Monday, February 10, 2014

First Olympic Race

That was awesome!  First Olympic race in the books today with the 30 km Skiathalon.  The Skiathalon is an event where you classic ski for the first half of the race and then make a 'pit stop' and switch to skating skis.   This has been a World Championship and Olympic event since 2002, but is seldom contested in North America.  The last Skiathalon race I competed in was in March of 2009.  Although I don't have a lot of experience racing it, I have practiced for it by doing time trials and intervals starting classic and switching to skate.

Practicing my exchanges in the pit before the race
Overall I had a good race.  My goal was to start quickly and hang with the main pack for the first lap and then find my own pace.  I lost a fair amount of time in the classic portion of the race but felt that I skied well.  My skis were awesome and I felt that I skied technically well.  I switched to my skate skis in 57th position which is pretty far back.  After a few kilometers skating my legs adjusted to the different technique and I was able to move up in the pack.  I caught many of the skiers in front of me and moved as far us as 45th place.  I finished the day in 47th, but with the 37th fastest skate time and just about one minute out of a top 20 skate time.  This is a good sign for me to earn a start in the relay and for a possible top 30 in the 50 km Freestyle.

Noah, Erik and I all had our first Olympic start in the Skiathalon.  About 10 minutes before our start I think this photo captures our nervous excitement.
Conditions are ideal. We have had sun nearly every day, the tracks are groomed perfectly and the views from our mountain top venue are gorgeous.
Zach Caldwell is my Wax Technician for the Olympics and has made me great skis.  He has several pairs of skis freshly waxed up and ready for me to test each day.  This is a luxury I am not used to and is really nice.  Zach works with Kris Freeman and myself and works long hard days.  My skis have been great, thanks Zach.

Watching the Opening Ceremonies live was simply amazing.  I believe these animals were programmed robots and they looks almost real skiing, skating, snowboarding and waving at the crowd.
The opening ceremonies is a long process for the athletes.  We were told we would leave the Endurance Athlete Village at 4 pm and not return until 1:30 am.  Thankfully we ended up leaving at about 5:30 pm and returned at 12:45 pm.  Still it was a lengthy process.  Some athletes chose to walk in the ceremony but not stay for the show.  I was actually the only American athlete from the village to stay for the show.   Our competitions do not begin until 2 pm so I decided I could afford to stay up late.

Me and Todd Lodwick.  Todd is and nordic combined athlete and carried the Flag for Team USA in the opening ceremonies.  He is the first American to compete in 6 winter Olympics.  

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Team USA representatives from the Endurance Athlete Village (Cross Country and Biathlon) preparing to head to the Opening Ceremonies.
I am eating lots of vegetables.  The dining hall has plenty of options and variety.  Plus it is open 24 hours a day.  I want to try a little of everything, but I control myself to keep my diet normal.
My home for the next 3 weeks.  My teammate Erik said yesterday that he could just stay here forever.  I would have to agree, it is very nice.

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