Monday, December 20, 2010

Thank You FSC Architects & Engineers

This year I received an early Christmas present in the form of a sponsorship from FSC Architects & Engineers.

Their generous decision to support me through my athletic journey is an unmatchable gift. Sponsorship allows me to continue to focus on the important aspects of my training and performance with out the added stress of financial limitations. Thank you FSC for your role in helping make my goals possible I look forward to representing you in my race season!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

North American Cup, Finals and a Massive Thank You!

If you've been following me on Facebook or happened to hear Trails End yesterday, then you already know that I had an amazing season opening weekend.
Our season opener which is usually in Canmore is never a race to miss. A lot of team selections are done as part of that race and it's usually a packed house. This weekend was no exception with Alberta, NWT, BC, Saskatchewan and Ontario all using it to pick to their Canada Winter Games teams, the start of Alberta's selection for Provincial Team and the race to fill the final men's and women's Team Canada spot for World University Games. I was extremely thankful to be pre-selected to World University Games and had nothing to fear when I stepped to the start line.

The Mighty Vikings in Black

Saturday was the 7.5km sprint, (3x 2.5km loops with 1 prone and 1 standing shooting sets). After a great zero with my rifle (huge sigh of relief from both Hans and I as my shooting has been off for awhile) I was ready to rock. The sprint holds 30 second individual starts and I scored the last starting spot, my favourite. After a strong first lap skiing the wind had picked up, I risked a sight correction and was rewarded with clean shooting in prone and the lead position in the race. The wind now dead for the standing portion I was able to fire off a quick 4 hits and have a comfortable last lap. Karen Messenger, Kathryn Stone (my team mate) and the rest of the Senior Women category are amazingly fast skiers and talented shots, so despite a 9/10 shooting I pushed until the line not entirely sure who was in what place. I ended up with a North American Cup win and a new personal best by almost 3 minutes!

Game Face on For Lap 1 of the Sprint

Look at that follow through as Kat races to 2nd!

Sunday I was a marked person! The 10km pursuit works off the results from the sprint. The winner leads out, the rest of the category is delayed 5 seconds for every place back they are, first one across the line wins. This race was a fight! With the wind and snow constantly changing shooting required a lot of focus and with 4 opportunities to win a trip to the penalty loop, you had to be on your game! Karen had an amazing race and beat me in the range every round. Despite a new level of power that has helped me keep up in ski speed, I couldn't hold her as she had a strong race! Way to go Karen!

With a first and second under my belt I won the overall weekend and am currently North American points leader! Congratulations to the NWT athletes who all had amazing races, especially Joseph Lirette and Gaylene who saw podiums! Also big congratulations to Jon Skinstad and Kathryn for podium finishes and Lauren Brookes and Kai Skinstad for receiving the final Team Canada spots!

Meet our new assitant coach Noel, way to rep the Viking gear

I arrived home to find a letter from Sport North informing me I had received a High Performance Grant. This annual MACA/Sport North support takes a massive weight off many NWT athlete's shoulders and allows us to focus on training and performance. Thank you so much Sport North and MACA!!

Its finals time in school land and naturally that also means the weather is warm and there is fresh snow to ski on that I must resist. Exams finish up the 22 and I am home the 23 for some family time and training on my home trails!

Wish me good grades!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gone Skiing, Will Return When Chilly!

So a long delay since my last update but to be fair the snow came and once that happens it’s hard to focus on much else.

From November 10-21 I was in Canmore for our annual early snow camp. Snow camp is possibly my favorite time of year, it’s basically my birthday, Christmas and a really good cup of coffee combined. It’s a massive volume camp that usually sees our first days on snow for the year and will be our final chance for big gains and changes before race season starts. It also means about two weeks off school in one of the most demanding few weeks for students. I am extremely thankful to my university and my professors who moved papers and exams to make sure when I was at camp, I got to be focused.

The snow was late in Alberta this year. We rolled out of Camrose with bare ground and in tshirts, I had rollerskis packed in my ski bag and was not hopeful that the overly warm temperatures were going to provide us much to ski on. The first day we headed into Sunshine ski resort, not yet open to the public we started the camp with a 10 km run up the mountain as our coaches took our skis up the gondola. The run is was definitely worth it. Sunshine was groomed by skidoo tracks (classic training only today) and relatively untouched patch of quality altitude work. I had to take a minute to appreciate that exactly a year before I was still barely cleared to train after a bad round of anemia. This year hitting the snow like I had never been behind, Dave, Hans & Joan, my coaching heroes, I owe you.


Vikings Rocking Out Sunshine

After a day at Sunshine we spent the rest of our adventure at the Canmore Nordic Centre. CNC has an amazing snowmaking set up which is why they are on snow early and later than most of us. However, these miracle snowmaking abilities do require consistent temperatures below -5, otherwise it’s just a mess. Our first few days at CNC were on an 800 meter loop and with the promise not to use my Ipod to train this week, 800 meters for 3-5+ hours a day requires a bit of mental toughness. Here’s the trick, look at the snow a meter in front of you and then you don’t notice it’s the same snow you’ve seen the last 30 loops, otherwise tag up with Alex, my trusty roommate/training partner and push each other. Nordic kids are snow chasers by nature and we were not the only ones taking advantage of the 800 meters. Along with our team, the usual army of people training at CNC we saw, Quebec, USA and the all of the Cross Country skiers in the Bow Valley Area. The facility opened a little more loop every day and it was needed, HOLY CROWDED!

Best thing I learned from camp came from out new Spanish assistant coach Noel who says, “When you ski and think your technique works, when you don’t think, it can’t. If you want to ski beautiful all the time then you must always think, until one day you don’t have to think.”
After a grueling and amazing ten days I was back to Camrose and the demand of school. I was a paper writing machine which was difficult because snow had finally come to Camrose and I wanted to play!

Coaches Door After Our Weeks Away

In an effort to shake my legs out I entered in a cross country Alberta cup in the skate sprints. Biathlon is by no means a marathon but it is a heck of a lot longer than a 1 km sprint! Skate sprints which work in preliminary then elimination knock out practices are nothing short of lung busting. Props to all the NWT racing suits I saw tearing it up all over the place! Great experience and really helped get the jitters out before this weekend. NORTH AMERICAN CUP TIME!!!

Season opens this weekend with North American Cup in Canmore, Ab. This race is going to be nuts as it is the start of Alberta’s selections for Canada Winter Games and the race to pick the final spot for World University Games. After 7 months of training, the itch to lay it all out couldn’t be bigger so… BRING IT ON!

Updates more frequently!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Keeping it Fresh in the Fall

The snow has fallen and its getting chilly out. It's that time of year when there is not enough snow to ski but we're close enough to winter that you are giving your roller skis dirty looks. Despite the snow, I am still rollerskiing constantly. My knees finally started arguing over all the running so until the snow comes I am doing the ice dance on my two wheels.

October is a very restless time of year. September is marked by trials and the start of school, November is marked by snow camp and winter and entering into race season. October is that awkward middle that makes training feel like a scene out of the movie Groundhog Day.

Being restless in my training enemy. When I am restless I find it hard to get things done in school, my shooting is less quality and I'm not always making the gains I want. Normally to kick this I do ACAC running races but since my knees are benching me from running, no dice.

My keep it fresh solution is cyclocross, which is quickly becoming the highlight of my fall. I have always been a huge fan of cycling but cross, which is a fall sport, has never seemed logical to add into my plan. I did a race last month, just to get some race experience when I couldn't run and I was instantly addicted.

Heading into "the agitator" at provincials

Don't know what cyclocross is? Check this out In Europe this sport is huge, they shut down entire towns for big races and fans come from everywhere to watch. A friend of mine went to the World Championships a couple years ago, and from her explanation, it's basically like the super bowl, inclusive with the drunken fans. Despite the seriousness of the sport I have a funny feeling it started as a competition between two really bored cyclists in the off season who decided to go mountain biking with their road bike.

Rocking out the sandpit!

I'm planning to hit one more this weekend before their season wraps up. I am getting my butt kicked for sure, but thats kind of part of the fun!

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

World University Games!

Hello all my wonderful supporters!

Two years ago I tried out for World University Games in Harbin, China. Three of my team mates made it, I didn't. After missing out I promised myself I wouldn't miss out two years down the road. After tonnes of hard work, and a speedy North American Champs victory, I have been preselected to compete for Team Canada at World University Games in Turkey this January!!

I couldn't be more excited to rep the red and white on the big scene. However, the big leagues come at an entirely self funded price, ouch! Despite my mad skills at coaching, great university GPA and some amazing support from my family, school and territory the $4200 tour fee is show stopping. Needless to say, I need to some help to keep training and racing.

(Photo Credit Amarat Sandhu, Me rocking out North American Championships)

Want to help me get to Turkey and keep rocking out on my skis?

It's easy. Just click on the Donation button on the top right side of my blogsite. If you don't already have a free paypal account, its super easy to sign up. You should have one anyway to buy sweet Betsy stuff on ebay, when I make it big. Any support is greatly appreciated. You can look forward to blog updates (I promise), and photos all along the way. I have set the goal to break the top half, which to my knowledge has not been down by a Canadian woman. If you can't donate, then be my cheering squad! Training is tough and messages of support along the way does a lot to make the process easier. Contact me anytime at

(Photo Credit Mike Neary, Having some Fun on the Haig Glacier)

Thank you so much for all the support , keep on rocking!


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ice Packs Are My Friend

This morning by nine am it was already getting too hot to train. Thankfully I was almost done my rollerski through down town Edmonton. Training early in the morning is painful, mostly because I miss my morning coffee and I feel sleepy for most of the session. But in a city like Edmonton there are perks to a Sunday morning dawn work out, sprinting down Jasper Ave on skis is not only doable but the cement is amazing.

Sadly, this has been my first work out since Wednesday. If you have been around my athletic pursuits for very long then you know I have the back of an 85 year old. Over the last few years I have struggled with a pretty major back injury but thanks to the hands of the amazing Steve(my physio) and some rest, it has been a non issue for a long while. Wednesday night I was rollerskiing with my kids and I stopped to pick up my water bottle and threw my back out. All I can think is YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME!! I was pretty beaten up and couldn't really move Wednesday and most of Thursday, kind of heart breaking. I went to see my combination of superman/batman/any superhero with a British accent physiotherapist Steve who put me back together again and took me off training for a couple of days.

You can imagine how excited I was to get training again today. Well maybe it was because I missed my morning coffee or the sun was in my eyes but I ate it.... hard. I'm a little bruised up but should be fine and I have to give props to the runner who saw me crash and had a full first aid kit in his water belt. New respect for the running world.

Thats enough for the bad news, the good news is tomorrow is a new day and hopefully I can get back to work. I am starting a new strength phase this week and the email reads "Its ready, are you?" I think I'm supposed to be scared of this plan which will do plyos and power lifting in the same day split between morning and night. I'm actually pretty excited because it means that the Incredible Hulk gets to be used for speed and power instead of just bragging rights at practice. Providing my body cooperates, it should translate into some mad skills especially on the hill sections.

Taking a couple of days hasn't been too bad because I have been sharing them with the fam. My little sis and I met up in Edmonton on Friday morning and have been hanging at the farmers market, going climbing and watching Despicable Me (if you haven't seen it yet, get to it! ) The parents joined us Saturday afternoon and it has been really nice to get in some of that rare family time.

The next month of training continues on volume but adding in longer bouts of intensity, rollerski trials are less than seven weeks away and I am getting nervous. Summer is the perfect time to work on big weaknesses. Currently I am trying to master the left side offset. I am extremely right side dominant and have always climbed hills on my powerful right side. Switching sides feels like learning to ski again, I was awkward and clumsy at first but it is finally starting to settle into an action that wouldn't make my coaches cry. I'm also working on my power on hills. Last Monday Iaroslav the foothills coached tied us together to do sprints up the hills followed by piggy back climbs. Courtesy of the weight training plan its a punishment if you have to carry me.

Back to Calgary tomorrow hopefully with healthy body parts.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's July

But I am hoping that's not news

For me it means I am knee deep in summer training, 81 days to be exact. Its been a challenging summer so far. I started this year under a new coach's training plan. Hans and Joan Skinstad took over the Augustana program last fall but a few of us stayed on other training plans to continue the direction from our summer training. Sadly, Dave, who was writing my plans decided to quit move to France and have a kid.... it wasn't me was it?

The Skinstad program is a lot of work and right now volume is the name of the game. Most weeks are above fifteen hours of training and for the first time in my life I am doing multiple 2.5-3 hour runs in a week. This is supplemented by a power lifting style strength program that lately has been affectionately termed "the incredible hulk program". Needless to say, I'm tired.

I mentioned this to a coach/friend who asked, "are you supposed to be tired right now?" and the answer is definitely yes. Summer training is a challenge that's sometimes hard to explain. On one hand, I love summer training because we get to add in things like mountain biking, hikes and a lot of variety that doesn't exist in the winter. Also, in some ways the stress is off because its months before you will see on snow racing. But summer training is always a lot of volume and its said that a racers season can be made or broken in this period of training. No base, no victory. Feeling motivated to keep pushing yourself when the race season is so far away can be hard and you have to follow your program with the faith that it will pay off come winter time.

Despite the tired, I am really enjoying my summer training. Currently, I am splitting my time between Calgary and Canmore. I've been making a new friend doing some road rides and I live with one of my best friends are her crazy puppy (who is possibly the best training partner ever!) The strength program does make me feel like Incredible Hulk some days but every time I set foot in the gym I am setting personal bests, so something is working. I feel stronger this summer than ever before and I am excited to see what happens later in the year. I am enjoying a low week this week to catch my breath before what I am sure is a flurry of intensity work coming my way.

MTB ride with the Nukka (puppy) who gets mad if I go to slow

July means it's been awhile since I've been home north and I've been away from my team mates for awhile. My older sister, who I am closer to than anyone is in Africa working for the Lesotho Olympic Committee for a year. I am excited for this sweet opportunity for her but I miss her terribly and am shaking my fist at the eight hour time change. I am visiting with my parents and other siblings in Edmonton this weekend and couldn't be more excited!

Ella and I at Christmas before she started travelling

July also means that my contract with Foothills Biathlon is coming to an end. Since May I have been the assistant coach with their biathlon program. This is my second year with them and it's possibly the best job I have ever had. "My kids" are aged 13-20+ and I have a blast working with them almost every day they tease me badly if I fall behind and are all absolutely hilarious and passionate about training. When you work with people who enjoy training its pretty easy to enjoy it yourself.

Keep it real