A little late with the update, but yesterday passed in a haze with the race and everything related to it, the opening ceremony and team meeting. Yesterday’s race was a rather interesting and exotic event. Some skied fast, some looked like it was their first race ever and some skied in skirts imposed on them by their government, but everyone looked dead serious in the start paddock.
True story- Greeks who ski!
Most of the women have the capabilities to get around the course just fine, fast even, but there were one or two people who made me wonder if they’d ever thought about watching a bit of cross-country skiing of YouTube, take a lesson and at least try to imitate the movements of professional skiers! Like I said, the women are mostly okay, it is way worse for the men since they are much more people with much more diverse skills, I guess you could say. Our best guy and biathlete, Angelis Apostolis, skied very well and managed to qualify with 10th place and well under 180FIS-points. Our next guy, Giorgos Nakas, got a respectable 25th place. I must add that these guys hardly ever do any classical skiing, which had me kind of impressed by their results.
Maria Danou, is my partner in crime here in Lahti. She lives, works and trains in Switzerland (in the same club as many of the Swiss national athletes). Maria is really passionate about cross-country skiing. She has a professional mindset about the sport and is one of the few people on the GRE team who actually trains in the classical technique. I just love how she tells everyone that classical skiing is the real cross-country skiing and who it is such a beautiful technique. Such a good spirit! Like me, Maria is supporting and financing her skiing on her own, which we both find very challenging. Being a (more than) full-time working athlete is hard, we both agree! Maria did a fantastic job yesterday and was only 20 poor seconds from qualifying. She got 8th place, but had to have been nr 7. Bah!
We’d both have loved to race the sprint today, but we have 4 other girls who are skiing today. Our team is actually quite big with 12 people.
My first and last Lahti-race
On the 5 K I had bib 15 of 35 starters and the start was organized by FIS-poins, meaning that the people with the best (lowest) points had the latest start. Starting late in an individual start is an obvious advantage, because you can race based upon the passing times of the athletes in front of you and you have full control. I ended up as number 12 in the end, so I didn’t reach my goal for top 10 and I didn’t qualify for the rest of the distances. “It’s not supposed to be easy to qualify for the world championship”, Eirik texted me late last night, and he is right. Even if I had been top 10 I wouldn’t have advanced, because the winner didn’t get so good FIS points due to her ranking from before. The system of the points makes it sort of a bingo-race, since you never know who is going to show up to try out.
Apart from having to ski around a bunch of people, I have no one to blame but myself for my result. The whole race felt sort of messy to me because it is so short and rushed. With 1.5 minutes in hockey at the end the heart rate drops a lot and even if I gave everything towards the finish line, I didn’t really feel tired. Weird. The minute I crossed the line I was ready to go again! Anyway, I executed everything as planned and took the lead at the finish, and stayed there for a while. I have got to admit, sitting in the chair… not too shabby!
All in all a valuable experience and I each race is a lesson to be learned.
Busy times here in Lahti, so I’ll be posting about things that have happened here, thoughts for the future and lots of pictures tomorrow. Now, enjoy the sprints on TV!