European Tour

Everything went smoothly the first few days, training and adjusting to the 9-hour time difference.  It was odd to be in Europe in February and not see any snow on the ground, but I was there to race and they had a few kms of man-made snow loops everywhere we went so although it wasn’t ideal, there would still be races.  I competed in a 10km classic at Latvian National Championships as a warm-up race, and felt off.  I was frustrated, yet it was easy to write it off as my first race in Europe and I must simply not be completely adjusted, that’s all.

The next day I felt ill with stomach pains.  I wound up suffering from stomach issues all week and missed all 4 Scandinavian Cup races.  Actually, I was so desperate to race I tried doing one of the sprint qualifiers, but I had nothing.  Tough to travel all that way, then sit on the sidelines and be a spectator.

Cheering Kevin on in a Scandinavian Cup race.  Don't be fooled by all the white, it happened to snow a couple cms during the race, but there was nothing on the ground beforehand.
After a week of stomachaches and low energy I started to feel a little better and got out skiing on Monday.  Thankfully it went ok and I was able to get back to training leading into the Lahti World Cup.  Things went well the rest of the week and I started to feel surprisingly good.  I did the sprint on Saturday not expecting much, mostly just hoping to get over any World Cup jitters before Sunday.  My focus event of the entire trip was Sunday’s 15km skate and if I had a good race it would salvage my entire European tour.

It was one of the most challenging 15km races I’ve ever done.  The course in Lahti is tough to begin with, which I like, however because there was no real snow, the 5km loop we were racing on was an icy hard man-made base with loose sugar snow on top.  This meant steep climbs broke down into deep sugar mush and many parts of the course were icy, meaning hard pushes with your legs would result in your skis skidding out.  It was difficult conditions to ski in, but it was the same for everyone.  I pushed myself to that familiar redline edge and did my best to keep myself red-lined to the finish without fading too much.  My body was moving pretty well and my skis were running well.  That didn’t stop it from hurting though.  I actually clearly remember thinking “this is a b#$**” while I was cresting over the top of one of the bigger climbs in the final kilometers.

My goal was top 30.  I finished 58th place out of 92 racers, +2:46.5 behind the winning time.  Although my result came up short, it was still the closest I’ve been to the winning time in a 15km World Cup.  I’m not thrilled with the result, however I am satisfied I had a solid race after being ill and it was nice to not be at the bottom of the results sheet in a very competitive World Cup field.  The top 30 goal still stands.

Next up is National Championships in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.  The first event, the team sprint, is on Saturday, March 15th and I’m looking forward to teaming up with my former training center teammate and fellow Lappe skier, Andy Shields, for what is shaping up to be a real battle for club supremacy.
Lahti World Cup 15km (Photo Credit: Nordic Focus)
With a long layover at Heathrow Airport we cabbed it to Windsor Castle to see a bit of London.   I was shocked at how accurately my idea of England matched the real thing... pretty cool place!  Windsor Castle is expansive!