Friday, December 5, 2008

Sprint and Pursuit are next in Ostersund

Ah - I am happy to have finished my first race of the season and thank you, all of you, who watched. I imagine it might have been a bit confusing trying to figure out everything that was going on, but I hope you enjoyed watching, what is the most popular winter sport in Europe!

Last night was an Individual competition. We skied 5 3km loops and shot 4 times, prone, standing, prone, standing. For each missed shot, a 1-minute penalty is added. This is a "shooter's" race and favors the more skilled shooters in the women's field. Unfortunately, I did not shoot that well. I missed 7 all together, which when results are written out looks like this: 0+2+2+3. I "cleaned" or hit all 5 shots in my first stage, and missed two in my second, and so on. When you look at the overall results:
They will read likes this:
Rank, Bib #, Name, Country, final ski time, shooting score, total shooting score, and overall time (w/penalties). The final column in the result list is the time difference from the winning time. As you were watching, all of these results were being calculated for each skier, for each lap, and after each shooting stage. To the precise second, you can know who is winning. Out on the course, coaches are standing with small computers, looking at the same information so that they can inform their athletes about their times – they can tell you that you are only a few seconds behind a certain skier, or by how many seconds you may be in the lead.

Even though my result was not that great, I think it was a good start to the season. I skied technically well, which means I kept my technique clean and smooth throughout the race even though I was tired. But in the shooting range, I think I was just too relaxed. I need to find the right amount of concentration and focus on the range to hit 5 good shots at a time. Any advice?

I think this weekend’s race will go well and am really excited to get back out there again.
On Saturday the women’s Sprint race is at 2:30pm my time, 8:30am EST. You can watch it live again at home! In a Sprint race we ski 3 2.5km loops, for a total of 7.5km, with 2 shooting bouts, prone and standing. For each missed target, you must ski a penalty loop. This small oval loop is right next to the range and takes about 20-25 seconds. This race, unlike the Individual, favors the faster skier. The fastest person to complete the course is the winner. My goal in this race will be to place within the top 60, because in Sunday’s Pursuit, only 60 races will start, not the entire field of 100 women. In this race, you race for every second, because everyone counts!

On Sunday the women’s Pursuit race is at 1pm my time, 6am EST. This race is almost like a continuation of the Sprint. Your start time and bib number is your result from the sprint. For example, if I place 50th in the sprint and am 4:35minutes from the lead, I will start with bib #50 at 1:04:35pm. The racers in front and in back of me could be mere seconds apart, so this is a close, tight race, and really exciting to watch! Unlike the Individual, a lot of skiers will come into the range at once. It can be nerve-racking to watch (and to be a part of) because not everyone shoots the same, and you don’t know who will shoot the fastest or the best, and who will get out on to the course first. The Pursuit race is longer; we ski 5 2km loops, 10kms total, with 4 shooting bouts prone, prone, standing, and standing. For each missed target you have to ski a penalty loop. In this race the first person to cross the finish line (mål in Swedish) wins. I know it will be early – but this is a really exciting race to watch.

Well, it is almost 11 am here and the sun is almost up. Seeing the sun during dark Scandinavian winters is precious, so I think I am going to go outside and stand in it. Enjoy the races and let me know if you have any questions!

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