I left the U.S. on New Year’s day to make the trip back to Europe. My first races of the new year are a time trial plus IBU Cup 4 in Forni Avoltri, Italy. The organizers laid down a base of manmade snow the week before we got here and were able to open almost all of the race loops. The course has some sustained climbs but nothing steep, with long, non-technical downhills. They’re still blowing snow at night and have been building a hill in the range during the last couple of days in order to have the course race-ready by Thursday or Friday. Fresh snowfall each morning has put the tracks in good condition. I hear we’re lucky because Oberhof, site of World Cup 4, is experiencing rain and strong winds right now.
The first race is a U.S. team time trial that will be used along with the two weekend races to determine the athletes who will travel to Nove Mesto, CZE next week to complete the January World Cup team. This being my third trip to Europe in 5 months, I was able to adapt to the time change almost immediately. Physically, I’m feeling much better after some much needed rest in the U.S. followed by about 10 days of altitude training in Colorado. I’ve left the direct sun behind, but not the mountains. The venue here in Forni, in the Dolomites, is beautiful, with stark, looming peaks all around. And taking some time off from shooting–the entire two week break–seems only to have been a much needed mental break, because I’m back on the range feeling confident again. I’m looking forward to the upcoming races!