Update – January 2009

The IPC World Championships in Vuokatti, Finland are coming to a close after an exciting and testing time for the athletes, and support staff; physically and mentally. With the best in the world gathering to prove they are the best in both biathlon and cross country skiing.
On the 12 of January I flew from Prince Edward Island to the Goms Valley in Switzerland. We went to the Goms to adjust to the time in Europe, and to absorb the sun to better combat the effects of Jet lag. There was plenty of sun to go around and the trails were just breathtaking. Skiing along the beginning of the Rhone River for what seems for an eternity; there is nothing better! You have to watch what you eat, not in a bad way but it is so good it is easy to eat too much. But this Swiss wonderland soon came to an end and it was time to go.
We travelled to Helsinki where we had almost the entire day for a layover, so we explored the city. A gorgeous harbour city, it was cold and windy the day we went but still a site to see. With the old buildings left, right and centre, it is easy to miss the tiny details that add to the character of the city. Then in the setting sun, we boarded our plane to Kajaani. Several other teams were there so it was nice to see old friends and arch rivals. An interesting point, within Finland you don’t need a boarding pass to board. You show them your photo id and then take whatever seat you want on the plane. A bizarre way to travel but the planes are usually not that full and you have a lot of space for yourself. But this flight to Kajaani was the same but it was really full. No joke maybe five empty seats on a 747.
Finally it was time for World Championships. The first race was the Biathlon Pursuit. I struggled through the qualification round, knowing for sure I hadn’t made it, but I was lucky and moved on. I started in 9th position for the afternoon race, based on a confusing formula (I won’t bother). I fought hard and focused on clean and quick shooting which helped because I finished in sixth. My best ever result in the World. The next race for me was the 10km Free (or skating). It was a tough, brutal course but I went out strong and finished in 20th; which was a consistent result for me. It was back to biathlon for the Individual. I skied a great race but my shooting hurt me. Missing six shots and adding six minutes put me down the rankings into 13th. I was disappointed in that result but it was over and heck, you can’t win them all…haha. The final day was a Classic Sprint. In the qualification race I gave it my all, and held nothing back but I came out a little short. Missing my chance to go to the head-to-head races that were to follow that afternoon.
I was really pleased with all my races at my first World Championships. This was another step towards the goal of doing well in Vancouver in March 2010. I’m still young and then is a lot of time to get better. But to scare the top skiers in some of the races, means a lot and I’m here to stay so watch out!
Mark


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