While I had started to train a bit, trying to stay in shape rather than lose everything. I was pleased to get back to Canmore and focus a little bit on my training. Especially to be getting out on the mountain bike. On top of that I was able to dust off my .22 and start some shooting with that again after a lengthy hiatus. It was short-lived, a mere teaser. After two short weeks, I was packing again for yet another event. The Celebration of Excellence, a cross-country tour of the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic teams. The tour started off in Ottawa with Heroes Tour events of school and hospital visits in the Ottawa area. Lunch was a BBQ on Parliament Hill with several MP’s joining us. The athletes and coaches then had the special honour of walking onto the floor of the House of Commons. We were greeted by standing ovation from the MPs and then a proud singing of ‘O Canada’. I was Governor General's Residenceone of the fortunate athletes to be able to attend a reception at the Governor General’s residence. The grounds are beautiful and full of treasured Canadian history. Like the oldest outdoor ice rink in Canada. The Honourable David Johnston and his wife are a spectacular couple, so open and inviting. They wanted to share their home with everyone. Treating all the athletes in attendance as if we were part of the family (perhaps extended family but family none-the-less). Not a long visit but a highlight of the Celebration of Excellence. It was then quickly off to the airport to catch a flight to Calgary and the continued events of the 2014 Celebration of Excellence.
The majority of the athletes had flown directly to Calgary, but there was a small group that traveled to Edmonton. As the team was split up we could cover even more schools, hospitals and Ronald McDonald House’s with the continued Heroes Tour. I was paired up with one of Canada’s speed skaters and together we shared our experiences and passion for sports to three elementary schools in the Northwest of Calgary. As the Heroes Tour took up most of the day, the athletes found a little time mid-afternoon to get in a training session. And the athletes that had started in Edmonton made their way to Calgary. The evening was to be the beginning of a new and special event for both the Olympic and Paralympic Teams, a Ring Ceremony. The CPC and the COC presented each athlete a ring to commemorate their participation at the 2014 Sochi Games. After the formal events had ended the athletes gathered for an ‘athlete’s only’ after party. It was great to see all the athletes having a great time together, celebrating each other’s accomplishments.
The Celebration of Excellence tour was going to end on a busy but memorable day. Headlined by a parade through downtown Calgary, finishing at the Olympic Plaza. As most parades go the morning was a ‘hurry up and wait’ affair. To add to the quasi Stampede feel of the parade Calgary’s Mayor Nenshi honoured each athlete with a white cowboy hat. Once we got going the experience was amazing, thanking everyone for coming out, throwing cards from the floats to the kids lining the streets. After the parade portion had finished all the athletes were invited to the stage for an official oath taking for the white hats (to keep everything official of course). The Paralympic athletes had a reception in the afternoon with several of our sponsors. The Olympic athletes had their Hall of Fame Gala that evening; the Paralympic side had their final formal event, a dinner at Flames Central. After the Gala all the athletes came together for an after party at Flames Central. It was an incredible night (and morning) but I’ll spare you the details…
Saturday I returned to Canmore and essentially unpacked to repack. The team’s first training camp of the year would be starting Monday. I had enjoyed every moment of a busy spring. There had been a lot of traveling but more importantly countless new experiences, memories and acts of inspiration. Mentally I felt recharged, re-energized, and ready for the next year and looking forward to the next four. Physically… maybe not as prepared for the first camp after a week of, well let’s call it celebration. Adding to the excitement of the first camp was the fact we were going somewhere new. We would be basing our first camp in Bend, Oregon. I had heard of some unbelievable reviews of training camps here from other athletes, so I was excited to try it for myself. It definitely lived up to the hype. Right of the bat it was two short flights from Calgary sub two hours of total flying time. Flying between Calgary to Redmond via Portland. Bend is a 30-45 minute drive from the Redmond airport. Bend is an astonishing mix of geography with beautiful forests, shrubs blending into a near desert climate. With nearby mountains and a not too distant ocean providing a wide range of elevation. Throw in a little volcanic activity in the past and you create one of the most breathtaking places you can visit. Just for good measure a delicious food scene and more breweries then you can visit. A few days here and Bend had made my top-5 places visit.
IMG_1090I enjoy traveling, seeing new places but I was most excited about settling down from the spring and beginning to refocus on training. The first few days were tough, getting back into the swing of training. Once I was over that bump, the training was only getting better. The first week the bulk of our training was on snow, at the ski trails at Mt. Bachelor. With some roller skiing intensity up the highway to Mt. Bachelor. By the second week we were spending less time on snow and more time on the pavement or the dirt. Right from the hotel door we found some great roller skiing either up the highway towards Mt. Bachelor or in the developing communities on the edge of town. Somewhere this spring amongst all that traveling I started to mountain bike. I would be stupidly grinning every time I was on the bike. I had heard there was some great riding in Bend and I was not disappointed. New terrain to learn new skills or to work on older abilities. Towards the end of our camp the Canadian National Team along with a huge group of Training Center skiers came to Bend to start their camp. I was able to training with the skiers on two different occasions, a long ride (which I went mountain biking) and a double pole workout which I skated; double poling is not my strongest technique. It was a great opportunity to meet and train with other the able-bodied teams.
With the two week camp in Bend all done, the team headed back to Canmore. Over this past week we have continued with some longer hours before a rest week to begin July. That is where I find myself now, on my way to Prince Edward Island once again, for a week long visit over the rest week. I wish everyone the greatest of Canada Days and a wonderful start to summer!

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