I woke up next day feeling good. My first race was over and I was pumped for the races that were coming up. The next one would be the day after. A Tuesday with 5 kilometers of classic skiing. We all ate some breakfast before it was time to get skiing. We left the hotel and drove to the wax hut from where we started our ski. After only 1.5 hours of skiing we went to get lunch at the community center. We arrived at the hotel after lunch and took a shower. There would be a couple of hours to walk Whitehorse before it was time for dinner.
I woke up Tuesday feeling a little nervous about my upcoming race. My category was one of the last ones to go so I had good time to get in my race suit before a group of us left the hotel at 9.30. When I arrived to the race site it was time to warm up. A part of the preparation to races that I don’t really give that much attention… But I completed some sort of a warm up and Chris told me to go test my skis. I soon returned asking for more grip wax. Since your technique decides what amount of grip wax you need, I usually need quite a bit. Soon I was standing on the start line ready to get going. It was an individual start where the skiers get sent off with a 15 seconds interval so I left the start line alone. Now my mission was to complete the 5 kilometer loop without too many guys passing me! It was a course with about 3 kilometers of climbing before hitting the downhill part. Since it is the climbing that really requires technique I got passed by quite a few guys. But on the downhill part I managed to keep up with one of them thanks to some aggressive double poling.
After 17 minutes and 50 seconds I passed the finish line. As number 85 out of 89 some people would argue that I should be crying. But considering that I had been skiing for 5 months and everybody else for at least a couple of years, I felt quite satisfied with beating 4 Canadians! After grabbing some lunch in the athletes tent we skied to the wax hut and continued in cars back to the hotel. I was quite exhausted when I was lying down on my bed that evening. My first individual race was done and I had managed not to finish last in my category. Next day, Wednesday, would be another race day with a skate 7.5 kilometers race. Hopefully I would be able to maintain my statistic with not being last!
I got in my race suit Wednesday morning not really thinking of what was ahead. I had heard that the day’s course would be even steeper than the 5 kilometer loop but hadn’t really thought about it. After all it would only be a 3.75 kilometer loop that I would do twice so how bad could it be? After some breakfast we left to the wax hut and skied out heading towards the stadium. When I arrived it was time to a little warm up before I would be going out on my 7.5 race. After a short warm up I was standing ready at the start line. Again today it was an individual start with a 15 seconds interval. I was ranked a little better than the day before which meant that a few skiers would be going out before me. The best skiers would go in the end so after just 3-4 skiers in front of me it was my turn to cross the start line and begin my 7.5 kilometers of pain.
I skied out feeling good and soon I caught a guy that obviously already was tired. I climbed and climbed up some very steep hills and I was starting to feel like dying when I heard someone standing in the side of the track saying that I was halfway up the hill. Not really the message I had expected! My thoughts about this course had obviously been wrong! After being passed by a guy or two I finally reached the top of the course. It was time to a couple of minutes of relaxation down the hill before I would reach the stadium and begin my second lap. I reached the bottom by the stadium and felt like just stopping for a break. But breaks are not a part of racing so I kept on going cheered up by the yelling along the sides of the course. There is nothing like hearing your name yelled out when you are about to collapse! I managed to make it through the challenging course once again before I collapsed on the snow after crossing the finish line in a time of 24 minutes and 37.9 seconds. This time provided me with an 82nd place out of the 89 skiers in my category. I was beating more people and still keeping myself away from the last place!
We arrived at the hotel soon after and after a shower some of us wandered around town. Whitehorse itself is not the most beautiful place. With first nation people doing drugs in the alleyways and open bars at 10 am it was quite sad to see how the old civilizations had been disturbed by the expansion of European explorers. That night we went to the hot springs outside Whitehorse which was really refreshing. It was nice to just lie in nice warm water after a long race and it didn’t take me long to fall asleep that night! I was already more than halfway through my races and the time was flying by! Next up would be the sprints on Friday which I was quite excited about.
But first a Thursday in between to get some strength back from the intense races that I had already been through!
To be continued in Part 3!