Bon, je me suis désole. Cètte ans jai regardé a fait la compétition dans le France. Mes 6 éns de l’emersion French ettre tûte de la fruit. Mon dieut…
What an exciting day I had today, marking my best result in a NorAm race to date, a respectable 7th. No, this wasn’t in a 30km, or 15km or even a 10km race; this race was just over one kilometer. The NorAm’s are in Rossland BC this weekend and today’s was a free sprint. My goal for today: try to actually qualify and have a decent quarterfinal. Well I did myself one more, finishing seventh in an event no one would have thought possible for myself to accomplish.
I qualified today in 17th, some 12 or so seconds behind the winner, not bad I thought, squeaking by my arch-sprinting-rival Christopher Butler by just under 0.2 of a second; the stars were in my favor today. Come quarterfinal racing I saw most of the race in 5th place, until after I took the final corner into the stadium pretty tight, zooming myself into 2nd at the line (I was usually pretty good at drawing the shortest line from A to B). A little fist pump at the line and I was into the semi’s.
The semi final was pretty uneventful. I raced the course in 5th and finished 5th, there was no chance for A-final, but baby steps I told myself. Now this was my first “final” in over a year, so I was happy to just be able to start it. After the gun, I was surprisingly and was able to ski comfortably in 3rd. On the final turn, I pulled a “Kevin in the Quarterfinal” and sprinted to the line grabbing the first spot. Now its not usual that someone would do another hand pump, especially considering it’s a B-Final, but this was one personal victory I couldn't be happier about. This may be the first time since my midget days that sprint racing left me wanting more. So I finished the day in 7th, one spot from being near the podium and bringing home some serious cash, but tomorrow could go better, or else write sprinter on my forehead
|Gord trying to get his Cowboy on after his 4th in the sprint|
|A definite Cowboy (or girl) theme going on with AWCA|
Well I spoke too soon. Sunday marked another great day for me, claiming the 6th spot and grabbing a place in the money. Even after a rough sleep, and a little bout of morning sickness, our car getting a flat on the way up and hence colliding into a tree* and a sluggish warm up, I felt strong in the 15km classic race. Seems like most distance races I like to start things off easy (had the 9th or 7th fastest first lap) and then kick it into high gear on the final stretch (4th fastest final lap). The course profile was one a favorite of mine, nice long uphill’s with a moderate grade; this stuff I can push. The day went from good to really good when just before the awards they announced the World Champs team; Mr. Butler made the team. Can’t help but feel happy for a guy that missed out on U23’s but has now qualified for the event of the season. And then of course the day went from really good to class 3 good when we all stopped for some McDonalds just before leaving Rossland to enrich our lives with some wholesome junk food. Berardi had taken the day off. The fog that had surrounded us the previous few days had now left, leaving frosty trees with a sky brighter than blue itself. The birds that had been sheltered away strung out of the woods and began their masquerade of musical empathy. Something was different about this day.
“I don’t suppose we’ll ever see Rossland again” I asked mother hen while I stared into the distance with a tear in my eye. She glanced down at me, still wearing her raggedy apron, “We may yet, Mr. Sandau. We may”. [cue music]
*you shouldn’t believe everything you read. Havn't you seen the House-Hippo commercial?
It's off to Europe for me. I have qualified for some OPA racing in Germany and Italy which will occupy me for the most of February. Leaving on the 5th, I have some long travels ahead, flying to Toronto, then to Frankfurt, and then connecting to Lyon, where I hope to rest for a couple days rather than driving 9 hours to Zwiesel Germany where my first races will be. But who knows. My biggest concern at the moment is my international flight, as not only am I scared of flying, but last year a few of us missed our connecting flight in Germany. And that was a bunch of fun. That and custom agents are mean.
I will be doing five races total, two in Zwiesel, Germany and the last three a week later in Schilpario, Italy. Europe is a lot more interesting than Canada so I'll be spitting out updates like a new Lexmark printer. As long as Internet exists.
Three days of travel and I am now in Bad Goisern Austria. I had been really dreading the travel here, in particular my flight with Air Canada, but surprisingly it was very pain free. My check in lady was probably the nicest employee working with Air Canada and seemed like she gave a hoot about athletes and the 2010 Olympics. She asked me quite a few question related to my skiing and I made my answers as simple as could be; National Team? Yes. 2010? You know it. Do you know Chandra Crawford? I’m actually her half-twin. Of course some of the answers weren’t true, but I didn’t want to complicate things, I just wanted to leave Canada without going on a shopping spree for extra-pairs-of-skis-within-allowed-baggage-dimensions-and-weight.
The usual chaos I experience when flying Air Canada. Thankfully this year was a pleasure to fly.
I met up with the team in Lyon France where we stayed the night and caught up on the previous couple of weeks. The next day, we jumped in the vans for a 10 hour drive to our home for the next few days, Bad Goisern, Austria, which would probably be best described as a mountain village. Conditions upon arrival were weak; three inches of ice is what the ski trails were shaping up to be. It was a real shame as we would have needed to drive from our hotel to find decent snow, when normally we could ski right outside our hotel.
|From OPA Tour Arrival in Lyon France|
Luckily it snowed that night and into the day, finishing off with the better part of a foot of snow. Our stay in Austria now turned into a week of amazing skiing and training. We are now hesitant to leave this place as the skiing just keeps getting better, and the food here is probably some of the best Euro cooking I’ve ever had. Unfortunately we did come here to race and not travel the best honeymoon spots in Europe, meaning our stay here will inevitably end. Tomorrow we leave for Zwiesel, Germany where we will have our first set of races; a 15km classic and a skate sprint (a combo which seems to have worked well for me in Rossland)
I guess well find out soon.
|From OPA Tour Bad Goisern, Austria|
Jess going for a little out of bounds ski (with me close behind him)
|From OPA Tour Bad Goisern, Austria|
"Jess on top of cabin"
|From OPA Tour Bad Goisern, Austria|
Some pretty exciting racing this weekend in Zwiesel Germany which apparently is the glass blowing capital of the world. Saturday was the 15km classic race which I finished 5th.
I was pretty pumped with a podium in my first OPA/European race of the year. The course was 6 laps of a hilly 2.5km, which was to my liking, and I tried to start out a bit quicker than I normally do. On my second lap I got a nice ride off Brent McMurtry that lasted a couple laps until I started to make a break from the group on the 5th lap. The race went by pretty quick although counting 6 laps gets a little tedious when your brain is oxygen deprived. Some point in the race I started to second-guess my counting and sort of lost focus until I did a few bib calculations in my brain. I didn’t really want to ski 17.5km.
Only technical flaw here is my bad hair day.
With Len Valjas winning the race and Graeme Killick the Junior, there was a lot of Canadian National Anthem for all the Germans to hear. Just Canada’s continued fight to mark their territory in the ski world.
Open men podium. Hats off for the anthem.
The guys enjoying the taste of trophy glass
And at last, comes the sprint day on Sunday which I think I was 50th or so... 4th last. I think the only good thing that happened today was my encounter with some cute German girl. I later found out that this woman was Stefanie Boehler, who apparently wins world cups. Sweet.
McMurtry, Valjas and Ellis all in one heat...
Amanda "givener" it
This was the cute German that asked for a photo with me. Turns out it was Boehler.
I have now returned to the comfort of Canmore after my 2 week trip in Europe. After the races in Zwiesel , we traveled to Schilpario, Italy which is surrounded by some of the best mountain views. Schilpario it turns out, has left me sort of bittersweet.
Schilpario, Italy was good on the eyes.
The last three races in Italy consisted of a classic sprint, 10km classic, and 15km skate. It was 3 day pursuit; top 30 in the sprint were given time bonuses for the classic race (the winner would have a one minute lead over 31st), and your time behind the leader in the classic race was your handicap for the skate race. It didn’t bode too well with me that the first race was a sprint, so I figured there would be some catch up to be done in the distance races. My qualifier wasn’t too bad, but not great. I finished 50th or so in the sprint, giving me a minute handicap off the winner. It wouldn’t have been that bad, but for those who didn’t qualify (bibs 31 – 70 or whatever), we all started in a mass start right after the last time bonus racer (which was bib 30 with an epic 1 second bonus). Because of the narrow stadium, there were only 3 lanes and 20 people ahead of me, so you can imagine the congestion I had to fight through in the classic race.
"Ode de Brent"
Brent McMurtry, host of "The Minute", doing his best to entertain the spectators in his semi-final heat.
Considering the amount of traffic I had to ski through, I had a pretty good classic race, ending up in 28th. Could I crack top 20 in the skate race the following day? No. Sunday February 22, 2009 will go down in my head as one of the worst races of my life. Right from the get go, my compartment syndrome (Chandra Crawford wrote a good update regarding this) started acting up; the worst it has ever been. Conditions were perfect for inflicting pain on my shins; sort of slow with broken down patches of trail that made me lift my toes even more. The only good thing about that skate race was it confirmed that my surgery in April was very necessary. Now let us move on and never bring up this race again.
Although the racing wasn’t too great, there will be some great memories to remember. Like the loitering that was done in Italy.
Jess, Graeme and I in front of cool graffity.
Graeme and Jess in front of green grafity. (Missing - Kevin (taking photo))
In front of rock wall.
Calgary based club victorious with 8th consecutive aggregate championship after the biggest recount since the 2000 Presidential Election
Pete Norwood - Associated Press – Foothills Nordic Ski Club head coach Chris Jeffries can sleep easy tonight. After a tense two days of recounting and waiting, Cross Country Canada has admitted to wrongfully awarding the Nakkertok Ski Club from Cantley, Quebec the 2009 Club Aggregate title, and has rightfully bestowed Foothills Nordic with the coveted honor.
What many are calling “The Great Battle of our Time”, FNSC was once again favored to win its 8th consecutive title at the 2009 National Championships in Duntroon, Ontario. But with its smaller starting lineup than previous years and competing against a team that seemed to recruit every juvenile skier in Canada, it ended up being a much harder battle than originally thought. After Nakkertok claimed a 55 point lead over Foothills after 4 days of racing, the team’s dream started to fade.
“The night prior to the [final] races, I sat everyone down, and we had a good old fashioned ho-down. Shayla [Swanson] gave an incredible speech about perseverance and perspective and it really opened everyone’s eyes. Kevin Sandau capped off the night with the “Inches Speech” from “Any Given Sunday” played from his cell phone that got everyone pumped and excited, I couldn’t have planned it better myself”, the head coach was quoted saying.
The ho-down paid off. After an amazing set of races on the final day of competition, with numerous medals and countless top-30’s, FNSC was poised to grab the title again. At least that’s what many had thought. After the final points tally, Nakkertok seemed to have won by slightest of 30 points, something analyst were calling “suspicious”.
“We immediately called the race TD and performed our own independent recount. The results were startling.” recalls this senior VP of Foothills Nordic.
An inquiry into the matter revealed improper calculation methods and lack of attention were the cause of the false results. After correct calculations were employed, Foothills Nordic had a 6 point lead over its new rival team, something that has everybody saying “My club wins in style.”
“Any club can win with hundreds of points over the next team, but to win by systematically planning out results within 10 points, that takes skills”, one young racer was quoted saying.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” stated [Mike] Viera, Nakkertok Ski Club’s head coach, after being notified of the change on Monday. “The athletes will be disappointed but it will give them more motivation to go after the Aggregate crown at next year’s Championships in Whitehorse. We aren’t going to give up!”
Long time FNSC member Kevin Sandau had this to say about the Nakkertokian’s comments. “I don’t think Mike knows what he’s getting himself into. We have taken his threat of claiming our 9th title very seriously and we will be prepared fight hard for it in Whitehorse.”
To ensure victory at the 2010 Nationals, Chris Jeffries has begun a recruiting campaign, calling all FNSC members or potential members to arms. “This year we had no juvenile boy’s, which hurt us a lot. We were able to pin point our weaknesses and will take steps to correct them in 2010.”
Club officials have confirmed that the aggregate banner will be moved to its rightful club by armed caravan later today. Word of whether or not the Nakkertok club has contaminated it with their autographs is still unclear.
Conspiracy theorists have already flooded online chat rooms giving their own theories on the false results, ranging from bribes, to Chris Jeffries having a soft spot for his old club, even the involvement of extra-terrestrials. Nonetheless, that is for NBC Dateline to uncover.
“We rising against Nakkertok’s onslaught of points is a direct analogy of the Rohirrim’s victory over the Uruk-Hai in the Battle for Helm’s Deep.” Jeffries told reporters after news spread about their win. “We were greatly outnumbered but we stuck together and pulled through.. That’s what really counted.”
In the end, Foothills Nordic has once again proved it is one of the strongest clubs in Canada. And to all those clubs eager to break this clubs winning streak, Jeffries has only one thing to say. “We’ll see you in 2010.”
Welcome to my first installment of “A KooK’s Eye View”, a critical look at current affairs and the issues affecting our daily lives through imagery.
The inaugural issue demonstrates the pointless connection between GT'ing down the Grassi Lakes hiking trail by night and Nintendo's Mario Kart, and it's meaningless realization that we can draw upon its inequitable result.
The beginning trek up the racecourse. The blinding flash forces Jess and myself to squander in its brilliance, while Gerard looks directly into its light; a statement of rebellion?
Notice the way the trees 'ghost' behind the walkers, made possible by the the aperature being set to 3.3
Mr. Killick looking on to certain-speed. The simpleness of black and white is able to capture the true whiteness of his eyes.
For this shot, I set the ISO to 100 while leaving the focal length at 4.70mm, something in my opinion, gives this photo of Jess Cockney added personality
A testament for the willingness to live?
Chris Butler intimidating others with his cart tricks
The slight uneven bokeh in this photo gives the viewer the bluriness of friendship
Mr. Killick 'tearing-it-up-radical'. Notice how the flash set on 'max' illuminates Amanda Ammar reflective tape in the background. A simple way to include her in a photo without including her.
A 1/30 shutter speed allowed this strange snow design to have deeper meaning
Darkness lies ahead.
Until more photos...