Monday, February 21, 2011

Pumped for Teammates + Personal Reflections

Sometimes, when things aren't going your way, it's best to focus on the positive notes, on the bright spots.  While I have been having a rough start to my European Tour, some of my teammates have been turning in some awesome results.  While I would have loved to be racing in the sprint heats yesterday, it was AWESOME watching Kikkan kick butt - LIVE outsprinting all the other World Cup girls including the "Queen of Vancouver," none other than Norway's national hero, Marit Bjorgen.  It was extra fun watching the race from the side of the trail with my APU teammate, Sadie, who had an awesome first weekend of World Cup racing and Jessie, who had had her first World Cup that very day.  Jessie's direct comment from the day was, "I wish the race would have been longer because it was so much fun out there!"  

Sadie, Jessie, Holly acting goofy :)

Sunday was Kikkan's third World Cup win of her career and first in Norway which is an added bonus.  Her result definitely puts her at the top for the list of favorites going into Thursday's World Championship sprint.  Someone on Facebook asked if anyone can beat Kikkan in a skate sprint right now and the answer was, "Maybe Shani Davis!"  After watching her final kick in the long straight finnish stretch I think I'd have to agree.  Here are some pictures of her victory: 

Kikkan at the start of the finals

Marit Bjorgen, the "Queen" of Vancouver.... 

Shadows on course near start, looking across the stadium at the finish

Sprint start - ladies followed closely by camera on snow machine

The downhill on the dimond screen

Instant replay of the finish, Kikkan in Black

Final results: USA #1!

Her interview after crossing the finish line - and of course, a huge smile!

As for my own racing, this past weekend wasn't my best.  And, when you're on the World Cup and have an off weekend or are disapointed by results, it's compounded because your racing against people who are the best in the World, literally.  This weekend also served as my first hard race efforts in over a month.  It's hard to fathom that I used a pair of World Cup races to "wake the body up"..... especially when it wasn't that long ago that the Anchorage Cup was my regular race series. (Hard to believe, right?)

This morning I was looking on Twitter and stumbled upon Devon Kershaw's blog, a Canadian skier. I could really identify with his most recent post so I decided to include some excerpts in this post.  Here is what Devon had to say about racing in Drammen after a long period of training:

"After not racing in so long, the main objective was obtained – feeling that hurt and racing with a bib on again. The reality is no matter how many interval sessions you do, or time trials – real competition can’t be faked and can only come through real racing – with a bib on, and the xc community watching." (Kershaw, 2.21.11)

Furthermore, everyone in the World Cup field wants the same thing.  The thing we have in common is that we all want to win.  Unfortunately, there can only be one winner - leaving second through last place for everyone else.  While it's unrealistic for many of us to hope to win, everyone in the field is hoping to better their best result.  Everyone is searching for a PR or the "race of their life."  When you think about it, one enters a race in an attempt to do something similar to everyone else - I suppose that is the essence of competition.  Sometimes goals are met, and other times, the athlete is left looking for another chance.  

Devon also talked about an unsatisfying race on Sunday..... complete with Rolling Stones lyrics. It's great, check it out: 

While there’s nothing I loathe more than watching sprint rounds on tv after not qualifying and I was really disappointed with today’s sprint – I was straight up pumped for the crew.  For me, I’ll try to keep telling myself life goes on. It’s just racing. I wanted to have a personal best today when I woke up – and it didn’t happen. Every time I slip a bib over my shoulders I hope for a personal best – and it rarely happens. There are always other chances and luckily my next one is coming up quickly. I hope to make a quick turn around and be ready to go on Thursday for the maiden race of this year’s World Champs. I’m confident in the training Justin laid out, and I know that it will come around at some point (I just hope sooner rather than later!). All I can do is continue to try my best – which I did this weekend. Sometimes it goes – like it did during the Tour – other times racing tests you – like it did in Drammen. That’s the game.

Maybe The Stones were right all along. “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find – you get what you need.”

I obviously needed to blow out the carbon, put a bib on and race my guts out. I did that. It wasn’t what I wanted – but hell if I didn’t need it.

World Championships start Thursday. No matter what, I’ll be busy during the 10 days doing what I always do – getting after it and gunning for personal bests. (Kershaw, 2.21.11)

I know this was a particularly long excerpt but if you want to read Devon's full post you can find it on his website by clicking here.   (Devon, I hope you don't mind!) 

Finally, some pictures to leave you with: 

Me and Sadie in Drammen 

Thanks for reading everyone, 
Holly :)