Switzerland and most of Europe is somewhat of a snow globe this winter! The clouds are here with a purpose and deliver a light powder dusting almost every morning. I've just returned from St. Ulrich am Pillersee in Austria after a weekend of Continental Cup racing and there was more than just a dusting of snow that fell last weekend. On Friday, I qualified 11th in the sprint prologue and finished the day in 14th after a 'not-long-enough' lunge at the line that prevented me from advancing from the quarter finals. The sprint field for a COC (over 28 nations and more than 70 women makes for a high level of competition just below World Cup level) was made stronger by the fact that the World Cup racing in Toblach this past weekend was two distance races. Meaning that athletes that would otherwise be on the World Cup for sprinting, came to the COC circuit for the weekend instead.
Saturday was a 5km classic race in dumping (and I mean dumping) snow conditions. Waxing on days when it's hovering around 0 degrees and snow storms are blowing in and out, are all but easy. I'm glad I'm not a wax technician on days like those...! I left my decision as to what pair of skis to race on to the very last minute. As it was still snowing heavily and finally opted for a pair of hairies (rub skis that have no wax, rather a roughed surface) with just minutes to go before my start. A great decision as I had awesome skis and my body felt good! Finishing 42nd doesn't sound remarkable, but I was really stoked on how I felt on the day and the way I skied in conditions that are not normally my strongest. The final day of racing was this past Sunday in a 10km Mass Start. With over 70 women going full tilt into a narrow and steep climb, 300m after the start line, there was the expected bottle neck, accordion and respond pattern. No broken poles or skis and I stayed on my feet. I was, however, witness to some gnarly crashes (read: Italian snowballing front flip in front of me on a downhill corner) and carnage. The snow was still falling thick and visibility wasn't the greatest. I struggled with the skis I had chosen to race on, personal mistake but meant that any group I could catch and try to ski with, was gone again by the next downhill section. My body wasn't the freshest either and combined meant that I was well off the pace and ended in 52nd place.
To recap on the rest of the racing that's taken place since my season kicked off, I can report an 'OK' 42nd place in the World Cup Davos sprint (far off from my ideal top-30), 8th place in the 7.5km Classic Swiss Cup and silver in the Swiss Cup Skate Sprint in Goms, Switzerland. Previous to that, I was in Gällivare, Sweden, and placed 32nd in the classic sprint and 57th in the 5km Skate. These numbers aren't single digits nor lined with Gold, Silver or Bronze. Which brings me to my philosophy behind the Gardener and the Carpenter.
The Carpenter being the one with measurements, procedures and precision. The Gardener being the one to plant, wait, ponder and observe; adjusting to the desired course organically. My training, race plan, goals and results are that of a carpenter. I precisely plan the details of each workout, training phase and race to align with the desired result. The Gardener also uses a procedure yield desired results, but the course of action requires organic adjustment. I've sewed the seeds of good training and hard work in the summer and am already beginning to harvest some of the fruits of my labour! With a break in the racing schedule until the beginning of January, I have a chance to recover from the past four weeks of racing, learn from the results and feedback from training to apply and prepare for the upcoming trial races in Campra, Ticino, January 5-7th. These are part of the COC series, but are important qualification races considered for the Swiss Olympic team. I am constantly seeking to balance the precision of a carpenter and the relaxed demeanour of a gardener. I have these amazing tools at my disposal; hammers, nails, measuring tape. Seeds, soil and water.
With my boyfriend, Keith, arriving yesterday for a Christmas visit as well as my mom and good friend Jane having visited over the World Cup weekend, I have a spoiled dose of family support to add to my tool set. I trust that the tools in the tool shed, whether for carpentry or gardening, are exactly what I need to get the job done. Wishing you and your loved ones all the best over the holidays. If you need help sending the holiday spirit - feel free to order a set of Greeting Cards here!