Friday Feb 15:
Kris called on his cell phone yesterday morning. They don’t have internet in Liberec and we usually stay in touch using Skype. He had a couple of good training days after the Otepaa races, including a 3 hour ski. Then the team travelled to Liberec where they have apparently trucked snow down from the mountains to make a 2.5K loop of mud, rocks, and slush. For the first day or so once they got there the only skiing option was to head up into the mountains. Kris spent an hour on a full-sized charter bus with 12 other guys getting to skiing that was only 15 minutes away. I guess the driver didn’t exactly know where the skiing was. But all things told Kris is feeling well. His HRs have been running low and he’s looking forward to the weekend. He starts bib number 2 tomorrow - just like last week. It’s hard to know whether his starting position and the 2.5K loop will make for good rides, or just crazy traffic. It could be a real circus. We’ll all find out tomorrow…
Sunday Feb 17:
Kris was unimpressed with himself in the individual skate race in Liberec. He felt strong and smooth, but lacked a 10K gear. He was 26th place (or something like that) and pleased to be there given the effort he felt that he gave. Pete has noted the same thing - Kris looks strong and smooth. He’s the fastest strong and smooth guy out there. But he’s getting beaten by guys with additional gears.
I think Kris took a step toward finding those gears in today’s sprint relay which he raced with Chris Cook. It was the first sprint effort of his season, and the sprint relay format made for a good training session. Kris felt that he put himself into a state that he has not seen in his longer race efforts. He felt pretty hosed for a good five minutes after the race, but recovered quickly enough to be disappointed at not advancing to the final. His lap times held up well throughout the race. He didn’t fade as much as many guys, and he made a pretty good case for being on the #1 sprint relay team in the future. But none of that makes for podiums without those extra gears that Pete has been looking for.
Kris tends to adapt quickly to a new stimulus. If nothing else, today was a good stimulus - good training. Things are well set-up for some improving results over the next couple of weeks. Next weekend in Falun is a 30K pursuit and a relay. The 30K is the primary effort, for sure. But the relay is something to look forward to. It’s an event where Kris can go out in the first leg, head to head with good competition, and take some risks. There’s no huge penalty if he blows up - the team isn’t likely to be in contention for podium positions under any circumstances. And Kris definitely needs to find ways to put himself into some new territory over that 10K distance. Between today’s sprint and next weekend’s relay scramble (both classic) I think the Lahti 15K classic the following weekend might represent a good opportunity.