Those of you who have raced at Sovereign Lake before probably have mixed feelings about the place. The skiing is generally amazing. It has one of the most extensive, enjoyable trail networks anywhere in the world that is covered in snow early in the season by big dumps of dry powder. If you happen to be renting a place on the mountain you can ski from your front door for hours, come back and find yourself soaking in a hot tub before you've even cooled off.
Unfortunately for me, every time I find myself in Sovereign I happen to be racing. That means the blinders go on and it's not always possible to appreciate the amazing skiing. Racing at Sovereign doesn't have to be tough, but I seem to have a knack for producing terrible races here. If you want to get into just how bad, check out these race reports from a few years ago: http://www.xcottawa.ca/articles.php?id=2159 and http://www.xcottawa.ca/articles.php?id=1456.
This year I feel that I had exceptionally bad prep for this weekend. Here's a breakdown:
December 11th. Awake until 1am writing final paper
December 12th. Final exam.
December 13th. Feel like I'm getting sick. Don't ski. Find out races are switched from Whistler (no snow) to Sovereign Lake. Scramble to re-arrange transportation.
December 14th. Solo timetrial. Studying.
December 15th. Final exam.
December 16th. Final exam 9am-12pm. Find out the team has run out of multigrade klister and can't find it in BC. Emergency run to Fresh Air Experience to get three tubes. Plane departs at 3pm to Vancouver. Delayed 2 hours because of freezing rain. Stay overnight in Vancouver.
December 17th. Up at 5am to get a taxi to the bus station and then greyhound to Kelowna. Arrive at Sovereign by mid-afternoon.
December 18th. Race prep. Intensity on sprint course and testing classic skis.
December 19th. Classic sprint race.
December 20th. Skate 30km individual start race.
Less than ideal, especially when racing at altitude. I knew that it would be like this before I even booked a plane ticket out west. So why did I do it? I know from past experience that I often do not race well until I've done at least one hard race weekend. Timetrials don't count. I was thinking of this as an investment for the rest of my season. This was a chance to prime my body for the bulk of racing that I will do in January and February. Mentally, any race I do is a test. Given my starting conditions, how well can I compose myself, how far can I push myself, what are my limits. The outcome changes from race to race but any chance I get to test myself is a chance to learn, a chance to do more with what I have.
I had no expectations leading up to the sprint. When I crossed the finish line I was surprised to see that I had qualified in 4th place in the open men, less than 2 seconds from the lead. The heats didn't go as well. I took myself out on a slippery corner and finished 4th in my heat. Patrick Stewart-Jones had a great day and qualified himself for a world cup race in Estonia by taking the win.
The distance race went something like this. The American men crushed everybody. Time gaps were massive. A bunch of people dropped out. Fresh, slow snow for the whole race. In other words, a typical day at Sovereign. I was happy to find I had company at the bottom of the results sheet. As a side note, this was the first individual start 30km race most of the open men had ever done.
While the distance race was painful, it was more painful to leave the next day with a foot of fresh snow falling overnight and sunny skies for the first time since we arrived. Results can be found here for the sprint http://zone4.ca/results.asp?id=7049 and here for the distance http://zone4.ca/results.asp?id=7052