For the last dry-land training camp of the year I made the now familiar trip south to the state of Arizona. Flagstaff and Phoenix played host to this third and final camp before the race season begins. It was a much smaller camp then the September edition with only two athletes from the team there along with Coach Robin. Two athletes from the Yukon Elite Ski Team joined us to complete a nice car full for the camp. We enjoyed fantastic weather and got in a lot of excellent training during our stay. As the weather back home was changing into Autumn, Arizona stayed as consistent as weather gets. Flagstaff was clear skies every day and started from -1oc in the morning to 16-19oc as a high. Phoenix was reaching highs that were over 30oc with lows of pleasant high teens. We only saw clouds the one day, the rest were bluebird. It was neat this trip to see that after the previous two trips south that people started recognizing us. We are starting to know the owners of the local restaurants and coffee shops. In the mornings for breakfast, there is a chef making omelets at the hotel; and I now have ‘the usual’ every morning. Even though we are starting to know the area it’s still fun to discover new places, especially restaurants. One of these finds was Pizzicletta, an incredible little wood-oven pizza place. The pizza crust was the best crust I have ever had and the salad beforehand was delicious. Another great find was this little café/grocery store on the side of the road between Sedona and Flagstaff. There were still the favorites from past trips, Lux Coffeebar, a trendy coffee shop in Pheonix. They have great food and baked goods and an excellent selection of beers for enjoyment with supper. Oh and I’m told the coffee is pretty good too! Or Roberto’s, a Mexican restaurant in Anthem. Finally Diablo Burger, in downtown Flagstaff, makers of one of the finest burgers you will ever try. One evening in Anthem we hit up the cinema and watched Rush. I would highly recommend watching it. It tells the incredible story of a great rivalry between two Formula 1 drivers and their battle for the World Championship Title in 1976. A warning, it may make you want to drive very fast after watching, so use caution!
Just after I left Canmore, one of the truest signs of the approaching winter is the ribbon of last year’s snow being rolled out, nicknamed ‘Frozen Thunder’. This is where the Canmore Nordic Centre piles snow made last year under sawdust for the summer, uncovers and spreads out the snow for early season skiing. This year’s trail is the largest by far, with a new out and back addition. I didn’t mind missing the first week of Frozen Thunder. From the tweets and posts it seemed that almost every high performance skier in North American was on the 2.2km of snow. Meaning it would be skiing tip to tail and most likely a hammer fest. On Sunday, I traveled from SkyHarbor (Phoenix’s International Airport) to YYC. Touching down in Calgary I was greeted by the first snowfall of the season and temperatures almost in the negative double digits. Quite the reversal from the weather I had experienced in Arizona. At 19:45 I showed up at the Nordic Centre with my headlamp and went for a ski. I had the whole loop to myself. In the pitch dark, it was quite the surreal ski. Snow seemed in pretty good shape besides a few icy patches. To add to the experience, it was snowing harder than it had all day and the wind was blowing. Quite the first experience of winter for the season. The next day I was busy running around doing errands and getting some things done before I took off again as well as getting in an intensity session on the snow. I did the intensity in the evening, it was getting dark but it was still a great intensity. It felt really great to be going hard on the snow again and I felt fast on top of that, all good signs.
In celebration of 100 days till the Opening Ceremonies of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, the Hudson Bay Company will be unveiling the Olympic and Paralympic clothing lines today with the help of several athletes. I’m one of those lucky athletes. After this short trip to Toronto for the launch I head back to the snowy Mountains. It’s hard to think about saying 100 days until the Games (128 days until the Opening of the Paralympics). I’m more focused on the next two weeks where I transition from training to racing. My first official race is only two weeks away. Shortly after that the World comes to Canmore for the IPC World Cup. I’m excited to have the best athletes from around the World come to my backyard and start this season at home. Mark your calendars December 9-17, in Canmore. Be there!

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