How many days have I been in Europe? It seems like after a full day and a half of traveling overseas my ability to keep track of time and days has diminished. I guess today would mark my eighth day in Europe and sixth in Otepää, Estonia, the site for the Under-23 Championships and two World Cups this past weekend.
The trip started in sunless and foggy Vierumaki, Finland, our staging area for the first couple of days as we started to adjust our bodies to the nine hour time change. Despite having a great set up at our hotel, with awesome food, ski trails right out the door and even a bowling alley, our stay here was short as most of the U23's and I left for Estonia after just a couple days to prepare for some world cup racing at the same race venue as the championships.
Our drive from Finland to Otepää lasted eight hours, and included a two hour ferry ride across the Baltic Sea. Here at the boat docks is where the Superstars are seperated from the Princesses (we were Superstars)
Finishing 5th (and only ~15 seconds from a medal) in Thursday's skate race still hasn't really sunk in yet. I was walking into the race with a Top-10 goal for that day, but I never really expected to be so close to the podium. With a conservative start to the race, I was skiing comfortably in 6th for the first lap and was able to gradually push the speed. I crossed the line in 3rd with only 13 skiers still to finish. After all was said and done, a Norwegian and Russian moved in front of me, leaving me with a 5th place, 39 seconds off the leader.
My finial lap of the 15km race. I was sitting around 5th, only 13 seconds back from a snowflake shaped medal. (credit Fasterskier.com)
The 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax Nova Scotia are all wrapped up, and I would say they were pretty comparable to those held in Whitehorse back in 2007. That's a pretty good thing when Whitehorse was a truly unforgettable experience.
After a small bout of internet darkness in Sun Valley, I'm back in the 21st century and can now throw my 2011 Nationals update up.
National Championships is a touchy subject for me. No matter what sort of preparation, or what sort of shape I'm in, I can never seem to pull together a great Nationals. My team-mates and race-mates talk about how they've go more national medals than bad Adam Sandler flicks, and although last year in Whitehorse was a "break-through", I still had not held that notorious medal.
Well that must have been one of my best weekends ever. In sort of all regards. The first Nor-Am races of the season at Sovereign Lakes were also the first set of the Olympic trials for Team Canada. Win the race, (and presumably) go to the Olympics. For me though, this was just another race, no form of selection or politics, just a a good old fashioned "give her all you got in preperation for Under-23 Trials in Quebec". This was however, my brother-in-law's and teammate's biggest race of his career. A temperamental back put this 15km skate race as his only ticket to Vancouver.
I don't really want to go through all the trials and tribulations of knowing Mr. Gordon Jewett. At first, one must be welcoming to the man dating your sister; after all, family first. Through many years of getting to know him, we both thought the next logical step for our bro'ship was to move in together. Seeing as he (and his wife/my sister) had a house, and I had things to fill a bedroom in a house, I made the move in the summer of '06. That was the year Gord also took me under his wing and turned average-Kevin into athlete-Kevin. His coaching could be one of the reasons I am still skiing competitively (and note: that sentence was not meant to create cheeseyness).
The two years following my move in brought up and downs, tears of both cry and joy (Gord actually almost made me cry once) and goods and bads between us, but they always seemed to be resolved. In the Winter of '08, and just after my first World Junior Championships, I moved out of the cozy #7 into the desolate solitude of CODA house #11. Neither of us like to discuss who instigated the kick-out/move-out; we both have our stories. My blender was too loud, they kept me up past my nine o'clock bedtime. Either way, if you ever consider getting a biography made on your life, you need to switch it up a bit and move on to the next chapter.
Fast forward countless memories and moments to December 12th 2009 and the biggest cross country ski race of Gord's life... to date. I started a minute-thirty ahead of Gord, and throughout the cheers and splits, the only thing I wanted to know for the entire 15km was how Gord's race was going. Granted I was having a good race and hell of a way to start the season but today was his day. After finishing my race (8th overall and 3rd Canadian) and Gord crossing the line just over a minute later, you could tell this guy did all he could to win. He laid exhausted, gasping for air on the ground for a solid minute, and this wasn't those typical theatrics you see at some finish lines. After some time to put warm up clothes on, we got the scoop - Gord was tied for top Canadian spot with 2.5km to go. Cue feelings of anxiety and nervousness.
Gord's post-race entourage. We watched nervously as racers would finish
Photo by Morten Myskov - Click the image to check out all his photos from the NorAm's
After the last skier had crossed the line, and times calculated, Gord had grabbed the top spot for the Canadians. No words can describe how happy I was feeling; of everyone on the trail, this guy deserved it the most. This coming weekend in Canmore will conclude the Olympic trials with two classic sprints and a 50/30km classic race. I'd be over the top if my sister could join Gord at the Olympics for the sprints. And after last weekends shenanigans, I will now be racing the 50km (my first ever mind you) on the 22nd, in a snowball's chance in hell of going to the Olympics. Here's to trying to join you in Vancouver Gord.
Team Sandau/Jewett: The movie
Silver Star still offers the beautiful skiing it's known for. Sorry, I shouldn't need to repeat this.
Lucas Jungmann still learning to smile. It's coming.