Devon Kershaw gives a play-by-play accounting of the first Tour de Ski sprint in Prague. Devon qualified in 1st, but was knocked out in the quarterfinals when he fell on a corner. It is interesting to get the behind-the-scenes scoop, and the honest evaluation of the race.
1.2km City Sprint (2 laps of 600m) – Prague, Czech Republic (December 29th)
After the long(ish) drive and a short(ish) sleep I awoke in Prague still feeling fresh and excited for the skate sprint. We headed down to the venue and inspected the flat 600m loop which snaked around an old “carnival looking” building and I was instantly excited and very impressed. The organizers did a great job, the snow was cold and laid down pretty well and it was the perfect course for me for skate sprints – flat – with lots of curves to accelerate out of. I felt awesome in qualifying and actually shocked myself as I crossed the line in 1st – and stayed there for the duration of qualifying! I couldn’t believe that I had qualified 1st for the first time in my life. Sounds good? Well, that’s where things got, well – sketchy.
Last night I had formulated a plan in the van as I drove to Prague: it was rather simple: stay relaxed, ski smooth, move through to the semi-finals without going crazy, and get a decent amount of bonus seconds. No stress, don’t go crazy thinking about winning – think big picture. I told myself I was in good shape, sitting in 3rd, no need to take risks because the week is young and there’s a lot of races left.
In the span of a few minutes after qualifying 1st, I threw my own well laid-out plan out the window. I got incredibly nervous and started to think solely trying to win the day. My focus narrowed, and my nerves escalated. It was a double poling start and I was leary of that because I am not the fastest starter out there and because of the tight, turny course I thought I needed to be in the lead in my quarter-final to control the pace. So, after about 1:15 of working myself into quite the frenzy it was time to race
Read the rest on Devon’s blog. This is where it gets interesting… This link starts with Devon’s report on the 15km Classic pursuit (which is also worth reading), so you will need to scroll down to get to the rest of the sprint story.