Andrea Dupont

Archive for February, 2012

Learning to Tango… I mean Tangle

It has been way to long since I have posted here. This season has just been a happy juggle of training, racing and work. On the racing scene, I seem to have found some extra speed this year but am having some issues getting tangled in the final heat.

On the NorAm sprint circuit I have been qualifying very strongly, even winning several qualifiers, but I keep on getting boxed in or tripped up in the heats. This is a bit frustrating because I feel like I am faster than my final results are showing but it is part of sprinting, so it is something I need to master:)

Part of my issue is learning to maneuver around skis and poles without getting tied up or tripped or boxed in with no place to go. After having a couple of upset I feel like I am becoming way more aware of my surroundings. The race is less about going all out and more like a game of chess: catching people off guard and attacking with your strengths and realizing the limitations on some courses.

So, how do I fix this? I thought the best way to fix this would be to do many sprint heats in competitive fields, but last weekend convinced me otherwise.

I have always believed that you can learn something from every race. When I set out on a blistering cold morning for the 15km skate mass start race in Mt. Orford, I did not realize how much a sprinter could learn from a distance race. Due in part to the cold and to the nature of the fast flat course the field took a long time to break up. Even after the field broke, the lead pack remained fairly large. The entire race was about jockeying for position, skiing comfortably in a pack, and being ready to respond to an attack. There was definitely a lot of stepping on skis and poles, a lot of contact and many near crashes and actual crashes. I managed to ski comfortably near the front for most of the race, until the last few kilometers when at the top of the biggest climb 2 girls in front of me tangled and lay on the ground blocking most of the trail. I thought I had managed to maneuver around when at the last second I saw a ski immerging from the snow bank I was skiing through.

One of the things that I have been learning the hard way in sprinting is that SH** happens, but sometimes it is the person that gets up from the tangle first that wins. So I got up as quickly as I could, worked my butt off to get back on the lead pack and was there for the final sprint. Now, I had nothing left in the tank for the final sprint so I ended up 6th, but all in all I was pretty happy with the tangle experience I got from this day.

The Gatineau Loppet was a similar experience the following weekend. For a sprinter, 55km is a long way to go, but it is also a lot of tangling time to learn from. There were times to tuck in and enjoy the ride, times to push the pace, times to respond to attacks and times to recover from a tangle. I ended the day as the 2nd female to cross the line but there were plenty of men in our pack to keep things interesting. Thanks to XC Ottawa for help with feeds and to Nakkertok for some help with waxing, the day definitely would have been less fun without this support.

I am now heading home for some rest, training and more tangle time before nationals.


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