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March 2003
13 March, London

Great weekend's skiing in la Feclaz. Took the overnight train to Chambery and arrived just in time for the final race of Brit week in la Feclaz; won that (a 10km skate) and checked out the course for Sunday's Savoyarde.

The Savoyarde: France's second biggest ski race (apparently), the main race is a 42km skate, with a 21km race at the same time: cut out to the finish after one lap for the short race, which means you don't know who you are racing against until after the first lap.

Shoulder to shoulder on the start-line: I got a place on the front row, and got away surprisingly well. It was all pretty busy, with the course narrowing after half a mile, so that it was a little uncomfortable skiing two abreast. Someone skied over my pole and I got spun round, finding myself facing a seething mass of skiers... turned round safely after losing only a few places.

Then it was a matter of settling into the rhythm and finding my place in the race; the long, gentle climb up from the farthest point gained me a few places, and after a mad little dash at the end of the first lap as the 21km racers went for the finish, I found myself in a group of 10, in 9th to 18th places. I was finding it quite difficult, as the pacing at the back of a group is very uneven, not at all what I am used to from time-trial racing. Eventually I fell on a downhill corner, and never managed to catch the group again. I did catch two stragglers, at the same time as two strong finishers passed me, so I finished 18th.

A really hard race, and I'm not sure that I could have done more: I felt strong and maintained good technique throughout, had great skis, and don't think I could have done anything better, except not fall over.

That put me on a euphoric high for days. Must do more of these!

Savoyarde Results