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!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Reaching and grasping, slipping and falling. But getting back up.

Unawares, I have been kidnapped and entrapped in a time capsule for the past 5 weeks.  Whisked away, time but a figment of a disillusioned imagination of a disoriented psyche.  It feels like it was just yesterday when I posted my last blog update.  I recall all sorts of fleeting memories from the past month and a bit: Pleasant and unpleasant; all serving an unknown purpose, but happening at such a rate that it was difficult to analyze and interpret individual life lessons before a new event and experience came to glaring attention. 

Let’s put it this way:  I have been in Whistler for 3 days since the beginning of December. 

I hit the road, and after wrapping up some injury troubles, I was able to start racing again.  I was hopeful for some decent performances at Olympic and World Cup trials races in Canmore, AB, but the legs just weren’t recuperated and/or strong enough to stride up the huge hills for the two sprint (read: distance) races.

I had what felt to be one of my best qualifiers ever; the best I possibly could have raced on the day, with amazing skis and the body feeling good, and I still didn’t qualify for the head-to-head heats!!  Obviously frustrating, but I took consolation in the fact that everyone was skiing at an unprecedented level and that the field was extremely tight.  Some 7 skiers coming in to finish within one second over an epic 4 minute course.  Toight.  I was close to making it in, but in the end I simply wasn’t performing well enough on such a demanding course.

I had been on the road quite a bit up to this point in Canmore and had driven 2000+km over 2 weeks.  In dire need of rest and a period to refocus, I flew home to Yellowknife for Christmas holidays and 10 days of homemade meals and pleasantly frigid, northern temperatures. 

Sis and I out on the trapline in Yellowknife

I had some great sessions up in YK, getting to train with great friends for nearly every ski.  And temperatures were balmy at           -20C every day so I was able to skate a lot.

Mike Gilday (in red) and I bumped into the Lipperts one day.  I grew up skiing with Josh (in blue).  He is renowned for being able to turn over a cycling cadence of 244 rpm, haha.  Ed on the far right was my High School chemistry teacher and is one of the reasons I am a science geek.  Seth was on the Yellowknife High Performance team the very first year I joined back in '99. 

After a great holiday season back home, my shape was honed and my focus sharp for the task at hand of qualifying for World U-23 Championships in the skate sprint event in Valcartier, Quebec on January 3rd.  Everything was going great until approximately 1:10 into my qualifier when my ski caught an edge on a high-speed section of the course and took me down before I realized what had happened.  Snapping my pole and throwing my back out, I knew my day was over.  I limped in to the finish line, broken pole in hand, in a state of shock.  WHAT JUST HAPPENED. 

This was a little tough to swallow, as I knew it was the last chance to qualify for any racing overseas where I could race for a spot on the National team and also greatly improve my national and international ranking points. 

I have done a lot of thinking since this day, and that’s likely why this blog took so long (and no, I wasn’t actually unconsciously imprisoned in a time capsule…).  Going back to that day that I fell, it was tough to bring myself to stick around for the rest of the day to watch the heats.  I saw close friends accomplishing great feats.  Naturally there was a twinge of jealousy, but above all else I felt happy for those achieving their goals and aspirations.  Consequently, seeing them triumph helped me wrap my head around the tribulations of that morning and gave me perspective on what it takes to be a BIG GAME PLAYER on the day and reminded me how there would be many more of these high pressure races to come in my career where I would be the best prepared of anybody. 

I realized how badly I want this.

Since trials in Quebec, I have been chasing races.  Twoonie races, BC cups, US Supertour – basically anything and everything within financial means (and of course dependent on sufficient mental and physical energy for race exertion).  All with the goal of improving racing skills and amassing race experience while I can, before the Olympics puts the kibosh on any high-end racing in North America for the remainder of the season leading up to National Championships in Whitehorse. 

I finally figured out why I have always been a weak distance skier.  BECAUSE I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO RACE A DISTANCE RACE.  Haha - But that's okay.  Cause I am learning.  I managed to be within a minute of some legitimate distance skiers in a 10km classic BC cup held in Kelowna recently.  My distance is much better than it has ever been before, so I know that my fitness goals are being achieved.

Went to a Supertour race in the (very cool) town of Winthrop, Washington the other weekend.  Good fun, great event.  Thanks to Anders and the Banff Ski Runners for taking me in just like in my good old days as a skier orphan.  

I skied OK in Wash.  I was too caught up thinking about staying on my feet in qualifying to really throw down.  Ran out of steam with 50m to go in my heat and missed moving on by inches.  Dang.  The next day's 15km classic was a memorable one.  Narrow, greasy, obliterated track on the weirdest trail ever.  Rolling, then 2km gradual uphill, then screaming fast downhill with crazy corners (3 loops).  Pretty fun day.

Christopher cheering his Butler off (and eating all the spectators).  Great crowds in Winthrop.

At U-23 trials in Quebec I was skiing a great qualifier.  I put everything on the line and didn’t hold anything back.  Sometimes things don’t work out, but believing in this “all in” attitude (the USST will get a kick outta that) is what it takes leading up to 2014.  This is my one opportunity in life to pursue something like this and I owe it to myself to give it everything I got.

Thanks for checking in and thanks to all of you who are helping me reach my dreams.


Oh yeah, guess what.  Olympics are in Whistler soon.  BOOM.