The classic sprint at Western Canadian Championships was the first time this year that the "sprint" was a sprint. A 1km course with light undulations. Again, I went for the double pole tactic. In my goal book for this year I wrote, "improve upper body fitness to be able to double pole a sprint course" with 3 question marks in parantheses and a little arrow pointing to the question, "too early in my development?". I've learned that going with the double pole tactic is somewhat of a mental hurdle. There are many things to consider when you use skate skis. ie. You can't start as fast, you can't stride up hills, and herring bone technique is more difficult (but not impossible). But on the flipside, there is a significant difference in economy at low end double pole speed because of the lack of the dragging kick wax, also noticed - although less of a difference - when tucking on the downhills. Cornering is also improved with the nimble skis that are better designed to pushing off an edge.
The course had one short, steep pitch that was really tough to double pole up, and one longer, less severe climb where you could really unleash the guns before tucking low (Korean torture style) into the finishing stretch. The finish stretch was all about slingshotting and keeping things together.
Quarter-final action. I was planning on striding it to save the double pole for later heats, but I couldn't get the classic boards to work. Luckily a trusty old pair of Fischer skate skis were stupid fast and did all the work for me.
Elbows up! Helps to activate more muscle groups. Lats and pec. minor? Man, are my pec. minors tight these days...
Following Cam in the Semi. He was striding and had a lightning fast start. I proceeded to ski all over his skis up the first climb, somewhat accidentally.
This one made the Yellowknifer Weekender. All photos courtesy of my fasha. Mike Argue and I were in every heat together that day. I followed him to the line every time, including the final.
Now that's something you don't see every day. N-Dub boys on the top two steps. Skeets rounding out the top-3.
Finally a successful day of racing. Qualified 2nd, finished 2nd (!!!). The body was there, allowing me to ski the entire course aggressively. The head to head heats saw an epic battle between striders and double polers, with the double polers finally prevailing on the day in this heated contest. I held up well, conserving energy where I could during early heats, and was able to fight at the end.
Of course I'm satisfied, and of course I would have liked to finally beat Mike in a sprint heat, but having it that way with him standing on the top podium spot made it sort of a double victory, with Yellowknife exerting its domination and showing a sneak peak of potential prowess in the Nationals team sprint.
The shape is good, but I'm not settling. I've learned to crunch my abs while double poling and to breathe at the same time. Something that will take a while to perfect and to strengthen. Perhaps many years. But double pole is a relatively straight forward technique that I can now finally see myself developing into a sharply honed weapon.
Nationals is coming up soon. I will be focusing on the team sprint, the classic distance race, and the classic sprint from March 8th-15th. I will not do the distance skate races since I seem to be developing the all too popular compartment syndrome (maybe...maybe not. I had to pull out of my last skate race cause I couldn't move my legs).
Take it easy, folks.