Saturday morning, it was still snowing. A lot. Luckily it was colder than Friday, so the snow was super light and fluffy, so the fact that there was a lot of it wasn't too slow for skiing. We had two races lined up today: a mass start middle distance (9km straight-line) in the morning, and a WRE (World Ranking Event) sprint in the afternoon. And no good place to hang out in between, other than the sauna. Works for me!
I was ranked 15th of 18 in the starting order, so my goal was to beat at least four people. These Swedish chicks are fast! I had a good start, and moved up well through the pack, into the top eight or so. The courses forked (we had three map exchanges - so you didn't know who was on what map, making it harder to follow) early on, and I was the second person down my fork. Its exhilarating, going that fast! The first map went by pretty quickly - I made one really bad route choice, going way around when I didn't have to, but otherwise it was pretty clean. Sweet!
Second map, and I saw a lot of Ali - I think we had the same map this time. We sort of traded leads on and off as we'd both make stupid decisions, but we were going close to the same speed. Near the end of the lap, someone tracked me, and as she went by, she threw an elbow, probably not intentionally, and it knocked me off balance, and I went into a ditch. Hard. Hard enough that I whacked my head pretty good on the trail, since that ditch was actually a spruce trap. And I couldn't get out. Great! Oh, did I mention its been snowing non-stop since we got here?
Anyway, I extricated myself from the ditch, and it took a while, but eventually I caught back up to Ali, who was just cruising, reading ahead on the map, on lap 3. We had the same last lap at this point, and so I decided to try and drop her. PROtip - if someone is just cruising, and you're breathing really heavily, going in front of them and trying to drop them is probably not a successful strategy. She was toodling around behind me as I staggered and wheezed my way along as fast as I could go for a while, but then luckily at one of the controls she managed to get her pole caught in the control itself, and that took a while to extricate herself. Ski-o is much more of an adventure than ski racing, wow. So, I ended up beating Ali, by about 20 seconds, but there was nobody else around us. I definitely should have paced that race a little better - I was pretty blown by the time I started the third lap.
If you're interested, here are some more details on the race, from my training log. Results, and splits. I ended up in 13th, so I beat 5 people, a new record in Scandinavian terrain for me. More importantly, I was only 18% behind the leader, a new PR for me in ski-o; and in some technical terrain, too!
I had a GPS transponder taped to my map holder, so you can see where I went. Except I think they gave me the wrong number, because my track doesn't actually line up with where I think I went. Regardless, its cool. The GPS link might not work a few weeks from now, but for now it works, unless you're using safari. Link.