The first race of National Championships was postponed by a day due to heavy rain which threatened to wash away the tiny amount of man-made snow accumulated on the course. After a thankfully cold night and more snowmaking, the skate sprint was on for Tuesday (last Tuesday, that is). As the snow conditions had changed dramatically since I tested skis, I had to make an overnight decision to run on a pair of really stiff skis with a warmer grind. They were a pair Mark at Nordic Ultratune had offered to me but I’d not yet had the opportunity with conditions to make use of them. As it turned out last week, they were incredible.
I had a lot of confidence going into the skate sprint. My fitness is high, my speed is strong and I knew I could ski through to the podium. I qualified in 5th position, less than 2 sec off fellow PNSA skier Dakota Blackhorse Von-Jess, who won the qualifier. This set me up well for the heats but I had my work cut out for me.
There are a lot of things I have going for me this year with our training, but tactics and sprint experience, despite having been in many heats over the years, is something I’m still developing. In my quarterfinal heat I fought through and came into the finishing stretch immediately behind Koos and Reese Hanneman. At that point I should’ve moved into my own lane. I didn’t, and it cost me when another skier moved alongside me at the last minute and outstretched me at the line, eliminating my chances of moving through the heats.
It was a big disappointment, but I had to take it as a strong lesson which I won’t forget anytime soon. I ended 16th on the day.