It finally feels that all this ski-o and skiing practice is paying off. Not only am I managing to not fall over on the steep descents and flat, but I'm no longer finishing last (although I do seem to only be able to 17 year olds!)
I was lent some skis by Barbro Kvåle which I used for the race as they glided better on the fresh snow that fell last night. I also had the added challenge of beating HJ's father who was skiing the same course today, but I was really most keen on not being last two days in a row.
The course was one of two halves. The first half with a track network skirting the edges of smaller marshes and tree lines on the hill, while the second half was more technical with some steeper climbs and descents and a denser path network.
I started steadily and quickly realised that I would have a challenge counting off all the paths as those that didn't have controls or on route choices, were hard to see as the fresh snow had covered the tracks. With no skiers using them, finding the right track became much harder. I paused at the junction before the first control as despite it was the first track junction I had seen, I had to pass 3 on my map. With a control half way up I figured it was mine and was rewarded with my control! The route to 2 was difficult, I opted to head straight out to the ski track and then 500m later turn back up the hill on scooter tracks. I was reluctant to take this route as there was 35m of climb (hills not being a strong point) but the other route which contoured more with shortcut options looked too technical and with invisible paths I felt it was asking for a mistake.
The next controls passed uneventfully, but I was starting to tire. I'm ok at skating on wide tracks and I can co-ordinate the movement, but as soon as I hit narrower ski-o tracks my skiing becomes increasing unstable and uncoordinated. Which is frustratingly hard work! Not to mention inefficient!
6 to 7 was a frightfully scary leg, with a short sharp climb out of the control, and then 2 steep drops with corners at the bottom. But I made it with no snowplough and no fall, but just a little unsteady! At 7 I proceeded to get stuck in a tree as my skis went under the foliage and into the dip in the snow. Getting out was a pain and look a good 30-40 seconds. The slight slope and marsh plants poking through the snow meant everytime I got the skis clear, I slid back in at another angle! It must be comical to watch me ski sometimes ...
I loved the descent to 8, I knew there was nothing scary in the way of drops so I picked up a bit of speed and cruised all the way with a smile on my face. After that I fatigued quickly and couldn't find any power, so the final km's back to the finish, uphill, were something of a struggle.
I was 25th today, with a 40 second gap to 23rd. Damn that tree! I was 22 mins behind the clear leader, Tove Alexandersson who won by a massive 4.5mins. I was 150% behind second place and the rest of the ski-o mortals! It's pleasing that I can continue to get closer to the winners. Just a little more coordination needed!