Update – March 2009

Over the last month I had some exciting experiences.  The first was, on February 12th, when I traveled to Edmonton, where teammate Colette Bourgonje and I did some club events; sharing our story with the local ski club kids.  It felt great to be given the opportunity to give back to the sport and promote it to the younger kids.  It was a lot of fun despite the “freezing” temperatures.  On that Saturday we both raced the 31km Edmonton Birkebeiner.  This was the longest distance I have ever raced, but it was awesome fun!  You can also call the Birkiebeiner a loppet race, which is a race where hundreds or thousands start at the same time, and it usually covers longer distances ranging from 55km (Edmonton Birkebeiner) to 98km.  I started with over 400 other racers, so of course it was craziness off the start with everyone trying to get to the lead, and the faster skiers weaving in and out through the crowds.

I then returned to Canmore, Alberta for a week long traveling camp over reading week.  The goal of the camp was high intensity, high volume as a warm up for the upcoming World Cups.  As the week progressed I was beginning to feel a little tired but my skiing felt amazing.  It was time to travel yet again.

Arriving in Whistler for the IPC World Cup, that was acting as the test event for the  Paralympics.  Almost every country was there, to ski at the venue that we all will be battling on for Paralympic glory, in less than a year.   The first competition was my favourite; the Biathlon Pursuit.  And I showed the world that day, I will be a contender next year.  I qualified sixth, and in the final I finished fourth.  My best career finish to date, and the worst though, was that I was only 60m behind the bronze medalist at the finish.  It shows great promise for next year.  I just love the courses at the Whistler Olympic Park, it seems that they were built for me.  The two cross country races were good results for me, but I felt a little disappointed in them.  The Individual biathlon race though was another story.  I had my best skiing race, but the shooting fell apart.  I missed 7 targets, which is very unusual for me.  Had I only missed 2 which is my normal average, I would have been seconds off first place.  But that is the beauty of biathlon!

Wrapping everything up in Whistler, we moved to Mount Washington on Vancouver Island.  Again my shooting haunted my first race.  The second race, I used as a training race.  I focused not on the result but on pacing myself and working on my weaknesses.  Despite that, I had a good result, so that made for a very nice day.   For my last race for the season on the World Cup, a Biathlon Individual, I gave it everything I had left.  I missed 4 shots, which is more than   where I should be, but on a day where no one went clean, it worked.  I have never pushed myself that far; it was a result to remember!  I finished the season with my strongest skiing result.  It was close but I was bumped to fourth.  With that, my competitors know I’m right there with them, and for myself I know I can ski with the best and when I put everything together, there will be NO stopping me!

The season is almost wrapped up, with many of my teammates finished for the season.  I continue, and travel to Valcartier, Quebec at the end of March, to compete at the Canadian Biathlon Championships.

I hope everyone gets a chance to go and play in the snow while the March sun is still shining.

Mark


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