Monday, April 8, 2013

The end is near!

Wow, this took a long time for me to write! I blame it on my computer crashing- it has travelled from South Korea, numerous times to New Zealand, Greenland, Russia and everywhere in between- I think, like me, my computer is a little tired. But, thank you to Thomas Borrenmo at 42Store ( in Arvika, Sweden, but getting it up and running again after crashing!

I raced in the cross-country world championships in Val Di Fiemme, Italy. Yep, I did the qualification race where I placed 13th. I had the most amazing skis waxed by the very kind Russian team. So amazing. I then thought it would be a good idea to race in the 15th Skiathlon. This race is 7.5km classic and then 7.5km skate. Salomon gave 2 new pairs of amazing classic skis to test before the race which really made me feel like a xc athlete ;) I had a lot of fun in the pursuit and achieved my goal of not being lapped by the top girls. I felt so good in classic that I think I will switch to race all my biathlon races on classic skis...maybe not ;)

On Tuesday the 26th I jumped in a transport with the Latvian team and headed to Munich to catch my flight to Oslo. Everytime you go through Munich with a rifle, the police come and check your rifle permit. Welll, mine had expired on my birthday (Feb 16th) so the police were not so impressed with me. After a few sweaty moments, the older police office told me to just shut the case and go, where as the younger police officer wanted to charge me...thanks old police man! It's the same when I got caught on the train with my rifle- the older police man was so nice, where as the younger good looking one wanted to arrest me- Crazy world!

Anyways, I made it to Oslo and checked into the fancy Park hotel on the Homenkollen hill right by the beautiful ski jump. It was nice to live up on the mountain and to be able to walk to the stadium instead of having to take a transport. The first day was training and then race day! 7.5km sprint at one of the best world cup pit stops- so nice! Unfortunately I missed 2 in standing and did not have a great ski, but I thoroughly enjoyed the race, and cooling down with Tora Berger afterwards wasn't so bad either :) For the next couple days I was able to get some nice training sessions in and watch the other races.

On Monday the 4th of March we all loaded up into the charter flight and flew to Sochi, Russia. This was a very exciting race as it was the test race for the Olympics and the first time any of us biathletes had been there. Let's just say the process into Russia was absolutely crazy with our rifles and ammunition. I was ready to lie down and give up, but after signing 700 pieces of paper, I made it through. It is moments like these that I see the benefit of having a coach to do all the small, stressful tasks! We drove to the hotel in Rosa Khutor- a 4 star, brand new, never slept in bed was waiting for me in the hotel room, which I then crashed on and had the best sleep of my life. I woke up to a stuffed up head and a not so good feeling- I was sick :(What awful timing! Could it not have waited 2 more weeks? I was so angry! is the last 2 weeks of racing, so I am just going to push through.

There was no information about the transport or anything, so in the morning, myself and the Hungarians went out and jumped on a bus that said 'biatlon'. 10 minutes later we got off at a random gondola, went through 3 security screens, and got onto a gondola going up a valley. At the top we got off, and were ushered into a sketchy van that drove us on a half built road, past a lot of construction, to the biathlon arena. We had made it! Now to get our rifles, and ammunition, and skis. 1 1/2 hours later I was ready to train! The British coach was very generous to offer his help on the range-  Thanks Scotty!

The tracks in Sochi are absolutely like nothing I had raced on before; The uphills were long and steep, and the downhills were fast with sharp corners. I loved it, really! Not many people did, and it was a very hard course to race on and impossible to train on, but it was different! Something new and exciting. The first race for me was the 15km individual- I missed 6 and skied okay considering how sick I was. I was thrilled at the end that I had not fallen because so many people did! Here is a tour from the IBU:

After this race, I am not going to lie, I was so dead. All the athletes were absolute zombies afterwards. The next day I was even more sick. I went for a walk around the village and it was crazy. It was like the Truman show- I swear the people walking around were hired actors Alex Almoukov (Aussie athlete) and I got caught in a film set. We thought it was just normal people enjoying a nice day in the sun, but no, as we were walking through we heard 'action' and everyone started moving around in the set. It was a whole different world. We even saw the same women every day in the same spot walking with her baby....awkward. The next race was the sprint and I should not have started. I was so sick. But there was only 2 races left, so I did. My skiing was awful and I felt like death, but it was nice to race anyways!

The process leaving Sochi was even worse coming in. Here is a wee video to show you the frustration!

So, on the Monday we jumped back onto the charter flight and flew to Khanty-Mansysk, Russia. I have never been so excited to get to Siberia! I was still awfully sick for these races. Nothing crazy happened here except for the normal end of race party- this is always crazy- but nice because all the athletes are able to relax at the end of a long and hard season.

And thats it! That was the season. I ended it sick as a dog. I will write a wee review as well to sum up the season. Stay tuned!!

xxx Sarah

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