It's a longer course: essentially 4 sets of gates, with two jumps and one skating section dividing them, then the loom and a longer skate finish.
Legs turn to rubber and lungs burn with blood, and that's before the finish line unfortunately. I have this distinct memory of hitting supra max heart rate and not being even near the finish.
When I finished, I handed back my bib and didn't want to lie down, maybe I didn't want to symbolically give in. I went to the lift to go get my jacket and other skis at the top. It was the most terrifying lift ride I've had in ages. I was convinced I was on the edge of blacking out. Not only did my lungs burn and taste like blood, I'd cough and my entire torso just ached. I was so stressed that I'd pass out and fall, and every 30 seconds that passed I just felt worse. I'm reasonably used to mega lactic overdose, but seems like when you create a bunch with all your large leg muscles then proceed to maximally overuse every bit of your upper body as well it creates a whole incremental level of hurt.
Getting off the lift and just coasting to the start felt mildly better. Note for next time I will just go sit down a bit ; )
First, no opening ceremony or podium is conducted in the Alps without vin chaud. It's treated as crucial, and why not?
Here's a representative podium photo in town, although there were both junior world champs for yesterday's and today's, men's and women's and senior all done today. This is the junior sprint world championships podium. I was in hotels all week with the Slovenians, and Jure Ales won this and the Classic junior world championships. When is saw Jure free ski it's immediately apparent he's carving tele turns like few on the planet. It looks magical. And he makes virtually the same turns in gates, which is all the more amazing. Not to mention Slovene ski jumpers finished 1-2-3 in Sapporo. Their whole team has heart, and the race referee lady is Slovene too. To watch anyone's success up close is amazing, but to see what it means to them is probably more moving.
I had my best result of the trip today at 35th. In my world that's good. I've come a long way, and I've been able to watch those with more talent and more basis for exploiting that talent up close.
Being a World Cup contender or champion takes things I don't have. Talent, time, more focus to a singular arrangement of life around that goal, etc. But I have some ingredients in spades - love of the sport and an unlimited willingness to try hard.