This morning I got up earlier than normal to watch the men's 15km cross-country skiing skate event in Beitostoelen, Norway. Even at 5:30am, the body's cob webs quickly disappeared, energized by a steady stream of caffeine, and the excitement of the year's first World Cup.
No matter how ready you are, everybody's nerves get stretched for the first big test of the year - The athletes, the techs, the coaches and sponsors, all want a great performance right off the bat, to set the stage for a very important season...
I watched in anticipation as the Norwegian TV focused on the main players...The home team's superstars (Norwegians of course), Germans, Russians...and then, a glimpse of Kershaw at the start, a mention of Babikov as the camera zooms on him rounding a corner...As the race progresses, the only means of seeing how our boys were doing was to catch a quick glimpse of the results board at the bottom of the screen. As a racer approved an intermediate time split, his position was updated on the fly... Babikov's name appeared momentarily...a 19th position at the 6.4km mark...I slowly shake my head...not exactly what I (he) was hoping for. He would eventually finish 28th on the day +1:00 back of the Norwegian biathlete Hafsaad. Not bad, but not great.
Ivan Babikov was my star skier back in the X-C.com days - He joined my program in 2003 and I continued to support him for 4 years. He finally became a Canadian citizen in December 2007 which allowed him to graduate to the National Ski Team Program.
The race has barely finished and I'm firing tweets and texts to the techs and to the Salomon Racing Service team...I want to know more... How did he feel? How were the skis? What was the track like? It's funny when I think about this after the fact
I find it important to stay on top of news bites like this as it gives me fuel to provide back to the Nordic Team here in Canada. The info I collect will usually go back in the forms of a newsletter to retailers across the Country, or simply to other racers that ski on the same product. Good or bad, information is everything - and the more you have, the more you can learn from it, and use it to better the brand.
Despite the so-so start, I'm excited about the first race results. The season has started, and we are on the way...It only gets better from here! In February, I'll get my chance to be on the front lines and catch the action first hand as part of the Salomon Racing Service Team - working for the boys to ensure that they get the best boards possible...I can't wait.