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.
Note: For those that don’t like reading, or can’t, your best bet is to just skip ahead to the pictures and enjoy. Or wait until this update is Podcasted onto iTunes by Morgan Freeman.
It’s been 134 days since I last touched Sandau.ca (well unless you count Twitter, than it’s only been a couple hours), and much has happened since my last race at Under-23 Champs in Germany. Here’s a month-by-month run down of my happenings, and if you don’t complain about lack of site updates thus far, I won’t complain about lack of “comments-posted-on-said-updates” thus far.
All that I can remember of March were the National Championhips in Whitehorse, which for me, is a touchy subject. In the past few years, these races have been my achilles’ heel in my racing season. No matter how well the season was going, I just never brought the A-Game to Nationals. That aside, I was pretty excited to travel up to Whitehorse, where the trails flow well, and more often than not, it’s my kind of weather (read: cold). Of the three distance races I did (remembering that sprinting is part of my 10 year plan) I ended up with a 6, 6, 5 in the 10km classic, 15km skate and 50km classic respectively, all PB's at the national champs.
Ahh, the month off. Nothing feels as good as capping off the season and having 30 days of peaceful bliss. Or so have been past training breaks. This year, the coach advised me to actually try and stay in shape, trying to do atleast an hour a day of some sort of activity (I know, right?). Usually this is a dificult feat for me, but April also meant a trip to Hawaii, and Hawaii has beaches, and… ya, [insert] motivation. With sister, bro-in-law and The Dan Roycroft alongside for the ride, Hawaii (henceforth refered to as Maui) was a great time.
Seems like over half the photo's I have from Hawaii are road biking related. My trip to Hawaii was mostly for vacation, for the other three, bike camp. Granted I did two rides in Maui, but that pales to Gord and Dan's five. Here they are planning out our ride around the west side of the island.
The gang about 35km into our ride. Weather was cooperative.
Summer is in full stride now and training seems to be as normal as ever (which for me, is a good thing). The end of June brought with it the typical testing regime that I experience every summer to gage my fitness. Spread out over the week was a V02 max at the TCR Sport Lab in Calgary, uphill skate time trial, and double pole test.
Breathing through a tube while already oxygen deprived is a lot of fun...
It seems like my brain is starting to function again after a few rough days of jet lag. I'm back in the snowy homeland after my three week stint in what could almost be described as Europe during the spring. Kuusamo, Finland was my last stop on the trip with some world cup mini-tour action. In the end I finished 73rd, jumbled back in the pack but gained some good insight and experience in my 3rd, 4th and 5th world cup experience. Insert race breakdown:
Day 1: Classic Sprint
Well, there had been quite a bit of emphasis in training over the summer to improve my short distance and sprinting speed, but this wasn't exactly the race to best gauge how things fared. Not to say that it wasn't a fun race. The course in Kuusamo was to my liking, with some good steep climbs and little of the double pole stuff. I'd say of the sprint qualifiers I've done over the years, this one felt relaxed, fast, and with not a huge amount of pressure going into it, pretty controlled. I crossed the line in 111th and 20 seconds back. On to the good stuff.
Actually before we get to day two, a special note. Moustachioed Len Valjas started his season off pretty decently with a 5th place finish in the sprint, keeping the energy going from Harvey's 5th the weekend before in Norway. It must be the intimidation factor of his Movember Mo.
Day 2: Turkey Legs in the 10km
It's funny really. For dinner the night before we were served turkey, and the joke at the dinner table was if you eat too much of it, you'd be plagued with turkey legs the next day. The claim of turkey legs doesn't really have any scientific backing, or well so I thought. Saturday's 10km skate race was turkey legs buffet. Just after the first climb my legs locked up, unable to clear lactate quick enough to maintain any sort of fresh feeling for the remaining 8km. It was a battle between mind and legs as I tried to ski smooth to the finish line, and ended up with the 69th fastest time.
Day 3: Semi-redemption in the 15km
With yesterday's race behind me, I was focused on finishing the tour on a positive note. Because it was a pursuit style start, I started my race about two minutes after the leaders. Skiers were starting every second, so there was a long line of skiers going around the course and plenty of positions to move forward. The body was night and day compared to yesterday, and things started off smoothly and controlled. Things were going well until mid-way through the race on the downhill we had to repeat six times I had a small lapse in judgment.
Deciding to try the furthest right track for a change I got in my low tuck and gunned it on the downhill. Near the bottom of this hill is a slight left turn that flatten out before hitting a steep climb back into the stadium. Upon hitting the curve in the trail, I jumped out of my track to navigate the turn. Carrying a bit too much speed, and having to cross two other tracks, my one ski decided not to join me and gave me a sudden encounter with the ground. By the time I hopped back up, I lost all my speed for the next climb, and the time I thought I was making had slipped by. Shit happens.
It took me a while to get back in my groove and I did my best to try an regain some spots. By the end I finished the overall tour in 73rd, but withholding the result and the faceplant, Sunday's race felt good. So positive beats out the negative, 9 times out of 10.
I'm hoping a photo turns up, but in the meantime was reminded of the sweet crash I took of Brent McMurtry a couple years ago... O, the memories
So I'm back in Canmore... for now:
I've had a few days at home to ponder the overall early Europe experience, and well, I'd say it went by way too quickly. Seem's like not that long ago I was in Sweden praying for some cooler weather and less rain. Like all my trips across the pond, this one was a blast, with a sweet crew and some valuable racing moments to take home.
There isn't a pause yet, with Canada starting it's racing season this weekend with some Alberta Cups in Canmore. Next weekend I'm off to Vernon for the start of the NorAm series and then to Rossland. Awesome.
Have a good one,
It's my final few days here in Östersund before boarding a plane and heading to Kuusamo for the final and most important stretch of my trip; the World Cup mini-tour. Today there was a race organized with some of the local clubs and us because our original races in Roveniemi were canceled. I ended up 3rd in the men's 12km classic race, just 9 seconds from the win. It was a nice change of pace compared to last weekend in Bruks, with today's 4km loop involving some much steeper and longer climbs.
And I'm not calling it a comeback, but I've finally made my return to YouTube. Check out the slo-mo fun Lenny, Nish and I had one afternoon. (Hopefully this was a test for things to come in Kuusamo. We'll see.)
Until next time,
The season is officially a go. All things considered, yesterdays 15km skate race wasn't too bad despite finishing in the 50's and just under 2 minutes back. It was a pretty windy course with just a couple short hills (not the best for me) but things generally pick up after a few races in Europe.
(Photo: Erik Wickström - www.erikwickstrom.se)
I'm back in Östersund where the skiing is now a 5km loop with some pretty decent climbs. Some of the guys take off for the World Cup Opener later this week while the rest of us will be be staying in Sweden until flying to Finland on the 21st.