In March 2019 I have participated in probably the greatest event in my life - 29th Winter Universiade, which was hold in the heart of Siberia - city on the absolutely gorgeous river Enisey, city with more than a million people, the capital of its huge region - Krasnoyarsk.
It’s actually very difficult to estimate the scale of such an event - I had a feeling, that more, than the whole world is following us and our results, that’s it’s more, than history, happening right now with me and around me.
Now I feel some kind of a fear, that I could easily miss it, because I actually didn’t want and didn’t plan to participate even in the selection races.. So now I’m sure, that sitting in a hotel on the Mediterranean Sea in Turkey has made its contribution into my sudden change of decision, and I’m so glad that I changed my mind and decided to go to those hard Russian ski-orienteering champs, even though I was standing on skies just 4 times before it, compared with half a year of preparation by my competitors. Anyway, my desire and luck turned out to be so big, that I somehow managed to get selected to the Russian national team on a 7th place out of 8 and was more than happy with such a result.
After such a turn in my plans, of course, I have added skiing to my daily training routine, but running and foot-orienteering remained to be the highest priority, as JWOC 2019 in Denmark has been and still is my main goal for this season. So in the end of January I have made a pause in ski preparation and went to the awesome running training camp to Alicante, Spain (check the previous news, btw) and have successfully reached a point of almost 200 km of orienteering there. However, coming back from Spain and spending a week running around Moscow I have lost my confidence that I’m good enough in ski-orienteering and went to the Russian championship to Perm to get it back. How glad I was to take there 3 silver and 1 gold medals - you can’t imagine. It was so important for my positive psychology!
And of course the most often asked question was just how I do it after running? I don’t know, just I have mentally rested by changing activity and at the same time leveled up my functional training. Furthermore, I can say that skies help to unload your knees after long and tough running season, it gives you enormously good force training and pumps your muscles, while running itself helps to raise your anaerobic threshold. So together it works and works quite fine - just look at Tove Alexandersson and you will understand who inspires me a lot! The only problem in combining two seasons is to have a proper recovery and rest between them, what is difficult to find. For example I used to run the last Russian champs in foot-orienteering on the first week of November and then in three days left to the first skiing camp. When should I rest? I don’t know the answer either :) My coach tries to answer, thanks to him for that!
But back to Universiade. At first, before going there, I was stubbornly complaining to everyone, that I don’t know what to do 16!!! days in Krasnoyarsk, that it’s to much and just a loss of time. How wrong I was! On 13th of March before our flight back to Moscow I was crying and wanted to stay for more.. Just this event took such a place in my heart, that I’m still mentally there, wondering why in the morning I can’t ask a nice barista in our huge restaurant for americano with almond milk and go to a queue for pancakes..
Just some facts:
Talking about our sport, I’m very-very proud of orienteering and that big step it has done with participating in Winter Universiade. I’m just so proud, that our sport was shown on TV, that my family, coaches and just everyone who wanted could watch us skiing, orienteering and coming over those hardest distances. I’m so proud of each member of our team, of myself, because competing there, being on that stadium felt like a victory already. I felt like I’m a part of this history, one of those who create this history. I felt enormously excited, amazed, nervous, but so great! That feeling, when you are the first one starting among women in the first race of the first day, you see cameras everywhere and you know that thousands of people are watching at you - can not be compared with anything. It adds much more responsibility, nerves and thoughts in your head, with which you have to fight. Hopefully, I have quite a big experience of international starts, so I could cope with it.
Courses in Krasnoyarsk were planned on a highest level: tough relief, tricky net of ski tracks, route choices and highest speed. I haven’t been ready good enough to ski so fast, but both my races started with a pace of leaders, what made my muscles so hammered, that I couldn’t properly finish.. Of course, I was quite sad with my results, because I am not used to see myself on 18th place. But if analyze my season objectively, I realized myself on 100% and showed my best, showed what I was ready for. It means I was ready for those places this season. Well, I am not surprised, minding the fact that I was running a lot and am targeted on foot-orienteering this year, but it made me feel unusual, so maybe I’ll change my mind again, who knows :)
But actually Universiade was much more than competitions. It was about cheering on each other, being worried about how orienteering will be presented, testing and testing many pairs of skies, trying to make them ideal. It was about talking with foreign sportsmen, making friends among Russian delegation, dancing and watching biathlon all together in the lounge hall. It was about feeling special, giving interviews and autographs, posing for photographers, high five with volunteers and going through Platinum arena, which was exploding from millions of applauses.
Thank you, 29th Winter Universiade, for a call from space, for the most beautiful opening ceremony and the most heartwarming closing ceremony, for my first and definitely not the last hockey play as a fan, for new friends from all over the world, for sweetest pancakes at 1 am and strongest coffee at noon. For very hospitable local people, handmade presents from children, “good luck”, wished by thousands of people, care, taken of us, and just all the love I got there! Siberia, you now have a special place in my heart♡