"Yikes." - that's how last weekends 30km skiathlon in Lahti, Finland can be summed up for me. After catching a cold in the final few days in Seizer Alm, my energy levels took a steep dive and remained low long after I got over the sore throat and runny. Upon arriving in Finland and skiing on the race trails, my body felt like dial-up internet yearning for some DSL. Come race day I was playing everything by ear, and after a hard warm up I figured the body was reacting well enough to give it a go. I didn't make it far into the race. Coming into the stadium at the 11.25km mark of the classic leg I pulled the plug and put a DNF (Did Not Finish) next to my name on the results sheet. With a serious lack of "oomph", or anything for that matter, it turns out my body wasn't quite ready to get back into racing yet.
But that was last week.
Fast forward to now and I'm less than 24 hours away from racing the 50km Holmenkollen World Cup here in Oslo, Norway. The body is feeling recharged and ready for a race that has been on my bucket list for this season. This is my first time in Norway, and let's just say the Norwegians love their Nordic skiing. With thousands expected to be lining the 8km loop tomorrow here at Holmenkollen, it sure will be quite the thing to witness. (I'll be packing earplugs just in case)
Holmenkollen Ski Jump mixed in with the fog, which I feel like they get a lot of
I’m back in Europe - Italy to be exact. After wrapping up the Canadian NorAm Circuit last week, I grabbed the FIS Regional spot, giving me starts in all the March World Cups, including the Finals in Sweden. Rewind back to my last update, I had just finished racing at Callaghan Valley near Whistler and was in tight contention for this trip to Europe. Using the best of 8 races, it was a battle royale between club/sprint/teammate Brent McMurtry and I. After finishing 1st at the Western Canadian Championships in Canmore, and 2nd a couple weeks later at the Eastern Canadian Championships near Ottawa, I was able to lock up my spot to Europe and the opportunity to race the last three weekends of World Cups.
Racing has started up again for 2012, and I'm back in Whistler for what seems like the millionth time for some NorAm races. It took awhile for me find my legs in yesterday's 30km, but by the time I transitioned to skate, things were looking better and I was able to grab the win.
Taking a turn at the front in the skate leg, thanks to Angus Cockney for the photos
Brent McMurtry and I to the line, making it 3 for 3 for distance races this season. Jesse Winter grabbed this shot of the sprint to the finish - check out his shots at his website here
Tomorrow is the skate sprints, something I've started growing a soft spot for. We'll see how this one goes...
The racing is over and after hanging around in Rossland for a couple days, it's back home for me for some good ol’ Christmas time. Greyhound could be a bit more reliable with their bus service as I'm stuck in Revelstoke for the time being, but it's given me some time to do some computer jamming and whip out an update.
This past weekend's NorAm's were a bag full of firsts for me, particularly in the skate sprint. I can't really remember the last time I've moved on past a quarterfinal and on to the later rounds. Saturday was a bit of a welcome surprise to me, as I started off the day with the 4th fastest qualifying time. Turns out there is a bit of sprint in me.
The straggling bits of jet lag have passed and the racing season in Canada is in full swing. Upon returning back home from Europe, I had a week and a half of Canmore time before packing up my bag again and returning to the road. This time Sovereign Lakes and Rossland NorAms.
Already having more than a few races in the bank this season, I was excited for the 15km classic race at Sovereign, generally a good distance for me. There were a couple things I took away from my World Cup experience in November that I wanted to apply to Sunday's race, specifically speaking: ski smooth, long, and efficient.
2010 is here and so far it's been an exciting winter. The week after the races at Sovereign Lake I took on my first 50km at the Canmore Nordic Centre, the conclusion to the Olympic Trials. This entailed 10 laps of the Olympic 5km course, which is known for its tear inducing climbs. To make things even more exciting, it was an individual start, which meant for a lot of people (like me) most of the race was skied alone. You can get a lot of thinking done in these type of races. The race went pretty well, but I think this clip from the CBC can sum up the race pretty well.
After some 30+ hours of flying, waiting and driving, the U23/World Junior team has made its way to Hinterzarten, Germany. Or at least close by. We are now on our third day here in Germany and are starting to find our groove with sleep and time change. The trails here offer some great climbs, and are made to resemble four lane highways, something even Canmore can't compete in. Apparently there are over 90km of recreational ski trails at the race site, and a short ski today through the Black Forest nearly ended up in a lost-mans panic. Yes, the same forest that Hansel and Gretel discovered the Gingerbread house and the mean ol' witch.
The trails are almost as wide as they are tall. And that's saying a lot.
The past week here in Europe has definitely had its up’s and down’s for everyone. Last weekend we got our first look at a stomach bug that will eventually consume half the team within the week. Jess, my roommate and AWCA teammate, was the first person on the trip to be claimed victim to what we referred as the “Zombie Disease”. Although we have no proof that Zombiefication is a result from this bug, the hours spent in the bathroom along with total energy depletion is enough to make anyone want to avoid this. Along with sickness, last weekend marked our first taste of racing on the trails at Hinterzarten, Germany. Sunday, January 17 was a 10km classic race which I finished 18th. With all the travel and jetlag considered, I was pleased with the result.
After the race, those that hadn’t caught the stomach bug packed their bags for a brief trip to Livigno, Italy for some high altitude. Unfortunately for me and two other teammates, the gastroenteritis followed us to the land of food, attacking me and forcing me to spend the next 24 hours alone in my room with a fever and unwillingness to do anything.
Panorama of Livigno. The ski hills see to go on forever.
I have to say there isn't much more I could have done today, ending the day in 13th at my first Under-23 Championship race. Fresh snow in the morning made for softer conditions, very different from the Canmore like conditions we had yesterday. Although it felt like I started the race quicker than I normally do (and I know usually I'm a bit of a slow starter) I was surprised when I was getting splits that I was 39th at just over 2km and 39 seconds down. OK, no more paying attention to timing until atleast half way through. I was lucky to be finishing my first lap when a Norwegian skier started his race, giving me a quick full lap of draft (and some time to recover on the flatter terrain). He eventually cracked me going up the long climb, but by that time (about half way through the race) things were starting to look a lot better. 21st at 7km, 15th at 10km, and eventually settling into 13th at the finish line. I guess 'slow and steady' is a good principle for me to follow. Below are some race shots taken by Len Valjas. Check out his blog here for an update on his 9th place finish in the sprint on Tuesday.
A nice team Canada shot. I started just as Julien (finished 47th) was on his second lap.
Deja what? After racing to a 13th place finish in the 15km classic event it seems like a repeat was in order. Another 13th place finish, this time in the 30km pursuit. The race consisted of a frustrating bumper-to-bumper classic leg, with heavy snow preventing the pack from dispersing. After the exchange things started to get a bit more spread out and I found my way in the second chase group with positions 7th - 15ish. At this point in the race I was feeling great; the legs were plentiful and the body still fresh. Trying to get to the front of the group was tough with only a couple meters of "hard packed" trail to get by and after some hard pushes to get back into the podium placings, the body popped. But those are words, I promised photos. Enjoy.
And as a bonus, I included a video of the first classic lap. Most photo's are thanks to Julien Nury.
My pre-race meal before the 30. Nope, kidding. This was one of the Black Forest Cakes I found in my quest to eat the most delicious one. It wasn't exactly what I was looking for but it was still tasty.
Len did a great job of making it to the front of the pack. Unfortunately he had to pack trail for twenty skiers behind him.