Finally, after a hot summer of training, a move across the country, countless hours spent skiing in Canmore, FIS qualification races in Montana, BC, and Alberta, the moment had arrived – I was going to race at my third World Championships!
Nordic Skiing World Championships are held every two years, and this year Seefeld, Austria was hosting. Seefeld has previously hosted the 1985 World Championships, and the nordic events for the 1964 and 1976 Innsbruck Winter Olympics.
Preparing for these championships was not easy with work commitments, and I am not getting much (any?) faster with age. I was thrilled to be able to arrive in good shape, and raced a 10km classic race (despite a broken pole that cost me a few seconds and a few placings) and skate sprint that I was really proud of.
The indisputable highlight of these Championships for me was having a fantastic teammate in Thomas Maloney Westgaard. We decided to race the classic team sprint together. Ireland has never before entered a team in a cross country event. We raced in a heat with Norway, Sweden, Russia, Canada, Great Britain, the Czech Republic and the USA among others.
Thomas actually took the lead on his first lap – it was an incredible feeling to be racing among the worlds best endurance athletes. I had to push hard to ensure our team wouldn’t be lapped, and in the end we finished 27th of 29 teams. I’m incredibly proud of this, because this is a race you can be lapped out of and not finish. If you follow xc skiing news you will also know that we can expect to move up a spot because of doping violations…
Without putting too much pressure on Thomas, it will be fascinating to watch his ski career. Thomas is still 23 and he raced 5 of 6 possible races at the World Championships. The only race he didn’t do was the 4 man relay – because our team isn’t big enough! He went on to place 22nd at the famous Holmenkollen 50km race – a mere 6 days after completing the 50km in Seefeld – incredible!