After good performances, but not top results in the beginning of the European Championships in Russia it finally paid off in the relay. Øyvind Watterdal skied a good first leg and took some of the longer forkings. He sent me out in a chasing position with almost eye contact up to the team in front. I was really motivated for this race and just gave all I had the whole leg and made no mistakes. I didn’t see to much of the others and I managed to send out Lars Moholdt with a big gap out on the last leg. In the last leg the Russian team skied really fast and caught time on Lars, but at the arena passing before the finish we could see that Lars looked really strong and he easily managed to hold the Russian behind the last kilometres. So we managed to defend our title from last years European Championships relay and got a perfect ending of the championships.
Yesterday was the World Cup final held in the same terrain as the European Champs. The World Cup Final is held as a Extra Long Distance race, which means winning times above 2,5 hrs. To keep the World Cup more open, this race also have double World Cup points, so a lot can happen! Before the race I was in 3rd position overall, but so close behind Lars that we knew the first of us to the finish would be the better in the overall. Andrey Lamov have had an amazing season and had already after the second last World Cup race won the World Cup. There were also a couple of guys that could pass me and Lars.
The Extra Long distance is a special distance as we rarely have the opportunity to compete over this distance. This is also the most challenging distance both physically and mentally, since the last hour your body are completely empty of carbohydrates and you will only be burning fat. This makes both skiing fast and having a bright and focussed mind extremely challenging. And we will need to combine both the very reduces skiing and mental capacity.
I did a controlled race from the beginning. Some early minor mistakes, but I managed to keep the time loss minimal and caught up the pack on my forking again. On the 2nd loop I got alone and the race started for real. I highered the speed and was very focussed. When passing the stadium for the last time, 3 km before the finish I were in the lead with 15 and 30 seconds down to the two following athletes. But half way on the last lap my body thought it was enough. In addition to the cramps I had had in the triceps the last 30 minutes my stomach suddenly cramped. My body position must have looked like I was 100 years old and it felt like all my intestines were going to burst. It was no change of continuing skiing so I just had to stop and scream in the pain. Must have been quite a view for the two athletes chasing behind!
After a short while stretching I managed to straight my body out again, but the cramp in the abs did not really go away so I had to get my skies to glide forward with as little use of the core muscles and arms. Luckily the last part of the race were mostly in easy terrain. I got passed by Eduard Khrennikov and Andrey Lamov which also ended 1st and 2nd. I got in to a 3rd place and managed to keep Lars behind. So even though my race not ended well I managed to pass Lars in the World Cup and ended 2nd. My best World Cup total result.
The season ended with 2 medals from the European champs, one of them a gold and I got 2nd place in the World Cup. This means I managed to reach my goals this year. Next year is the World Champs in Norway. The goals are not stated yet, but after some evaluations and planning the coming weeks I will start the work for also getting some precious metal also then.