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!