It has been a great Fall and early Winter for training in the Bow Valley. After coming back from Toronto I was able to get in some great skiing on Frozen Thunder. The snow on Frozen Thunder was holding up really well, with a few days that were nearly mid-winter conditions. With some additional help from Mother Nature in the form of blanket of natural snow. There were a few days in early November where the outer trails at the Canmore Nordic Centre were skiable (a rare happening). Most of that snow did disappear but it was a start and a week later Canmore received a dump; a real dump of snow, I’m talking for a couple of hours that it looked like an Eastern blizzard. Now the conditions were incredible, even natural snow trails were in good shape for so early in the season, simply awesome. But ask any cross country skier in Alberta what signifies the start of Winter- they will answer the first skiing on Moraine Lake road (well…for me at least it is). After last year’s astonishingly early start on Moraine Lake road, the first ski in the first week of November almost seemed late. Though it felt great to ‘stretch’ the legs and ski the out and back on the road. Before you could blink the race season was upon me and I was excited to get this season underway.
Opening season races were held this weekend here in Canmore. Back to back Biathlon Sprints were on tap to kick-off this Olympic and Paralympic season. For me these races provide an excellent opportunity to work out the kinks before the big guns show up on my doorstep for the IPC World Cup. Both races went very well, they were great opportunities to push hard and see what the body had in it. As well it exposed a few weaknesses. These weaknesses are easily fixed and I’ll be ready for next weekend as the season continues. Saturday’s race overall was great. I was disappointed with my shooting, missing three is uncharacteristic of me. The strange feeling for me was that everything I did felt good. The best shooters always take responsibly for misses, it is what I do, but I couldn’t do that in this case. Of the three misses, yes a part of those were my fault though a large part of those misses were from the rifle. It is a confusing feeling. To not trust the rifle to be at its best is not easy. It is a problem that requires immediate attention. I feel disappointed with the performance, the misses but at the same time it wasn’t my fault. I was very impressed with my skiing. I had not expected to be skiing as fast as I did. I could push hard and the body responded. I was testing out a new pair of boards from this year and they felt great as well. I was moving well throughout the course and I think there were a few shocked faces when they realized who had passed them.
Sunday was as déjà vu as it gets. It was another Sprint, covering a distance of 10km. The field consisted of the same athletes, skiing three times the same 3.3km loop. What I wish had changed was the number of misses I had, unfortunately that too stayed the same at three. After some work on the rifle and a different approach it still hadn’t worked out the issues. Again I was disappointed, but took the lessons learned from this weekend and will resolve these persistent problems. On the course I wasn’t feeling as good as I had in yesterday’s race but in the end it turned out to be 30 seconds faster. It was an educational weekend, in terms of getting ready for the upcoming race season. I feel like I’m in a good place in preparation for the home World Cup and the rest of the season.
As I write this it is a mere 14 days from the start of the 2013/2014 IPC World Cup season. I’m looking forward to having the best in the World come to Canmore and take part in the breathtaking experience of racing in Canmore. The Nordic Centre is busy with domestic skiers from across the country. This past week the Biathletes all arrived and I’m sure over the next few days the Cross Country skiers will descend upon Canmore as next weekend is the opening races of the Cross Country season. This upcoming weekend the Canmore Nordic Centre will play host to two events. Soon after though, as the Biathletes head home and the Cross Country skiers will move onto Vernon, BC. A few days after this; skiers from across the globe will descend upon Canmore in search for their own glory in the Heart of the Rockies.

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