December is always a great time of year. Race season begins! This season started off with a hefty block of racing. Three weekends in a row of racing. After it was all said and done I had six races, and the shortest race being a 10km. Though these races are not my priority for the season, it feels better to feel fast(ish) in these early competitions. None felt as fast as I was going near the end of last season but the results proved I was skiing faster than I’ve ever gone. For me the races felt ok to good, I say that because I felt I had the throttle pinned but there was another gear or two I just wasn’t getting into. That top end speed I have when I’m at my very best. When going fast feels easy.
The first race was the only classic race. I more wanted to see how my technique has improved from previous years and how long a could hold onto proper technique. In that regard it was a great race. I felt I was skiing better than I ever have in classic. Finally putting the work on technique from the summer, into racing. The course wasn’t the most idea for me to be racing able-bodied guys, since most laid it down and double-poled the entire way. Something I will never beat those guys at. I finished that race satisfied with my race and where I was with my classic technique.
The next day was a Mass Start Freestyle race. To start with I was pretty happy I didn’t lose too much ground in the opening 100 meters since I had to double pole that section. It was a bit of a zoo for the first few kilometers as everyone tried to move up and were almost frantically doing so. I’ve done a few Mass Starts and I’ve been there as one of the guys trying to stay up front. Doesn’t work. This race I tried to stay calm, I was trying to get into a better position and stay with the group ahead, not to get behind slower skiers or let gaps open up. Perhaps this approach drops me a few placings early on but I wasn’t too bothered as I continuously overtook skiers in the next few kilometers. I again was very pleased with the end result. A solid race to start with, consistent but not my fastest race. This first weekend was a great way to get into the season.
The following two weeks were Biathlon races. I competed in the Senior Men’s category but I was using my air rifle as opposed to the 22 the rest were competing with. I do this so that I’m racing against the best skiers and still compete with the air rifle in preparation for my World Cups. After the first race, I thought a top 12 would be a good result, as I missed one shot and felt only ok on the trails. A top 8 would be a great result. Well, I was seventh, and the second Canadian. That surprised me. The next day was a Mass Start Biathlon, a race that I’ve had previous success in. Again there was quite a bit of jostling for position in the first three kilometers, though it was a smaller field then yesterday we all stayed together until the range. Skiing in that group was some the most fun I’ve ever had in a Biathlon race. This is what you want to happen, skiing in a competitive group. From there on the race opened up a lot, as I took an early lead. A couple of guys came close but I would always start the next loop in the lead. I let the race slip through my fingers in the final bout missing two shots. Though I started the final loop in first place, someone was right on my heels. We fought throughout the lap but in the end he was able to edge me out by a few seconds on the line. That had been another great weekend of racing.
A mere few days later it was time for the final race weekend before a Christmas break. Saturday was the Sprint, this time I put it together on the range cleaning both bouts of shooting. That brought me to a pretty awesome sixth place finish. As well I was the fastest Canadian on the day, I just had a few Americans in the way of a podium finish. This set up Sunday’s Pursuit. Another really fun race. The shooting was almost perfect, with a single miss in the last bout. To throw salt onto the wound that miss was the opening that one of the others skiers needed to beat me to the line. I was able to jump to an early lead as the eventual winner missed a shot in his first bout but cleaned the remaining fifteen. With that the racing for 2015 was over and done with. As much as these Biathlon results were a surprise to me, it has been great to see the progress I’ve made over the training season.
For Christmas I stayed in Canmore, enjoying one of the best early winters that has ever happened here in Canmore. It was really chill holidays, a great time to relax and put in some training before a competition and travel heavy end to the season.
To start the New Year, I headed up to Camrose, Alberta for a Calforex Cup Biathlon series. Getting in some races before I head off to Korea at the end of the month. I want to Thank the Camrose Biathlon Club, the organizers and officials for a great weekend. It was a lot of fun to explore a new place to ski and everyone did a fantastic job. Unfortunately, the Saturday’s race was forced to be cancelled because of the cold temperatures and high wind chill factor. But with an overnight swing in temperature of about 15 degrees, Sunday’s race was a go. The wind was up for Sunday and it didn’t quite feel that much warmer, with the wind and humidity. I can’t say I was pleased with the race but satisfied to have raced and learned a lot. Skiing was consistent and solid but not overly fast. With the rolling first half of the course I worked on my two-skate and transitions, which was something I had to work on. On the range there was a lot to be desired. The first four shots were great, then a miss to end that bout. It was windy but I’d shot really well in zero and knew I could hit targets in this wind. The second bout I felt the wind was up so I corrected for that. After missing the first two I thought maybe I had overcorrected or was just thinking there was an increase in wind. So moved back, hit the next target, then go and miss the next two shots. So four misses. I was so disappointed, skied hard to finish and I hope I didn’t scare any children with my scream of frustration at the end. The crazy thing is after I saw my target, things made more sense and I wasn’t as disappointed with the result. The four misses were all in the identical spot, (I hadn’t corrected enough actually) in a way it was a good group just not hitting. My only hit in that bout was actually the bad shot. Oh, Biathlon, how you frustrate at times!
Next is a fun test event here in Canmore, as the final rehearsal before the big guns of the IBU World Cup arrive and compete here February 2-7. I will race the test event held this weekend. As the excitement to welcome the World builds and the days count down. Just before the racing starts here, I will fit in a short trip to Korea, as our first glimpse of the venue that will host the next Paralympic Games. I look forward to both my first trip to Korea and to returning in time to catch the IBU World Cup races in the backyard.

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