Kalentieva follows her own path to the Olympics

While many cross country riders have been preparing for the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games with a training camp and racing in Cyprus, reigning World Champion Irina Kalentieva has chosen a different path. She is focusing on both the World Championships in mid-June in Val di Sole, Italy, and the Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

"I don't want to race too early, nor do I wish to overdo it, as the season is both long and hard. For this reason I wish to manage my efforts to allow me to be at the top of my game for all of the important races," explained Kalentieva. She will make her 2008 season debut at the Swisspower Cup in Buchs on March 30; however, she is looking at it as a training race.

Two weeks later is when her season will heat up with the German National Series race in Muensingen. "All of my competition will be at the race, and it will be the first chance to gauge myself against them," said the 30 year-old Kalentieva.

"I am orienting myself toward the World Championship and the Olympic Games – both races, in my opinion, are the most coveted, and I hope to take medals at both," said the seven-time Russian Champion, who is a favorite going into both events.

Following the first three World Cups in Houffalize, Belgium; Offenburg, Germany; Madrid, Spain, Kalentieva will decide her program leading up to the World Championships. "At the moment it is still too early to judge. I simply have to remain flexible and listen to what my body tells me," the climbing specialist said.

With Valnord, Andorra, and Fort William, Scotland, there are two World Cups directly before the World Championships. "If my recovery goes according to plan then naturally I will want to ride Fort William as I have good memories of ride riding there." It was there last September when Kalentieva won gold at the World Championships and celebrated her most successful season to date.

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