Easterns Throwdown

For me, it seems that the most common cause of backlogged blog posts is school. Without fail, every time I come home after a ski trip I find myself drowning in assignments, readings, and exams. To be fair, I’m not usually very productive as far as schoolwork goes when I’m away for races and training camps. It’s tough, forcing yourself to hunker down after a tough day of racing (or worse, before a race) and hitting the books.

I think I’m at the point where I actually use skiing, not just the trips – even the everyday training, as a means of procrastination from school work. I mean, I’d way rather go out and ski for 4 hours at -30C than sit inside and try to figure out how to calculate the normal-tangential acceleration of a car driving at 48kmph around a cloverleaf onramp with a radius of 47m, if the ramp is angled inwards at 9degrees from the horizontal, and there is a slight wind out of the south east and a 40% chance of rain in the afternoon I don’t even know what’s going on anymore…

skiing > school. even at -30.

skiing > school. even at -30.

Yes, so I spent the first weekend of February over in Ottawa for the Canadian Eastern Championships. Erin and I arrived in Ottawa on Wednesday and were reunited with (most of) our team who had just returned from Norway. It was super nice to be back together with the crew after a few quiet weeks of training in Thunder Bay. They had lots of interesting stories about forerunning and racing at Norwegian Nationals, about the culture, food, travel… everything about it sounded pretty sweet.

So with our crew back together it was time to get down to business – ski racing.

Easterns was a very successful weekend for our team. With several top seniors, and most of the top juniors and U23s not present it proved to be an interesting series of competitions. The first race of the three day event was a skate sprint. I started the weekend off in true Jenn fashion, laying down a slick qualifier – 3rd overall, only 2.52s off the lead. Theeeen in the heats I uncannily wound up 6th in the senior A final. Being 6th is also becoming a bit of a Jenn-ism that I’m not so stoked about. The running joke/advice I now get from my teammates on sprint heats is “don’t Newell it”, and believe me, I’m not trying to.

I’m a pretty big fan of this sprint course. Probably my favourite sprint course, right up there with Sovereign. I like the flow of it; that you accelerate, build up speed, then transition fast, carry momentum into the hills, always moving… I find with some courses that you just get so bogged down with the climbing, then the downhills run too fast into the transitions so you can’t do as much to work your speed into the next section.

I think that’s mostly a strength thing though… I mean, especially with girls racing, people just can’t physically put enough power into the ground to carry high speeds on certain courses/terrain. You actually have to wait until you slow down enough so you can actually apply a force and accelerate, otherwise you’ll just be flailing all over the place and slowing down even more (or maybe that’s just me being a spaz).

Anyway, the rest of the team also had a pretty bang up sprint day. Erin and Alannah qualified 4th and 5th respectively, then went on the finish 3rd and 4th in the A final. All the U23 men finished in the top10, with Bob 5th in the A final, and Jack and Nick bringing things home in the B. Evan was the lone junior man this weekend and took care of business, claiming his first victory of the year.

Sprint Day (photo by: Gord Kerr)

Sprint Day (photo by: Gord Kerr)

Next up on the agenda was the interval skate race (10k for women, 15 for men). With the Open categories not racing until the afternoon we all had a leisurely morning, spent mostly watching our teammates (Scott, Ben, and Andy) and other Canadians over in Val di Fiemme, race at the World Junior/U23 Championships.

Backtracking a bit here – I was definitely feeling super inspired on Friday for the sprints after watching three of my fellow Junior Women qualify for heats at World Champs, and two of them going on to make the top 20. Seeing people I know, and race against, over there duking it out with the best in the world is pretty awesome. Needless to say it gives me hope for when I get my opportunity to do some international racing.

The thing about racing here in Canada is that all you see is Canada. You don’t get the intermingling of other nations like you do in Europe and Scandinavia, save for the occasional rogue American who might show up at a NorAm or Nationals. So it’s hard to tell if your “good” is “good enough” to compete on the world stage. As they say; “It’s hard to know what you don’t know.”… But after seeing Dahria, Fred, Katherine, Sophie, and Anne-Marie have some really solid results, I think everyone should know that the girls are looking pretty good.

Now where was I… ah yes, Easterns! This post is already getting quite lengthy so I’ll try and wrap this up quick.

As I was saying, open categories raced later in the day, giving juniors, juveniles, and midgets the first go at the course. Like the sprint course, the 5k loop is a working course. With lots of fresh snow falling as our races got underway I noticed the course slowing considerably (or maybe that was just me getting tired). I managed to hold things together for another 6th place finish, around a minute off the pace. Erin and Alannah paired up for 3rd and 4th again, while Bob led the way for the guys in 7th followed by Jack in 9th, and Nick and Evan also inside the Top25.

Easterns 10k Skate (Gord Kerr)

Easterns 10k Skate (Gord Kerr)

In preparation for the final race of the weekend – the classic mass start, I spent Saturday post-race with my bro and the Team Hardwood crew. Ryan and I spent the better part of the afternoon watching his one and only pre-race movie: Transformers 3. While eating carrots and dip.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to finish the final battle scene (which is probably why I didn’t have an epic race on Sunday, according to Ryan) because of a pre-planned study sesh with fellow LU engineering student Victor (where I became even more confused about the material than I was before), and a TH potluck dinner.

It was pretty fun to re-connect and hang out with my club teammates over dinner and to sit in on their team meeting. Sometimes I forget how entertaining team meetings are when you have 25+ athletes, as many parents, and Ron running the show. I even made people laugh (though they may have been laughing at me), when I was called upon to give “mass start advice”. My go to – don’t panic, and don’t lead (until the finish line, you want to lead across the finish line).

Ryan always leads the way in the race for remarkable hair

Ryan always leads the way in the race for remarkable (and touchably soft) hair

So yah, I wound up 8th on the day in the mass start which was also my first 15k. An solid result, but I’m kind of disappointed with my performance. I guess you could say I just “wasn’t into it”. There are a multitude of reasons why I think that might be, but a part of it probably had to do with being slightly apprehensive about race distance, conditions, and skis.

You know who was “into it” though? Erin and Alannah, who tied (FF confirmed!) for fourth, and Evan who came home in 11th as the top male NDC’er, and top Junior in the 20k! So overall a tip-top weekend of racing for the team.

Next up is the local OCup here in Thunder Bay (Feb 15-17th), then OUA’s in North Bay the following weekend. Some of the boys are also going down the the America’s for a SuperTour race next weekend. I’m looking forward to some more relatively “low stress” weekends of racing, putting in those last few days of volume, and starting to sharpen up for Nationals out in Newfoundland.

Oh and the OLYMPICS! I have a couple midterm exams this weekend, but once those are out of the way I’ll be in in full spectator mode. Well, when I’m not training at least. These next couple weeks are just loaded with awesome, I can’t wait! Go Canada Go!

JennOUT

(note the blog title was inspired by a tweet by Ryan)

IMG_6760

10k Skate (Mom)

Salomon skis even smell good.

Salomon skis even smell good.

Erin, Alannah, and me, post 10k skate

Erin, Alannah, and me, post 10k skate

Team Hardwood girls - Sarah, Soren, and Bella

Team Hardwood girls – Sarah, Soren, and Bella

Easterns 15k Classic (Gord Kerr)

Easterns 15k Classic (Gord Kerr)

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