Saturday, March 28, 2009

European Ski Mountaineering Champs Race report

2009 European Ski Mountaineering race championships
race report:
I’ve gotten in the habit of writing a race report for big events ever since I started doing Ironmans 5 summers ago. It’s a great way to review, contemplate, and plan for the future. I decided to do one for this event as it was my season focus and I want to learn as much as I can and come back for more.
It was amazing to be able to compete in this event. My fitness level was about as good as I could have made it to prepare. Unfortunately as some of these events have gone, I made several mistakes that negated a lot of my fitness preparation. Fortunately, these mistakes are easier to fix than not having a sufficient training base. At this point my heart’s desire is to return to this level of competition and prove to myself that I can do it at an acceptable level.
The Good:
It was really great having Dave D. there as someone for support. With his involvement at an international level I was able to get a lot of good info and be in the race loop. He brokered a great deal in that the int’l body paid for housing, food and race entry.....a 400Euro bonus. Amazing!
Being in Czech the week before allowed me to be fully acclimated to the time zone. If possible an entire week before the comp. is really helpful to be over in Europe. Having the coaching gig I was busy, but not too much. I was tapered to a good level, yet able to get some good workouts in at race intensities to get my anaerobic systems ready.
I didn’t pre-ski the course, but would have liked to. I wasn’t prepared for such long demanding downhills. We pre-skied part of the race, maybe 25%. That was helpful. However, these courses are so well marked compared to N.American ones that I knew getting lost wasn’t an issue. By pre-skiing the course you know where to hammer and what challenges lie ahead. I’ll try to do this in the future as much as possible.
The Bad:
Having broken one of my skins at the Sunshine race I repaired it and didn’t think it’d be an issue. It held during my ½ hour plus warm up, But right at the start it fell off. There went all the skiers as I had to take off my ski and re-install the skin. 5 minutes later as I’d caught back up to the group, it came off again, so I removed my pack and pulled out a replacement. By this time I was hopelessly behind. I continued to hammer though, catching many of the women and some of the men. At this point we started our climb up a single set of ski tracks making it difficult to pass. My heart rate was at my typical level all the way up the 1 hour climb. We had a short bootpack which went well then the long downhill. My legs were totally seizing up on the long demanding downhill. I couldn’t believe how painful it was. I’d tried to train for this, but will need to adjust my training to better prepare for the future. Perhaps the new boots contributed. The fwd. lean is greater than on my others and I only had 1 day on them. The skis worked ok, but on the downhills I realized that I need some beefier skis. I’m looking into some Goode’s. It looks good for a pro deal from Couloir. They’re great over there.
The final bootpack w/ fixed rope and crampons was ok. I’d never raced w/ crampons before and only used them at all once. It was fun though and I was glad I got to use my new CAMP ones I received for my Christmas gift from Deb. I should have practiced a little more putting them on. I did a little, but will work on it in the future. I had trouble getting on the 2nd one. I also had to purchase a via ferrata rope system. It cost 150 Euro. Only found out the day before I needed it. You can get one at MEC for 1/3 the cost. It’s use was optional and I didn’t use it.
Now came the disaster.... The final descent was icy and skied out. My soft Atomics really couldn’t handle it. I crashed hard. Hurt my knee. Lost my ski. It flew down the mountain. Fortunately someone retrieved it for me and helped me put it back on as I’d suddenly become Dynafit challenged. Meanwhile my legs were absolutely locked up. This whole thing is embarrassing to even mention, but it was part of my race and one that hopefully will never be repeated.
As I finished I didn’t even make my goal of finishing before the flower ceremony.....bummer.
Things I did right:
-This past summer I did a lot of hammer hikes with poles. I see now how important these are. I’ll do more and start sooner
- getting the F1's was really great. They’re lighter, more flexible for longer strides and more comfortable uphills.
- I did a lot of Sunshine intervals and the week before I left even though I was tired from the Sunshine race I did a time trial to the top, setting a p.r. in 1:32
- incorporating more anaerobic intensity this year has been key in feeling comfortable hammering in these races. I’d been neglecting it the past few years concentrating more on Ironmans and level 1 training.
- I’ve done several short interval workouts at the Nordic Centre where I also work on my transitions (5-6 min up). It’s helped, but of course you can always improve. The new boots did throw me off a little.
- At the start when I had my skin problem I tried not to give up and keep hammering. It would have been easy to mentally quit
Things to improve:
- First things first... my knee has a strained MCL. It presently hurts a lot. Get this healed up first. Dr. Says movement is good for healing so I’ve been staitionary biking and easy skiing. I’ll be ready for Golden for sure.
- I’ve already replaced the skin that caused the problem
- new Goode Carbon fibre skis hopefully will allow me more hammer ability on the downhills
- My switchback kick turns were pathetic. Work on this.
- Keep working on anaerobic power. Short, long and steady state intervals
- in the past I’ve had good success with 4-5 hour xc skis in preparing for marathons. Do more 4-5 hour skis
- Do more balance training (dryland +). Get Jungle Jim to give me some advice on this and maybe even ask Jan Hudec what the CC’s are doing these days for that (glad I have some pretty good advisors!).
- Do more isometric training at the top of my hammer hikes. Maybe more specific downhill training like plyometrics.
- keep working on downhills. Get out more. Back country, front country...just do it. Take up Mike’s offer to train at the Farnham glacier this summer
-Next year enter the Norquay mountain stoker. I may suck, but it’ll give me incentive to downhill train harder.
- practice transitions (continue), practice: putting skis on pack. Crampons on. Also work on hooking up fixed rope system

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