Horseshoes and hand grenades – are the only things where close counts.
Now that I’ve finished another competitive season that phrase, I feel, sums up my season. Though I felt I nailed the training season and for most part, the early season races. Though the important events of the year, the World Cups I was constantly close but never as close as I wanted to be. Despite great confidence going into the competitive season that I was fit. Despite trying everything to find the speed. I just never did find it. To add to my woes, my usual steadfast ability to hit those tiny black dots seemed to fade away as well. This happens from time to time. I tried a few things out this year and though it resulted in great training I wasn’t able to turn it into speed this season. I was thinking I would be collecting strong results during the World Cups but I ended up learning countless lessons. The learning is as important as anything else, but it wasn’t what I had expected.
After a few years being absent from the Goms Valley, we had a fantastic training camp, returning to the Hotel Ahorni. My first priority for the camp was to get healthy again. As I got healthier I was able to get out into the valley and really enjoy its sheer beauty. The first few days we had about a metre of new snow steadily falling, which led to some soft trail conditions. Finally, the skies cleared, the sun came out and the groomers packed the snow. Our last few skis were like skiing in paradise. Way too soon it was time to take the train out of the valley and return to Munich for the next set of flights to Vuokatti, Finland.
Before I forget again, I want to share an interesting experience of mine. In my lack of health and under the influence of medical ingredients I forgot to mention something in my last post. From the last World Cup venue in Finsterau we traveled to Munich that Sunday night. Where we parted ways with the majority of the team as they returned to Canada. On Monday we began our journey from Munich to the Goms Valley. The drive was just shy of six hours or so, but during that time we passed through four countries. Yes, four; Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria and finally ending up in Switzerland. We ate each meal of the day in a different country as well. A superb breakfast at the Movenpick near the Munich Airport. The next stop was in Liechtenstein for a delicious lunch at (actually we just drove down a street and went ‘let’s try this place’) a cute little place. Once back on the road we made it through Austria quickly before crossing into Switzerland. The last little bit of the journey was an unique experience where we drove the car onto a drove a train. The train then went into a tunnel passing under the mountain before popping out on the other side into the bright sunshine of the Goms Valley. Eating the first of many amazing meals in Switzerland.
The final World Cup of the season was in Vuokatti, Finland. A familiar place but a welcome change to be there in March instead of the much darker December or January. My plan was to race all five races in six days. Starting off with the two last Biathlon races of the season. I struggled with my first shots in the Sprint, a very unusual thing for me but it was how both races went. With the lack of top ski speed, I just couldn’t make it onto the podium. The Individual I skied a better race but I shot myself off the podium with each of my three misses being directly related to each placing I dropped. One less miss and I would have been third, two less was second place and had I gone clean I would have been fast enough to win. With that this Biathlon season was over. I have to say I was a bit disappointed with it all. The season hadn’t gone the way I thought it would. Learning the tough lessons, I did will be the benefit I take away from this year.
The next race was a Classic Cross Country Sprint. I was looking forward to this race for some time. I started the day well enough, qualifying in seventh position. In the semi I had awesome skis but a tactical error on my part left me in fourth in my heat so my day was over. I would stay in seventh place as the final result for the day. I had a much needed day off before the last weekend of World Cup action; a 30km Classic on Saturday and a 10km Skate on Sunday. The distance race was an unique opportunity for IPC, as it is really rare to have large mass start races. I skied a solid race but didn’t go with the decisive break and was left back down in the pack. With only one race left it was putting it all on the line and see how it went. I didn’t seem to be able to create speed yet this year so I could only do what I could. I executed a great race occurring to my plan but I didn’t have the speed to be competitive.
After a season full of racing I found myself wanting a lot more. Each race I finished knowing I had made mistakes and prepared to not repeat those mistakes in the following race. My other adversary for the year was I could not find those top gears needed for a competitive ski speed. Finishing this season, I driven to remedy mistakes of the past, looking forward to another training year. A large part of Nordic skiing is having the patience to give your body the time to become fast. It may be extremely frustrating but it will pay off in the long run. Of any year, this was the one I would rather not be fast for. Next season will include World Championships in Finsterau, Germany then followed by the test events in PyeongChang, Korea. Then the following year is the one I really want to be fast for; the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games! My focus is sharp and ready to learn the lessons from the past seasons and to prepare for the upcoming years.
I want to share with everyone a special Thank You to all those who helped me through this season. Your support is what allows me to pursue my dreams. I look forward to sharing my experiences with each and every one of you n the upcoming year.
Thank You!

Leave a Reply