6th, 2nd and 9th, 10th and 7th.
They’re not results for the highlight reel, but they’re all part of the story. I’ve turned a lot of pages and worked through a couple new chapters of my story this year. I’d pen my races in Rossland earlier this month as the start of Chapter 9 in the story of my ski career, in what will probably be an 10 or 11 chapter book. It’ll be 10 chapters if I decide to put my pursuits as an elite skier to rest at the end of this year, and 11 if I make a push for the 2018 Olympics. There could be more chapters, but scripting too far ahead takes away from the experiences of the moment you’re in…
Chapter 1 – Highlands Nordic
Chapter 2 – Team Hardwood, year 1
Chapter 3 – Team Hardwood, year 2
Chapter 4 – NDC Thunder Bay, year 1
Chapter 5 – NDC Thunder Bay, year 2 pre leg break
Chapter 6 – NDC Thunder Bay, year 2 post leg break
Chapter 7 – NDC Thunder Bay, year 3
Chapter 8 – Post NDC, year 1 training season
Chapter 9 – Independent, year 1 race season
After two weeks of crunching for exams, I flew from Thunder Bay to Kelowna (via Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Calgary – brutal itinerary, but cheap ticket), rented a car and drove to Rossland to catch the second weekend of NorAm racing before the holidays. Until now, race trips have been team operations where everything was taken care of for me, so booking and organizing this west-coast excursion on my own was a novel experience. It was super nice to work on my own schedule, have the freedom to boot around town to hang out and visit friends from different teams, meet some interesting folk at the downtown hostel, and it really wasn’t as daunting a task as I thought it might be. Once I was confident in my own plans and ability to carry them out, there was much less (unnecessary) anxiety over things being left in other peoples hands. The one thing I did source of for help with was wax support – which was delivered in fine fashion by the Rocky Mountain Racer’s crew. Much thanks again!; for the great skis, good laughs, and bonus race tactic advice.
So… The results: 6th in the opening 10km skate, 2nd and 9th in the skate sprint qualifier and heats, and 10th and 7th in the closing 10km classic pursuit and overall tour standings.
The racing: probably the best season opening I’ve ever had. The most important thing about this weekend was that I was relaxed about racing, but still focussed on what I had come to Rossland to accomplish. I could get in the zone and listen to my body. I’m so happy things are starting to come back together.
For the racing itself… I skied within myself in the 10k skate, trying to let the body wake up from it’s off-season slumber, focussing on limiting my losses on the constant ups-and-downs of the Black Jack trails (197m of vertical per lap, legal limit = 200m *crying*). Things came around and I felt a bit more like my old self, qualifying with the 2nd fastest time. Unfortunately, a broken pole in the semi-finals sent me from first to fourth and consequently to the B-final. I hate B-finals. But given how slammed I felt in it, I don’t think I would’ve figured in the A-final, had I made it. On Sunday I woke up feeling awful and feverish. After some long hard consultation between my athlete-self and coach-self, I decided that because the sickness wasn’t in my chest, and that the fresh air and gentle warmup did indeed make me feel much better than before, that a steady “race” effort was unlikely to set me back any further than sitting it out. And so I skied. There were no fireworks, and there were no hard feelings or regrets, so I’m glad I got the classic effort and practice on the climbs in.
I travelled home the next day to visit my family for the holidays. The sickness niggled at the back of my throat for a couple days, so I stuck to logging long easy km’s until things cleared up on Christmas Eve and I was able to get some longer steady intervals. The upcoming week will be mostly abdominal training as I try to hold in copious amounts of turkey, mashed potatoes and cookies, and a few more intensity workouts to try and get myself feeling race ready.
It’s less than two weeks until the first team selection races for the U23 World Championships. I’m a little nervous. Not about whether I’ll make the team or not though. Mostly nervous about how hard the altitude is going to kick me in the teeth. I maintain what I’ve said throughout the year… I feel pretty fit this year. And the thing with fitness is that it’s going to be there for you, it doesn’t just disappear on race day. I definitely don’t have the same raw fitness I did in the fall when I was running a lot, but the hours are in the bank. 582 some odd hours of training from May 1st to December 25th. Not bad for someone who had one foot out the door for most of the year…
But man… writing blog posts is so much harder than it used to be. Ideas used to just flow, I used to love writing about my adventures and racing, but now it’s harder. I think it’s harder because I’m caught between attitudes towards what I’m doing with my pursuits as an elite skier… On one side, I see everything that’s been put in to get this far, to ski at this level, and I don’t want to squander it; I feel like I can still get more out of skiing. And on the other side, I see everything that’s been put into my skiing as a stepping stone to other things; that I’ve gotten enough out of it, that I was meant to ski until I got pretty good, and then move on… yah man. I just don’t know. Part of me wants to absolutely stun at Trials and Worlds, another part knows I’ll probably be about the same as last year, maybe a little better, and another part is asking why I’m doing this at all.
Wanting, knowing, and asking.
Dreaming, understanding, and questioning.
Round and round and round…
Maybe one day thinking in circles will help me more than it seems to drive me crazy now. Maybe I’ll take up hula-hooping, seems like a sport that makes good use of circles. In any case, I’m still writing my story as a skier and it’s part of a bigger saga of my life. Whether written in ink, typed on the web, or etched in your mind, the stories are there.
So… Book 2 – Hula hooping?
Hope everyone is having a happy holiday season with friends and family, and that you have good snow and new cozy socks from Santa. I didn’t get socks this year, but I did get some car-jumper cables and a new can of V40. I also sort of gifted myself a bike… It seemed like a necessity since my parents now live right beside the Copeland. The ski trails at Horseshoe have been amazing for training over the holidays, and the access to trails for running and riding, and roads for rollerskiing next summer is going to be unreal. Hope mom and dad will let me come and visit (need to be on my best behaviour while I’m here now to make sure I get invited back! ;) )