BY TIM BURKE
I have been home now for over two weeks and I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it! After five long months on the road, it was great to finally unpack my bags and have a change of pace.
Although the race season ended a few weeks ago, winter has been holding on strong here in Lake Placid. I arrived home to a few feet of snow and the coldest temperatures that I had experienced all winter. This was not exactly the spring I was hoping for, but I tried to make the most of it. I skied nearly every day when I arrived home, except this time I was content to let gravity do the work! I have always enjoyed alpine skiing but I never get a chance to go during the competition season because we are always too busy training. The past few springs have been so warm at home that I did not have many opportunities to make it to the alpine slopes. Luckily, this year was different and we have had fantastic conditions for the past few weeks. We even had a true “powder” day with a foot of fresh snow at the end of March. It seems spring has finally arrived this week, but I expect skiing will still be possible until the end of April at Whiteface. That's not too bad for the East Coast!
Besides alpine skiing, I have also been catching up on some much-needed rest. This season took a serious toll on my body because I ended up racing so many times when I was less than 100-percent healthy. I arrived home completely exhausted and still not 100-percent healthy. After a few low-key weeks, I am finally starting to feel like myself again. It's super important for me to use this time to regain my energy and health because in a few short weeks we will be back to training full-time. I need to show up at the first training camp fresh, healthy and ready to push.
I normally try and take a few weeks totally away from biathlon at this time of year, because it's just as important for me to recharge mentally as it is physically. This year, though, I have been working on a new rifle stock. The rifle stock is the wooden part that the rifle attaches to and it is highly adjustable and unique to each individual athlete. I had used the same stock for the past four years but I ended up breaking it a few times in the past year so it was time for a new one. In fact, I actually broke the stock in half the day before our first race in Sochi! I was just doing my normal shooting training and I heard a big pop after putting it on my back. When I took it off, I realized that it was totally broken. Luckily we were able to repair it before the first race, but at that point I decided I would need a new one for the next season. After using the same stock for the past four years my body had become very accustomed to the fit. It felt really strange the first time I picked up my new stock. I have been working a lot on the stock, making small adjustments so that it fits me perfectly. I have easily put 20 hours of work into it already and I am guessing that I will double that by my first shooting session in a few weeks. If anything, it has also made me take a real look at my positions and how I go about shooting. Maybe it will turn out to be a good change after using a similar style and position for the past four years.
This spring I will also take another beach/fishing vacation. I am headed to the British Virgin Islands this week for a 10-day sailing adventure. My teammate Lowell Bailey will be the captain of our boat so I hope to make it back in one piece. Actually, we did a similar trip two years ago and Lowell managed to get everyone, including the boat, back in good shape so I'm sure we will be fine this time. When I get back from this vacation it will be back to full-time training. It's always crazy how fast the “off season” flies by! I'm sure I will start my next blog by complaining about how sore and tired I am from all of the training. For now, it's time to enjoy a few more relaxing weeks!