Sunday, 27 January 2013

Kvarnsveden GoIF OK - our new Swedish club

Hans Jørgen and I recently joined a Swedish club, Kvarnsveden GoIF OK, who we will represent at Swedish Ski-O races and champs, and Swedish MTBO Cup and Champs in 2013 and onwards.

The have been kind enough to give us each a brand new ski suit and MTBO kit.

Our ski suits have been worn over the weekend at the Swedish Champs Chasing Start, but we will have to wait for warmer weather and sun before going biking in our shorts and jerseys!

Here is a link to their website's press release on us joining (for those who read Swedish):

I am sure there will be some photos of us competing to come in the following days!

Swedish Champs Ski-O

Yet another new experience when it comes to Ski-O. This time a little more intense! Sprint prologue. Chasing start. Live TV. Internet broadcasting. Spectators. Swedish Champs.

No pressure then!

Sprint prologue
Before the sprint prologue I was feeling incredibly nervous. I desperately wanted a good race, but with my skiing skills, so much depends on the snow condition and number of contours!

I started conservatively and then after control 2 increased my speed and aggression. Come the end of the course I felt really good and was navigating well. Not only that but I felt faster than normal on ski's.

My time was 40% of the winner - 14.56 (me), 10.36 (winner). So I was a happy Penguin for the rest of the afternoon (albeit a little disappointed with last place, but 40% is a new record for me).

After an early night, and one of very disturbed sleep, we were up at 0630 for the chasing start. As part of the Swedish Champs week, Ski-O had managed to get a chasing start format in which would be televised live and broadcast on the internet. The schedule for Sunday was busy so the first start was at 0835, just a little after dawn.

Only those 3 mins behind the winner of the prologue would be in the chase. Everyone else was in a mass start at 0838. A compact start interval. Naturally I was in the mass start so had the added pressure of being head to head.

Part 1
The first part of the course was fairly good. Uphill and tiring, but I was insight of the others until control 2. Through the technical section I was clean and choosing the shortest route. Control 6 was my only error of the race, where I forgot the green hatching means pisted area and didn't see the direct route choice. Instead I climbed the hill and then came to the control from the wrong angle. I messed up the descent on both loops by not crossing to the left side and getting on the slightly shorter track.

Part 2
After the map change we had a long leg up to the top again, so I chose a route I knew from before and headed back up the hill. After the descent to control 11 it was back up the massive hill to the top of the ski jumping hill, before a final hair raising descent to the finish. The climb up was ok, I took the left route choice rather than the straighter steeper option, which was the faster option for most skiers. Given the gradient of the steep climb, most people who went this way lost time compared to slower skiers going left. Needless to say the descent to the finish consisted of a very wide snow plough and small screams in the sharp corners! But it was another sub-50% today, with 45% behind the winners time. Additionally I was only 11 mins behind and just off the back of the pack, so when the conditions are good, I can put in some good speed on ski's (for me!)

December Update

Apparently my last post was in early December, so well over a month ago. I was under the impression I had written something after the Swedish WRE's in Vemdalen, but clearly not!

Here is a brief update of the last month.

The Vemdalen races were a mixed bag of results. I had a very good night sprint/middle and felt strong, but the next day in the mass start middle my nerves got the better of me and I made a sizeable 90 second error early on. I wasn't the only one judging by the number of girls coming past me later on!
Part way round the course I was shoved by the leading group of elite men, which upset me. So I finished the race in tears and had a paddy. After calming down we returned to the start line for the sprint in the afternoon. With 3 races in less than 24hours it was intensive. I had another decent race in the sprint and was 51% behind the winners time, so close to that magical 50% that I'd recently started aiming for after not being last in Norway!

Then the next day came the long. It was epic. My arms were shattered after the previous days and I had no energy to get up the steep hills. Resorting back to penguin steps, the first loop was agonisingly slow.  As I went out on the second I saw the loop had two hill climbs, both going up to the top, and then back down to the bottom. As a battled with exhaustion, giving up was not an option. But after my 4th fatigued fall, I couldn't be bothered to stand back up as I lay face down in a soft patch of snow. My drive to reach the finish and escape the painful hell I found myself in, saw me get back up and keep skiing uphill. By the time I finished everyone else had gone home, and only Hans Jørgen remained to cheer me into the finish - right before I burst into tears. Again! Rather than tears of anger, this time it was tears of exhaustion and happiness to complete a long long tough course.

The next couple of weeks were spent in birthday celebrations for HJ, a weekend trip to London and Christmas with the Kvåle's in Norway. More skiing but fortunately no more races.

Post Christmas we headed up to Lygna on a section of map I made in the summer for a Ski-O race. Unfortunately the day before the race, the temperature warmed, and then cooled on the morning of the race. So the ski-o tracks became ice skating rinks, and I feared for my life. While not a hilly part of the area, the hills were steep enough that I couldn't control my ski's so ended up in the snow a lot. With the icy crust and soft snow underneath getting out of my 'Emily holes' was a challenge in itself! With a pulled hamstring and a sore arm, I limped into the finish. And cried. Again!!!

I find it so frustrating to try Ski-O because I am perfectly capable of navigating my way around a course without mistakes. The problem is the skiing. It's not like I've skiied all my life and have suddenly decided to start Ski-O. Instead I am learning the XC skating technique in my daily training, and then having to learn the Ski-O skiing technique, and then having to develop upper body and core strength so I can do the Ski-O technique! Add that to being unable to control the ski's on ice or hard packed snow, and lacking the technique to drive the ski's forward in soft snow, alongside being passed by EVERY competitor in the forest, my ski-O experiences tend to err on the bad side of racing rather than the positive and enjoyable. So, I finish most races in tears. One week there'll be perfect conditions for me and I'll have a good race and finish smiling because I feel that I've improved significantly over the last race, and the next week it will be hell and there'll be a tantrum because I've gone backwards and am now 200% of the winners time!

But, the good news is that I have collected World Ranking points from 4 races in December of the 6 WRE's I competed in. One was a mispunch and the other I finished so far behind, everyone went home!