I feel like my younger self. Being towed behind JT's pimped out 250cc Elan on my rock skis, getting jerked about behind the tow rope, jostled on the uneven snow of Prelude Lake. Key words: "jostled" and "jerked about". Cause that's what's happening yet again this spring time.
There has been absolutely no continuity between seasons over the past 2 years. In terms of ski programs and the philosophy of those providing guidance. Upon graduation from high school, I made the move out to good ol' T-bay where I was a member of the National Team Development Centre out there. I decided to move on from that program for a more optimal training set-up. In Thunder Bay I learned much of what the Canadian system has to offer as I chose NTDC over pursuing studies/skiing in the States. The main improvement I made with the NTDC was my mental approach to skiing through Eric Bailey's guidance, most notably his mental toughness camp in the fall time. At the end of the season the CVTC's pros led to my move out to Whistler.
Enter 2008/2009 season in Whistler at the Callaghan Valley Training Centre...
Frustration was a common theme for me this past year. But with frustration comes learning and experience, and I feel that even this program led to one of my biggest gains as an athlete. I saw much of the dark side of high level skiing, of the conflicting philosophies and somewhat bitter politics that a younger me (the one being towed by the Elan) would have been oblivious to. The shake-ups that have lead to a changing of the guard amongst the coaching staff at CVTC will mean monumental changes that could go either way for next year.
In Whistler I caught a glimpse of a skiing environment that could be 2nd to none. The raw ingredients are prevalent and the incredible potential for a ski team is beyond comprehension. It's just a matter of holding out for a hero to compose this greatness on the sacred Olympic grounds. A unique hero with a unique skill set; to ride the wave with outstanding outgoing-ness, professionalism, extensive knowledge and compassion. Who (if anyone) will pull this sword from the stone?
Where do we go from here?
My current location: Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Where I was born and raised. And where such events as the Rock and Ice Ultra take place. Where rent and grocery costs don't exist when I'm staying at my parents'.
Where in the springtime (the best time for skiing in the North) the ski trails don't get maintained. So skiing sucks for a time, until the snow off the big lake melts. In the meantime we get to go bust out some mad boot slipping on frozen overflow on lakes such as Fault Lake on the YK ski trails. And scavenger hunting.
This time of year is a time of planning and organization. Weighing and re-weighing all options, securing funds through sponsorship to pursue the dream, and easing back into training routines. Decision making takes front and center. Where will I go? What will I do for training? A team? Race support?
Most importantly, the springtime is when we stoke the fire for the new year.
It's all about the process. Trying new things, fine tuning. Sharpening dull tools, turning sharp tools into a razor edge. Put all of the pieces together in a way that works, and then from there find another even better way for it to work. But don't fix something if it ain't broken. Build on what you have. Take ownership and never stop learning. Challenge yourself.
Enjoy victories when you can. And find hidden opportunities in the defeats. Take what you can and move on. Don't dwell on your short-comings.
Confidence is a useful weapon. Gain it through training, both physical and mental. (Pic: Zach Caldwell)
Whistler is where the magic happens. I really want to find a way for it to work.
2 of my favourite things from Whistler: Twoonie racing, and Pique reading.
Get ready to set out on a new adventure. The path is known. It's time to walk it.
Until next time, (someone's going to punch me in the mouth for the outrageous corny-ness...) it's sitting, waiting, wishing as the higher up decision makers do their work and get programs in line, cough, Callaghan!, cough cough... And that's when the real fun begins. (Pic: Barb Campbell)