think they all got a kick out of it…perhaps something along the lines of, “Sure let the junior lead, silly kid!”  Sure enough I came into the range first and got to take the first point.  I’m a slower shot and so most of the women got off their first rounds before me….but I let myself settle and hit all 5 targets, one at a time.  I left the range on the heals of two of the senior women who also cleaned.  After passing one of the Barnes twins I tried to track down the leader before we came back into the range.

When I came into shoot, there she was on her mat.  I got down, settled, and once again…they all went down!!  Two clean stages!!  I took off onto course, and until most of the way through the loop I had no idea I was leading the women’s race!  Crazy!  I came into shoot in second getting overtaken out on course, bummer.  I’ve been struggling with standing alot recently and my legs were tired from racing and the wet heavy slop of snow we had to race through.  I missed two in both of my standing stages.  Getting bumped into 4th in the seniors women’s race on the range in the last bought of shooting.  They charged out onto course as I skied my penalties.  I could see Susan and Tracy through the trees on the climbing section and wished I was skiing with them instead of by myself!  They took off and although I gained a little time back on tracy it wasn’t enough to overtake her.  After the race Susan said that they had seen me through the woods and thought, “Crap she’s coming for us!”  it really was the icing on the cake.

I had a big stupid grin on my face for the next hour or so until finally I got so cold even in dry clothes and several jackets that I couldn’t keep myself from shaking!

Soon enough I was loaded up, coffee and a cookie in hand, and on the road once more.  My car was pointed towards home and I was happy to be going that direction at last.

Its been warm throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota for the past week, and with the rain we’ve lost a lot of snow… Spring is right around the corner…right?  Pretty sure its suppose to be anyway.  According to the weather we are in for a Blizzard/Winter Storm warning from tuesday morning until wednesday morning.  Aw Shucks, Gee Dangit!  So although my mind has already drifted to far away tropical lands, to beaches and bathing suits I might find myself shoveling snow drifts again.  Much sooner than I had hoped.

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Rolling with it.

If there has been one thing  biathlon has taught me this year its to just “roll with it”.   In the sport, in races, on the trails, on the range, off the trails. Thank you biathlon.  In this sport there are so many variables, so many things that can go wrong.  Rifle malfunctions, hand loading spare rounds, snow packed boots and bindings, weird waxing, equipment checks, broken poles, zeroing points, crazy weather, wind, sun, rain, snow, trail conditions, starting spots, bizarre, bizarre, bizarre!  Much of which is out of my control.  And so what have I learned?

Simply.  To let it be.  To roll with it.  To go with the flow.  To just be and do.  To not worry.

All and all its made me a much happier and a much better racer.

And so when it started to rain on my way to the race venue on thursday I was ready for it.  I hoped out of the van and pulled on my snow pants (they happen to be the most water proof of my clothing).  After racing in Germany the rain didn’t really bother me. Instead of thinking, “Ugh this sucks! Mew Mew mew!”  I thought, “BRING IT ON!!!”

The conditions weren’t great.  The trails definitely got slower and slower with each lap as they got sloppier and sloppier and more and more destroyed.  I just kept charging through the slop, nothing you can do right?  You just kind of had to go with it.  I almost took myself out a few times, it seems that as the conditions get sloppier their is a direct correlation to my technique getting sloppier!  Oops!

Shooting went okay.  I had one miss in prone and three in standing.  Standing shooting (or off-hand shooting) has really been a struggle for me throughout the later part of the season, but hopefully I will hit a few more targets in the races this weekend!  I felt okay on the skis.  I haven’t been feeling like myself recently after a very rough transition back to the US.  Training hasn’t been ideal the last two weeks, my inability to sleep finally took a toll on my body and I spent much of last week under the weather.  Not ideal, but once again…you just kind of have to roll with it.

I won the Junior race by a solid margin, but I adore the gal that took second and made sure to give her a big hug when we got on the podium!  (Andrea if you read this, I do truly adore you and plan on hugging you again tomorrow)

We have a pursuit format race tomorrow with four shooting stages…and for once I’m looking at it with a positive spin.  Normally these are considered much more of a shooters race and I always go “Dang just more targets for me to miss!” but for the first time I’m actually really excited…four stages just means more chances to hit targets!  What a turn of events!!  Hopefully I won’t spend too much time in the penalty loop tomorrow, but who knows what will happen, I will just have to take it one target at a time.

Fish fry tonight!  That just screams, “ITS ALMOST SUMMER!”  trying to keep it together for a few last races but my mind is set on shorts and spring dresses….and birthdays!  and sandals!  Oh how I miss sandals!

Could it be?

Yes.  Yes it could be.  Yes it is.  I’m sitting here in Grand Rapids once again…except it is 50 whole degrees warmer than the last time I was here!!! 50 degrees!  Its 40F currently, and it seems the forecast is going to hold steady for the rest of the week.

We are currently gearing up for the final races of the year, US Biathlon Nationals.   There are a few races in other parts of the country that go through early April but this has been a really big, but long and tiring, year for me so I will be sitting those out.

I made the journey north on sunday, this time with a friend from Hayward!  One of my little ski girls is here for the US Biathlon recruitment camp, which conveniently enough I am helping coach!  I’m not really an “official coach” but with a bunch of female athletes coming in for the camp the guys running the camp felt it would be good to have a female coach along.  The word “chaperone” has been thrown around a little, but the thought of me chaperoning a bunch of teenagers is pretty entertaining.

More and more teams and athletes are starting to arrive each day…but its nothing like Europe of course!  The fields won’t be very big, there won’t be crowds and cheering fans, we won’t get wonderful competition breakdowns, but it will still be fun.  We have a sprint coming up on thursday, a pursuit format race on saturday, and then a mass start on sunday!

I’m excited to finish the season out with some fun races on I guess what could be called home turf.  One last hoorah and then some much needed rest and relaxation.  You know things like dentist appointments and wisdom tooth extractions! I think I’ve finally coaxed my camera back to life so I’ll try to get some pictures up later this week.

Around the World! (and some closer to home)

So I don’t really have any exciting news from Hayward… but let me share some awesome things currently taking place!

I’ll start with the one furthest away from my little speck on the map.  Biathlon World Championships are currently in full swing right now in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia.  Yep that’s in Siberia.  2,000 miles east of St. Petersburg.  That’s way out there!    From what I’ve heard its cold, windy, but the sun has been shinning…always the silver lining.

The US Men and Women have been hunkered down there for over a week and besides some questionable food everyone seems to be withstanding the tundra and all its thrown their way.  All four of the men made the pursuit (only the top 60 make the pursuit from the sprint results) and two of the women.  They’ve had some mixed results, some good shooting, some good skiing, some world cup points scored… all in all I think there are lots of positives the whole team will be able to take away from all the races this Championships and this season.

I guess the only thing I found disappointing was that the coaches/service mens relay did not compete!  Apparently they changed the time of the race and our two man team showed up late, tisk tisk tisk.  A little Russian miscommunication I guess!  Hopefully next year our IAC will have their business in order.

Lastly but not Leastly (?)  I am super proud of one boy.  Who posted some of the best results of his very young World Cup Career, tripled his world cup points, and qualified for his first mass start (that’s right bib number 27)!!!  Now he doesn’t update his blog very often, he’s quite and modest, but if you hound him he might?  You can follow him here.

You can follow live results and watch race footage here.

And you can read all about the US team here.  (there is even an article about my podium from European Championships)

 

Nextly.
NCAAs are about to get going across the country in Stowe Vermont!  The top 39 men and 39 women (I know 39 what a weird number) in the collegiate ski circuit will be represented there.  I’m a little bias and will be rooting for the Western (RMISA) athletes, especially my old team mates from Montana State University.  Go Bobcats!  21 schools will be represented there and there should be some fierce competition.  The men and women will compete in an individual 5/10km skate race on wednesday and a 15/20km mass start classic race on friday.

You can follow results here.

(MSU ski team, bobcat pride!)

 

 

Finally.  and closest to home…. Junior Olympics!
As I am no longer considered a junior in the ski community I will not be attending these races this year.  but they are conveniently located in Minneapolis!  That’s right this year the Midwest is hosting the week long event.  The top junior athletes, ages 14-19, will be in attendance!  The races kicked off last night with skate sprints.  I’m really jealous as they got to run all the heats at night, in the dark, under the lights!  Most importantly the Midwest Juniors kicked some serious tail!

Here are some of the top Midwest finishes:

J2 Women:  Nichole Bathe 5th.
J1 Men (OWNED!!!):  Andy Dodds 2nd, Kevin Bolger 3rd, Ben Saxton 4th, Dylan McGarthwaite 6th.
OJ Women:  Jessie Diggins 1st, Elizabeth Simak 3rd, Jordyn Ross 7th, Libby Ellis 8th.
OJ Men:  Ben Hugus 3rd.

After that performance yesterday the Midwest is sitting pretty in 2nd for the Alaskan Cup (Best Region)…I think the MW generally like to finish 4th so we’ll see what happens this week!  You can follow along all week at the events website: www.jo2011.com

(The J1 boys stormed the podium l-r Dylan, Andy, Ben, and Kevin. photo by f/go photography)

Then and now, now and then.

Being home is always nice.  I can’t complain.  Asides from a little wind and cold when I first arrived back in the midwest its been beautiful.  We’ve gotten sunshine and temperatures in the mid 20s all week and the Birkie trail is immaculate right now.   The trail is hard packed and fast.  The classic tracks are solid and I’ve had some of the best classic skis of the season this past week!  (I really think my classic form is coming together nicely)

Maybe it was the perfect tracks or the combination of kickgoop and pine needles on the bases of my skis…what ever it was it was working, and I have been loving it.  Normally classic skiing and I only get along when its pretty darn cold out.  You know when it gets so cold skate skiing is impossible.  That is when classic skiing and I get along.  As an old coach of mine would say, “Its so cold today even Corrine get kick!”  Yep.  but let me tell you its been in the 20s all week here and I have been kicking with ease.  With such ease I remembered how much I really do enjoy classic skiing.  Remembered what it was like to not “classic shuffle” and what it was like to really stride with a little umpff and pop.  Its been really enjoyable.

The other day I was skiing along when I looked up and this entire flock of skiers was coming down the trail towards me.  I thought, “Wow they look they are having a good time!”  And then I realized it was the Burger Family!  The entire gaggle of them minus the youngest Craig (skiing is apparently his 104th favorite sport, but thats a different story) and I couldn’t be happier to see them.  The Burger family pretty much adopted me when I first got into skiing.  I was good friends and team mates with their oldest daughter Molly.  They’ve been around since the very beginning of my ski career and Mr. Burger can vouch for how ridiculous it was at the very start.

We spent the ski reminiscing skis from years ago.  How we went skiing up the UP one weekend and how I cried because I couldn’t stride without poles up this hill.  To be honest it wasn’t even a hill, the incline was so little we might as well call it a flat.  But never the less I could not stride up it and so I cried right there in the tracks.  We remembered how our coach wasn’t going to be there one day and he had asked us to ski with Bill’s group instead…. at that point Molly and I were still terrified of Bill and so instead we hid in the woods until his group left and then went skiing on our own.  What rebels right?

Thinking about all those ski trips, races, camps, and practices brought back a lot of memories.  It makes you take a step back and go woah.  It allows us to acknowledge how far we’ve come.  How much things have changed.  To remember the days when I first fell in love with the sport and to think back and realize I could have never guessed where I’d be today!

Other than that I’ve been spending lots of time creating things in my kitchen!  Speaking of which there is dough rising in the oven right now that needs to get punched down!

Corrine

Holy Jetlagged Batman!

Oh billy!

Its been a rough couple of days… I’ve  always said and always been told that flying west is always easier than flying east.  wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong!!!  …atleast this time around.  We got back to the states monday night tired and worn out.  That night I slept like a baby, out cold, and didn’t wake up.  It was beautiful.  That day hungry came and went, an afternoon nap was as tempting as ice cream (and I love ice cream), and I was close to falling asleep at the dinner table.  Tuesday night I was asleep before my head touched the pillow…and then it began.

I was awake.  Awake awake….at 4am. 4 in the morning? yes. ew.

I was not a happy camper.  I laid there for a while.  until I eventually gave up and removed myself from my covers and started the day.  By 9am I wondered if it was lunch time.  System officially out of wack.

The last few nights have been pretty similar.  passing out with exhaustion at night and awake by 6am.  Its killing me.  I’m trying to go about my days as normal as possible and yet  just seem to be adjusting horribly…horribly slowly!

I’ve got my fingers crossed that things will click soon.  Just keep chugging I suppose.  My body has to flip the switch at some point!  ….right?