While Canadian Ivan Babikov has recorded only one top-30 finish on the World Cup circuit so far this season, the man who has been billed by his teammates as one of the toughest skiers on the circuit remains undaunted.
“I’m always a bit slower than other guys in early season,” Babikov said in an e-mail to FasterSkier. “Usually, I need at least a good month of skiing and racing to feel fast.”
As a result, Babikov trained through the first couple of weekends on the World Cup circuit. The first events featured mostly middle-distance and sprint events, and while Babikov doesn’t mind racing them, he said he feels “more confident in races of 15 k and up.”
Babikov also has a different opinion than most North Americans on the effects of travel. Between the mini-tour in Kuusamo, Finland, and the World Cup races in Davos, Switzerland, he flew back to Canmore, Alberta. He skipped the all-sprint event in Dusseldorf, Germany, instead opting for a brief stint at home – less than two weeks.
“I guess I’m just used to it by now,” Babikov said of racking up frequent flier miles. “I’m dealing just fine with jet lag.”
Babikov said he prefers to train in Canmore, as well as spend more time with his family.
“I just don’t think about it as a stress, and it goes by fine,” he said.
Babikov is currently spending the holidays in Europe with his family, preparing for his third Tour de Ski, in which he hopes to record top results.
As he readily admits, Babikov struggles in sprint events, so finishing in a good overall position on the Tour will be a struggle.
“You just have to be so much stronger in the distance races to catch back up,” he said.
However, distance specialists have shown that they can excel in the Tour de Ski – last year, Lukas Bauer (CZE) failed to qualify for either of the two sprints on his way to winning the event.
After a strong 16th place in last weekend’s World Cup in La Clusaz, Babikov is ready to go – and the result all but guaranteed his spot on the Canadian World Championship team. He feels he has regained his confidence, as well as his form, at just the right time.