Before I delve into how inertia applies to ski racing, full disclosure: I am no physicist, nor do I truly understand what inertia actually means. I do, however, have a better understanding and of the ebb and flow of nature and the constant changes of seasons, moon phases, weather and athlete bodies. If only we could be 'on' all the time, or at least have a 'how-to' guide to fix the broken bits when they aren't functioning.
Inertia. Momentum. Forward direction. Wikipedia aims to describe it as 'the tendency of objects to keep moving in a straight line at a constant velocity.' The inertia I began to build early in the season is lacking. I'm struggling to find momentum. That effortless confidence of when fitness just 'clicks'. It's easy, requires no effort and leaves you with no questions because things are just working.
Then, comes a kink in the link, a lug in the tire, and the inertia is gone. This past weekend of racing in the Continental Cup series (COC) in Planica (Kranjska Gora), Slovenia was far from my best. I haven't felt that awful in a sprint qualifier in recent memory. It still blows my mind how one can go from pumped up, ready to race to total cinder blocks for legs and complete exhaustion in less than three minutes. The qualifier was not what I was looking for, qualifying in 16th position in a competitive field of frequent fliers on the World Cup. Numbers and results aside, my body is capable of much better. The heats in the afternoon went quite a bit better than the qualifier, I was happy with how I skied in my quarter final and missed out advancing from my semi final onto the final by a boot length. I finished the day in 10th position.
I'm staying in Planica with a start in the World Cup on January 16th. I didn't race on Saturday in the 10km Classic race as planned, just the 10km Skate on Sunday. Not my finest distance race, finished 20th position, but moments of strength in the first couple of laps on a 2km course. The fields here aren't huge but really quality competition and to race alongside some old teammates (still friends!) and coaches added to the atmosphere.
It takes positive motion and forward direction to create momentum. Sometimes a little oil on the wheels as well! Having not qualified in the Toblach, ITA (43rd) or Lenzerheide, SUI (41st) World Cups, I am grateful to even have a start at this weekend's World Cup in Planica. The positives to build back my momentum back include, racing! I love the quality and quantity of racing opportunities open to me this year, it makes it easier to get over a poor performance when you have another important race to refocus for. Being healthy, being happy, being supported and being exactly where I want to be.
The fact that, no matter what I do or where I am, I can say without a doubt that I have no regrets and have put in quality work that I'm proud of. I've risked, failed, conquered, laughed and cried a lot too. With all that on the line, there is no real failure, only learning. The rain is pouring outside the window as I write this, and I'm confident that as quickly as the rain came and washed away all the snow, the skies will clear, the snow will come and no one will even remember that it poured rain for two days straight at the beginning of January. The energy of the world moves forward and I'll find my inertia once again, it just might take a couple more cappuccinos.