Lillehammer - Race 1.
The track at Lillehammer is basically our home track and I felt confident going into these two races that decent results were very much within my grasp and indeed they were! The only problem was corner 13, the very corner that actually sent me to hospital in my very first year on ice! Whilst it hadn't been a problem in pre season the track had very subtley changed and as a consequence I took a very regular hit to the chin pretty much every run...imagine a swift uppercut whilst travelling at 70mph! Unfortunately it was a problem that I never managed to fix and after a couple of broken visors it actually gave me mild concussion. Fortunately enough this didnt set in until pretty much the second day of racing!
The first race itself went well amidst a sprinkling of snow, a final position of 4th, with the fastest pushtime of the field was to me a very good start to the competitive season!
Lillehammer - Race 2.
A much brighter day, however it ended with me being pretty much bedbound afterwards for the next few days to relieve the very mild concussion it was believed I had sustained!! Not pleasant, however my push at the top of the track set a new track record and for the 4th run in succession I was maintaining my lead until the dreaded corner 13, from there on in I was bleeding speed and only managed to pick up a 6th position. Still a pleasing result, but I was mainly just happy to be moving onto the next track!!
So we moved onwards across the Baltic sea to Riga, Latvia.
Race 3 - Sigulda, Latvia.
This track was completely new to pretty much every athlete on the circuit as it hadn't been used in a while! This suited me however, as I feel that I generally pick up new tracks very quickly. Although the speeds arn't too high here (around 115kph) the corners have almost no transitions and come at you thick and fast, however a challenge is always a good thing and come race day I felt prepared.
And it showed...3rd place in this race with again the fastest pushtimes (by a much bigger margin this time!) My first run was the cleanest I had had at this track and left me in second place just 1/10th of a second behind the first placed Michi Halilovic of Germany. However a slower 2nd run dropped me to third, however it was again a positive result and one which put me on the podium for the first time in a couple of years!
Race 4 - Sigulda, Latvia.
Basically a repeat of the first race here! I managed to push even faster, however a couple of poorer runs managed to bag me another 3rd position and podium finish!
My medal haul from the first half of the season!
The end result going into the Christmas break is that I was ranked in the Top 20 in the World when we take into account the World cup sliders, possibly my best ranking at this stage in my career so far, and joint 3rd in the Intercontinental Cup rankings! It also means that with 4 more races in February that a shot at making the World Championships team is very much on the cards...so here's hoping the good form continues into the North American leg!! :)