I've been back in Canmore for a couple weeks now after spending ten days down in Whitefish for the "pièce de résistance" of my summer training block. Yeah, I've really let this update linger since getting home, but in between lying in front of the TV on the floor in a vegetative stage recovering from the training and my persistent writers block, we should consider this a relatively speedy update.
This was the second time being back to Montana for the AWCA and I, the formidable replacement to past August dry land camps out in Whistler. Whitefish was how I remembered it from last year; sweltering heat at the first glimmer of sun, cool water at the lake, the hustle and bustle of a small resort town during the summer and limitless amounts of pavement, trails, hills, climbs, mountains (those last three may be the same thing). That definitely ticks off the "training camp destination" checklist.
For the ten days I was south of the border, I had really one objective: volume. And lots of it. I've been returning to my older style of training from a couple years ago which involved more of the longer distance workouts and intensities. This year's training has had a lot less of the ups and downs that I experienced last summer, and even with the added hours this time around in Whitefish, it has been a pronounced improvement over last year.
The team running up Big Mountain, and in typical cross country skier fashion, taking the chair lift down. Just an easy couple hours in the afternoon for recovery...
The two weeks that overlapped the camp have been my largest training block ever as a skier, by a good chunk. It was an interesting feeling trying to cram a whole bunch of hours into ten day - lets just say spare time was a rare occurrence. But such a "go-go-go" vibe to my camp experience was almost humbling in a sense. I could get into a rhythm and just go with it, I do after all enjoy a bit of monotony to my training regime (but that isn't to say don't enjoy variety... I just prefer... regularity.) That aside, the days had a similar feel to them: long mornings - whether it was riding, roller skiing or heading to the gym, a quick post-workout dunk in the lake before lunch, nap, and then a not exactly short afternoon session, dinner, a post-bed dunk in the lake and repeat. Ten days of training like that really flew by.
A regular venue for some workouts were the lonely roads out in the Montana ranchlands. Today's workout: a team sprint relay.
A new discovery from word-of-mouth was the road up to the Hungry Horse Dam, just a few clicks east of Whitefish, and the subsequent road along much of the reservoir. It's no GoldenEye dam or Transformers dam (I guess that was the Hoover), but still quite the sight.
Smokey and surreal views along the Hungry Horse Reservoir road at the start of the day
Quiet roads and nice pavement along the HHR. Workouts don't really get better than that.
We found out early on in the camp that plans to roller ski up the "Going-to-the-Sun" road was essentially a no go after the girls found out the hard way from a Park Ranger during their excursionp up. Apparently roller skis ≠ road bikes. Dang. This was definitely one of the cooler places to train over my years, so well, a day up there needed to happen. We ended up saving it for the last day, mixing it in with the drive home to Canmore. We left the roller skis in the trailer and instead did a ride/run combo [insert photos].
Not bad Logan Pass... for Montana's standards. But you're no Highwood Pass...
Overlooking Logan Pass on the trail towards Hidden Lake.
And if you make it far enough up the trail you're rewarded with a baby mountain goat, or as Google tells me, a "kid". Cue "Aww" moment.
Whitefish you were swell. Now back in Canmore, fall is knocking on the door (or at times trying just to bust down the thing) and training for me will remain within the Bow Valley up until the start of winter. Back in July I was freaking out writing about missing out on training up at the Haig Glacier this summer due to the flooding, but as chance has it, I will be heading up this Thursday for a short four days of on-snow. And I'll leave you with that as a teaser for my next update.
'till next time,
Ok – I may need to clear something up before I get too much into this next update. Before heading out to Salt Spring Island for a rest week, I wrote that my mom had planned for us to kayak to a chocolate “factory” during my stay. That sounded awesome – paddle to some remote island off the coast, indulge in Willy Wonka-type treats and hopefully don’t capsize the boat on the return journey. Well, maybe not. The true plan became pretty clear once I landed in Victoria; there was no kayaking to a chocolate factory, or even a chocolate shop for that matter, but instead kayaking to a white-shelled beach by the name of “Chocolate Beach”. Hmm, my subconscious playing tricks on me again.
Not even a white chocolate beach, but still beauty of a summer day to paddle out and enjoy the sun.
Broken dreams aside, I had a fun five days out on the coast, checking out the island once again and doing some more casual and relaxed training coming out of the last bout long hours.
Running out to Beaver Point in Ruckle Provincial Park
Rest weeks give me a chance to indulge in my #1 vice: ice cream. Just kidding, I don't like ice cream
Salt Spring Island is always bustling during the summer months, and every Saturday they have a pretty extensive Island fare
Back in Canmore, things started to ramp back up to normal. A few days of training followed by the second set of testing this year (probably to make sure we didn't take the past rest week too literally) before finally heading to Whitefish, Montana. I also had the chance of watching Loreena McKennitt perform in Calgary, something that had been on my bucket list of things to do for a while. I'd grown up listening to her eclectic style of music and had developed a soft spot for the chill melodies. Anyway, her performance was incredible and better than I would have ever expected at the Jubilee Auditorium.
This guy seems to be becoming one of my new BFF's. Just taking a "light" hike up Sulphur Mountain in Banff after getting back from the Island
Harpist, pianist, accordionist and amazing vocalist to name a few things
Always fun to do the max efforts on the treadmill.
So now I'm back in Whitefish, Montana wrapping up the last summer camp of the season. So far the training has been long, and the weather hot, but that news is for next week. I'll just tease you with a token sunset photo of Whitefish Lake.
And actually before I truly sign off, another big thanks to Jamie Coatsworth for the continued support leading into this coming season. Probably one of the biggest Canadian ski fans (or amateur sport fans for that matter) around - give him a follow on twitter @jcoatsworth
Cya next week,
There are those who love it, and those who hate it. No middle ground. But between the haters and the lovers, there is one thing hard to argue when it comes to a Haig Glacier camp: it's some of the best summer training you'll get in Canada. Yeah, it seems every summer update I write up offers some insight or reference from a week up at the Haig. But not this year.
June's #AlbertaFlood wreaked havoc everywhere, from Calgary to Banff, to much of southern Alberta including the hard hit town of High River. Kananaskis Country was especially vulnerable to the flooding, with the golf course essentially destroyed and the highways into the Park just opening up this past week. While now accessible by road, many the popular hiking and ski trails, including the one into the Haig remain closed for the indefinite future. And with the team planning on heading up for two back-to-back half-weeks earlier in the month, well... that meant plans needed to be changed.
I've been up to the camp every summer since 2004, so it's something I obviously look forward to every year. As a Plan B, it was decided for the two weeks we were going to stay local and take advantage of good ol' Canmore and surroundings. Never really a bad thing, use what you know, right?
The first week had lot's of familiar team workouts: roller skiing to Lake Louise, ski striding to the top of Sulphur Mountain in Banff (a major bridge washout in the first 5 minutes made for an adventurous river crossing), running through log-jams and torn apart trails to the top of a pass I can't say where, and still plenty of time left over to enjoy the loop up at the Nordic Centre. For the second week, I decided to head out to Peter Laugheed Provincial Park in the heart of Kananaskis to the family cabin and finish off the final bit of training.
Ahh PLPP... my playground growing up and still is. Backpacking, hiking, swimming, mountain biking, cross country skiing (on and off the glacier) and more recently, an awesome place to fit in some long mountain runs and roller skis. I'm sure I was becoming known as the "resident roller-skier" to many of the weekday campers, skiing through their campground for three consecutive days, rolling by every campsite in the wee hours of the morning to make efficient use of the pavement. And after I circumnavigated all of the campsites, I jumped onto the paved trails and headed for the next community of campgrounds further down, or back onto the main road. Usually there wasn't a car to be seen so it felt like I had the whole area to myself - which I guess is always nice while roller skiing.
I took a break from the morning wake up calls in the campgrounds to do a run up to Frozen Lake, lying just outside the Alberta border. It starts off on some of the ski trails used in the winter before veering off into single track. I saw Jody Cairns in the parking lot at Elk Pass that morning with a crew of trail workers preparing for a day's worth of work clearing out the flood damage on one of the smaller single track ski trails. Jody, who is responsible for the top-notch grooming in the winter and a former Haig Glacier staffer, mentioned that a good chunk of the trails were so badly damaged by erosion and washouts that it was unlikely many of them would be skiable this winter. That's some heavy news.
A bridge use to be here. Running up the Elk Pass ski trail towards Frozen Lake is a much different landscape most of the way up.
Incoming storm clouds over picturesque Frozen Lake... wait... shit... that's not Frozen Lake, that's Upper Elk Lake. Man Navigating skills: fail.
Coming back on the trail I discovered someone's tomfoolery at work, along with my ignorance to details. What I saw at the top and what should have been on the bottom. Frozen Lake for another time.
Running back along Fox Creek to where I found Darren Farley (axe yielding tree undertaker) and Zach Holland (in red), both of which were planning on working up at the Haig this summer, helping out with the trail cleanup. Again, a bridge use to be underneath all that brush.
Amazing weather for the few roller skis I did - yup, breathe in that fresh mountain air why don't ya?
Post-workout lake time at the cabin
Back in Canmore for the weekend with some ski striding intensity - Russell Kennedy (R) and Phil Widmer (L) leading out a set
So did I miss the Haig? You bet, but the alternate wasn't too bad either. Sad to see the extent of the damage out in Kananaskis, but a big thanks to the workers and volunteers helping with the cleanup.
Now onto some video stuff, starting off with a bet I made with that Brent McMurtry guy last summer. During a roller ski workout on a warm, sunny Canmore day, Brent and I started to discuss each other’s YouTube videos and the Internet appeal they would have. You see, Brent was assigned with the job of stirring up some buzz and excitement for the upcoming World Cup's in Canmore, and would do so by making videos and posting them on YouTube. He thought his candid athlete interviews relating to these local World Cup's would appeal to a greater audience than my "rag-tag-once-a-year video releases" (you can imagine how hurt I was from his comment which I may or may not have made up).
So the bet was hatched: the first to 10,000 views on a single video takes the other out for dinner.
Upcoming nerd content
Fast-forward to June 11th, 2013 - the first teaser trailer for the upcoming Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug was released. Being a bit of a Tolkien fan I was excited for this trailer, obviously to watch it, but also because I had had this idea for a while to mash-up Pater Jackson's Hobbit with the 1977 Rankin/Bass animated version of The Hobbit. Twelve hours later and a new animated trailer hit the Tube. To sort of put it into context I would watch the original trailer first and then the animated one... (and obviously watch in HD).
I had a feeling that the video would slowly creep up into the 10k range over time, like maybe by September. Since Brent had ultimately stopped producing videos after his second one, I could rest easy and take my time raking up my views. But one day near the end of June, it went (small-scale) viral, like a cold in a day care center. 35,000 views in a day (I soon found out it was one of the suggested videos on one of Peter Jackson's video) and today it's at just over 112,000 views. So Brent, where will be taking me for dinner over the next eleven days?
I've been working on a few videos over the summer, and well knowing me, they'll either be released in late 2014 or the footage will be sealed away in my equivalent of the "Disney Vault" forever. My new found Lord of the Rings fans will abruptly unsubscribe from me as soon as they realize my fantasy content on the horizon is quite limited... or maybe I should just switch over to making Hobbit parody videos to appease this larger demographic... hmm...
Russell and I are working with Cross Country Canada on creating a few videos for them, this particular one featuring Klister. My only issue with working with this particular jackrabbit is he is hard pressed to show any emotion. We'll be working on that...
Testing some new things out in After Effects with a jet dogfight video...this one could take awhile.
And a war "epic" featuring myself, Russell and J-Cockney. The initial script ranks up there with The Thin Red Line and SPR.
So now what's left? Just finishing up the last week of training in Canmore before heading out to Salt Spring Island to visit mom for a week of rest. Word is she made plans to kayak to a chocolate factory. Will update on that.
It seems that over the past few years, May is becoming synonymous with late springtime skiing. Canmore generally has skiable trails up until mid-May, and it's becoming routine for my team to hunt out some good snow and get in one last week of ski training before summer really kicks in. Last year Bend, Oregon, this year back to Sovereign Lakes. I had a good time training in Bend the previous year; a nice change of scenery from the usual fare, but with me sometimes I prefer the monotony and familiarity of that usual fare.
When I first arrived in Vernon a couple weeks ago and stepped out of the car I almost wanted to hop back in the car and head home. It was a sultry 30 degrees in the late afternoon haze and for a cold weather dweller like myself, I wasn't really expecting this so early into spring. Well, neither did the snow. A full week of the warm stuff turned the above average May snow pack into the not so average May snow pack up, and the outlook for skiing later on in the week was left a little unsettling. Luckily we ended up skiing the entire week and wouldn't need to revert into a dry-land camp. Though most of the lower snow trails were melting out, there was still a good chunk of snow higher up, enough to make a good 30-40 minute loop depending how warm the snow got.
Yup... that's me skiing. Main focus of this week was to remember everything I forgot how to do since March. Here I am learning how to offset on flat terrain.
This year we were staged down on Lake Okanagan at the Outback Steakhouse and Bar Resort just outside of Vernon rather than up at Silver Star. It was a nice change, with some superior running trails right off our door step and some great views of the lake.
HDR of Lake Okanagan
First month back at it in the books...
Yikes, two updates in one week, let's hope that doesn't really set a precedence...
Where to start really? In a year with huge expectations and goals, my winter fell a little flat on what I set out to do at the start of the season. And while sometimes blogging about lack of groove and some "meh" racing isn't all that bad of writing material, I decided instead to shun the blog for, well, I guess most of the season. But it's May now. The new training season has started; April's shenanigans are becoming a blur and the time to rekindle that focus has begun. And while I am looking forward to this next season, a website with a blaring gap from January to May just won't do. Time to close last season out.
So I guess that's where I'll start, connecting the dots in between January and April and summing it up as a precursor to the upcoming season. While the races in November and December weren't exactly what I'd been hoping for going into them, the major goal of the season was to race at World Champs come February, so at the time, I could look past those mediocre results. I know from past season's it would take until January for my race shape to come full stride. Come January and trials racing, it was becoming more and more prevalent that it wasn't a time issue but more of a series of small past events leading up to fatigue. It could have been a number of things – not enough time off after an awesome, but intense, Park City camp, or lacking volume earlier in the summer, maybe it was the travel to and from Europe before the Canmore World Cups, or maybe even an unthinkable stress brought on by such an awesome* mustache in Movember. Well maybe not the last one. All I knew was that the proverbial oomph I knew of oh-so-well from the past three seasons was missing, and despite what appeared to be a solid summer and fall of training, racing felt like I was just going through the motions and missing that final gear.
After a half dozen meetings with the coaches, we started to pin point the cause, made a game plan for the rest of the season and applied it to this year's training plan so there wouldn't be a repeat blog post like this one come 2014. And that's where I was at the start of February. Eastern's, Western's and National's were all that remained before the season was a wrap, and while those first two weekends of racing had their up and downs, National's was the season's silver lining.
By late March I was starting to feel better - the body was sort of back to being fresh and I wanted to close out the end of the season stronger than I started it. This years National's were in Callaghan Valley, BC, (Whistler) and with a forecast of pretty much just sun and more sun, there wasn't really the need to worry about the troublesome rain/snow/sleet combo Callaghan dishes up on occasion.
There were three big highlights at this year's National's:
1: Foothills Nordic defended its Team Sprint title with Jess Cockney and Brent McMurtry setting the standard and defending what is rightfully ours for the past four out of five years. Foothills Nordic B-Team consisting of Kai Lukowiak and myself, despite bookies having high hopes for us, failed to make it past the first round.
2: Grabbing silver in the 50km. In spite of being beat out by last year nemesis McMurtry, and additionally in a skate race, I doubled my extravagant all-time National Champ's medal collection to two. After the team sprint I caught a slight sinus cold, and while thinking and claiming to my roommates it was just early springtime allergies giving me the runny nose (again, sorry), I struggled to get back to normal while racing throughout the week. Luckily come 50km day, I was starting to feel a lot better and had one of my better races of the season, finishing third overall and second Canadian.
Photo credit: James Cunningham
3: National's banquet. Ahh... the quintessential banquet. The last bru-ha-ha before everyone pieces out for the spring. Often imitated, but rarely perfected. This year's "black-and-white" themed event at the Whistler Conference Centre and was a good little season ender.
The black, white and salmon banquet
My April break started off with driving down to Vancouver following Nationals to visit a friend, interspersed with a visit with mom on Salt Spring Island. Being my first real stay in the city, the nine days I spent on the west coast had plenty of rest, checking out the sights, and indulging in a fair bit of Vancouver's culinary fare (something that goes hand in hand with April break).
Fun at the Salt Spring Island Rod and Gun Club. It didn't take long to figure out that composite bows were slightly more accurate than "Robin Hood" bows...
And then maybe slightly more accurate (when your a good shot) was the rifle, trying my luck at firing one for the first time. Playting Xbox ≠ real world gun skill.
Flying back to Vancouver via float plane from SSI
Mother being mother.
Dinner at my friend Rob's girlfirend's place, overlooking the city skyline. Not a bad view.
When in Vancouver... culinary experience #1562
Not really a Vancouver thing, but my first time having fried chicken and waffles, served with a big bottle of Sriracha
And some purple sushi...
The rest of April was pretty tame. After being getting back home mid-April, I took advantage of the still winter-like skiing at the Nordic Centre, which still had pretty good skiing up until the first week of May. Near the end of the month and with the break wrapping up, a few of us headed to every boys dream vacation destination (just after Space Camp), Drumheller.
Visiting the Hoodoo's in Drumheller with Bob, Jess, Matt, myself and Jules being photographer. This photo is an optical illusion; I'm really not that short in real life...
And that was April, and I guess technically the end of last season. With most season's coming to a close comes the inevitable: skiers hanging up the bib and retiring from the sport to pursue school, work, and... I guess other life things. Teammates Matt Wylie, Kate Brennan and short time nemesis, host of his own show, and second-place pizza baker Brent McMurtry all retired this past spring. And while I would have all loved to make retirement videos for everyone (a daunting task which would probably take me into next year at the rate I pump out videos) I took it upon myself, along with Jess, to say farewell to Brent and call him out on his bluff:
A fare warning to the next person looking to retire next season; there’s a Brian Adams video montage with your name on it
Woof, I think that pretty much sums it up. This coming year will be a pretty exciting one as I focus of making them Olympics. Hard to believe they're just around the corner - I guess the years really do fly by the older you get...
tl;dr: Was tired in winter, good nationals, fun spring - made a video.
Given that it is now 2013 and basically everything is connected to the Internet, a two month drought for an update is a little long. I am ashamed but hope I can make it up by doing some recapping.
Movember was awesome. So awesome in fact that the mo kept rocking it past the end of November and into December (partly just to end rumors back in Canmore). Team Snow Mos raised a tidy $3,552 between the eleven of us mobros. Great times. I’m glad that the entire month was fairly well documented, and despite my time lapse not really working out the end, there is always the next mustachioed season. Below are some shots from a few of us Snow Mos, including Gord, Devon, Wolfman and Ivan, striking our best mo-looks.
By the time I got home, shaved the mo, and settled back into the North American routine, the Canmore World Cups were next up. It's been five years since I last raced an Alberta World Cup, and I haven't forgotten the experience. Can't really beat a legion of fans cheering for the home team along with pretty much the entire town backing the international vibe throughout downtown. Despite the excitement, the 39th and 34th place in the classic and skiathlon races respectively weren't exactly the results I had been hoping for.
K-Country at its finest over the holidays
Between the world cups and now, I've been enjoying some time out in Kananaskis Country training and relaxing along with some racing out in Thunder Bay, ON and Duntroon, ON (current location) since the new year. These races out east are selection races for World Championships, so an update next week on how that went overall (next week, next month, same thing).
Season's on. I'm back in Sweden to start off another year, and this time it's a bit more winter - a bit less fall than last year. It's been a couple weeks now since I arrived in Europe, and I've already gotten three races under my belt, with the final set quickly approaching next weekend before heading back home.
Gällivare - cloudy and a little bit dark at times
Yesterday was the World Cup Opener in Gällivare; a 15km skate race on ski trails that were a bit to my liking - decent climbs and some good working sections. After a slow start last weekend in the FIS races at Bruksvallarna, things started to feel better for yesterday's World Cup. I finished 64th, and am optimistic as my speed is coming around. Tomorrow it's off to Kuusamo for the mini-tour and then back to Canmore to prep for the world cups there!
First World Cup of the season - photo courtesy of FasterSkier.com
The following text may cause some readers to swoon to the likes of Tom Sellek
Reader Discretion is Advised
Ahh... Movember. This is the first time participating in the male hair growth movement that is taking over the world, and after an awkward first week or two, things are starting to look great. Really great. I've already raised $225, and with your help I could move up into the top three of the Snow Mos. You cant say no to a gaze like this can you?
Just over 25 days in and the moustache is rocking it out in Europe. Help out Giz'Mo and support cancer research by donating here
Thanks for checking in,
Back when I uploaded "White Stuff on Wapta" last spring, I had the vision of making a three part video series of my spring; back country skiing, my vacation in Hawaii and a concluding video of getting back into training. After debating for some time while in Maui of what type of video I actually wanted to make, I landed on the idea of dinosaurs and a play on Jurassic Park. Being a dinosaur loving four year old at the time it came out, Jurassic Park and the subsequent movies shaped a lot of my childhood adventures and imagination (and similarly illustrated in Calvin and Hobbes)...
So after five months to the day since filming it, and countless hours of editing, Triassic Park is finished. I didn't really think it would take this long to finish, but then again I was pretty optimistic on how long it would actually take to glue everything together into a cohesive video. I would tell friends, "It will be finished by the end of May" and when June hit, I would switch it to "It will be finished by the end of June, I guarantee it", and so on and so forth. So despite being a bit late in finishing part 2/3 of of my spring videos (and 3/3 is questionable), I am pleased to present you with Triassic Park, (and of course watch it in HD)
Usually when it comes to training, normality and regularity are things I don't really mind, and in fact almost prefer. For the past couple of years August usually meant ten days out west in Whistler, training around Callaghan Valley and hanging out in the hustle and bustle of the resort town. Whistler has proven to offer some awesome dry land training two years running, so it was a bit of surprise to me that this years major summer training block would be down across the border in Whitefish, Montana. Was it worth the change?
Now what is the logical thing to do when you have a lake in your backyard? Go skinny dipping boating. The coaches treated the guys to some wake boarding/surfing for an afternoon which was definitely one of the highlights of the camp. Here's Coach Kuhn wake surfing and teaching us young guns some tricks
It's definitely been a while since I've updated the good ol' blog, but things are business as usual since April. Plenty of training, some down time, and steadily editing away my next video.
Mid-July meant for the usual training up on the Haig Glacier. The better than average snow pack and sweet weather made for some great skiing up there, heading up twice with both the Alberta World Cup Academy and the National Ski Team.
After a late July testing block/informal mini-tour, my teammates and I had a week off to rest up before the next bout of training. A few of us packed up the car and headed west for a few nights at Matt Wylie's cabin on Shuswap Lake. It was a great time to finally relax, soak up the lake and get in a good fix of Settlers of Catan (apparently the game of our generation).
Sun sun sun.
Now things are shaking up. This August instead of the AWCA packing up and heading to Whistler for our usual dry land camp out west, we traveled across the border to Whitefish, Montana. It's been a nice change of scenery, and the training here definitely has no limits in terms of venues. We're here until Sunday, after which I'll post up some more photos.
The crew running up in Glacier National Park.
And now the time I've been (semi) waiting for. After shooting some video in Hawaii back in April, I can finally say my next video is almost a finished product. The overall project is taking a bit longer than planned, but I can really say this time I am in the final stretch. After three months of hush hush, below is the first sneak-peak of what's in store.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you "Triassic Park", hitting YouTube September 2013 2012
Chat in a bit,