• Maddie Phaneuf

First races under the belt

My season began traveling to Canmore, Alberta, Canada about a week ago. The travel went well, no serious delays and all of the bags arrived. The only downside was that we got into Canmore around 1:30 am, which felt like 3:30 am because of the time change. The week was spent adjusting to the altitude, getting our ski legs back under us, and enjoying the beautiful view of the Canadian Rockies. I love being in Canmore, it's one of my favorite places to train and race. This was the first time I've been here though when there is only about 3 km of skiing, and no natural snow! Thankfully, it has been snowing all day, and it's still falling as I type!

So, I have officially completed the first two races of the 2016/17 season, and I'd say it went pretty well. With the first races, you never really know what to expect. Sure, you've been training all summer and have done Time Trials and sort of have an idea on how it will go...but you never know until you race.

This first race was yesterday; a 7.5 km Sprint. The weather was beautiful, just around 30 degrees and sunny, no wind...perfect for racing. I have to say, I was a little nervous when I entered the start gate. It was a good nervous, keeps you on your toes, excited to see what happens. Overall the skiing felt pretty solid, I felt strong and could keep my technique through till the end. I was also really happy to shoot clean in my very first race of the season! My shooting has taken a huge step up this summer, and I'm pleased to see that it is transferring over to racing. With clean shooting and solid skiing, I landed in 1st place with about a 3 minute lead over 2nd! Full results can be found here.

The next race, today, was a 12.5 km Mass Start. This is one of my favorite race formats (along with the Pursuit) because you get to be neck-and-neck with the other racers on the course and on the shooting range. It definitely adds a bit more stress and excitement. I could feel a bit of tiredness in my legs, but the skiing was still strong. My shooting went mediocre, hitting 90% prone and then 60% standing, I wasn't very pleased with my first standing stage (missing 3) but it wasn't enough to set me back. I ended up finishing the race in 1st with another 3 minute lead! I was very happy to have two wins for my first two races of the season. Full results from the Mass Start can be found here.

We'll be around Canmore for another week before flying out to Minnesota for our IBU Cup Trials. Tomorrow is an easy day, and we'll get to ski at Lake Louise, which is one of the most beautiful skis I've ever done! Hopefully later this week I'll also get to go up to Banff and shop. I'll keep you all posted on the rest of the training camp here in Canmore later next week!

Currently listening to: Soulshine by the Allman Brothers

- MP