Short season, sweet season

I’m going to do my shout-outs at the start of this post, because I have a niggling suspicion that no one actually sees them when they’re at the end…

First of all, big ups to Team Hardwood for finishing 3rd in the club aggregate! With less than 20 racers, we rounded up 2122 points and 14 medals (the most of any club, we think).

Second, Andy, Sam, and Finn for their first Senior, Junior and Juvenile Nationals medals respectively!

Third, my bro Ryan for k-k-k-killin’ it out there! (I think we won the sibling medal tally)

Fourth, coaches Timo and Vic, and wax tech Camille for a fantastic week of flying skis, and generally incredible support this season.

Fifth, the Thunder Bay ski community for putting on a first class event; the commitment and class of the volunteers this past week at Nationals was second to none.

Okay onto the post (holy smokes what I year).

Yesterday afternoon I was out tossing some disc with a few of the boys, none of us were much for playing a game of ultimate or running too fast, so we mostly practiced our trick shots and chatting. We speculating about next season, and rehashing parts of the year past when one of them said offhandedly: “I don’t even remember you having a broken leg,” which we all laughed at.

But come to think of it, I don’t remember much of it either – at least not in the sense of it only having happened so recently… It feels like ages ago, until I look down at my leg and see the still fresh scar and swelling that has yet to completely subside; then it feels like I’m still recovering. My leg hasn’t been an issue since the week after Easterns (early February), and since then my ski season has been in full swing and injured-Jenn long since left behind.

farewell injured-Jenn

farewell injured-Jenn

There were no second thoughts about continuing to train while my leg mended. The first thing I started planning was my training options and program for my recovery period, scheduling doctor and physical therapy sessions was a distant second on my list (they did get booked and were attended). And although that may sound unhealthy to some people, I think it’s largely why my comeback was so successful: because I was determined to be better when I came back, because I chose to take deliberate action to improve myself, and because I was committed to do work that other people weren’t and wouldn’t do.

Reflecting back on my year, from fracturing my fibula in Rossland, then going on to take three major victories at the end of the season… I think those four weeks of “recovery” training, the hundreds of kilometers on the erg, hours in the gym and on the bike trainer, the metronomic laps skiing arms only at Lappe, made me a better skier on the whole. Exactly what I improved is somewhat vague… but I at the root of it all I think it was with how I dealt with the adversity, or rather how I didn’t let my situation negatively affect my life beyond it’s current and unavoidable consequences that made me better. I developed a “I can still do this” mindset, that gave me a sense of purpose so it didn’t feel like I was just trying to heal and recover, but that I was working on improving, not fixing, myself for the future.

And I think it worked pretty well…[cue rehashing]

CWG podium

A career highlight – gold in Canada Games sprint

In mid February, 10 weeks after fracturing my leg, less than a month since I recommenced skiing, I was standing on top of the podium at the Canada Games. Fast-forward another three weeks, and I’m having my most consistent week of racing at Nationals ever, finishing on the podium in every race.

Nationals was a crazy week for me. The racing had its ups and downs, but the stars must have been aligned (along with my form, and skis) because even when I was down, I was never out of it. I struggled at the start of the week, outpacing myself and starting the 5k at more of a sprint qualifier pace, which left me with heavy legs and my head hanging low after crossing the line. In my mind, the 5k was supposed to be my best event of the week and I’d messed it up by overthinking it and skiing to other peoples pacing and tactical recommendations rather than my own. Finishing 3rd in that race was a genuine surprise and was difficult to accept because of how I had arrived in that position.

A post race Timo-talk almost always sorts things out

A post race Timo-talk almost always sorts things out

The second race was a 10k individual classic – historically, the bane of my existence in ski racing, presently, one of my best events. Despite an ugly positive split, I finished 4th overall and also claimed my first junior national title, real breakthrough results for me and also a huge confidence booster. In retrospect, I don’t think I would’ve tried to pace more evenly. I think my first lap was really good, and the second less good mostly due to lack of focus. In this case: really good + less good = quite good.

Nationals was good week for the family - 7 podiums between me and Ryan.

Nationals was good week for the family – 7 podiums between me and Ryan.

In the classic sprint, I was really hoping to follow up on some of my best ever sprinting from the Canada Games. I ended up fighting myself in qualification, overthinking the conditions, flailing, and losing focus, which was all very frustrating. Racing to 2nd place in the heats after struggling in the morning felt great – although not being able to make an impression in the finishing straight was sort of embarrassing (still need to work on my double pole, I guess…).


Racing to silver in the sprint at Nationals

The last day of competitions was the 20k skate mass start. Last year at Nationals I had a bad time in the mass start… the pace went out hard and I didn’t have the form to hang with it. This year, however, the pace was very conservative right from the start, which ended up making the race a lot more fun and way less of a sufferfest. After 12.5k, Maya and I had a small gap on the rest of the field so we gave a ‘sup’ nod and upped the pace to open up more of a lead together. With about 3.5 or 4k to go I was starting to get into my groove and decided it was time to buckle-up and throw-down. In those last kilometers, I found my rhythm, dug in and when I got to the line all I could do was yell; because it’s hard to express how good it felt to finish in the #1 spot after spending most of the winter just fighting to get back on skis.

A great week of racing with these girls - time to take it to the seniors next year!

A great week of racing with these girls – time to take it to the seniors next year!

And that’s that, along post for a short season. Future blogging may be limited, I think I’m going to try to work on my air of mystique next season, rather than blogging regularly -not committed either way yet though…

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