Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Steamboat Springs - Telemark Sprint

The part that's logical about being here is that it's the closest FIS race to home... the part that is more challenging is jumping into World Championships as a first FIS outing.  I started the day with 2 ski goals and two general goals.  Skiing: don't crash and eliminate myself from the rest of the event or season with injury, and don't be last.  I achieved both of those.  The non-ski goals were simple as well - learn and make friends/have fun.  Those two are going well!

I've noticed in training at home that my best runs are 3rd, 4th, 5th runs in a course.  You get dialed in, make changes, adapt, learn.  Here I'm in inspection in a melee of other languages and of course not an empty course inspection at all, trying to think about what I need to think about, and trying to remember the course.  By the time I start, I've stood around for a long time, like 90 minutes (I try to do a quality warmup, but still it's different of course than back to back runs), and yes they have people slipping the course in between every few racers, but still when you have no FIS ranking, you're back of the pack, and you ski more ruts.  That's not a complaint, it just is how it is... and you've got to start somewhere.

It feels like each run I've forgot more than I spent learning over the last year.  In some ways it's embarrassing to make mistakes, get so late in turns, etc. when you've spent all year trying to fix it, and everyone has told you that advice before.  I got some good reminders from Rene-Luc over the phone and email that I'll try to remember tomorrow, plus I hopefully will be more relaxed.  It's not surprise that my self devised training program didn't let me come here to win ; )  But it covered enough of the basics not to utterly fail, and by being around other telemark skiers now I see so much more.  I've only skied with one other tele skier up to this weekend, and that was Mike Schragge!

Key takeaways today were it's hard to do the jump without having very specific training for the jump.  I ski jumped, and went further in that than we are required to...  but that's straight, without turns, and without a gate "right after" landing, and the angle you take is just straight vs. picking it yourself after one inspection run.  I need to either practice real jumps a lot more, or just focus on the tele landing and skip trying to go long (I tried to go longer the second run, landed alpine, didn't go long enough, which is then max penalty).  Hmm... but how do I practically get one in a course?  Secondly I need to calm down, get early, and get on my edges more, which will help tighten up my lines.  And there's probably about a dozen other things... but hey, it's a year in the making and essentially a reset to ground zero at the bottom of the world scale all in one.

Results are here.  It's interesting.  From a casual chat on day zero, Birk Larsen was friendly to me.  We've done a lot similar in life - biking, adventuring, originating in the midwest, and (other than his binding issue on run one which I acknowledge), apparently we're similar skiers.  We even swapped Carl Strong common thread stories.  Meeting people in tele world is just fantastic.

Run 1, I'm just after 1 hour 14 minutes on the video.
Run 2, I'm just after 49 minutes on the timer which shows my new friend Birk's run then me after...

I loved today.  I never for a minute doubted wanting to be here.  You don't learn much at home on the couch, that's the easy way.  I think my cobbled together training served well.  I know things I could have done better, but it wasn't a complete fail!  I'm a better skier than I've ever been, and I'd say today's two runs weren't the 1 and 2 I could ever generate, but like for everyone, they're a sample out of the statistical pool I can produce.  I hope to improve that over time, and I don't yet feel plateau'd.

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