I won’t bore you too much with Nationals deets. Things went well there, every race was average or a bit above average.
Mikey and I weren’t able to defend our silver medal in the Nationals skate team sprint and had to settle for 9th. We clawed our way into the final and from there plodded through the mashed potatoes, fighting to maintain contact with the lead pack, which ultimately led to us getting burned and caught by 2 chasing teams at the end.
The 15km classic race saw us racing in a hurricane on a skating rink. Not ideal conditions for classic. I had a good race, grip holding up 2/3 laps and I was able to maintain a high, somewhat sustainable pace for at least half of the race.
The classic sprint was definitely my best day. I placed 14th, 11th Canadian I believe as my first year as a Senior. I had a great heat, led off the start too easily, used my traditional knowledge and northern instincts to track and hunt 2nd place up to the last hill. Once there I unleashed the Emil Joensson run to be oh so close to moving on until with about 50m to go was passed by American, Mike Sinnott (some call him “Snot-face”). I fought well, but at the end of the day a 15th place qualifier wasn’t high enough for a lucky loser spot especially with the shake-ups that led to 8th and 9th being the lucky losers… A note on skis for that day: I used a pair of my hard-wax skis that require padding to fill out the residual camber. I left my binding one click forward, allowing me to get over the grip zone better, and significantly shortened the grip zone. I had a thick padding of klister that would be perfect for chicken running whenever I slammed the ball of my foot down. The short grip zone ensured good gliding, which actually saved me as I sucked up to Sinnott on the long gradual downhill segment.
I’ve been meaning to announce this for the past 3 weeks – that I am doing the Rock and Ice Ultra 3-day ski event. For those who haven’t heard of it, it’s an ultra marathon race that takes place in Yellowknife in the spring time and is in its 3rd year running. Racers pay exorbitant amounts of money both to get to Yellowknife and then to enter the race. The course takes place over a 135 km loop that is broken into 3-days, approximately 45 km each day. There is also a 6-day event where the athletes are required to pull a pulk containing all of their food and camp supplies. For the 3-day however, a duffle bag is flown around and awaits the racers at each camp that is set up by the organizers.
It is quite well known that the best prepared athlete will win, not necessarily the quickest. Some who know me might be shocked and appalled that I would consider such an event especially when my strength lies over a 2.5 minute course as opposed to three consecutive 5-hour days of plowing (potentially) through deep (potentially) snow. But these people who know me might also know that Yellowknife is my home town and that I have spent thousands of hours on the land perfecting these skills that will be required for Rock and Ice domination. I was somewhat offended today when Pate’s adventure racing crew (Barb and Richard from S. Ontario, team Tree Huggers (is that right Pate?)) were talking me up to one of the check point managers, saying I was on some National team or something and was some hot shot skier who was going to break trail for everyone out there. Buddy CP manager said that meant crap, that being a fast skier often means you know nothing about being mindful and aware that extreme weather conditions can adversely affect your race’s outcome, ie. bailing and freezing to death out on the ice, haha. I’m hoping that I’m some anomaly to this fast skier breed, or at least hope that I’m not even one of these fast skier types. Maybe I'm one of those tortoise types, like in the battle between Phil "the tortoise" Villeneuve and Mike "the rabbit" Argue over the 6 day event.
I’ve been back home in Yellowknife since Wednesday, with the race starting tomorrow, Saturday. My training leading up to this event has included celebratory beer drinking in southern Ontario once the racing season was finished, some dancing in downtown TO, sleeping 1 hour one night, flying across the country, more beer drinking in Whistler, some downhill shredding, some more flying across the country, and finally some cold weather skiing in Yellowknife. Since I've arrived I’ve had the chance to fine tune my race get-up, and believe I have a streamlined system that will minimize stoppage time. I’ve got a high tech set-up fo sho.
Top-5 clutch items on my gear list (other than the normal windbriefs and wind break underwear and neckwarmers):
1. This awesome 1L Thermos (mandatory item) that I purchased at Overlander Sports. It is sleek and sexy and easy to use.
2. Lenny Valjas' side-ways water bottle holder that I stole from our house in Tbay last year (I was the last one out of the house when we moved out and he left it there so I took the liberty of making it my own. …my precious.) This item makes drinking from my awesome 1L Thermos that much easier. It sits below my Camelbak and juts to the side for easy drinking accessibility.
3. This random toque I have that has these giant earflaps with built in headphones. My 15 hour Rock and Ice playlist is primed and ready to go. My iPod shuffle clips on to one of the ear flaps. My playlist includes a broad range for my bi-polar listening enjoyment. I've been loving the "Into the Wild" soundtrack in training. It makes me want to ski off into the horizon and live off the land. A crap-ton of Lil' Wayne, aka Weezy, will keep me pumped with his greasy rhymes and beats. That's right, Sam Lindsey... and Jesse Winter... and Pate Neumann... And much to my surprise, and very much against my nature, a bunch of Country will be head-bobbed to. Taylor Swift = so hot right now.
4. Goggles that I borrowed from Bob Stephen, aka Beep-Bop. Under the condition that I beat Corey. Tomorrow there is a 30km East wind meaning -38 Celsius windchill. We are skiing east. The spot between my sunglasses and toque was getting cold the other day skiing in barely a -20 windchill. Man I’ve grown soft… Would have been nice to have my cool-ass Von Zipper goggles I got for my Bday, too bad I was an idiot and thought it would be warm-ish for the R & I. Am I one of those ignorant fast skiers?
5. Carbo Pro sport drink. No taste, lots of calories, easy on the gut. Period. Mixed with some eLoad, some glutamine and some branch chain amino acids and you’ve got liquid pwnage.
Also, my skis are pretty badass. Zach pimped out a pair of my rock skis by putting them through a flattening grind about 30 times and then through a special Rock and Ice grind for final structure. Add some Magic Potion on top and you’ve got some rockets. Magic Potion is good in the cold and never wears out apparently. Just keep brushing and you will have good speed. Hopefully my boards can handle the aggressive “gravelly ice road” structure that Corey’s got going on on his weathered veteran skis that have traveled the world and skied the likes of the Vasaloppet back in the day when he was 18 years old.
Back to Weasel Town for one day and some shredding with Lenny's fam and Dougie, Twoonie racer slash Whistler ski bum extraordinaire slash future Dopplemayer engineer slash Whitehorse native. Lenny and I giving the peace sign (ng with lobster claws) while riding the Peak to Peak (awesome). Man I spent a lot of time with Lenny towards the end of Nationals... Check out this one flick of our day at Horseshoe downhill area (near the Valjas' cottage), the day after the classic sprint. Good song selection if I may say so myself...
-15 Celsius and sunny with 15 km/h east wind clothing. too bad it won't be like this for the Rock and Ice...