It’s good to be back in Canmore, to be able to take a breath and relax for a moment.  Since Christmas it seems to have been a whirlwind of races and travel.  I left the Island on the first of January for Canmore.  Five days later I was back racing, a prep race for the next World Cup.  A further four days after that I was back at the Calgary Airport flying to Chicago and onward to Duluth.  A short drive from Duluth to find myself in Cable, Wisconsin, and the host venue for this year’s second World Cup.  A packed schedule awaited the athletes, a quick ten days later, six races in seven days; I was on my way home.  I guess you could call this my half-time show.  With four weeks to rest and recover as well as build up the training again.  By mid- February I’ll hit the skies once again, for a lengthy trip spanning just over half the globe.  Just writing this was breathtaking.

Over the holidays I was able to get in some great training.  First off, on Boxing Day the family and I headed to Charlo, New Brunswick.  Skiing out of Les Aventuriers de Charlo Ski Club, snow conditions were promising for the first two days.  Not a lot of snow but solid coverage.  For the final two days of my mini-training camp/vacation it seemed to always be snowing.  It became real pleasure to ski on the freshly covered trails; mind you I was getting a little dizzy from several laps of Serpentine.  To cap off a great holiday on the Island, the hidden gem of the Island (Brookvale Nordic Ski Centre) decided to share just a slice of paradise.  With the sun setting quickly and temperatures following I was able to ski once again on the trails that gave me my start.  I haven’t been able to ski at Brookvale for the past three years, so it was a real treat.  With the final shimmers of light reflecting off the gently snow coated branches it was truly a picturesque, unforgettable and breathtaking ski.

Still in awe from skiing on the Island, I returned to the mountains.  The trails in Canmore were incredible; it’s hard to beat training here in Canmore.  As a final race in preparation for the next World Cup I decided to enter a Biathlon Mass Start.  I would be leaving four days later for World Cup, so I decided to race with my air rifle.  The start of a Mass Start is a 50m double poling section.  Needless to say, double poling is not a strength of mine.  That was a really fun race for me.  Skiing without the rifle on my back I was able to ski in the middle of everything.  I had a great day on the range, 20 for 20.  I was skiing very well, on the 3km Biathlon course in Canmore.  With putting the two parts together, it resulted in my first Open Men’s victory.  I left Canmore on a pretty awesome note.  Next stop Cable, Wisconsin!

The racing got serious once we arrived in the States.  The schedule had three Cross Country races back to back to back, a rest day, Long Biathlon, rest day and finally back to back Biathlon races.  Forget Tour de Ski, welcome to IPC World Cup.  Arriving in the States I felt great, I felt strong and snappy- I was ready to race.  Too bad the course wasn’t quite feeling the same.  A warm spell had nearly melted everything at the race site.  The organizers pulled together an amazing feat and found enough snow to make a 2.5km loop for both Standing skiers and the Sit skiers.  A round of applause is needed to thank the tireless efforts of the organizers to put together a great course in my opinion.   Most of the course was in very good shape.  However there was a short section that I’d have to describe more as ‘rocky with a chance of snow’.  But each night just a little bit of snow would fall and by week’s end it was safe to say ‘snowy with a chance of pebble’.

First up was the Middle Distance Skate race.  It was a great race for me and a great way to start the week.  Over the first lap I was third and close to second place.  Over the next two laps I closed the gap.  The final lap I was given a split that I was in second place but needed to push hard to stay ahead.  That was true!  At the finish it was so tight that neither we nor the Norwegians (the winner was from Norway as well as the guy I was so tight with) knew who had taken second place.  In the end I would take second place, a close 0.2secs ahead of the third place Norwegian.  The following day was a 20km Classic race, which I decided to skip to converse energy for the Biathlon races.  Then came the Cross Country Free Sprint.  The race office had to look at the photo finish to decide the winner.  Unfortunately I would not be able to take the win in the Sprint, settling for my second second in two races.

A single rest day to change the mindset to begin thinking in black and white- or Biathlon!  The 15km Individual provided an opportunity for a larger time difference in the results.  That didn’t happen, not even close.  After missing a single shot out of the 20, I once again found myself on the podium – to the right of the winner.  The gap between first and second was 3.8secs.  If third time wasn’t the charm, I sure hoped the fourth would be.  Seeing the long range forecast calling for a high of -18 on Sunday the organizers proposed a new schedule.  With the support of all the Nations the two remaining Biathlon races were moved up a day.  It would mean that I would race three Biathlon races on consecutive days.  The Biathlon Sprint, now on Friday, was the race I finally put it all together.  Another close race between Nils-Erik and me but I would win by 7.9secs over the Norwegian.  Saturday, the sixth race in seven days, my fifth race this week would be the Biathlon Middle Distance.  This turned out to be an incredible skiing race for me.  My best racing of the week, I was feeling remarkably strong.  Though the wheels came off a bit in the range.  Most days, four misses would send me plunging through the results, but my skiing kept me in the game.  For the fourth time in the span of a week I stepped upon the right side of the podium.

Five races in seven days; I returned back to Canmore with five World Cup medals (one win, four seconds).  A tremendously successful week of racing.  Great results but again each race I entered I learned something that keeps me maturing as a High Performance athlete.  I’m now on a short mid-season break- a week to recover before starting the final training block.  Soon enough I’ll be on my way to Sweden for the 2013 World Championships, followed by a World Cup and test event of the new Sochi venue.  To cap off the season a week in Whistler for the 2013 Canadian Ski Nationals.

Here’s hoping the weather stays warmish and for great training conditions.

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