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Welcome! My name is Michael Somppi and I'm a competitive cross-country skier. I developed this blog so sponsors, family, friends and fans can keep up to date with my life as a full-time athlete. You can expect regular blog posts about racing, training, and life in general. Check out other sections of my blog by clicking on the tabs above.

Friday, 29 March 2013

World Cup Trials and Tribulations

If it were easy, everyone would do it.

I recently won a very tight battle on Canada’s NorAm circuit, claiming the leader spot and start rights for the final World Cup races of the season.  Less than a week after duking it out with each other at the Canadian Western Championships Mini-Tour, Graeme, Jesse and I travelled to Finland as the top three NorAm skiers ready to take on the World.  Each of us had big result based goals for the trip and would be disappointed with achieving anything less.

Unfortunately, as I have learned time and time again, breakout results or performances are a rarity and what is more real and definitive is the slow process of steady improvement.  My skiing career has tended to follow this slow steady upward trend to a tee.  There are highs for sure, that sometimes to an outsider looking in may seem like breakthroughs, but to me they are not.  I know the work I have put in and I know what I am capable of when I am feeling at my best.  The real challenge becomes conjuring these performances and good sensations on a regular basis and at the biggest competitions.

I am disappointed with my trip to Europe because I feel I have squandered the World Cup opportunities I was presented.  I wasn’t able to put all of the pieces together for a top performance.  To have a great performance in skiing, the body, mind and skis have to be at their best.  I had days where 2 of the 3 were good, but it’s impossible to perform at your peak without all 3.

Although I didn’t have any breakthrough performances like I was hoping for, it wasn’t all for not.  I started 7 World Cup races while in Europe and each time I hit the start line I was a little less nervous and able to focus more on myself rather than my surroundings.  I watched World Cup skiers’ technique carefully and have pin pointed several things I need to work on for next season.  My weaknesses and strengths have become more obvious and I know where my focuses should be to make the biggest gains.  All the travel, race logistics, and cuisine are more familiar to me now.  The next opportunity I have to race on the World Cup there is no doubt I will be better prepared to find success.

And if nothing else, it was a memorable experience to compete in the most historic World Cup events across Scandinavia.  I raced in Lahti, Finland, completed the famous Holmenkollen 50km in Oslo, Norway, and competed against the top 50 in the World at World Cup Finals in Stockholm and Falun, Sweden.

High speed sprint course in Lahti, Finland.

The view from our Holmenkollen Hotel overlooking Oslo and the fjord.  Taking in the rays of sun on days like this felt like spring had truly arrived.

At the harbour in Oslo with Graeme, Lenny and Jesse
Vigeland Sculptures in Frogner Park in Oslo, Norway

I’m back in Canada now.  I travelled directly from Sweden to Whistler, BC to compete in the final races at the Canadian National Championships.  I arrived here the day before the 15km classic and opted to not race as I was exhausted from all the racing and travelling for 24+ hours.  Yesterday I competed in the classic sprint.  It wasn’t my best day but it was a good tune up for the 50km skate.  Tomorrow will be my last race of the season and I will be sure to empty the tank completely in the 50km with the hope of a podium performance.