The final weekend of November was to be the first races of the season. But after a very warm and dry October and November; Winter put on a Tour de Force. The snow dumped down in amounts that are rare for this time of year, well, for Canmore this amount of snow in a single snowfall is rare period. The snow was accompanied by strong winds. Blowing everywhere, reminding me of a good old fashioned Nor’easter. All together a real winter storm! The storm lasted just over two days but left the highways a mess and not the safest to travel. The Cross Country races that were to be held in Canmore as well this weekend were cancelled Thursday afternoon. The Biathlon races were going to charge ahead and hope the weather would break sooner than predicted. On Friday, it was decided to reduce Saturday’s races to IBU categories (16 and older) only and delay the start until 1 o’clock. Saturday morning the weather had cleared and there was no a breath of wind, it was very pleasant in the sun. But the temperature was too cold to race and so the race was cancelled. Sunday was forecasted to be warmer but we had to wait and see. The temperatures fell even colder nearing minus thirty (without wind-chill). After a 90 minute delay in the morning the race organizers held to cancelled Sunday’s race. Opening Weekend was a bit of a bust. The skiing over the weekend was slow but still really good as long as you were dressed for it. The plan was turned a bit upside down. I do have an opportunity to race Thursday (which currently has a forecasted high of plus three) getting in one race before I fly to Finland on Saturday for the first IPC World Cup of the season.
Two weeks ago I had my first ‘races’ of the season. Biathlon National Team Time Trials were selection races for the final few spots available for the World Cup and IBU Cup. I had the chance to race those with my .22 and racing against the very best in Canada. I wasn’t going extremely fast but it was good to work out the kinks of racing early on in the season. Both trial races were Sprints, on the same course. I throw down two very consistent races; consistent meaning I only went six seconds faster the second day. I missed two shots in both races, day one was two prone misses and the second day was two standing misses. Pretty stoked to know that I’m one of the top-20 biathletes in Canada. At my best who knows how many more spots I could pick up.
The following weekend was the Para-Development camp. Each Province was invited to bring new Para-skiers to Canmore and work with the National Team coaches and learn what it takes to improve in this sport. The camp was spoiled with great weather, considering that just before we had a cold snap and the storm a described earlier would start a few days after. My part of the camp was a Biathlon Try-it session Sunday morning. We had two rifles and two lanes, I was on one lane shooting on paper and my brother was on the other lane shooting metal. Coach Kaspar was filling the magazines and watching the groups on paper. Behind the fence we had another coach describing the procedure of entering the range. When one of the lanes was ready he would send the next skier through the range to my brother or me. It was a very efficient system and we got through everyone that wanted to try shooting. There were some tight groups on paper.
One of the best signs the winter season has arrived is skiing in Lake Louise, out on Moraine Lake Road. As the first flakes fell I was on a few rest weeks and had no great need to get out there. My first ski up there was beautiful, sunny, fairly warm and hardly anyone else out there. But the road was once again peeking through the snow where everyone had skated. The classic track was solid except for a few small sections but each pole plant went through the snow and found the asphalt underneath. It still was an amazing ski; I was excited to be out there. The following week after a fresh dump of snow and just before the weather really fell apart the team headed up for another long day in Lake Louise. It was even better! There was enough snow that only on the rare occasion did the poles hit the pavement. The temperature was a little cooler than my solo ski but the sun was shining on fresh solid tracks. It was one of the days you hope for when you make the drive to Moraine Lake Road.
After the trials it seemed like I still had tons of time before I left. Today my head is starting to race through everything I need to do before I leave in four days. As well as the sudden realization that we are now in December. The time now before Christmas will fly by. From now on I won’t have more than two days between races or travel.
Let the Season begin!

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