Tracy and I are in Idre, Sweden and will have our first international race of the year tomorrow here. Winter is still eluding Scandinavia, but luckily the organizers for the races had stored enough snow over the summer to spread out on our racecourse. We drove to Idre yesterday from Ostersund (where the World Cup will be next week). On our drive through the backwoods of Sweden, we saw quite a few herds of reindeer and one really big Swedish grouse. I tried to get some pictures, but with our European staff driving, the pictures turned out blurry as we drove past them at high speeds.
We will have a 7.5km sprint race on Saturday and another 7.5km race on Sunday. The race is called an IBU Cup or International Biathlon Cup. It has replaced the European Cup as every year there are more and more countries out side of Europe racing these races as well as the usual European teams. This is the biggest race of the season as far as the number of competitors. The IBU cup is kind of like the B-World Cup, so many teams use it as warm up for the World Cup as well as try outs to pick which athletes will go and compete on the World Cup next week. There should be close to 200 men and 200 women competing in each race. Next week at the World Cup, the numbers should be down to just above 100 competitors.
Tracy and I are excited to hit the course and test out our training from the spring, summer, and fall. We have a long season ahead of us, but the first race is always exciting and a good chance to let go of all of those first of the season jitters as well as work out any kinks and get the first race on snow under your belt. We will fill you in on how it goes.
If you’d like to watch the race live online, you can go to this link: http://services.biathlonresults.com/DataCenter_IBU.aspx