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!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Good Result at Rossland NorAms

Qualifying in the 1.4km Sprint race. (photo cred: Jesse Winter)

I have just returned to Whistler after my 3rd weekend in a row of racing in the pre-Christmas campaign, and have accomplished my top result in over a year.  On Friday I was 12th in the 1.4 km Skate sprint event that saw the best of Canadian and American skiers currently not on the World Cup (and I was 8th Canadian in an event where the podium was swept by members of our 2010 Olympic Team).  More importantly, I was 3rd Canadian U-23 - an indication that I am indeed in the mix of U-23 athletes attempting to qualify for a sprint spot for the 2011 World U-23 Championships in Estonia.  With the trials for U-23s taking place in good old Tbay in just over 2 weeks' time, I have some work to do over the holidays.  Luckily, I was able to convince my family to come to Whis for Christmas so as to reduce travel and stress for me in the lead up to my main objective for the year (thanks mom and dad).  With amazing ski conditions in Whistler, I am looking forward to a productive and relaxing holiday in my home training environment. 

Quarter-final action in Rossland (I am on the right of the shot).  I was stoked to move on to the semis.  Unfortunately, I was a little too burnt from my quarter in order to be any kind of threat to move on to the A-final.  (cred: Jesse Winter)

 I am #113.  The course this year was much more difficult than the previous Rossland sprint course and featured a hard climb off the start and a high-speed doozie of a corner mid-course. (cred: Julien Locke)

 (cred: Julien Locke)

 (cred: Julien Locke)

(cred: Jesse Winter) The NorAm in Rossland was the much-anticipated and first ever mini-tour format race in Canada.  I was in good standing after day 1 having been granted 30 bonus seconds in the overall with my result of 12th place.  Regretfully, I threw it all away in the 10km skate on day #2, when a poor race was compounded by difficulties of staying on my feet.  Being a few minutes off the pace, I was nowhere near being in any sort of contention for a decent cumulative result for the final and deciding 15km pursuit start classic.

 The classic race was a good race for me.  I paced it well, conserving energy when possible, and battled it out at the end with a few others.  I also achieved my best distance CPL result of my career, attaining just shy of 90.  

In closing, I would like to thank our wax crew for preparing awesome boards each and every day of racing thus far this year.  It makes it easy to perform my best when the skis are doing half the work.

Happy holidays,


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Weekend #2 update

The first NorAm races took place this past weekend up at Silver Star mountain near Vernon, BC.  The race weekend that used to take place at the end of November has always proved challenging and I've never been able to nail down two solid races at that high of altitude.  I guess I have to keep searching for and working on any weakness that may be holding me back from racing well at 1700m above sea level...

Regardless, I had a successful weekend with two good hard efforts to chalk up to experience.  The first day, the classic sprint, is a format I am usually decent at.  With a longer and more difficult course this year, it truly separated the men from the boys, and unfortunately I was out-classed on this epic course on the day.  I skied it pretty much as well as I could have, so I am happy with that.

The distance race was a revelation, as I was able to turn around a near-bonk on the 2nd lap, into a composed 3rd lap by simply adjusting a normal race breathing pattern, into a new and faster rate that I normally cannot maintain.  I went for it and it worked out.  The payoff was my best Silver Star distance race ever.  I was by no means in the fight for the W, coming in at 39th place in a large and deep field, but the race was fun for me on a day with difficult conditions when others were hating life at certain points.  Its funny, I keep having these feelings lately where I sense that a good distance race performance is just around the corner...

Warming up for head to head heat racing on Saturday in the 1.4 km Classic Sprint. 

 Rounding the corner at the bottom of the new bridge at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre.  I skied my quarter final pretty much as best I could and conserved as much energy as possible for the final push to the line, but unfortunately was dispatched by some better finishing kicks. 

 Our Silver Star trip ended with a highly contested game of pond hockey.  As my 3rd time on ice with a hockey stick, I am confident in saying that I can now somewhat handle a puck from time to time.  Luckily I wasn't too out of place in terms of skill level. 

This weekend we are in Rossland, BC for the next stop on the NorAm series.  This weekend is a mini-tour style event, with 3 races happening from Friday to Sunday.  There is a skate sprint on Friday followed by a 10 km skate and a 15 km classic pursuit-style on Sunday based on Saturday's results.

 Today we skied up at the Paulson trails up and over the mountain pass near Rossland instead of at Black Jack.  Up at the higher altitude trailhead we were met with new snow and freshly groomed tracks on narrow, winding trails - perfect for a meandering 30 km distance ski. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

AB Cup Uno, Dos

The weekend was successful on the whole.  Due to my current laziness I'm going to do things a little differently for this blog update.  Here are my training log entries from this weekend:

Day 1, Saturday, December 4th.
1 km Skate Sprint
CPL: 92-93
End result: 7th

Good sleep, couldn't sleep cause of the anticipation.  Ear still plugged and uncomfortable.  Still some congestion.  Activation core/spiro then up to race site.  Warm-up with 2 x 1 min getting hard.  Some starts getting used to hitting tempo. Qualifier went well, skied it like I had hoped.  Not overly powerful or snappy, but able to maintain free skate and hold form to the line.  4th.  Huge rest in the aft, back for 4pm heats.  Gut off, in the washroom a whole bunch.  Short warm-up with one hard effort.  First heat made gut feel better.  Controlled my quarter.  Rested when I could, passed when I needed to.  Semi was good, but got boxed in a few times.  Got gapped coming into the finish.  Not able to get back on and settled for 4th.  Thought my day was over (like indicated at coach's meeting), but turned out there was a B-final.  Managed to get back into the right headspace FTW.  Happy on the whole, but think I could have made A-final.  

Day 2, Sunday, December 5th
9 km Classic Individual Start
CPL: 87-88
End result: 22nd

Deathly tired going to bed last night, still deathly tired upon waking despite huge sleep.  Ear still plugged and slightly congested.  Carcass drag of a warm-up, body ravaged from long sprint day.  Feeling better with a 4 min z3 effort.  Race 3 loops of 3km.  Skied controlled and smooth but lacked some jam on the last lap. Skied slightly too hard at end of 2nd lap. Race was much better than expected.  1:57 off over 25 min.  

My training diary entries on sprint days are almost always longer than distance days, unless something particularly exciting/unusual happens on a distance day, ie. a good result.  And here are some pics from the skate sprint day, courtesy of Michaela's dad, John Lynn. 

Qualifying during sunrise. 

Quarter final action, feeling in control.  (in third)  Ended up winning this heat. 

Look at that forward lean!

 Unable to bridge the gap coming into the stadium in the semi-final (#204).  Settled for 4th and went on to win the B-final. 

Tomorrow I head back to Whistler for a few days of training before travelling to Silver Star, BC for the first highly contested NorAm races.  I will race a classic sprint and a skate distance race next weekend in The Star.  

It is always a great feeling to finish the first race weekend and get the butterflies out.  Stay tuned for next weekend's races!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Season Preview

Comfortable, optimistic, excited...  Call it what you will, I am stoked to get back to racing!  

Having had a relatively injury-free training season, unlike the past two years, I am ready to rip.  Truth be told, I am also starting to get a bit of cabin fever having been cooped up here in Whistler pretty much all fall.  And no, that isn't my sarcastic voice.  Believe it or not, an extended period of time in Whis did in fact wear on me.  I can't wait to hit the road and tour the race circuit.  Even though this fall was a very "productive" training period out of the relaxing atmosphere of my home, this "consistency" would occasionally lean towards monotony.  Looking back now, I think that's exactly what I needed and was completely necessary.  Mentally, it got me into the right frame of mind (pent-up energy), and physically, the regularity of trainings honed the fitness.  The work has been done, now it's time to prove myself.

Although it was a bit of a late start to the ski season here in Whistler, having rollerskied up until mid-November, once the snow came the temps plummeted and there was virtually no form of transition season of snowy/cold rollerskiing.  We were directly immersed into winter and -15 C frigidity (rare for Whis) - we've even had days that remind me of my beginnings in Yellowknife skiing on hard, squeaky styrofoam snow.

Not styrofoam snow.

At the end of November Ski Callaghan was boasting 40km of groomed bliss - likely some of the best skiing in Canada. 

 With the arrival of winter, the Scuzz Pond in our backyard has been transformed into Scuzz Rink and has provided a few great nights of skating.  And by skating I mean "learning" to skate.  It's been about a 17 year hiatus from skating for this kid.  Although, after a 15 minute lesson from coach Manhard, I managed to nail down the basics.  

Action gets underway fast and fierce this weekend in Canmore, AB, at the Alberta Cup races where I will test my grit against tough competition in the skate sprint on Saturday and a classic distance race on Sunday.  The races serve as a warm-up for the following weekends of racing and will help in preparation for my ultimate goal of racing well in Thunder Bay, ON in the new year to qualify for the U-23 World Champs.

Stay posted, racing updates to come...


Current playlist (Deadmau5 phase??): 

Toca Me (Deadmau5 Remix) - Fragma
Some Chords - Deadmau5
Longest Road (Deadmau5 Remix) - Morgan Page
Sofi Needs a Ladder - Deadmau5
Sweet Disposition (Morgan Page Remix) - The Temper Trap
Make a Move On Me - Joey Negro
Rapture (Avicii Remix) - Nadia Ali
Fight For You - Morgan Page
Hometown Glory - Adele

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Always an exciting time of year.

The last few days of summer are finally over, and the season is starting to change.  The valley trail is slimey slick with fallen leaves and the village is devoid of tourists as the "shoulder season" is in full effect.  The clouds have moved in and we are entering storm season, as the effects of La Nina are expected to dump unnaturally large amounts of snow on us over the coming month.  For now it is full-on rain and choking cloud cover at the valley bottom, but within the week there should be some form of acceptable skiing up in Callaghan Country.

 A shot of intervals last week up Callaghan access road.  (thanks to lululemon athletica inc. for providing the shirt - more on that later)

With the majority of our annual training having now been completed over the course of the summer months, it is now time to make any last minute adjustments and to ensure adequate rest before the snow flies and the race season gets underway at the start of December.  

 With great preparation at our new base at the Whistler Athlete's Centre, I think everyone is eager to put on a race bib. 

Soon this badboy inukshuk will be covered in snow, ushering the arrival of the serious business of winter time.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Monkeying around down south

Day 4 of our recent 10 day team camping trip found me exhilarated, albeit sopping wet, running barefoot along massive dunes on the Oregon coast at Pacific City, OR.  The approaching storm system that had us socked in for the past few days had finally manifested into gale-force winds, whipping up a violent surf that added salty spray to the already driving rain as I jogged along through the abrasive sand.  This different, and therefore exciting run (think kelp and dead jellyfish strewn about) was a welcome reprieve to my otherwise foul mood brought about due to what was to be a relaxing, beach-reclined surfing sojourn sadly turned into a cold and sodden misery fest.  Luckily, our three to four-ish day stint on the Oregon coast was cut short to two days.  Two days of cuddling up next to a puddle inside my tent.  We couldn't have been headed for a better location: Bend, OR.  The high desert.  And our third stop of four on CVTC's 2010 "Monkeying around down south" trip. 

Now, this doesn't near weave the tale of the adventure on our camping/training/road trip, so let's rewind to the beginning and do it proper with pictures and all. 

Our first stop of the trip was at Mount St. Helens, Washington, and one of the most spectacular runs of my life (on Ape Canyon Trail.  As you read on, you will notice an undeniable monkey/ape theme to our trip, thus explaining the title).  The scenery was so abnormal and breathtaking on and around this active volcano that it became an instant hit.  The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens decimated everything within 600 square kilometres as it's north face collapsed.  To this day, it remains the most destructive volcanic eruption in history in the United States. (Check out video of the 1980 eruption here)  

The peak of Mount St. Helens seems so near, but is in fact still thousands of feet above where we made it to.  The peak even lost 1,300 feet off the top in the 1980 eruption.  

That afternoon after our run on St. Helens, we took to spelunking the nearby Ape Cave.  What I thought would be a small cave system that perhaps a small group of capuchins could theoretically inhabit, turned into a 1.6 mile underground journey of fear and discovery. 

The dank darkness in Ape Cave was absolute, and the temperature was frigid.  Those in t-shirts invariably froze. 

At every bend in the lava tube, we were confronted with challenging obstacles.  Here, Geoffrey is squirming his way through a tight spot.  Another hindrance was an 8-foot cliff we had to scramble up and over.

Mid-way through our 1+hr odyssey through the abyss, we were tantalized by a hole in the ceiling offering fresh air and light to help reverse our gradual Gollum-esque acclimation to the dark (like googly eyes, pallor and mental insanity).

Out of the cave, and without any long-term cave dweller adaptations having taken hold, we took to the road to make for Oregon and the "beach time" that awaited.  Cannon Beach, OR is one of the quaintest little towns I know, situated directly on never-ending beach, with boutique shops and cafés that speak to a zoning requirement of "one-storey cute and shingled". 

Cape Kiwanda at Pacific City, OR.  I wasn't too choked up to leave this behind... The boys were left making do with the "food tent" for the trip after our rightful tent was somehow left behind in Whistler by certain members of the team.  

The weather upon our arrival in Bend, OR was nothing short of a miracle as we were met with bone dry heat.  Every possession was laid out to dry.  Our campsite at Tumalo State Park had phenomenal rollerskiing through the desert.  

After a few days to dry out, even Bend couldn't remain dry with the imposing weather from the coast.  

 Smith Rock State Park near Bend.  Amazing scenery and running trails.

Monkey Face in Smith Rock.  

 Back side of the hulking Monkey Face. 

Two Great Horned Owls at Tumalo State Park campground.

S'more preparation - the traditional art I have honed all my life under the tutelage of my old man's marshmallow roasting skills.  

Twin Lake Campground in Winthrop, WA.  Unfortunately, we only spent one night here and left early the next morning without getting a chance to explore the environs. 

CVTC (which I hear is being changed to CVDC - Callaghan Valley Development Cenre) 2010-2011 below Liberty Bell Mountain at Washington Pass at the conclusion of our trip. 

I am now back in Whistler for the remainder of the fall waiting for the snow to fly.  It's time to both narrow the focus and address any last minute preparation issues before important racing becomes a reality.



Monday, August 9, 2010

Homelife Real Estate

A big shout-out to Homelife Real Estate in Yellowknife for their support for my 2010/2011 season!!

As a small real estate company in Yellowknife, Homelife is a great partner to the community of Yellowknife, being a supporter of many local events and organizations.  With Homelife as a sponsor for this season, I am proud to represent this business to my best ability within my home community of Yellowknife and in my travels to competitions across Canada and abroad.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Business as usual

June was a month of sussing out the current situation of the bod.  What to work on, what is weak.  No significant gains were observed, but the stage was set for how to systematically go about things over the rest of the summer.  

July has been a month of great progress.  At the top of the list is my move into the Whistler Athlete's Centre, at Cheakamus Crossing (what I like to call the Cheak-X), aka the Olympic Athlete's Village.  My new living arrangements are very comfortable and training is extremely convenient.  With all of my teammates in the same row of townhouses, team training outings are easily arranged and the area surrounding the Cheak-X is beautiful and contains a variety of excellent running/cycling trails.  We also live directly across from a state of the art sports centre, so we are soon to be in one of the best training situations possible once that opens in the next month.  

2nd on the list of things to be excited for for the month of July, is my improvement of overall fitness.  Instances of superior fitness are seen on an almost daily basis, and sensations have been great.  Good energy all of the time (likely thanks to the new training paradise I am living in), and notable improvements in running economy and double pole strength - two useful gauges over the summer months.  I am particularly excited about these two developments as they will directly influence my classic skiing, particularly my classic sprinting.  

My running improvements have likely come from specific track work of drills and strides (possibly supplementation of barefoot training as well).  The double pole has been changing perhaps due to technical changes recommended by Chris.  We are trying an Emil Joensson (top World Cup sprinter) approach to pole plant and power application - having the poles plant at nearly vertical and having the power phase end by the time my hands reach my hips.  

Some of the new methods with Chris conducted at the track in Brackendale.  Bounding, strides, drills, plyos, sprints...  Intended for:

- Practicing and strengthening my new found range of motion in hips and ankles (found through stretching).  Strengthening new range of motion is essential to prevent injury in the regions that were purposely damaged (stretched) for mobility gains.  
- Training proprioception with fun and coordination-challenging range of movement drills 
- Neurologic and strength training with all out sprints.  Finding that turnover, and learning to apply power too.

The main intended outcome of our track practices is being able to generate better power with legs, primarily for classic striding (where I am normally brutal).  

At the start of the month I was on-snow on the Haig glacier near Canmore, AB for a camp with my new teammates and with the National Team.  Even with specific fine-tuning and exciting new ideas, one mustn't lose sight of the most important part of training: getting in distance hours.  4-hour days are commonplace when skiing on the Haig.

A shot outside the dudes' room at the Haig - Peelix the mountain goat licking the pee off of the rocks.  

The guys of CVTC 2010, preparing for our 18km run out from the Haig base camp: (l to r) Chris Manhard (coach), Geoffrey Richards (Rossland), Jeff Wood (Whitehorse), and I.  Our glacier camp was a very productive time, both for training and for team bonding and getting to know each other. 

This is our new neighbourhood at the Cheak-X (Whistler peak in background).  

This year I have committed to spending more solid time chunks in Whistler - being here more, travelling less, and having consistent daily training and rest at a home base.  This was a commitment born from being inspired at the Olympic Games this past year.  It is easy to show integrity to my objectives, being a part of the Olympic legacy.  Every time I rollerski the paved finish line area at WOP, I get goosebumps as I remember Petter Northug claiming multiple gold on that exact spot...