Throughout the winter racing months there are blocks of competitions, some are a few race weekends back to back or others are a single competition with higher priority. For me this year I had one of these competition blocks in December (pre-Christmas). This block consisted of a Cross Country Alberta Cup, the first Biathlon NorAm and the Youth/Junior World Championship trials. The second block will be two weeks in January for the Vuokatti, Finland World Cup, this is a block itself more because we go home and will train for two weeks before the next races. The third block will be the two remaining World Cups in Sweden and Germany. I will head back to Canmore after that for a month of training. The plan is to race at Cross Country Nationals to keep up the competitive edge. Then the fourth and final block will be early April at the World Championships.
I have now completed the first block of competitions, the domestic block if you will. The first two weekends in my backyard at the Canmore Nordic Centre, and the third weekend at the Whistler Olympic Park. It is also the block where I raced only in able-bodied races in my own age category.
The first weekend was a Cross Country Alberta Cup; officially kicked off my 2010-11 race season. I raced in the Open Men’s category. Racing ex- and current National Team members was a bit of a shock, but I could only do the best I could. That first sprint race, I was just trying to knock out the last cobwebs that remained to get into race shape. The distance race was better, as I was getting into the rhythm of racing again.
The second weekend in Canmore began the biathlon season. This past training season Biathlon was my focus, and to finally put all the work down on the snow, that was full of emotion, excitement and nervousness. I was skiing very well and shooting well throughout the weekend. Another satisfying sign was that I moved up the results after the Pursuit race.
That brings us to the third weekend, the Youth/Junior Trials in Whistler. After a long (almost 9 hour) drive from Canmore to Whistler through the heart of the Rockies, we arrived in Whistler late on Tuesday. Wednesday morning I wrote my last exam, finishing another semester of school. The remaining two days were spent skiing the race course, studying the best lines and finding out how the snow reacts to the changing weather conditions. Or shooting, to ingrain the entry and feel of the shooting range. Skiing again in the Callaghan Valley felt like a reunion with an old friend. So much time and effort had gone into preparing for the last time I was in there. To see how everything looked almost a year later. I have to say I was a little sentimental.
The great skiing continued here in Whistler, though it seems I had left my shooting ability in Canmore. The Sprint race was plagued with an arm malfunction, along with not stellar shooting. I guess this can happen when you are half machine. Mechanical devices will always break down when you need them most. I somehow hit a target in my standing bout but that was all, and put me way down the result list. To say the least, I was a little angry about that. I believe a snow bank in Whistler felt the majority of my wrath. After this it was time to refocus and concentrate on making these races the most beneficial for me. Unfortunately the shooting would never seem to arrive in Whistler. I was skiing incredibly well in difficult conditions, but was suffering greatly on the range. There were a few bouts of brilliance but they were few and far between. These races showed me that I was stronger than previous years and there had been significant improvement during the training months.
I’m about to go from one ocean, across Canada to the other ocean. It’s exciting to be going home for the holidays but disappointed to know that the rain that is coming down here in Vancouver will the same rain that greets me in Charlottetown. With three days till Christmas it shouldn’t be rain, it should be buckets of snow. Oh well, I would like to wish you and all those around you this holiday season a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
As a special holiday surprise I would like to invite you all to check out my newly created website at www.markarendz.com