Hugh Pritchard, Biathlete

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Hugh Pritchard

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October 2001

Thursday, 11 October, Vuokatti, Finland.

With each new training venue, it takes a while to learn to get the best out of it, and Vuokatti is no exception. The skiing in the tunnel is not like the real thing and although we can shoot in there the firing point is far from ideal. There is a good range outside with a beautiful roller-ski track, but none of us brought roller-skis. There is a good gymn, and even squash, badminton and tennis. We had an international game of salibandy (indoor hockey), an exhausting hour's workout with 5 nationalities among the 10 players.

In the ski tunnel at VuokattiThe 'snow' in the tunnel is of course artificial, and therefore has little cohesion: it breaks up quickly in use, so that after half an hour or so in the mornings (depending how many people are skiing) it is broken into a depth of powder on a base of hard ice. Where the powder is swept away the skis skid; where it is deep it is desperately slow, so that getting the right forward position and weight transfer is impossible. Still, it gets you used to handling the skis (being long they catch more than roller-skis).

Tomorrow an early start for Kajaani to fly to Helsinki; then 7 hours waiting for my ridiculous Munich flight.

Wednesday 17 October, Ruhpolding

Back in Ruhpolding, and very quiet: yesterday morning I was the only one training at the biathlon centre. The A-squads are in Vuokatti, the juniors are on the Dachstein glacier. Huge amounts of building work are going on at the centre, remodelling the tracks at last to comply with the minimum width rules.

I have 2 more weeks of focused training to do here, then back to Britain for a few days before going to Finland and hopefully snow.

18 October
Although it is sunny and mild, perfect Autumn weather, the sun is so low now that it never shines on the shooting range, which is therefore permanently damp and cool. The roller-ski track never dries out in the forest, so DMS roller-skis are no good now. I went for a swim in the lake after training this morning: managed a minute, and won't try again this year. Time to put away all those cotton T-shirts and move onto synthetics for the Winter .
Sunday 21 October

Went for a run yesterday... Up to the top of the Unternberg in just over an hour, thought I would try to traverse round the back of the mountain to make a slightly longer route back - and ended up running for 3hr30': not what I intended at all.

Beautiful sunshine, plenty of people out walking. Scrambling along the lonely summit ridge, thinking I had only the wind for company until I heard a noise and saw a group of nine chamois scuttling away 50 yards below.

Today rain, and looking like it will never stop, so I am staying indoors, doing my accounts and budgeting.


23 October

At last: something biathlon-related that I can do better than the Germans: double-poling sprints. I started at the back, and gradually worked my way forward with each successive sprint, finishing at the front. At least, I think the others were sprinting too.

Weird shooting session this afternoon: press-ups to Fritz's count, then jump up and fire a round as quickly as possible. Good training.


25 October

Me about to shoot Fritz for his excessive familiaritySome very odd training now: the roller-ski track is more or less unusable because of all the building works, so for two days we have done nothing but general strength as our combination training: shooting bouts separated by press-ups, dips, depth jumps, star jumps, etc, which is quite tough, though the rain keeps us cool. This afternoon I won two such combis, shooting clear on the first (with 20 shots) and missing one (the last, of course) on the second.


31 October, Whitstable, England
Another summer's training over, and as usual the wish that I had known back in June what I know now. A few days rest, then out to Vuokatti again for the beginning of the winter phase, and selection for the world cup.