The December world cups drew to a close yesterday with the Mixed Relay in Pokljuka, Slovenia. I raced in the third slot while Sarah Studebaker led off, followed by Annelies Cook, and Leif Nordgren anchoring. It was a great day for the entire team on the range. We used only five extra rounds between the four of us which amounted to the best team shooting of the day for any of the nations. The mixed relay capped off a three-week stint of world cups that took us from Ostersund, Sweden to Hochfilzen, Austria and finally to Pokljuka, Slovenia.
Ostersund was a good start for me although my ski-speed is still a little slower than I would like. I managed to squeek into the top 40 in the Sprint, shooting clean and placing 38th. Although it was a nice start to the season, I was pretty excited to get out of the frigid temps and head for the sunshine of Austria. The sunshine only lasted for a couple of days at the beginning of the week in Hochfilzen. After that, we had three days of back-to-back racing in blizzard conditions. By the end of the weekend, about a meter of snow had fallen on the Austrian ski town. I was happy with this world cup despite the less-than-ideal conditions. I raced to 55th in the Sprint race and moved up to 39th in the Pursuit the following day. My ski speed improved and I headed for Slovenia with a couple more world cup points.
The Pokljuka world cup is one of my favorite race series because of the town we stay in. Bled, Slovenia is a tiny little city, set in the Slovenian mountains. It has a majestic lake, bustling downtown, great pizzarias, and a castle on a bluff overlooking the town. Many of the venues we go to are located in remote hard-to-reach areas. In such cases, you generally spend your time either at the hotel or at the venue and nowhere else. Bled is nicer in that you can get your mind off of biathlon for and hour or two and head downtown for a coffee, or take a recovery jog around the lake.
I was satisfied with the final week of racing in Slovenia although I didn’t make it into the world cup points again. As I see it, there were two highlights of the week for me. The first was that I improved my ski speed by around three minutes in the 20km when compared to the previous 20km Individual in Ostersund. Although I had 5 misses and just missed out on a top-40 finish, it was encouraging to be back in the mix on the ski course. Also, we had a great mixed relay which I mentioned in the opening paragraph. All in all, I feel good about the way the first three world cups have gone and I’m looking forward to a little down time before we start back up again in January at World Cup #4 in Oberhof, Germany.
For now, I’m spending a few days in Siegsdorf, Germany (just a few kilometers from Ruhpolding). I slept in today and went for a nice afternoon ski tour with Christian Sieler (See photos above), Toni Lang, and Katrin Hitzer. It was nice to see different side of Ruhpolding, not just the biathlon stadium.
From here, I will travel to Obertilliach, Austria on December 24th and train there until heading to Oberhof on January 2nd.
Happy Holidays to everyone!