I decided to take a vacation. Well… I had to take a vacation. Really my flight from Vancouver to Sydney, Australia was delayed by over two hours, so I missed my connection to Queenstown, New Zealand. The only option was to catch the identical flight; a day later! As a result I, along with the rest of the team had a day to spend in Sydney. I wish I’d had some more time to really explore the city properly. Though I got to check out Circular Quay with the Opera House and a near side-by-side view of the Coathanger or also known as the Sydney Harbor Bridge. After a 16+ hour flight from Vancouver it was a nice vacation from traveling but it was time to get to the real final destination and start skiing. Have to mention the neatest pancake machines, just press a button and a few moments’ later fresh and hot pancakes come rolling out. Had to give it a try!
Though a day late, we finally arrived at the Snow Farm, near Wanaka on New Zealand’s south island. The next three weeks seemed to fly by. I was really feeling great on the snow and I skiing quite well. I finished with three very worthy weeks of training, as well as got a few races in for good measure. I made a few small but beneficial changes in my technique and continue to work on it. I brought my rifle down with me and slowly worked up to a peak in my shooting while I was there. I had a few of my best shooting bouts so far this season at the Snow Farm. Might have something to do with the fact I trained occasionally with the 2010 Olympic Sprint Champion and Pursuit Silver medalist Anastasiya Kuzmina. Her and her husband/coach came back to the Snow Farm this summer… or winter?… August, whatever! We even had a Super Sprint one morning; five laps of a 500m course with four bouts of shooting. Prone, prone, standing, standing was the shooting order. With a clean first bout I had a slight lead over the Olympic Champion. I knocked down the next five targets and ever so slightly extended my lead. We then came to the standing bouts. That was when I lost the lead, missing my third and fourth shots in standing. For good measure I added another three misses in the final bout. Ops! I was really pleased with the prone result, we’ll leave it at that.
The first weekend we were there, Australia and New Zealand had their final Continental Cup series races. I raced on Saturday in the Sprint, though I didn’t qualify for the heats. I used the day more so to prep for Sunday’s 10km race. Which went well for me, I had some good points I took out of the race and a few more points to work on. Training was the focus for the following week until Saturday’s Merino Muster. There are three race distances a 42km, 21km and a 7km. I raced in the 21km. Everyone, no matter which race you are entered in starts at the same time. The leaders from the start were all doing the 42km and were all World Cup skiers. I skied really well, well enough that I thought for the longest time I could maybe catch the leaders and ski on the tail end of the lead group. That never happened! I was skiing with the athletes that were being dropped from the lead group. The fact that I had someone always to chase onto made the race really enjoyable. As the leaders for the 42km were going through the lap lane to continue their race, no one was really expecting a 21km finisher. I finished in a time of 55:30.
A shout out and a huge thanks goes out to Mike and his staff from Flying Trestles for providing some of the best food in the World. The food was top notch, I loved the soups and most of the desserts were so delicious they were beyond words. Since I mentioned the food it is only fair to mention Steve and his staff in the Lodge. They are ‘sweet as’ (English translation- awesome) and to put up with us athletes for weeks at a time, that’s no easy job.
A week to recover from the terrible jetlag, waking up at 11 in the morning with no effort, is rough! Not really! A couple of weeks of average training and shooting with John and the rest of RMR before it’s off to the next camp. Yeah, three weeks on the ground in Canmore before the team is on the road again to our next training camp in New Mexico. Almost three weeks there before we return to hopefully find Frozen Thunder rolled out at the Canmore Nordic Centre and the on snow season begins. Within months’ time of that we are into the first official races of the 2012/2013 season. It’s a shock to realize how fast it all happens.