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, January 22, 2014

Out of Action For a Time

Two weeks ago I nervously blundered through my first live radio interview just days before the start of the Olympic trials races in Canmore, AB. My radio appearance was the result of me chiming in on twitter about a CBC news article mentioning Northerners who were trying out for the Olympics, an article in which they forgot to mention me as the lone Yellowknife Ski Club athlete in attendance. Sure, the radio interview was good for exposure as an amateur athlete, but my chime-in on twitter was more so because I had been forgotten as one of the few northern ski racers in Canada and less so to say that I was legitimately trying out for the Olympics. Not that the Olympics weren't a dream of mine. One of the questions that I was asked was how I had been preparing for these races. I blurted out something about skiing in Europe in December. Later, after my dad had listened to the interview, he mentioned that I should have said how I have been preparing for this my whole life, since I was 3 years old.

You see, my training leading up to the races had not been optimal, and this probably added to the nervousness of being live on the air. In the radio interview I mentioned my old knee injury several times and how my goals and expectations for the races had been adjusted after 2 years of inconsistent training. Although training has been inconsistent, there have been some periods of consistency. In the fall I was really excited to start the race season. Training was going decently well and I was starting to show good signs of fitness.

Two weeks before leaving for Italy and the World University Games, I felt a bit of discomfort in my abdomen. I took some rest. It wasn't a huge issue and it didn't affect me much in the one race I did overseas. Once I was back in Canada, it was a major issue in my high intensity sessions in preparation for the Olympic sprint trial races. I went to the hospital and was told that I have a spigelian hernia, which is a shearing between layers of abdominal muscle. Racing was out of the question. Aches and pains are normal in any high level sport, but for a seemingly minor issue to completely shut down my body was a big frustration. There was no crazy weight lifting or any discernible specific moment when the injury happened - it just gradually cropped up and got worse even though I was resting it. 

As it stands, I am out of action for an unknown amount of time. It is now a matter of going through all the steps of doctor and hospital visits. I may require surgery. The one upside is that I am currently in school and have something to fall back onto while ski racing is on hold. I am dreaming of the day when I am healthy and can let loose on the ski trails once again. Regaining that health is my #1 priority.

Here is a picture from a photo shoot I had last year with my friend Jen and photographer Toshi Kawano. It's at the inspiring Callaghan Country near Whistler, my favourite place to ski. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Into the Tunnel

I just got back to Canada after a relaxing Christmas in Sweden. Kajsa and I decided that since we were already over in Europe, why not visit some friends and some of her relatives in nearby Sweden? We caught up with our friend from Whistler, Emil, who now lives in the town of Arvika. He and his girlfriend were off visiting dozens of various relatives for Christmas eve and Christmas day, and so Kajsa and I had a quiet Christmas in Emil's cozy house. 

Our stay in Sweden was very non-wintery. Europe has had a very bad snow year in general, and the area we were in was no exception. Emil was complaining about still having to mow his lawn. Luckily, an hour's drive away is the Torsby ski tunnel, a state of the art 1.3 km year-round refrigerated concrete tunnel located in the small village of Torsby. 

Christmas in Sweden at Emil and Sanna's was about Julmust, Glögg, candy, cozy homes and good company.

As a skier, the weather in Sweden could have been better. Europe is experiencing its worst winter in years. 

Kajsa and I made our Swedish hosts a Canadian Christmas dinner one night. We opted for roast chicken instead of turkey because Swedish turkeys are 7 times more expensive than their Canadian counterparts. 

Emil, Kajsa and I took a trip to the Torsby ski tunnel to seek out snow in green Sweden. Skiing in a tunnel has been a dream of mine for some time, and it did not disappoint. Emil attended high school in Torsby. He seemed to know everybody in town. We trained with Emil's old school buddies for all of our sessions in the tunnel. Many of his friends still reside in the area and are very high level skiers. Emil mentioned that his high school has produced the most winter sport world champions and olympic champions of any high school in the world.

Emil and I in the 1.3 km Torsby Ski Tunnel.

I was surprised with the quality of training offered by the tunnel. I was surprised with how big the hills were. The old, dirty and slow snow also made for extra skiing resistance, a training challenge that I am familiar from growing up training on the sandpaper snow of Yellowknife. Each day in the tunnel was very productive. To have this year round and to have the option of mixing up summer training with on-snow practice made this tiny Swedish town pretty impressive. According to Emil, the training in Torsby is "absolutely perfect". I would tend to agree, except for the lack of snow so far this winter!

 A new goal of mine is to race the Vasaloppet in the next few years. Here is Emil Svensson and his father standing in front of the map of the famed Vasaloppet. The three generations of Svenssons get together for ski training year round. They even roller ski together. On this particular session in the tunnel, Emil's father skied with us for over 3 hours.