January 4, 2013

Half-way Report

Today was a day I have been dreaming about since my first US National Championships in 2005, ironically enough, at the same venue, Soldier Hollow, UT. I won my first US National Championship today! It took me longer to get there than I dreamed back then, but that's life, the important part is that it happened and all my hard work paid off. I have struggled with skating always, but particularly after my injuries. It was really hard for me to find form in skating last year so I made it my mission to learn to skate this summer. Fortunately I have some incredible teammates who dragged me around kilometer after kilometer and a great coach who spent countless hours trying to get me there. While I still have a long ways to go, I never would have imagined winning my first National Championship in the skating technique.

Let's back up though. Wednesday kicked off the Championships with a classic sprint. I skied much better than I had hoped, qualifying in 3rd and holding my own all the way to final, taking 3rd in that as well. Not having excelled in sprints recently, I was very happy with this result! Unfortunately, the doping control also showed up to the race so I spent many hours trying to produce enough pee to be tested for prohibited substances. Not the most fun part of racing, but part of the deal...
Qualifier (Ian Harvey/Toko Photo)

(Ian Harvey/Toko Photo)

Sprint Finish (Ian Harvey/Toko Photo)
 The sprint beat me up far worse than I expected. Despite only racing a little over 4 km, sprints make for a long and tough day. It requires warming up multiple times, staying focused, and pushing really hard over and over again. Luckily, we had a day away from racing afterward so I was able to shake out the bad feelings and refocus for the distance races.

Today brought the 10km skate. It was an individual start races with people starting every 15 seconds. I went out really hard with the intention that I must give it my all to be in the running. It may have been a little too hard as I came around for my second lap feeling a little beat and unsure of what I had left. I was able to stay really strong in my mind and convince myself that V2ing up the hill was going to be the difference between the winner and 2nd place. And that it was, I think that was where I gained my final seconds on second place to take the lead. It was very close though between me and my teammate and best friend Sadie Bjornsen. I bested her by just 10 seconds. It was a remarkable day and I couldn't be more excited. It was made that much better by racing in Utah and having all my parents and former coaches there watching and cheering.

The day was made even better by the fact that my team APU swept the girls podium !!!
And my housemate and teammate Erik Bjornsen won the Mens Race!

Sadie and I hugging it out at the finish

Going for it (Ian Harvey/Toko Photo)

Victory Photo (Ian Harvey/Toko Photo)
Thanks to everyone who has supported me and helped me get here. I hope there are more good things to come this week and of course the rest of the season! Hope to see you all out at Soldier Hollow on Sunday for the Mass Start Classic race.