Well, as things would have it, I broke my pledge to blog daily on what was will probably be the most exciting day of the Games (for me). Rather than writing this post yesterday I tried to mellow myself out by doing schoolwork. But I’m sure there are very few people interested in hearing me drag on about school, so onto the day – 1.4k classic sprints.
Oftentimes I get so highstrung about racing that I can’t sleep the night before a competition. Not yesterday though, I was out like a light and cool as a cucumber when I woke up. I think the nerves started to creep in on the bus ride and at the race site. I was the first starter for the day, which was a surprise. I don’t particularly enjoy being the first one out (there’s no one for me to try and catch!), but wearing bib 1 was pretty cool.
Despite not having anyone to chase, I had a wicked qualifier – winning the 1.4k prologue by 11s!! Alannah was 2nd, making it a NDC Thunder Bay 1-2! Sharing that qualifier podium with Alannah was a big confidence boost because it shows that our program is working well, and that our technicians were on the mark today with the waxing! Bella and Heidi also qualified, in 17th and 18th respectively. Unfortunately Sadie didn’t race; she was feeling a bit under the weather yesterday… The boys also did well to all qualify in the top 12!
ah I don’t even know how to write about my day. While I want to share the full experience of racing through all my heats, I don’t want this post to be overwhelmed with details or to give away too many of my secrets…
In short, I’m still excited about how I raced yesterday and about winning a Canada Games gold medal in the sprint. I was so excited that I only slept 5 hours last night. It was one of those days where things just seemed to come together, that my energy was good, my skis were dialed, and that no matter how hard I pushed, nothing would hurt. This is also my first major podium in almost 2 years, so I’m glad that drought is finally over.
After posting a strong qualifier, I knew I was in a legitimate position to contend for the win. Coming into the Games, I had goals of being on the podium, but as much as it was a goal, it was an expectation of myself to accomplish it. I usually find expectation to be an unnecessary pressure, but this time it was an opportunity.
In the final, all those long hours on the ski-erg over Christmas paid off. I finally made good on an opportunity I’ve caught glimpses of in the past, but failed to take advantage of… I think I mentioned this in a previous post, but the recovery process from fracturing my fibula and missing a some big opportunities in junior racing has given me a larger perspective on my goals and myself as a skier (although I haven’t reached wizened sage level yet).
Being able to come back from injury to land on one of the biggest podiums cross country skiing has to offer in Canada feels amazing and I’m so excited I can’t even write intelligent things… It just feels overwhelming to finally be successful after struggling through last season and having to deal with missing some big racing opportunities this year. I’m simultaneously excited and relieved about this accomplishment.
The medal ceremony after the race was cool (and a little awkward). They gathered medal winners near the chalet and we were led through the to the podium by two RCMP officers and flag bearers. They called each of up onto the podium, presented us with our medals and pins, then played the National anthem. There were lots of people taking pictures and a couple TV cameras too.
In the evening, back at the athlete’s village, the days medal winners for all sports lined up on stage and were presented with a token moose hide pouch to keep our medals in, courtesy of the local First Nations community. After this presentation ceremony there were some live musicians, as there are every night. I only recognized a few of them (Said the Whale, A Tribe Called Red), but it seems like a fairly impressive lineup for the week.
I will probably not blog again until tomorrow after the mass start, or the following morning (Friday). It depends when our races wrap up, the Paranordic athletes are competing in the morning, so we have the afternoon slot on Thursday. I’m looking forward to getting back on the skate skis, it’s been 10 days since I last skated – it was too cold in Thunder Bay to skate before coming out west.
Anyway, I think some final thank-you’s are in order… As always, family, friends, and coaches for your constant support, Salomon and the Team Ontario wax staff for rockin’ fast skis, SkiGo for the fresh poles, the Barrie Honda for getting me to the races this winter, and to all the volunteers and organizers here in Prince George who are helping to make the Games happen.
Sorry if there were any incoherent bits int his post, I’m still too excited to type or wrtie properly…