I’m in Berlin, about to catch a flight to Stockholm and then on to Gallivare. I spoke with Kris yesterday to catch up on goings-on since the Muonio race on Sunday. Monday morning he got out for three hours skating, and felt that his position on his skis was much improved from the day before. He’s always been very sensitive to subtle changes in his base of support, and making some lacing adjustments to his new boots seemed to help things.
Directly after training on Monday the team packed up and hit the road for Gallivare. While Kris has been feeling very good and had good energy throughout, he did feel some fatigue during Monday’s ski. Given the long training/travel day Monday he decided to take Tuesday off. It was his first day off since arriving in Europe, and his roommate during week 1, Torin, came down with a cold. It’s safe to assume that everybody who travels by air is exposed to unfamiliar pathogens. Successfully maintaining good health is a matter of combined intelligence and fortune. With the added knowledge that he had definitely been living in the same space as a virus for the past week, the day off was a judicious application of intelligence!
Tomorrow, Thursday, Kris will do some light intensity in preparation for Saturday’s race. I’ll arrive this evening, so I should have a first-hand account of how things are going. Expectations for the weekend are conservative. We’re definitely looking for a more positive race than in Muonio, but realistically it won’t be a knock-out performance. I’ll be satisfied with a top-30 and very pleased with a top-20. The big question that remains unanswered is whether Kris’s work on his skating technique in the past year has given him a more competitive gearbox. Two years ago he was a bit better in skating than classic (although that appeared to be largely circumstantial). Last year he was clearly better and more comfortable in classic. He’s worked on his skating and made some subtle but fundamental changes. He’s felt very good in training, and has looked excellent in his training efforts in Whistler and Lake Placid. But that’s on rollerskis, and as he’s found, snow can be a little bit different.
In the past several years Kris hasn’t spent any time on snow in the off-season. He’s never felt that he required a long break-in period at the start of the season. But the break-in period is there nonetheless. It’ll last a little longer, and fade completely over the next two weeks. So far we haven’t seen an indication that it would be worthwhile to sacrifice training quality and continuity for off-season snow time. But that question is open for consideration at the start of every training year.
The plan for the weekend includes the 15K skate on Saturday and the relay on Sunday. We’ve planned to keep the racing load low and to focus on single-race weekends through period one while we work with the new race preparation methods that Kris has been using this season. The Sunday relay event wasn’t part of Kris’s personal plan for the period, but it’s a team event and Kris is a member of a team. The rest of the team is here to race as well, though the first sprint won’t be until Kuusamo. Kris will fill-out the team with Andy, Torin and Chris, and will probably do the anchor leg and take it as a relatively easy tempo ski. At least that was the plan prior to Torin getting sick….