If I’m honest, my results this weekend have astounded me. Before the World Cup, I was both confident and anxious about my shape. I took big PB’s in my MTB time trial and in my interval session. I’m not talking measly seconds. I’m talking big. These gains while amazing, were also unprecedented. I wasn’t expecting them, they were just there. Quite literally in the space of a month I went from Denmark World Cup speed, to Denmark World Cup speed +++. With a small injury, there was no logical reason for it, apart from; training is working.
But gains in training don’t always mean gains in competition, as we all know. If that were the case, everyone who did some form of exercise/training that progressed year on year, would improve with each race they did. Orienteering sports have an added element. It’s not just biking, r*nning, skiing. The world’s fastest cyclist isn’t necessarily going to be the world’s greatest orienteer.
I have always prided myself on being good technically. I usually relish in terrain with a dense path network, whereas those more sparse tend to bore me. Being good technically doesn’t mean mistake free however. I have a ‘bull-in-a-chinashop’ tendency and regularly make mistakes because I don’t think to slow down at (what then turns out to be) a crucial point.
After having had two good results in the middle and sprint, my lack of perfect performance really had me wound up. 3 mistakes in the middle, and one f’ing stupid one in the sprint. My mistakes in the middle were in part a lack of confidence in my location, and not finding the mapped path, but getting confused with others. In the sprint, it was just lack of attention at a crucial moment. It was close at the end, but in 5 minutes from 13 – 18 minutes, I had pulled back 45 seconds of my 48 second deficit.
With such a hectic race schedule (3 World Cup races and then 3 O-Ringen MTBO), I had said for months that the long would be sacrificed if I had two good races before and was feeling tired. Tired I was feeling, but I wanted to fight. I wanted to test my new speed in flat fast terrain. With exception of the butterfly, the terrain would normally have bored me into mistakes, but thanks to the pain and suffering of pushing my body hard, I couldn’t be bored and had time to think ‘push hard now’, ‘accelerate’, each time I came to a long track section.
While I still don’t have the speed of Laurila or Hara when they really push hard, I have pulled my orienteering up. Despite a 1 minute deficit to Laurila at the start of the butterfly, it was the technical nature of the singletrails and orienteering here that really allowed me to win. My split times go from averaging 5th place in controls 1-7, to jumping to 1st for most of the butterfly. I felt strong here and was maybe having too much fun at times carving into corners and pulling jumps.
My only mistake was not getting the punch at the last control first time. Just 5 seconds lost. I suffered on the long fast sections, not feeling that I had access to full speed, but I stuck to my race plan and kept fighting all the way. No mistakes, but not always the fastest.
In the finish I was winning by 4 minutes to Tichovska CZE and Hara FIN. I then had a 3 minute wait to see in Laurila FIN would beat my time. At pre-warning, it was announced she was late, so I could start celebrating almost straight away.
That was short lived however when I was told HJ had had a crash with Portugese Davide Machado, and both had been unconscious and would be going to hospital. It seems they both took a corner at high speed, and didn’t see each other. The collision apparently sounded like a car accident, and resulted in both athletes knocked out on the floor. Luckily it happened just some metres from the first aid point. Kevin Haselsberger and Cissi Thomasson stopped to helped before continuing their races when first aid arrived. The Bergstrom family from our Swedish club, who were my own mini fan club at the butterfly control, were also on hand to help, and bring back the bike. While HJ and his bike escaped only with cosmetic damage, his helmet and mapboard suffered a more catastrophic ending. Thank you to those that helped. If anyone has found his GPS watch (black Garmin 610) we would appreciate it to be returned!
While my results are good from this weekend (HJ has informed me I am also the first female to win three consecutive World Cup races), I have some work to do in the coming weeks to eliminate those mistakes. While winning a World Cup is a goal, and three is a dream that fuelled many long training sessions (gotta dream right?), it’s still not the same at taking WOC gold. Now it’s time to work hard again.