Thursday, February 9, 2012

Konig Ludwig Lauf-Martin's Report

We already know from Jon's report that it was freakin' cold at Konig Ludwig Lauf this year, and from Martin's report, we learn that it was no warmer at the very front of the pack.  He said that he skied like a diesel truck in Alaska, slow but inexhaustible.  Kind of like me, only about 50 times faster!  Here is his full report; you might want to have a hot chocolate handy while you're reading it.

For the first time in a ski race, I was standing at the start line with two layers of underwear and a buff, the multifunctional headwear that simultaneously can cover neck, cheeks, and ears. Add to this my mother's insulated ski gloves and my snug fitting eyewear that I bought after finishing too many cold races with blurred vision. It was -23C and clear that all skiers had done their best to minimize the amount of skin exposure. As a result, it was difficult to recognize other skiers and I felt like I was standing in the middle of a pack of anonymous soldiers. Two or three hesitant booms later and the army started marching.

After a terrible start in Marcialonga, I now went all out the first couple of hundred meters. Between the tracks, the snow behaved like fast sand rather than slow sand, and I managed to make my way up the pack. Soon I was on the skis of the skier from the United Bakeries team leading the field and was ready to recover a bit. But no. My inexperience with the buff put me in trouble. The fabric had slipped over my chin and now covered my mouth. I quickly learned that the material is more or less windproof-- both ways.

With all but one skier behind me, and the adrenalin level maxed out, I was not in a state of making smart decisions. I kept hammering and struggled for oxygen until I almost blacked out and fell like a stone through the pack. Because the pack was moving at a moderate pace, I quickly recovered once I pulled down the buff under my chin. But from this moment, I was stuck at the back of the pack. Not because there were no opportunities to advance, but because there was no power in my body to advance. For the first 30 kilometers of the race, I alternated between trying to not lose the pack and trying to catch the pack after losing the pack.

I felt like I was missing a gear. As if I was pushing harder and at a higher pace than the guys around me. It was a day when I needed magic skis and only had good skis. Stuck in the back of the pack, you are always an easy victim of break-away attempts. With a little bit less than 20 kilometers to the finish, I lost the pack for good. Jerry Ahrlin pushed hard and the compressed pack stretched into a breaking chain of some forty skiers.

I skied in a chasing group of skiers that became smaller and smaller. With five kilometers to go, the group was reduced to a hard working Norwegian skier and myself. Symbolically for my race, he outsprinted me just before the finish line. I finished 29th, just over two minutes after Stanislav Rezac. If anything was positive with this race, then it was that I did not lose more time after losing the top guys.
(cookdingskitchen.blogspot photo)

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