A little while back I was invited to take part in a ski race alongside a day of training at Milton Keynes Snozone alongside my fellow GB Pathways teammates. I wasn't feeling on top form beforehand and had spent most of the week earlier in bed getting over a sore throat that wouldn't budge! I figured I may as well go down and at least get some practice runs in because it was going to be my last proper training day before heading off to Wittenberg, Germany for a British ParaSnowsports development training camp. So, popping the Paracetamol, I headed off to MK at the crack of dawn. I knew that I wanted to perform well so that I could go off to Germany feeling confident in my skiing. It was quite a long day, with the racing only starting at about 5pm! But with experience, I'm pretty self-aware about my limits and know that when I start to get tired, its time to break, or call it a day. We practiced slalom in the morning, then I took an extended break around lunchtime (with plenty of coffee, painkillers and energy snacks!) and hit the slopes again a little later few a few warm up runs where the course would be set. It was a shorter course that it usually would be in an IPC event so we took four runs rather than the usual two. I was pleased to have some good competition in Amber and Shona, particularly, as some classes didn't have as many competitors.
I was quite cautious in my first run I too, particularly as the course was a bit rutted which tends to put me off a bit, but once I'd done it (and had heard my time) I knew that I needed to step it up a bit! It was great being able to find out our times at the end of each run so we could know how we were fairing and if we were improving each time. With each run I got faster, with the second one being as much as a few seconds faster, and the next two just marginally. Despite having never raced indoors (a pretty different kettle of fish!) I was happy enough with how I thought my performance but wasn't sure on where I'd place...
We finished up, had the mandatory cup of tea (still trying to ease that pesky sore throat!) and waited for the results to be ratified upstairs in the bar area. There were lots of competitors; on the ParaSnowsport side: visually impaired skiers & guides, sit-skiers, standing (all with both men & women's categories); and lots of able bodied competitors too. I knew I'd get a place because there were 3 competitors but wasn't sure where. When it was announced that I'd got first place I was pretty surprised. Both my competitors had put down some really good runs! But I was, of course, really pleased (as you can see from the huge smile on my face) and it has certainly boosted my confidence for Wittenberg.
I leave for Wittenberg next Friday where I will spend a week training with the British ParaSnowsports Pathways and Development Team & coaches. It's in an indoor artificial slope but is far longer than the ones we have here in the UK. The focus will be on slalom, which although is not my favourite discipline (I much prefer getting a bit of speed up in GS), it'll be really beneficial as it's my weakest discipline too. I look forward to getting a whole lot of practice in and then hopefully being able to put down a decent race when it comes to it later in the year.
This camp will be the first of a few this year. The next will be in Hintertux in Austria in September where we'll be on a glacier. Following that, more training in Wittenberg, races in Landgraaf in Holland and then off to Winter Park again after Christmas for more races and lots of practice. It's looking to be a good and busy season!