I flew to Slovenia on February 4th for my first European biathlon racing experience. On our schedule we had two races in Pokljuka, Slovenia, and two races in Rosenau, Austria. Upon our arrival in Pokljuka, we discovered that the races there had been canceled due to too much snow. With no other race options within reasonable travel distance, we decided to stay put and train in Pokljuka.
[SPOILER ALERT Olympic men’s Hockey] –We interrupt this blogpost to notify you of Team USA men’s hockey victory in 7 shootouts over Russia.–
The staff at the venue in Pokljuka were very accommodating, and excavated (half of) their range from under the snowbank for us. It snowed over 3′ the day before we arrived and then averaged about 1.5′ per day while we were there. The snow removal operation was something to behold: imagine snow-blowing a strip of your driveway, turning around and starting from scratch. Now imagine snow so deep that you have to hoist the snow-blower onto the pile of snow and blow the top half of the snow off before you can get to the bottom layer. Last Saturday we thew together a race with some Slovenians, Russians and Australians, and then we did a time trial amongst ourselves Sunday.
|Our travel group (L-R): Katrina Howe, Raleigh Goessling, Mike Gibson, Kelsey Dickinson, me, Ethan Dreissigacker. Missing from photo: Casey Smith and coaches Seth Hubbard and Betsy Smith.|
|The beautiful Alpine snow in Pokljuka, Slovenia.|
|Enjoying the Pokljuka powder!|
|The most snow I’ve ever seen.|
|Our hotel at the venue had views of the range from each room.|
Due to a weather phenomenon that is perhaps uniquely European, the Slovenian races were canceled due to too much snow, and then the Austrian races about 150 miles (270km) away were canceled due to no snow. Hence our re-route to Nove Mesto, Czech, where we just wrapped up the first of two Czech Cup races. Nove Mesto does not have any natural snow either, but they have a very solid man-made loop on which they have held a World Cup and U-26 European Championships this winter.
|Biathlon stadium bleachers.|
|Nove Mesto sells out during Word Cup biathlon races.|
|Downtown Nove Mesto.|
|Artwork on the side of the church in the central town square.|
|Nove Mesto train station.|
My race today in the 12.5k mass start was characterized by wet, warm, SLOW snow, wind, and bad shooting. I shot (2p, 3p, 3s, 1s). I was disappointed in the prone shooting because I know I can do much better than that, but for some reason I was wobbly today. Maybe my position, or maybe the wind. Tomorrow I am doing a 15k individual, which is the race format with a one-minute time penalty added for each miss instead of penalty laps. I am relieved to not have to enter the penalty lap after I skied almost 14k in today’s 12.5k, but a MINUTE penalty for each miss is much more brutal!
I fly directly to Minneapolis on Monday morning in anticipation of the Birkie 50k just one week from today.