Friday, 16 November 2012

North Bay/Gangnam Style Training Camp

Last weekend Nipissing University and North Bay Nordic did an amazing job of hosting the 2012 Northern Ontario District training camp. With 35 athletes between the ages of 13 and 22 from all over Ontario laying down great training and sharing energy, the camp was a total blast. I was lucky enough to be invited to attend and made the trip from Canmore to join in on the fun and help out with a bit of coaching.

The camp started on Friday afternoon with a trail run right on the Nipissing university campus - how cool is that? The trail network seems great for running and actually gets groomed in the winter so the athletes can train right on campus, they even host races there! Post run we headed to the gym to work through a three stations of circuits: core strength, wind sprints and balance, and then finally plyos and ladder agility drills. After dinner on Friday we got to listen to a talk by Dr. Barbi Law, a psychology professor from Nipissing. She gave us some great info on sport psychology and helped us through a few exercises to get ready for race season - great stuff as we head towards race season! 

Saturday morning began with a Q&A session over Skype with the Canadian Women's World Cup team. Chandra, Peri and Alysson are already over in Sweden preparing for the World Cup opener and it was really nice of them to take the time to chat with us. We decided to thank them by performing our version of the Gangnam Style dance. They loved it, obviously. Check out the video below for a glimpse of the artistic genius.

It was business time after the chat and the gang threw down a great skibounding workout at Laurentian Ski hill. We divided into groups for a quick refresher on good technique with the warm up and then did a zone 3 interval workout. Thanks to my new friend Madi Fraser for all the great pictures!

Big gang of stoked Ontario skiers!

Working on technique: hip position and posture are so key

Nipissing Skiers getting after it

Holly Jones of Carleton U making it look easy

BEST sight ever right after a workout. So much good baking!
Saturday afternoon was a classic rollerski right on Nipissing Campus. Again we divided into smaller groups to move through different technique stations. I have been working hard on my double poling lately and so got to help lead the double pole station with retired national team skier Dave Nighbor. Actually teaching technique rather than just skiing around trying to do it is a great way to really focus in on the skills and get pumped to improve.

Saturday evening I made a little presentation about balancing skiing and school. I had expected the camp to be mostly junior skiers but was pleasantly surprised to find about half of the athletes we already rocking the university ski scene. It was great to have so many of them there to help share the message that you don't have to give up on your ski racing goals if you also want to go to university. 

Sunday morning the camp finished up with an exciting rollerski sprint race. The course was about 600m long, half double poling and half diagonal striding with a net elevation gain. Heats were run in groups of three skiers and timed to keep track of pacing and round results.

Alex, Holly and Erin get ready for a sprint heat


Colin and Liam duking it out.

Solid form!
Big thanks to North Bay Nordic, Nipissing University Nordic, and all the coaches and parent volunteers who made this camp a huge success. I had a total blast and I'm sure all the other athletes felt the same. We are all now a little bit stronger, fitter and more pumped to race this winter!

Get your snowdance on, Gangnam style.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Halloween Skiing and Frozen Thunder Mental Tactics!

The past few weeks in Canmore have been solid awesome. As I mentioned a few posts ago, the Canmore Nordic Centre stockpiled a ton of snow last winter, stored it under a sawdust blanket all summer and rolled it out into a 1.8km ski loop on October 13th. Titled "Frozen Thunder", skiers from all over Canada and loads from the U.S of A have come to test out this October ski wonder. It's been super fun and energizing to see so many athletes, coaches and even rec skiers out enjoying the loop and getting stoked for real winter! The video below gives a bit more info on the track and some cool views.

Aside from getting a little cold 2 weeks ago and missing the "WinSport Frozen Thunder Classic" sprint race, training has been going great. It was a drag to miss the race but I did get out to watch the heats and did my best to cheer on teammates and pick up some tips from how the fastest racers were skiing. I'm back to full health and have been feeling better and better on my skis as the days go by.

Our team happened to have an interval session on Halloween and just to keep things fun a few of us wore our costumes to the workout. Unfortunately, I didn't engineer the rabbit ears of my costume well enough and they were rather a hindrance on the downhills. I was able to wear the complete costume for the warm up but was left with only my tail for intervals - I'm not sure if that makes me a more-dedicated or less-dedicated ski bunny!

Trailside Halloween - picture thanks to Heidi.
It's a major luxury to have groomed, good-quality skiing in October and we haven't just been goofing around in costumes and skiing loop after loop! Each workout on snow has technical goals and often a specific set of drills, sprints or intervals to keep us focused. I didn't get on snow until late November last winter so every day before the end of this month feels like bonus skiing. I love dryland training but being on Frozen Thunder the past few weeks has reminded me that real skiing is what I love most. The feeling of charging up and over hills then whipping down the other side in a tuck or free skate is simply unbeatable.
Some have commented that it's easy to get bored skiing around just a 1.8km loop. This makes me think back to the days of skiing the "Hamster Loop" at Hardwood around Christmas when there wasn't much snow. Coach Jack would remind us to "Be glad you aren't a swimmer, the only view they ever get is that black line!". Having spent most of my free time as a kid competitve swimming, I was horrified to hear that people could think that swimming would be boring. In swimming every minute of every workout is broken down into structured sets on the clock of different strokes and drills so the mind is always occupied and never bored. I've found it helpful to use some of this swimming mentality to make the most of my Frozen Thunder time.
Thanks for checking in and be sure to get your snowdance on!