by Thomas O’Harra
Hello all, Thomas again… So, last weekend (Sunday the 7th) I raced the relay at Junior World Championships. I was the scramble leg, which means I raced first. It was a 5km classic race, and it started fast. I held onto the leaders as long as I could, and then died really hard, at about 3.5km. I lost several places and dropped back to 11th, but I am happy with being able to ski with the leaders for as long as I did. It was a lot of fun, and I am really excited to come back next year and try and hold onto the leaders for even longer!
On Monday, we traveled to Czech. Getting out of Kazakhstan was quite possibly the scariest and most nerve-wracking moment of my life so far. At the check-in desk, the printer broke, so they had to write boarding passes and baggage receipts by hand, which took a long time. When I got into line to pay for my bags, there were four people in front of me, with about 45 minutes until my plane left. Being the last in line, I did not get my receipt until there was about 12 minutes until my plane left, and I still had to get through passport control and security. Luckily, both of those were relatively painless, but I still ended up sprinting my way down a long hall and onto the plane, with minutes to spare. It was extremely scary, but I was relieved to be out of Kazakhstan.
Speaking of which, Kazakhstan was incredible. Aside from the smog, which, I’m pretty sure ruined my lungs, it was an amazing experience. I certainly have a lot more perspective now, especially on the disparity of wealth that I saw there compared to back home. In truth, there is a smaller wealth gap, on average. However, the impression that I got was that there were a lot of modestly wealthy people and a lot of extremely poor people, with not much to fill the space in between. I also got the impression that many of the people I met were tuning out the abject poverty around them.
However, I am in Czech now. The place that we are staying is really cool, and literally right next to the ski trails. I do not have to walk more than three minutes to be on skis. The venue here is very popular and is known for holding Biathlon World Cup races, as well as cross country races. In fact, there was a Bialthlon World Cup the weekend before we arrived. There is a huge grandstand and very fancy facilities. Now for some pictures!
Thomas O’Harra is a full time student-athlete at Alaska Pacific University. Growing up in Anchorage, he spent a lot of time outside and in the mountains—hiking, skiing, and generally having fun. He now races and trains with the APU Nordic Ski Center while taking a full course load at the university. Currently, Thomas is on a two-month trip for racing, starting in Kazakhstan, then traveling to races in Czech Republic and Switzerland before returning to the U.S. to race at Junior Nationals in Truckee, CA and SuperTour Finals and Spring Series in Sun Valley, ID at the end of March.