Haute Maurienne Races
On Monday morning after the IBU Cup races wrapped up in Forni Avoltri we drove west across the entirety of northern Italy into France. Entering the Frejus tunnel not far from Torino everything was green and the temperature neared +10C. Upon exiting the 10km tunnel in France we were greeted by true winter. That side of the mountains had received plenty of snow in the last weeks and by the time we reached our hotel in Bessans, around 20m, the temperature was down to -10C. Colder temperatures were to be the trend over the course of the week, with nighttime lows as cold as -18 and typical race time temperature around -12. Nonetheless, I was happy to be in the mountains, touched by sun in the afternoons, and with no shortage of snow.
Since last weekend’s races in Forni Avoltri I’ve regained a desired energy level to allow me to keep up a full training schedule during the week and still have plenty of gas in the tank for two to three races each weekend. Despite being a relatively flat venue, the range in Haute Maurienne is tricky because there is at least 500m of pure flat terrain (and cold, slow snow) leading up to it, which makes it hard to judge the appropriate time to slow down and catch one’s breath before shooting. In easy training the shooting was going well but as I went through my pre-race intervals I noticed that I continually entered the range “too hot” to shoot well. I told myself that on race day I’d have to use better judgement on the approach.
I was conscious of my mental reminder about the range approach in the sprint race, but still didn’t manage to slow down enough before shooting. Shooting was not well controlled and I ended up missing two targets each in prone in standing. However, skiing was a huge improvement and I still managed to qualify for the pursuit race the next day. In the pursuit I had the disadvantage of starting with time gaps on either side of me, which meant that I was skiing the first lap alone, a crucial lap when many other competitors benefit from a ride with the people starting closely around them. However, I was able to keep my calm coming into the range (mostly because I hated the penalty loop, which was oblong and tired out the inside leg considerably just before the largest hill on the course, and wanted to avoid it at all costs) and proceeded to shoot clean through three stages, moving up at one point into 28th place after having started in 54th. On the last stage I entered the range and shot three shots comfortably but rushed on the last two shots, neglecting to fully settle on the target before pulling the trigger, and missed them both. I fell back about five places while in the penalty loop, but upon reaching the finish was extremely pleased with both 90% shooting on the day and a very consistent ski time in the top half of the field.