Thursday, 6 December 2012

And we're off!

The race season finally kicked off last weekend after I felt like a kid waiting for Christmas all of last week. This past training season felt longer and harder than it ever has and I was totally excited to get this show on the road and get to the fun part - racing.
 
 Our team had done a number of on-snow time trials but nothing quite matches the feeling of the stadium the day of a race, putting on a bib and just going for it. The energy is higher, the excitment is higher and the vibe was is just all around better.
 
This year's season openers were hosted at the Canmore Nordic Centre and served not only as NorAms but also as qualifiers for the World Cups being hosted in Canada this week. On the line were start spots for team and individual sprints to be held in Quebec City, a Sprint in Canmore, as well as classic and pursuit races in Canmore. It's a huge opportunity to have Canada host World Cup races since it means we get extra quota start spots for developing domestic skiers.

 
(** Photos courtesy of James Cunningham/CCC Facebook and Stoneham Ski Apparel/www.stonehamski.ca. Thank you!) 
Start of a men's sprint heat, love that race day scene!
 Saturday was a skate sprint with individual qualifiers in the morning and head to head heats in the afternoon. I felt strong in the morning and qualified 10th, the top 30 move on to heats so I felt in good position for the afternoon. My quarter final heat got off to a fast start and the top 2 girls gapped me by a little bit going up the main climb. Unfortunately I didn't have the punch I needed to battle back and settled for third. In the 5 quarter-finals the top 2 finishers automatically move to the semi-finals but the third place finishers have to wait and see who has the fastest two heat times in order to win a position in the semis. I did my best to stay cool and positive as  I waited and watched the rest of the heats go. Unfortunately I was the "first un-lucky loser" as I had the third fastest 3rd place time and only the top 2 move on. Complicated..
Quarter final action, duking it out with teammate Annika Hicks (background). Thanks to Stoneham for the sweet new race suits. www.stonehamski.ca)
 I wasn't stoked, especially after feeling like I didn't ski as well as I'd planned for in the quarter. My day was done but I didn't have time to dwell, Sunday was a10km classic race and I needed to focus on the positive actions of cooling down, recovering and getting mentally ready for the next day. On the bright side, many of my teammates had incredible race days and 6 of us qualified to race the Sprint World Cups!
Intense semi-final, my teammates are in black and had a great day of racing!
 Sunday's 10k classic was what I would call a "working day". I prepared well, was mentally ready and felt completely focused on the positive process goals I'd set out for my day yet I didn't have that energy and punch that makes a race really fun. It felt like I was just surviving rather than really attacking. Its discouraging when your body doesn't have the energy you want but dealing with that is just part of being an athlete. I stayed focused on technique and working to push up and over the hills and crossed the line in 12th.

Skiing through the lap with junior teammate Britt Evans who had sweet races all weekend!
 While the first weekend of racing didn't play out quite as well as I wanted I am still incredibly excited that the race season is here. I feel grateful that I did manage to qualify to race my first ever sprint World Cup in Canmore next week and I am on the rooster for the 15k pursuit World Cup as well (thanks to results from last season). I've taken some positives from the weekend and jotted down a few things to improve on. I'm now in Silverstar getting ready to race 2 NorAm's this weekend and will attack them with all the energy and enthusiasm I have.
A real highlight from last week was an afternoon tea party with old friends Catherine, Anna and Erin. We all skied together on Team Hardwood back in highschool and haven't forgotten about each other or our love for the sport. Good Times!
I'm also super  exicted to tune in to CBC to watch the Canadian crew battle it out in the team sprint downtown Quebec City tomorrow. GO CANADA GO!!

Thanks for checking in, onwards and upwards!

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