Intro

Welcome to my blog! This is a site where you can keep up to date on my life as a full-time athlete in the sport of cross country skiing. You can expect regular updates throughout the year as I report on training, racing, life in general and maybe even some school. Sponsors, family, friends and fans: Enjoy!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A sign that Canada can become the best.


Check it: http://lennyvaljas.blogspot.com/

Two top-10 results for U23 men.  Fred in 6th, Lenny in 7th in 15km skate in France.  Our men are showing some incredible depth!  Look out World.  We are almost there.  

Monday, January 26, 2009

I guess this is becoming an annual occurrence...

Except this time my left ring finger is bent out of shape from breaking my hand this summer.

Again, I randomly picked up a guitar and busted out. This clip made it to the blog with urgings from Pate and Phil. The backdrop is the magnificent "Chalet Chez Peter & Linda" in Rossland. I just made up that name...

The tune is the acoustic version of Stillborn by a cool dude named Zakk Wylde.

video

An actual update may be up in the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The great Canadian road trip?

Ok, this started with me and Pate's incredulous gasps as to how far away Rossland is, and how long the ensuing roadtrip will be to the next NorAms...  Whistler to Rossland: 740 km, 8 hours 54 minutes!!!  For what was thought to be a child's play, half-day drive.

How about this behemoth...  9,325 km, 5 days 4 hours of non-stop driving.  You can visit every province and territory in Canada pretty much.  Sorry Nunavut...if it was before 1999 it would be every province and territory if you did a quick stop-over in PEI...

View Larger Map

I think I would do Inuvik to St. John's as opposed to the other way, that way it feels like you're coming back to civilization and actually getting somewhere.  

I love Google maps...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

How wicked would it be to train in Maui.

Check out Ryder's video blogs...


Imagine a rollerski up Haleakala (hopefully with someone at the top to drive you down).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

When everything goes silent.

Photo Cred: Dan Roycroft


It really feels like I have hit a turning point. I can't even listen to music I listened to mere days ago, it just seems like it's from a different time. I figure I'll have to discover new songs over the next while and totally replace everything in my iTunes library to start writing a new chapter in my life.

For me, Trials was a happy time. Fun racing, seeing great friends and sharing great victories with these friends. The last day of trials something really neat happened. Basically every top male skier in the country was out playing a pick-up hockey game at the Daycare rink in Canmore. It was something special I tell ya, everything that happened during the trials, all the hardships and successes were forgotten and everybody was just out mingling and banging a puck around like the good old Canadian past-time it is - skiing greatness was totally forgotten as we were just a bunch of mediocre (except for some of us, like me, who were just plain terrible and could barely skate!) Tavares-wannabes unwinding from a stressful week. You had many of the big names like Harvey, Widmer, Valjas (this kid is becoming quite the superstar), Kuhn, etc. even Kershaw was there.

My races went alright. Sensations on the skate sprint day were poor in terms of "feeling fast" and being able to punch the high-end speed when needed. Most other tools were there, and I held up alright throughout the day and recovered well after racing was done. I led the one heat I had because I figured the only way to move on was if I got in front, set a dog-slow pace and then fought at the end. Didn't quite work, and I faded at the end to finish 3rd in my heat of 4 (2 defected) behind Kuhn and M-A Larochelle-Rancourt who had a ton of speed left since the pace for them was extremely pedestrian. I was very pleased however with being able to react well to the gun and to get in front easily. Stef is generally pretty quick off the line, so it was promising being able to get ahead. I was also able to control the heat well, defending the lead by injecting pace where needed and "drifting" around on the course in a defensive manner. On the day I was pretty disappointed, but the end result of 14th was satisfactory as the day was simply a day for observation (a handful of the top-30 didn't even race). Analyze where I'm at, and move on.

The next few days were spent practicing on the classic sprint course, testing double pole vs. striding on the extended version of the World Cup course (1.7km). The course designers decided to put a short steep hill that would effectively lengthen the downhill section into the stadium to a whopping 1 km long. In testing the course out I decided to go for the double pole tactic.

The day before the sprint I spent about 20 minutes testing some skis (both skate and classic) for speed and then spent the rest of the day resting.

Day of brought about slightly slower conditions that would make the double pole slightly more difficult than when tested, but at that point I was committed as I had rehearsed it over and over in my mind and hadn't prepared for striding. Most people hadn't even considered double poling, but there was definitely a handful of us who did in the end. Maybe 10 of us or so. There was no clear cut victor in terms of what was faster as us dp-ers were sprinkled about the top-30 with only 2 of us not qualifying. In the heats however, everyone switched to the stride and glide.

I had a competitive quarter-final: Stef (1), Butler (10), Nighbor (11), Anthony Killick (21), and Haakon (30). Since the course was a long one, I needed to employ flawless tactics to be in the mix. I tucked into the middle of the pack and was aggressive in holding my line. I fell to the back on the climb as I was striding like crap, but skied over the tops very actively and quickly came back into contention - significantly aided by some rocket-fast soft-track Fischer LJ03's (Z's grind). I came into the finishing stretch fighting for 3rd, but was punished by an enraged Nighbor, whom had been racing with a broken ski, as he muscled his way to a lunge-secured 2nd place. I skied the race to the best of my ability and had lots of fight left in me for the finish so I was satisfied with the day. I needed to at least make the B-final to qualify for World Cup, but that would have taken something special on that day. I skied as well as I had expected, but not as well as I had hoped.

Despite the races having finished a couple days ago, I'm still in Canmore. There have been avalanches and mud-slides all over the place in BC and consequently most of the highways are closed. I'm in no rush to return to Whistler (except I was hoping to make the toonie race tonight...sniff sniff...), so it's chill time here at the Dunbars' until the highways heal.

This past week was a huge learning experience for me. Unfortunately there will be no U-23 trip overseas and no World Cup action for this kid. It's back to the drawing board as a new challenge has been laid.

"We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope"
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

TD Exclusive!: Arguably Dominant


Mike Argue is the man. Most people already know this and that his CCC calendar pic from a couple years back is my background on my cellular - he's my homie from the North and today he lit it up.

Today Mike Argue of Yellowknife, NT won the Canmore Noram Skate Sprint against a star studded A-final with the likes of Sean Crooks, Alex Harvey, Jeff Ellis, Stef Kuhn and Phil Widmer, finishing in that order. Argue put together a text book race, filing in for a draft off the start, keeping it cool and conserving energy then attacking the downhill into the stadium to put a gap on the field. Argue held off a charging Crooks with a lunge that is only rivaled by the infamous two-footed lunge to bring home his first NorAm victory. The win could not have come at a better time as this now puts him as a top contender to don the Canadian race suit at the World Champs in Liberec, Czech Republic this February.
.
After the race an elated Argue stated, "It's about time!" when an Alberta World Cup Society-jacket wearing official informed him of his selection for doping control.

The baby blue Argue stalking the leaders from behind at the midpoint of the course, ever-patient in the execution of his spirit crushing surge.

video

As for me, an update outlining my dismal performance will be in the works for the next few days. And there's also a rumour that the TD's athlete of the week interviews might be coming back...stay tuned - I think I know who I might interview for the next one ;)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I love it how the outcome of the season is determined on the success of a single day,

And how last night when Richard Daitch asked me that I'm doing well, that I'm not sick or injured, I had to retract my initial "how are you doing?"-response of "well" and replace it with, "Oh, wait, I'm actually both sick and injured!" as I am finally getting over that light cold and have been nursing my foot all week.  And that's why I'd prefer a more lengthy trials period of several weekends of competition as opposed to the single day.  It's time to turn on some "Lose Yourself", identify difficulties and alter them, and to put the pieces together for a successful classic sprint on the 6th.  

January 6th is the classic "distance" race of 1.7km.  At this competition called "Trials" that runs from Jan 2-6th I am racing twice, the 1.1 km Skate sprint on the 3rd and the aforementioned Classic, ahem, race on the 6th.  The skate sprint is one of two qualifying races for Senior Worlds, where the 4 best Canadians will hit the start line in Liberec, Czech in February.  So the skate sprint will be nothing more than a test of fitness for me.  Unleash, don't hold anything back, see what happens.  The classic sprint is my focus, as it is the qualifier for the Whistler World Cup (14 Canadians can race) and for the U-23 World Champs in Praz de Lyz, France.  My objective for the year was to receive a berth to race the WOP World Cup.  Qualifying for the all star men's U-23 team would take a very special day indeed.  

My training lately has consisted of skis in the vicinity of 40-70 minutes long, trying to recover fitness from a period of relative inactivity.  I was recently reading that in endurance trained athletes, after 2 days of no training, blood volume may decline by 5-12%, resulting in the prominent decline in cardiovascular function, ie high heart rate.  Yesterday I couldn't even skate properly without my HR climbing into the high 150s.  

Last night was the Dunbar's annual New Year's Eve bash and it was a doozie.  I had a great time.  The highlights included catching up with other Northerners, playing some trivia (thanks Stephen), and getting in some solid crokinole time.  Argue was hilarious playing crokinole, as most people are the first time they play.  What power!  I would duck everytime he would shoot, but luckily most shots bounced right back off the pegs.

Action kicks off tomorrow with the distance folk testing their skills in a 30km pursuit race.  Watch for athletes like Pate, who historically can really throw down in Canmore, and Jesse, who can randomly piece together a brilliant race, esp pursuit.  Follow the action on Zone4

Ok, I'm listening to this totally wicked song at the moment.  Pretty chill, nice flow.  check out "Love" by G-Love & Special Sauce - funny name, I know!

Take it easy.

T