Best British results ever
Andrew, Andrew and Posy all put in outstanding performances to achieve the best ever British results on the Tour de Ski and a bagful of WC points
The Tour started off in Oberhof, in Eastern Germany. Conditions were great; no snow, rain and plenty of mud. Pretty much ideal for ski racing! In spite of the lack of snow, FIS gave the go ahead for the races to be held. The first day was a 4.5km skate prologue, and the second day should have been a 15km classic.
However, the lack of snow and meant that only a 1.5km loop had been scraped together. It wasn’t deep enough to set classic tracks and was too short for a distance race. So we did a skate sprint instead. All the people who like distance classic were not impressed. I, on the other hand, thought this was great. Skate sprint is a much better event than classic distance. I don’t know what everyone was complaining about!
The prologue went OK for me. I ended up in 17th, after starting way too hard. I had so much lactate on the last lap, that I couldn’t really bend my legs. It is possibly the most knackered I have ever been. Worse than the time I did Holmenkollen 50km with a broken arm and broken ski! The sprint the day after was a bit rubbish. I felt good and qualified in 7th, but came out badly in the 1/4th final and got a bit stressed out trying to pass everyone. Ended up in 21st on the day.
Muzzy kicks off the Tour De Ski at Oberhof with an impressive perfromance
Muzzy's Tour Diary
We moved right after the sprint to Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Switzerland was much better than Germany. Proper snow, nice tacks and a lot more spectators than in Oberhof. The first day here (3rd stage) was another skate sprint. Again, I felt good, qualified in a good position, but managed to ski a bit rubbish in the quarter-final. Despite being a disappointed myself, it was a good day for the British team. Andrew young and I both ended up top 30, and my sister, Posy ended up just outside, in 33rd. The classic specialists were pleased the next day, as we were doing a 15km classic. I have been skiing much better in classic this year, so was planning on doing well. I did ski quite well, for the first hundred meters. It was a bit of a shame that there were still 14900 metres to go after that. I got knackered, don’t ski technically well, and lost 2minutes to the leaders! Not at all ideal for my overall position. I went from 17th overall in the tour to 54th. Needless to say, I wasn’t best pleased.
After Lenzerheide we moved to Italy for the 5th stage, 35km skate from Cortina to Toblach, in Italy. It is a bit of a strange stage. Gradual uphill for 15km, then gradual downhill for 20km. If you don’t have a good group to ski with down the hill, then you can end up losing a lot of time. I started off 3 minutes behind the tour leader, Martin Sundby. My plan was to start off hard, to try and catch up a good group of skiers starting about 35 seconds in front of me (including Team LeasePlan Go’s Anders Sødegren). I skied well and was passing skiers all the way up the hill. After about 10km I was only 10-15 seconds behind the group I wanted to catch. after about 11 km I was pretty knackered and realised that I wasn’t going to manage to make up the last 10 seconds to the group. I knew that if I just caught them up, then it would be easy to just cruise behind them down the hill. But I just couldn’t do it. I felt like puking, struggled to move my legs and couldn’t really focus on anything in front of me. I had to ease back, just to make it to the top.
After 5-10 minutes at a slightly easier pace I started to feel a bit better. I caught a Russian and a Czech guy and we skied over the top together. After 5-10km we were caught by a large group from behind. By this point I was feeling pretty good again, and did a lot of work leading the group. The group split up as I increased the pace on the few hills just before the end. I ended up in 42nd. I climbed 12 places, but was a bit disappointed that I didn’t catch the group ahead of me over the top. Then I would have been in a good position to fight for a top 20 position overall in the tour.
The last 2 days were in Val di Fiemme, Italy. 10km classic, then the final climb up Alp Cermis. The 10km classic was an improvement over the 15km in Lenzerheide. I started off quite conservatively, and was able to increase my pace on the 2nd lap. My position on the day was 34th. Not amazing, but much better then 70-somethingth in Lenzerheid. I also maintained my tour position of 42nd place. I had 1 and a half minutes to make up on the last day to catch up with 30th place. That was my goal for the day. I skied a pretty good stage. 9th on the day, and managed to ski into 27th place overall.
Youngy's Tour Diary - in part
After Davos I went to Livigno to train and spend Christmas with some of the others from the British team. Training was ok. But I had a few hard sessions where I didn't feel so good. And I perhaps didn't take care of resting enough between sessions. Christmas was fairly good, we'd all bought each other presents ranging from 1kg of herbal cough sweets to a tin of peaches and a pot of yoghurt.
On the 26th I left Livigno headed for Oberhof. After a pretty stressful journey we eventually got there to typical Oberhof weather. Fog, no snow, rain, fog, wet, rain, fog, mud, wind, no snow. The usual Oberhof.
During the journey we heard the second stage of the tour de ski had been changed to a skate sprint so the first 3 stages where skate prologue, skate sprint, skate sprint. Perfect for me.
When we got to Oberhof we couldn't train on the track as the snow was so bad. So we trained in the ski tunnel. In the evening we had a team presentation. I spoke to one of the FIS media guys at the presentation. He described the snow as "parking lot" snow. To put the race on they had literally gone to car parks where the snow had been ploughed into a mound at the end of the car park, scooped up the pile of snow and put it out on the track. The snow was horrible, comprised more of fecal matter than frozen water. In certain places the snow was dead... It's the only word I can think of to describe it.
Andrew Young wins first ever World Cup points in Davos.
Skiing onto it was skiing into a wall. There was NO glide, it was like trying to ski over a waterlogged football pitch.I'm sorry to any Germans that might read this, or anyone from Oberhof, or to anyone who likes the place. But Oberhof is a dump. Never ever go there. It rains a lot, it is always foggy, everything is muddy, its always windy, there is never any snow, it's raining and all in all miserable. I don't blame Justyna kowalyzcyk for boycotting the tour at all.Oberhof was a write off as far as my results were concerned. There are a lot of things that happened that lead to skiing poorly... none of them on their own should have affected me that badly but when they all came together they showed in my results. I felt like i was skiing ok in Oberhof, but my form was just bellow where it should be. I couldn't quite place my finger on what was wrong, as I felt as if i should be skiing well.After Oberhof we drove to Lenzerheide.
The next day we woke up to clear skies, fresh snow, a nice new stadium, good food and nice Alpine views. We had a rest day on the tour so we used the day to go for a short ski and test out skis for the following days sprint race.I arrived at the stadium for the sprint race and I was immediately impressed by the crowd. The race hadn't even started yet, and the heats didn't start for hours. But the stadium area was packed. The small stand was packed and out on the track fans lined the uphill. I headed to test skis with Thomas. My skis sucked, so I asked Thomas if they were just training waxed or race waxed. If they were race waxed I would not have been impressed. Thomas said they were training waxed.
After testing my skis Thomas head back out to test more products and found something better, something he calls gangster wax. I later found out that when I had been testing my skis were completely finished and ready to race. But Thomas was shocked about how bad they were so went out to find a better topping.By the time I came to race my skis were great. I raced a good prologue and ended up 27th. Muzzy was 14th and Posy 33rd. We nailed it. As a team, we've never done anything like this before. This was a huge day for British skiing. Two guys in the points and Posy just outside.
The standard on the British team now is high. On training camps everyone is pushing it. Everyone is improving and everyone is going faster. As a team we are achieving stuff nobody thought we could or would ever achieve. To some extent, even our selves. We now have 4 people who have met the Olympic qualification standard, which is a much harder standard than 4 years ago. Who would have have believed that by now there would be 2 brits taking world cup points if they had been told that 4 years ago? No one. Not even me. Just to keep up in training is a challenge. If you turn up to a session or camp and your not ready your going to get beat... I don't think British skiing has ever been in this situation before. This isn't just one or two could skiers... now we are a team of good skiers.Unfortunately or perhaps even fortunately, depending on how you look at it,
Muzzy and I were drawn in the same heat for the quarter final. At least we both couldn't end up 6th in our heat.I surprised myself with a good start in the heat and settled into a nice rhythm. Muzzy took the lead ad started tanking it through the second half of the race. I was in 6th and dropped off the back. On the final decent I started to catch back up and as we rounded the last corner I rejoined the group for the sprint to the line. I had a good sprint to the line but got stuck behind a fading Chinese skier. I ended up 5th in the heat and muzzy 6th.That night was New Years Eve... Unfortunately I was too tired to celebrate and collapsed into bed just after 10.
The next day was a 15k classic mass start. I had a pretty bad start position start near the back. On the second lap of 4 it started to open up and I could ski freely and pick a choose who I wanted to follow. It was also on the biggest hill on the second lap that the group in front of me started to split. Like Moses parting the sea... Musgrave was parting the pack as he slid slowly down the rankings. Half the pack went to the left the other half to the right. I got up to Andrew at the top of the hill and went past. Petr Sedov, the russian, was going fast at the front of our group so I tried to keep onto the back of the group but it quickly splintered into several smaller groups. I ended up a group or 2 in front of Andrew.
At the next coaching point I asked if should go back or wait for his group and help limit any time Andrew would lose. To try and keep him higher in the overall tour. By the next coaching point a team conference had taken place over the radios and I was told I could carry on. On the last lap and a half I just focussed on skiing with good technique and trying to pick off the guys in front of me. One group at a time. I'd try and get onto the back of new group at the top of every uphill and use the group for a good slipstream on the downhills. Then I would feel fresh enough to ski fast on the next uphill. I progressed up to 59th out sprinting Karel, an Estonian skier, to the finish.
After the classic race in Lenzerheide I headed for the airport and home to Lillehammer. It was never planned that I would ski more than 4 stages of the tour. I need time to recover and train before the Norwegian Nationals which have no been moved to Lillehammer and before the word U23's.