March Madness

The first few days back home in Canmore were rough.  I wasn’t feeling even close to 100%, I was getting better but not feeling great yet.  I was always hungry but could only nibble on food, because if I started eating an actual meal I was full in no time.  I just went with it and rested and ate for three days straight.  Finally on the fourth morning home from Germany I suddenly felt ‘ready to go’!  My body had had enough recovery and was eager to get out.  The next few days I used to push my health back and prepare for the volume that would be upcoming; in preparation for the Worlds.  Oh yes, as most athletes’ season were coming to a close, I was going into a full peaking program for World Championships.

The next week and a half were incredible.  The weather itself turned from the first few days back where temperatures were colder than -18 to forecasted highs of 5 or 9 above and it usually got warmer than that.  Blue bird or very close to Blue bird skies.  During this week of fantastic weather it so happened that the Haywood Ski Nationals were being hosted at the Canmore Nordic Centre, which only added to the atmosphere.  It was a party, a Nordic celebration of the best in Canada, on some of the best trails in the country, in awesome weather.  The town of Canmore got involved, by closing two blocks of Main Street and covered them with snow.  Medals ceremonies were held downtown so that everyone could get to experience of the country rewarding the best Canadian skiers.  Nationals were for most the last races of the season and for others the last of their careers.  A salute to all those incredible athletes that have retired, you have left an unforgettable legacy and all the best in your future pursuits.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to race in the Open Men’s category for the short and middle distances races.  It gave me the chance to be skiing side-by-side with other racers and have some hard fought battles within the race itself.  Testing myself against able-bodied skiers at different sections of terrain, kick-double poling over the flats against someone who is double-poling.  Striding beside someone and seeing the time made or lost, were just some of the learning and training opportunities I had during the races.  With the heavy load of training I was doing beside the races, sure I wasn’t the fastest I would be this year but that wasn’t the goal I wanted to obtain.  The goal was to gain new experiences.  It was in a way a continuation of new approach that I have taken this year with my training and competitions.  I see it as there are two ways to improve; you either push yourself further because you want to stay ahead or you are chasing to catch up with the leaders.

With the conclusion of the Nationals there were only three days left before the team’s World Championship trip began.  On Wednesday, March 23, the six athletes and half of our staff left Canada and headed to Europe.  We arrived in Munich around noon and would spend the remainder of the afternoon driving to Italy for a pre-Worlds camp.  In Italy we were headed for the small town of Stava, just above Val di Fiemme (interesting side note:  Val di Fiemme is the host of the 2013 Nordic World Championships).  The first meal we had could best be described as epic.  In what I’m told is typical Italian fashion, it was a five course meal, with of course one having pasta in it.  The atmosphere was very relaxed with us starting dinner at 7:30 and finishing around 9:20.  This suited us just fine as it took our minds off of trying to stay awake till 10 so that we could adjust to the time zone.  The next morning’s ski up in Passo Lazave was one of the most amazing skis I have ever had!  The sun was shining, the snow was softening up but was still holding firm.  The trails were awesome, nice rolling terrain and well groomed.  Great scenery, as we were nestled in the mountains, with the Dolomites off to one side.  This is the ideal way to overcome jetlag; Sunshine, great food and an overall feeling of enjoyment.

With only a few days remaining for tuning up and preparation before the 2011 IPC World Championships in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.  Stay tuned for the next update on my adventures in Siberia…

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