And mini-warmup, due to last-minute waxing times! Snowing kinda hard, but I decided to go sans glasses because mine are kinda dark.
Ski WOC Long @ Lesnoye
17th place, which certainly wasn't what I was hoping, but 6 minutes back from the win isn't bad. I was totally in it after the first lap, coming in 6th, not too far behind the leaders. Then two mistakes on the second lap really took me out of it. The first was utterly stupid/careless, not taking the right exit off a big trail and coming out confusedly on another big trail, and then having to back track. At least a minute? Then on the hillside of spaghetti, I went to #59 instead of #60 on my second loop, another 30s at least, maybe more. Boo.
But the conditions today were pretty awesome, allowing for cuts through the woods anywhere the woods were open enough. It was certainly a blast to be out there racing!
Long Analysis (woo internet in Almaty airport!):
Start - A good start for me! Got map in, found start, knew where to head at least initially and also got my butt of the line along with all the other women on the first line - success!
1 - 16s down to Audhild, 14 to Josephine. Fine route, and not distracted by others going different ways, just a bit slower than the two of them. I could tell by the paucity of tracks on the way that I was one of the first to the control.
2 - A march up the hill. I could see Audhild and Josephine choose different routes, I saw both options, opted for Josephine's. Audhild's route might have been better, she was 5.51 to Josephine's 5.56 to my 6.06. But that's pretty tight actually on a long leg, not so bad.
3 - Ouch! 33s down to Josephine here. How'd that happen? Wrong route choice, a lower version that both Josephine and Kozlova took was faster, according to tracking.
4 - About 12s back to fastest, but not route choice problems.
5 - About 17s back, chasing down the Finn who ended up winning, Mervi Pesu and pressed from the back from other women. In decent contact across the hillside, a few cuts.
6 - About 30s back, more cutting across the hillside. 30s is getting to be a fair bit- just not as good keeping track on the spaghetti as the more practiced women, I guess.
7 - Boo! Totally passed on the downhill! Olsson took a great cut, I remember looking to do that, but didn't quite have the guts. Should have just gone more straight for the big yellow open! 20 seconds, just on a downhill, argh!
8 - Now trailing behind a few other girls (Ullveson, Grigorova), but at least this time stayed enough in contact and made it to my control. 25s down to Olga Novikova though, I can ski as fast as her, so must have been at least my timidness as I approached the circle, having let my pack go some other direction.
9 - 20s down, hm, not too much wrong here, maybe slight timidness so not to die down one steep downhill cut. Oh, actually, I do think I almost took a wrong turn, then fixed.
10 - Heading to 10, I could see Tove's distinctive ponytail in front of me by maybe 50m on a straight trail. Ok, not so bad I thought, and tried to aggressively double pole. Only about 5s back from winner on this leg, good stuff!!
11 - First time through the spectator control. I made a good little cut just to get out to the big trail, but still 9s back from the very fastest split on this leg, but I think she had a visual someone to chase down (Hana H.), so I think that probably helped her.
12 - Well, when I got to the map board not too many maps had been taken - woo, should be doing well then. Ok, time to go! But then I just spaced out on the big trail, went too far around the bend and jumped on what I thought was the right little trail, but it just dumped me on another big trail- not the answer... took a peek at my map, figured out what I'd done, heart sunk a bit, because I knew it would be a mistake that would matter, but back to it. Now looking at the map, I could have tried a cut on an open yellow area, but I didn't think quick enough to make that happen. A full minute lost, very frustrating that it was on something that should have been so easy!!
13 - Right up with the top ladies on this one, and uphill leg with big trail skiing.
14 - Kozlova gained 20s on me on this leg, I exited poorly from the control instead of heading out from 13 on the little trail, think that's where most of the time must have come from.
15 - I had chased down Novikova and Ulleveson, so this was following in our little pack straight to the control, a good time.
16 - Back to the equipment control, also easy, perfectly fine time.
17 - I had a bit of a different (low) route choice, but converged with the rest of the pack, a good split time again.
18 - And cross the spaghetti hillside, part 2. Except I was trailing off the pack and not comfy about where we were, which was basically just cutting, cutting and more cutting. We found ourselves at the gully, the Bulgarian took her skis off and threw herself in, the rest of us went up and around, turned out about equal time-wise. Olsson did it about 20s faster, but that's not a huge deal for a long leg.
19 - Downhill again. This time in a pack and with more confidence as it was the same exact control (forking much...).
20 - Ug, major fail. This was worse time-wise than my earlier silly mistake. And it was partly because I thought that it was the same control as the first lap because it was basically in the same place, so I kind of went with the same plan, but then the code didn't match. Argh!! So that made me lose the pack I'd been skiing with along with a full 1:15. Boo!
21 - Ok, back to a common control, remembered it from last time. A good split.
22 - Working hard, being mad at messing up, trying to chase down the little Russian Mariya who was in my sights, a good split time.
23 - Specator control again. Decent time out to it, but 10s back compared to the Finn Mervi, and it's a pretty short leg, so still time to be found.
24 - Very slightly wrong route choice, but I hesitated at one point too, 20s back.
25 - Oooh, feeling tired. And I thought briefly about route choices, particularly because I didn't feel like booking it up the huge hill again, but eh, still nothing stood out as an awesome option. But I think Kravchenko's route crossing over on little trails probably helped her gain the 20s on me. Hana H. was also pretty much even with me on that split and I'm pretty sure I'm skiing faster than her these days. So a route choice fail, even if not huge.
26 - Wow, watching the tracking, the way to win this split was to be Olsson and go for a cut from the big trail. Gutsy, but faster than my route by a full 40s or so. And there was probably a slightly better route than mine, a further down little trail to come into the control on.
27 - Respectable, given that I was skiing alone, 12s down to girls that were probably chasing each other.
28 - Ooh, again down, probably just on girls who were actively chasing each other.
Finish - Not an awesome finish split, annoyed at myself actually, should be faster than that, even without anyone in sight!
Good to have gone over this leg-by-leg for sure. The two mistakes were of course bad, but then there were also a few route-choice surprises that I hadn't even guessed had lost me time, so good to see those. Should go over all the tracking from Europe champs this year, and just test my intuition about route choice. Of course the snow conditions matter, but hopefully will still be a helpful exercise...
How to get better for the future is on my mind since I didn't quite meet my goals for this ski-WOC. (Not really upset or anything, but do just want to get better!) Initial thoughts:
- Do more pushups (I kinda failed at doing these after a bout of shoulder arthritis around Christmas, but my pecs, which pushups totally get have been *really* sore this week, a sign I really should have done more!!)
- Do more awkward skate, even if on rollerskis. Because this has to be second nature, can't expend neurons on it.
- Get to more European ski-os, or US ski-os with narrow tracks. That is totally the toughest part to adjust to in these races, gotta get the brain trained on this stuff. Also thinking more in terms of left-right-left type instructions while map reading while rollerskiing/skiing. Also thinking about where cuts could go. Also just route choicing while in oxygen debt. Hm... this list now sounds like the kitchen sink....