Today was the 10k and 15k skate races in West Yellowstone. The temperature was about 28ºF, and it was alternately sunny, cloudy, or puking graupel. Luckily for the girls, the graupel held off until the dude’s race. We had firm and fairly fast tracks throughout our competition. Unluckily for Pete Kling, the sky darkened and visibility was around 10 yards as snow-pebbles pelted down just before his start. After that little deluge the ~1 inch of styrofoam-like precipitation slowed ski speeds considerably.
It was a good day for the APU ladies. When the first results were posted on live timing, after the A seed had finished, we were 7th, 8th, and 9th. I was happy with 8th, and though Fitz had a bit of a rough one in terms of altitude, she still pulled of 7th. Our newest teammate Rosie Brennan had just arrived from Alaska, and blasted into 9th place. Unfortunately someone moved into 8th ahead of me as I was putting warm ups on to go watch the boy’s race, but all in all it was still a solid day. Three girls in the top 10, that’s pretty good since half of our women’s team is in Europe!
My original plan was to start pretty aggressively and attack the beginning. However, my body wasn’t really responding when I tried to push in warm up, and this course is just so gradual and continuous that I decided against an ambitious start. As I skied the first couple of kilometers my body started to open up a little bit and I was able to ski the uphills well. It was never anywhere near the level of aggression that I would have on hills at sea-level, but I felt like I was able to push some. Unfortunately, my problem at altitude is never the uphills it’s the lack of recovery afterwards. I am used to going into some oxygen debt on uphills, so they feel relatively similar at lower elevations. The trouble comes when I can’t relax and recover on downhills and gradual terrain. I felt that a little bit as I began the second lap. The first few kilometers were very gradual but definitely had a net gain in altitude. I was paying my oxygen debt after Telemark hill at the end of the first lap, and really wishing for some recovery time! That was the low point in my race, but as soon as I reached the hills again I was able to ski them even better than the first lap. My splits put me in the top ten, and since I was hoping to better my 10th places from Wednesday, I tried to really work the terrain on the last few kilometers. I wasn’t able to finish as powerfully as I would have liked to or would have done at sea-level, but in all I think it was a solid effort.
Tomorrow I am looking forward to having some more hemoglobin on my 5th day at altitude, and racing in some good sturdy classic tracks. I am hoping to improve my place again, and am really excited to get out there in the morning!
This just in: the temperature has officially (on our car thermometer) dropped below 15ºF in West Yellowstone, and we are STOKED. Alaskan weather, more hemoglobin, and classic skiing– I never thought I would say this, but I really think it’s time to bust out the whapsticks. YEEEEEHAW!
[Yeah, that’s our team Buick. That’s what we were driving when the thermometer was dropping this evening! APU style: pure luxury]