Ski-O success! At last a ‘good’ performance.

If I were Tove Alexandersson, today would have perhaps been my worst result ever. But I’m not. I didn’t grow up on ski’s and have only perhaps done about 5 months skiing in total (checks training diary). In fact my total skiing hours in the last 2 years is 354. Not much really. 354 hours has been enough that I can ski with some speed, but ski-o remains a challenge.

But today, I actually had some success in ski-o. I didn’t cry for starters, I told myself today would be better. I knew the worst hills too, so I had planned to avoid them as much as possible. The snow was a little harder too which made things a little better. In fact, I’d almost go as far to say it was nearly perfect conditions for me. Technical orienteering, hard tracks but no ice.

The sun was shining too which made it a more pleasant experience. My only gripe was that the start was 30 minutes delayed. Apparently there was a sign above the start list, but I never look at the start list immediately before a race as I think every athlete should always know the time they start. There was also an XC ski race on so there were several hundred extra people in the small finish arena, so I avoided it so as not to kill small children with my out-of-control ski’s. It normally takes me some minutes to locate the signs to the start in Norway as it’s often like playing hide-and-seek with a small bit of tape strung up on a tree somewhere in the vicinity. So I was in a rush and didn’t go near the start list. My own fault, but a sign on the way to the start but away from the bulk of competitors would have been useful. I could have stayed warm in the car. Or even woken up 30 minutes later!

Sjusjøløpet middle distance

Anyway, looking at the map on the way to the first control and I was pleased to see that the hills didn’t look dangerous and steep, it was possible to avoid the worst and some routes were on wide tracks and roads which is always nice. Hans Jørgen was caught out twice later when he didn’t look at the road route choices and lost some time. I took a nice road climb to the first control and got into the flow nicely. I was wary of the 2nd but it looked like there shouldn’t be any big hills so I took a good route and found it well. Successfully down the hill to 3, and then navigating to four well. Coming out of four there was a well worn shortcut to the main track that looked like a normal singletrack, I was a little confused but turned left as I figured a) there was a shortcut or b) the junctions on the map were slightly wrong. Through 5 -7 I couldn’t help but feel something was still wrong with 4. The control had been where I expected it to be so I must have punched it, but I still had a nagging doubt that perhaps I came out too early on the main track. In the end, I stopped for a few seconds on the long climb just to triple check the map. I figured my assumption I took a shortcut was correct as there was no other possibility so I put it out of my mind and carried on.

To 8 I had a ‘strategic’ fall, a sharper than 90° corner that I just didn’t think I could make. I fell early on the harder snow so as to make getting back up easier! Only fall of the course, which again I’m pleased with. I feel my confidence on the descents is growing very very slowly, but I understand how my weight needs to be positioned on my ski’s now so corners are a little easier. After 11 it was easy navigating and fast skiing, so no problems other than a miss on a junction where I had no chance to turn without a big powder snow crash. Straight ahead for some metres, turn and take it safely. Some time lost compared to the other better skiers, but time saved for me.

I finished in 19th place out of 39, and gained 551 WR points: my second highest yet. I was a good race for me, and I mostly enjoyed the experience. The technical orienteering sections certainly helped me gain a better position today, but I still lose a lot of time on the uphills and downhills. It was by-and-large a positive experience, so I’m happy with the result.

Once again, many thanks to the organisers for creating a good technical network (especially the west side) and for hosting the event. Nicer weather today, and a great view from the start!

Hans Jørgens route at Sjusjøløpet

Full results can be found at eventor.orientering.no

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