Time flies when you travel to a new country every Monday. My results from the first trimester of the World Cup season (Sweden-Slovenia-Czech Republic) showed good improvement from last winter. I still haven’t repeated the top-20 result that I managed in my first sprint of last year, but my average performance is WAY better. I am skiing faster and my shooting percentage continues to be around 80%. It’s hard to believe but we are already part way through our second trimester (Germany-Germany-Italy).
One area in which I have a lot of room for improvement is standing shooting- both accuracy and speed. I often hit 5/5 prone and 3/5 standing in order to achieve that 80% average. So after the races were over in the Czech Republic, our shooting consultant, Olympic 50 meter rifle champion Matt Emmons, helped me establish a new standing shooting position that is more stable. Matt is one of the best shooters in the world, and so I am very, very fortunate to have his counsel.
Success in shooting comes from repeating the perfect process so many times that it becomes an unconscious act. So learning to set up a new position in the middle of the season is hardly ideal. At first it is very slow, awkward and inconsistent. What may look like small changes to an observer feel outrageous to me! For example, I have placed my rifle into my shoulder the same way at least 100,000 times, so placing it just 1cm lower makes me feel like I’ve never held the darn thing. However, my focus is on World Championships in February and the Olympics next winter, so if I have to take two steps backward in order to take three forward, it’s worth it.
I can feel right away that the new position is more stable. After I take a shot, when the rifle recoils, I can watch through my sites as the barrel moves straight up and down, and hovers near the target. With my old position, the recoil movement was random and far-flung. This stability is helpful physically for aiming on target, and mentally in terms of confidence. And now that I’ve been working with the new position for almost a month, I am getting closer to the shooting times I was used to with my old position.
Since traveling back to Europe after our two-week Christmas break, I have not felt great racing, but I am doing everything I can in terms of training (proper stimulus for my body’s current needs) and recovery (nutrition, sleep, mental breaks) to get back to the pre-Christmas shape I know still exists somewhere inside of me. It is a long season with the biggest races yet to come!
My parents are here in Ruhpolding, Germany this week and will be joined by my boyfriend’s parents next week in Antholz, Italy. I am glad that my family can experience two of the most exciting venues on our World Cup circuit. After next week, my teammates and I will have a two-week training camp in the high altitude of Antholz before heading to Hochfilzen, Austria for World Championships.