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!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thanks lululemon!

Since last fall I have had the pleasure of representing Whistler's lululemon athletica store as a part of their ambassador program.  It has been great to team up with lulu since we hold many of the same values: grass roots community events, promoting active lifestyles, being adventurous and fun, and having an overall optimistic outlook on life.

Some of my highlights of working with lululemon, so far, include: setting up a yoga class with world renowned trials cyclist, Ryan Leech, at last year's Crankworx; doing an on-snow photoshoot at Lost Lake in the spring; and modelling clothes up on the peak of Whistler for the 2011 winter line of clothing for the store's "Vision."  Another huge highlight is, obviously, the fact that I get to wear all sorts of awesome clothing on a regular basis!

Thanks a lot Sue, Kathleen and everyone else at lululemon Whistler!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Leaping Into The Fray

I figure I’ll do my best to throw in another opinion into the heated dialogue over Canada’s purported shortcomings at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics in Daegu, South Korea.  In the following recent articles on, a number of readers have taken the liberty to post scathing criticism of Canada’s high performance sports system.  ( and

Here are my two cents regarding the rampant callowness of some readers…

For the layman, grasping the tangible benefits of sports in Canada seems as simple as medals equals happiness, and 4th place onwards equals outrage, the emotions being especially relevant to how well they think their tax dollars (despite it being a pittance for high level sport in Canada) were spent. 

Of course, the benefits of having high-level Canadian athletes run far deeper than whether they dominated the world stage or not. 

An Active Progression

The pursuit of sport starts at a young age for most.  For some it is a social avenue, getting to hang out with buddies before or after grade school in an active, physically invigorating environment.  These young people will often continue to pursue this outlet in their respective institutions as they embark on continued studies (university, college, trade school, etc.).  To a small minority, however, sport represents something more to them, and they decide to pursue it to the fullest, putting education and employment on hold.  This decision comes most often upon the major turning point of graduating from high school.  It might mean pursuing their sporting hobby as a means of pause while they figure out a course of study, or it might be the pursuit of a true challenge that drives them.  Above these reasons, some may pursue high-level sport with the intent of improving the lives of others by being a role model. 

The positive impact of healthy, active role models in a community is a no-brainer.  When I was 17 years old, a close friend (a high-level athlete in snowboarding) and I started up a mountain bike camp for kids ages 8-13 aimed at getting kids active and spending time outdoors in Yellowknife.  In the 6 years since then, camp participation has skyrocketed, especially the participation rate of girls (upon this year’s introduction of a promoted girl bike camp).  Beyond this action, I also enjoy speaking to school classes and with athletes in my local ski club about my adventures in sport (I have even spoken at the NWT Young Offenders facility).  And I think that if you looked at other high level athletes in Canada, you would see similar initiatives within their communities aimed at empowerment and promoting healthy lifestyles, especially among youth. 

One commenter on questioned the validity of high-level athletes acting as role models directly affecting the health of youth in mentioning how the USA as a sport power house also has one of the highest obesity rates around.  I would argue that it takes commitment from both sides, requiring a certain initiative on the side of governments and educators to ensure a minimum basal activity rate by providing daily phys ed. classes at such an important stage of young people’s development.  With ubiquitous tight operating margins at US public schools, the unfortunate truth is that physical education class is being left by the wayside in a large way.  Of course, in North America, other factors contribute to an increasingly sedentary youth lifestyle, including television, computers, and video games, not to mention the nasty dietary affliction of junk food and soda pop. 

Sometimes it’s hard for us high-level athletes to maintain our end of the bargain inspiring youth when they are so deeply mired in early health problems.

The vision of full-time high-level athletes isn’t of lucrative sponsorships or “real job” avoidance at all cost, but of something far more refined.  In this day and age, there is no better cause than empowering and inspiring youth for current and future challenges (because they will abound in spades).  Being but one of the positive side effects of an athlete role model, lifelong physical activity is proven to pay dividends in society. 

Is Competition So Bad?

Maybe other countries are up, nipping at the heels of the historical greats in Athletics.  For a developing country to succeed on the international stage shouldn’t be cause for western commentary to belittle the domestic athlete’s shortcomings, it should be a reason for jubilation in light of the barriers the foreign athlete overcame, and of exultation for what it could mean for youth in the athlete’s country who have maybe never had a positive role model in sport to look up to before.  I know for a fact that the 800m silver won by Abubaker Kaki from war-torn Sudan will have caused a light to turn on in at least a few youngsters’ minds (of those who were even fortunate enough to see his performance in Daegu on television or over the net).  For those not lucky enough to see Kaki’s televised performance, upon his return in person to Sudan he will be celebrated as a hero and the radiant, positive energy will give hardship stricken kids a sense of empowerment and inspiration in life. 

And to the country like Canada whose athlete may have been unseated or pushed a little further back in line?  Let’s not lambaste the system’s shortcomings, let’s praise the virtues and hard work of our athlete’s top-10 and top-20 finishes and find the positives in them all the while acknowledging the victory of those who have less than us in getting a positive role model in their community.

Bounding Forward

To those whose insolence defaced the comment board on, think about your youth and recall the athletic inspiration that got you out on the ice, court, field or trails and whether in any way that impacted the way you pursue a healthy lifestyle today.  And if you never had the pleasure of being inspired or of dreaming big, please stand aside and let the next generation be empowered without hindrance. 

It is my strong belief that if our country can come together in providing adequate physical activity opportunities to our youth, while at the same time maintaining a strong high performance sport pipeline for those who are serious about their sport and who act as a driving inspiration to kids, the resulting synergies will result in deep-rooted sporting culture for all ages and just might bring us back into contention for the coveted Athletics medals, as well as medals in every other sport.