Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Checking in from the snowy side of life

Heya bike racers

I've recently gotten back from a trip to Switzerland, for a world cup in ski-orienteering. I wrote a lot about it on my blog, so you can check it out there, but basically, it was a fantastic trip. Blue sky, lots of snow, croissants for breakfast and Swiss chocolate for breakfast's dessert; it doesn't get much better in terms of setting. I was staying with five other Americans in an old farmhouse that had been remodeled, and it even had a place to wax skis.

Unfortunately, the racing didn't go that well. The first race was a sprint, and although I made no mistakes navigating, the jetlag and altitude collaborated to make me ski at something closer to 30k pace than 3k pace. The second day would have gone a little better, but I ended up missing four controls, which disqualified me. This second day of racing was one of the most physically challenging courses I have ever been on, between the massive amount of climb and technical descending, there was no place to rest. Add to that 44 controls, as opposed to the usual 20-25, and you're mentally as exhausted as you are physically by the time you're done. It was a brute of a course.

racing with a mapholder.

A view.
Thursday was a day off, so we took a tram up to this hotel on top of a mountain, rented sleds, and went screaming down 2100ft of vertical in about 15 minutes. At one point, it got too steep, and there was a 90 degree corner at the end of this pitch, so I bailed, and watched my partner go flying off a cliff. Luckily, it was a small cliff. Friday was the middle distance race, and I finally felt like I was skiing hard, but I made a lot of mistakes in my navigation, putting me about six minutes further back that I could have been with a clean run. Saturday was the relay, and my only good race of the week. Unfortunately, I was on a mixed relay, so my good race didn't count for anything. Too bad, but at least I had a good time and learned a ton. My next world cup will hopefully go much more smoothly! If you're completely confused how ski-o works, I wrote something up here, but feel free to ask questions. Its a fascinating sport, but somewhat more confusing than just racing around a loop once or twice.

This is the sprint map. Its the most detailed (smallest scale) of the maps. The start is at the triangle, and the finish is at the double circle. Competitors must go to all the controls in order.

A recent sprint race.

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