Placing-wise I was better in the sprint than in the distance, but sensations were much better in the 15 km skate.
Luck, however, also played a big part in both of my races.
On the Saturday, I knew from the start that I would be hard pressed to compete with the top guys on the day. I was simply outclassed. I could see the opportunities in my quarter final, but had no extra gear to capitalize on them. Luckily, I made up a spot as the 2nd fastest skier in my quarter went down mid-way through the course. I also made another pass near the end to claim 3rd, a result that I had to be happy with on the day considering how I was skiing.
The race completely levelled me, and it was all I could do to keep my eyes open till 8:30 that night.
I'm in the left of the shot. Jess (#1) was unstoppable on the day, skiing away with a clear victory.
Morning of the 15 km mass start: Ooohh boy, this is gonna be ugly... I guess I will give it a shot in warm-up and see if things improve... (during the recovery from mono a 2 x 3.5 minute race day has similar draining effects to racing a 50 km.) Warming up, however, things turned right around. I started to have a good feeling on my skis. The full hour of warming up had transformed me and I was ready to give it a crack. Luck, however, had other plans for me. With 5 minutes to go before the start, I found out that there had been a mix-up and my race skis hadn't been waxed and were sitting in the garage at home. After testing a 220-lb recreational skier's skis and a junior's race skis, I had the good fortune of testing a pair of CVTC's wax testing skis. They proved to be the quickest over my make-shift 10 meter ski testing area, so off I sprinted to be the last skier in the start grid, getting my skis and poles on with only 30 seconds to spare before the start gun.
The adrenaline from the ski-scare did me wonders off the gun, as I was able to settle into position quickly and conserve energy away from the mayhem of the jostling masses in pursuit. To my astonishment, the CVTC test skis I had hastily grabbed proved to be among the top skis on the day, better than anyone I skied with, anyway. I skied through the first 3.7 km lap in 10th place, right with the leaders. Even though I skied a pretty comfortably fast first lap, the pace was unsustainable. Attaining that next level of fitness doesn't seem far off, and I am excited to see where I am at in a few years' time.
The rest of the race was a matter of catching rides behind skiers when I could, drafting and conserving on the downhills and skiing controlled on the uphills. Having just a little more energy to attack on the final lap would have made it the perfect race for me. A fixable detail.
Immediately after the 15 km skate, it was off to the Heyes' cabin at Osprey Lake for 10 days of winter holiday festivities.
Successful Christmas tree hunt with our guide, Rob.
Classy Christmas eve dinner with 19th century silver ware at Nat Brown's cabin.
Lovin' Nat's 7.2 km trail system that was groomed especially for us.
The evident cougar activity in the area had me on high alert when skiing solo (sunglasses on the back of your head, anyone?).
The trail system has incredible history, with numerous National teams having trained in the area as well as Olympic champions such as Thomas Wassberg (who is said to have been hyperactive, constantly moving and on the go for 12 hours a day, whether it be training or cutting wood and digging ditches for hours on end).
Nat's ranch consists of numerous cabins and structures on a large and narrow parcel of land abutted by a creek on one side and a towering ridge on the other. Adam van Koeverden asked me today why I don't base my training out of here (my initial thought is the cougar infestation).
Another of Princeton's hidden gem's: China Ridge ski trails. Located only 10 minutes from downtown Princeton, the trails are perched 500 meters above the town on rolling, varied terrain with sweeping vistas.