Hugh Pritchard, Biathlete

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Hugh Pritchard
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August 2001

Resolutions for the rest of the Summer:

  1. Lots of extra static shooting training
  2. Lots of dry shooting training
  3. Run up every peak I can see from my apartment

Wednesday, 1 August Ruhpolding

All the German world cup women said 'Guten Morgen' to me when I got to the range today. Have I just become visible?

As I was having breakfast this morning the weather forecaster on CNN said 'don't take any exercise outdoors in Europe today anywhere south of Scandinavia or Scotland'; and sure enough I completely ran out of steam in this morning's combination training, and took the afternoon off. Or perhaps it was the unaccustomed attention. The heat is really excessive now, but rain forecast for the weekend.

2 August

So much better today, after yesterday's rest. Got sunburnt in the short time I spent shirtless at the end of the session, stretching and warming down; then a half-hour's swim in the lake.

In the gymn, in peace at last, this afternoon, then up to the lake for another swim at 7pm - perfect warm-down. Cycling back I passed another cyclist, and looked round a minute later to see him right behind me: a race! So instead of a gentle warm-down I hammered all the way back to town, and he was still just behind me when I got home. I hope he had a lot further to go.

Saturday 4 August

It always takes a little more motivation to go out and train in the rain. Yesterday I had to use it but did not need it as by the time I had got my shoes on the downpour had stopped. Today was the opposite: as I was putting my shoes on the skies opened, so I put on my waterproof and headed out to the hill by Peter Moysey's house in Angerberg with him and Alan Eason: a perfect hill for strength endurance or technique training as it climbs at a steady gradient for a couple of kilometres. There comes a point when it doesn't matter whether it rains harder, as it is not possible to be any wetter, and we soon reached that as the thunder clattered overhead...

"'But when the herdsman went to milk the cow in the morning, no milk came out' said a police spokesman". Such is the kind of horror the local newspaper reports every week, and it makes me nervous about leaving my bike unlocked.

7th August, Ruhpolding
Shooting breakthrough: for the first time ever, I cleared a 20-shot combi! It always amazed people when I said I had never done it; and it always hung over me when I got to the last couple of shots of an almost-clear. Now, when I get to that last shot, I will no longer be devilled by the counterproductive thought 'if I hit this, then, for the first time ever...'.
8 August

Autumn is here: this morning there was dew on the roller-ski track. That is a real shock, as it underlines how little time there is left to do all the training and improvement that still needs to be done.

Fritz is keen on knee angles, as I am. He tells me that Ricco suffers from the same tendency as me, to stop bending the knees when he gets tired. Hmmm.

Horrendous session this afternoon of jumps, hops, press-ups, crunches, etc, with shooting. I was last one out (having started last), and during my last loop it darkened and the rain poured down... It was so gloomy that I had to open my rearsight to 1.5mm just to see the target (1.1 is normal); I cleared, raising a cheer from the others huddled under an enormous umbrella behind the firing point.

A really hard training session puts a terrific appetite into me, and I can't stop eating now. If the rain stops I might have to jump on my bike and get an ice cream.

Friday 10 August

Training races this morning: a 10.4km Individual, then a 10.4km Pursuit, 20' later. In pouring rain, just in case it was too easy. I shot 0200 in the first and skied OK; then bumpering recovery drinks and bananas, a few minutes easy skiing to clear the poisons from the system, then off again.

Heading off from the second start it did not take long to realise that this race was not going to be quite as easy. Nevertheless I managed to hold off Andi Birnbacher until the second shoot, when he came out of the penalty loop 50m ahead of me; I determined to catch him, and finally passed him at the top of the course, and got to the range scarcely able to breathe, far less shoot, and missed 3. I ended up with 1231 for the second race, but skied well enough - trying to concentrate on a body position right over the ski until well through the poling phase, compressing to a sharp knee bend. It works well when I'm not busy thinking about something else - such as noticing how the sound of the rain changes when I pass from the meadow to the pine forest, and from the pines to the beeches.

Skiing around in the monsoon to warm-down, I was surprised to spot Scott Baines on the track: he and Andrew Hallett have come out for a week's training. Bad timing, as the roller-ski track is closed next week for grazing (I am off home to England for a holiday).

Ran up the Zinnkopf (one of the peaks by Ruhpolding) with Andy and Scott in the evening, the rain just holding off long enough for us to enjoy the great view from the top, and the mad helter-skelter run down. Then a vast traditional Bavarian meal at the Stammtisch in the Gasthof Miesenbach, old friends of British biathletes.

Friday 17 August, Whitstable
Enjoying a week's holiday. Went for a run in London yesterday and spent the rest of the day coughing. Much healthier to take the old racing kayak out on the sea down here and enjoy the sunshine and maritime air.
Monday 20 August, Ruhpolding

Holiday over. Went to the running track for the Monday morning session: deserted, and no reply from Fritz's mobile. Cycled home, got gun and roller-ski gear and drove to the biathlon centre. Deserted. So I did some maximal intervals ski-ganging, which is something we never do with Fritz but I believe in, and most unpleasant. Makes me wish I had a 'fast-forward' button to jump to the end of each interval and skip the pain.

This afternoon to the biathlon centre to do a couple of hours classic roller-skiing; after 15' there were cows on the track, so I got the rifle out to do a dry-firing session. After 5' it started to rain, and I don't rate dry-firing as important enough to be worth stripping my rifle for (to dry it out and keep it from rusting). So I drove home, did some balance training and went out running to bag a couple of peaks. No idea what peak I bagged as there were trees on top so I couldn't see anything, but I ended up on a road miles from home and jogged back through the deluge, glad to get some satisfaction from an otherwise frustrating day.

22 August
An exciting day today: after training at Hochfilzen with the Austrian junior girls (It's a long story), picked up the car I have bought, drove to the scrapyard and ditched the old one. It is a shame to drive a car that is utterly ordinary, compared with the old one which scandalised the Germans, who never see a car in such an ancient, rusty state. But a lot safer, both from getting stopped by the police and from not getting where I want to go.
Sunday 26 August, Whitstable
Things go from bad to worse. On Friday I broke one of my Marwe roller-skis; on Saturday I dropped my rifle very gently and the stock (Larsen, bought in March) snapped clean in two. So I packed my old stock to take to the glacier camp; when I got to Gatwick this afternoon, my rifle and skis had flown to Timbuktu, so I had better take a good stack of books to read in France.
29 August, Tignes

The glacier looking very different from last time we were here: great patches of bare glacial ice and puddles on the surface. But despite that, a track in surprisingly reasonable condition. Beautiful weather so far - so we have to get up early and fight for a place on the first train up.

The physiologists are with us again, but their machines not working yet, which makes their trip here a bit pointless.

Got my gear back at the airport without any trouble. We then had a great hassle checking in: for some reason we never give warning when we make our bookings that we will have vast amounts of baggage, including skis, rifles and ammunition. The check-in staff are therefore always taken by surprise, and have no idea what to do about guns and ammunition, and take ages. We then have to jump through whatever ridiculous hoops the particular airport requires to get the guns onto the plane, which again takes ages. The important thing is to try to get them to dispatch some of our bags in reasonably good time, so that then however long they take over everything else some of our stuff is on the plane, so it won't go without us.

In Geneva they give us no trouble at all over the rifles - they just don't want to know.

31 August

Today despite the work the piste-bashers had done there were a couple of little rivers across the ski-track on the glacier. And this afternoon we have pouring rain for our shooting training.

My ski technique seems to be improving, which is most of the purpose of coming here (the other point being altitude acclimatisation, as the Olympics are at quite a high altitude). Morale in the team is standing up so far, although it tends to take a dive when the weather deteriorates or illness strikes, as the budget accommodation we stay in is not particularly cheerful.