Part 6 – At last. Now we’re there. The Perfect Race.

FasterSkierDecember 26, 2002

At last. Now we’re there. The time is 10:35. The skis have been marked, I glide up towards the start line. As always I focus on doing every detail correctly. Place the skis in the track, but keep moving them to avoid any icing of the klister. Take a couple of deep breaths. Thinking I need to calm down. Same procedure as so many times before. Don’t get too exited. Too many times I’ve started out too explosively. With a heartbeat of 80 I’m starting. I know that already after 200 m the heartbeat will be at 180.
I start first in the Red Group — the group consisting of the seeded skiers. This means that all the other best skiers can get splits from my intermediate times. Normally this is not to my advantage, but if I ski fast enough, it will demoralize them if they feel they are not able to keep up.
I start hard. Not wild, not out of control, but hard. I soon get that good feeling. After two kilometers I feel that this may be the perfect race. I have perfect kick up the hills — I send thanks to Per Knut Aaland, the wax technician. The glide is perfect — thanks Magnar. The technique is working well and the spectators’ roaring push me along. I feel I get 100 % efficiency from every calorie I’m using.
At 4 km I see a sign-board saying I was five seconds behind Myllylla at the 2 km mark. That makes me feel even better. I know I’m stronger in the reminding parts of the course. When I’m in shape, I’m better than any others at double poling.
At about four kilometers is the Brabakken, with more people than the best day at Holmenkollen. I throw myself into the uphill, jut like I envisioned in bed this morning. It works! Everything! It is just crazy. Never have I skied faster.
Now I realize: This is the perfect race.
Later I hear that I skied almost 30 seconds faster than any other skier did between 2 km and 6 km.
Now it is important not to loose my head. Not let my own excitement make me loose control.
“Calm down”, I tell myself at six kilometers. Ski efficient. Use the glide.
At the same time there is a doubt: Everyone can ski on my splits. How strong is Myllyla? The other Norwegians? I have not heard anything about Smirnoff. He must have a bad day.
I hit the top of the course and keep gaining meters and tenth of seconds down the difficult corners. On a day like today there is no resting or holding back in the downhills.
Towards the stadium for the last time. Down the last hill into the stadium I feel the warmth of the spectators hit me. I ski as in a high. I get the great feeling that happy Norwegians give me with their roar. I give it all around the last horseshoe corner inside the stadium. When I dive across the finish line in a involuntary backward summersault, I still believe I fight for seconds. I know I have skied a great race, the perfect race. But, is it enough for Gold? Others could also have had a perfect race.
“You were by yourself in the lead at nine kilometers”, says one of the TV camera crew.
And when I see Erik’s face, as he forces himself between service technicians and race officials, I become confident. I have taken my first World Championship Gold on Norwegian snow. The joy of winning that I felt can not be described, it can only be experienced. So tired and so happy.
And I know this was not just gold. This was the perfect race.
After all I’ve been through the last weeks!
A better and bigger day is not possible to experience on a ski course.


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