I have been wanting and needing to write for a few weeks now, but I have had a traffic jam of ideas in my brain which have effectively stopped me from getting anywhere. But it is time to just plunge in!
First of all, it is way cool to be here! There can’t be anything like doing World Championships in Ruhpolding Germany where the 30,000 fans each day are absolutely crazy and so enthusiastic. What an honor to have this opportunity.
My first race here was the Sprint on the weekend. Because of the tropical temperatures and the sun baking the tracks, our coaches decided to try having as many of us start late in the field possible so that the sun would hopefully be going down closer to the end. At World Championships, every country is allowed 4 starters so the field is much larger than a normal World Cup. I was bib 115 with only a few people behind me, including my teammate Susan Dunklee. Starting an hour after the first racers meant that many people were already finished while I was still jogging around the start pen. I was out warming up when Magedalena Neuner was declared the winner and people were already starting to leave. Even so, with 5,000 people walking away you don’t notice it with 25,000 still left cheering.
With toasty weather like we had, a venue like this is able to pull off the best possible conditions no matter what. They salt the course, which creates an interaction requiring energy to pull out water and thereby cooling the snow. So the courses are rock solid in the morning, but because of television we don’t race until the afternoon and after the men, so there is not a lot of hope for firm courses. I was always looking for any places that the shade might cool it down and this included a long section right next to the fence where the spectators stand. I can’t believe that none of them try to touch you or get in the way because they are so close it would certainly be possible. It’s one of the coolest things about racing here.
It was a bittersweet race for me. I felt great today, but I had too many mistakes (3) in the shooting range. When I left after my last shooting stage I was 20 seconds out of the top 60, which is the cutoff for the pursuit. I felt so good and made up all of that time in the last 2.5k, and came into the finish in 60th. Normally, being so far back, you would feel fairly safe. But it was not to be. The starter behind me, a fast Italian pushed me out by 2 seconds and then another REALLY fast girl (my teammate!) also finished and I was bumped to 62 only 5 seconds out. I was proud of how I fought to bring it home, but it is incredibly disappointing to be so close especially when it keeps you from doing the next race.