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Posts Tagged ‘World Cup biathlon’

Before shifting gears to the next World Cup venue in Hochfilzen, Austria, I wanted to share some pictures from the past week in Östersund, Sweden.

Daylight in Scandinavia is fleeting during December months. The sun never gets very high. However, sunrise and sunset can last for hours and we saw some spectacular colors.

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You’ll notice that winter is late in coming to Sweden; we raced on snow that had been stockpiled from last winter and protected under a big layer of sawdust. A couple days before the athletes arrived, the organizers rolled it out into a 4 km loop. Unfortunately, this has become a common phenomenon in recent years as winter weather around the world has become unrealiable.

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Since many of our races were at night (or late afternoon), the stadium was well lit. The lights brightened the whole sky and could be seen from many kilometers away.

IMG_0991.JPGA distinguishing feature next to the race course is the Arctura tower. It stores hot water for the entire town.

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Before the races, the IBU (International Biathlon Union) asked all the teams do so some photo shoots for media purposes. Here Tim is getting instructed on exactly how to stand.

We had several races in Östersund: a mixed relay, an individual, a sprint and a pursuit. These next five candid race day photos are courtesy of our team doctor Marci Goolsby:

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Waiting for my start.

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Lapping in front of the stadium on my way to the shooting range.

IMG_0981.JPGThrowing my rifle back on my back after completing a stage of standing shooting.

IMG_0982.JPGExiting the finishing chute post race.

IMG_0983.JPGAfter each race, athletes are required to go through a “mixed zone” for the media. I rarely get asked for interviews in the mixed zone, but a Russian TV crew honored me with a request on Sunday.

Back at our team wax cabin post race, I made an unpleasant discovery. Snow conditions suffered from warm weather at the end of the week exposing several rocks on the course. I remember feeling some stones underfoot a couple times in the last race that brought me to almost a complete stop. One of my best race skis sustained some serious damage:

IMG_0993.JPGThose two long white lines used to be part of my ski. I’m hoping it can be repaired. Wax tech Tias (above) tells me that even if the gash is patched well (which we will certainly try), water may be able to leak through the side and weaken the core, so it might be a lost cause.

Everyone is hoping for some better snow in the coming weeks.

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Since January 1st, the biathlon World Cup circuit has given us a tour of central Europe.  We started in Oberhof, Germany, a biathlon mecca that attracts over 30,000 fans.  Nove Mesto in the Czech Republic, site of the 2013 World Championships, hosted us the following week and treated us to some of the windiest, snowiest and most challenging race conditions we’ve seen.  Antholz, Italy welcomed us at the start of this week with mountains, altitude, and the first real sunshine of the season.

Oberhof

Favorite moment:

Cooling down with Sara after the Oberhof sprint.  There were so many fans exiting the stadium blocking the sidewalk and road that the only place we could successfully jog was a narrow space in between the 100 or so double parked shuttle buses.  We covered about half a mile running between buses.  Weaving between the crowd and the buses made me feel like I was on The Knight Bus from Harry Potter.

Sara and Annelies dryfire to warm-up before the sprint.

Racers in the crowded finish pen at Oberhof's women’s mass start. We watched from the sidelines because none of us qualified for the race. It's fun to be part of a crowd of over 25,000 fans and have a front row spot to cheer from. I couldn't help but think it would have been even more fun to be in the race.

Crazy Oberhof fans

Nove Mesto

Favorite moment:

I used to think we had a pirate on our staff, or at least a pirate want-to-be.  He is a wax tech from Czech named Gara, and he always greets us with a hearty “ahoy!”  When we arrived in Czech, I was surprised to discover that many of Gara’s countrymen were also pirates.  Everywhere I went, I heard people hailing each other with “ahoy!”  Then I had a revelation: perhaps Gara wasn’t a pirate at all; perhaps Gara was simply Czech.

 

Banners along the Nove Mesto race course. Nove Mesto is the only venue I’ve raced at every year since I started biathlon (they often host IBU Cups.) This year they introduced a brand new course in preparation for hosting World Championships next year.

A view outside our hotel

Most reachable surfaces in the surrounding neighborhood are colored with graffiti. It's actually nice to see some brightness in a gray place.

Some of the team and staff chilling in the hotel hallway. There were very few places in the building where we could pick up a wireless signal.

Antholz

I got off to a rough start in Italy.  We had a very long travel day from Nove Mesto (made even longer by a five hour delay due to car problems) and I was feeling overly tired and depressed from being sick.  All the women on the team were starting to feel the strain of being on the road for so long away from home, family and friends.  I desperately needed to set the reset button in my brain.  The best cure: mountains, sunshine, and racing!

Favorite moment (so far):  When I left the range after my final shooting in the sprint race, I knew I was on track to have my best result yet.  I only missed one target and I was getting splits that I was sitting in about 15th place.  The rest of the race was a fight to earn a mass start spot.  Only 30 athletes get the honor of starting in a mass start- the top 25 ranked competitors from the entire season, and the next 5 best finishers from the previous sprint.  Last year Sara, Laura, and Haley all earned mass start spots at some point during the season (the first time any American women had in years), so I knew it was possible.  I placed17th in the sprint with my best finish yet, and I’m racing the mass start on Sunday!

But first things first:  team relay this afternoon!  This is only the 2nd time this year that we’ve been able to field a women’s team and we are excited.

Finally, the mountainous venue I’ve been waiting for: Antholz!

Armin, one of our coaches, standing behind the scope in his hometown. Most of the US team's staff are Europeans.

Official training under the first true blue sky I’ve seen in Europe this year.

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