Thursday, 31 January 2013

Photo Update from Duntroon NorAMs

Last weekend was a great weekend of racing NorAMs at Highland's Nordic (also called Duntroon) near Collingwood, Ontario. Saturday was a classic sprint and Sunday was a 10km skate race. It was the final qualifying weekend for the World Championships team so the competition was intense. I feel like I'm in great shape right now so it's really exciting to be battling for seconds in a tight field - that's competition at it's best, for sure. 

My whole family came! My mom volunteered as a starter/timer and my brother while dad were on socializing/cheering duty. 
Thank you to Mary Tribe and my brother, Homeslice for the pics, totally rad.
That's right, my brother is "Sir Andrew, Warrior of Denmark"
 The classic sprint went well. I skied a personal best qualifier but accidentally false started... meaning I went 3 seconds early. My time was accurate but the race jury decided to add 15 seconds to my time as a penalty which bumped me from 3rd to 14th. Not a huge deal since I still made it through to the heats but annoying to lose the qualifying time points for being an airhead! The heats went well and although I didn't quite squeeze into the A final, I won the B final to take 5th on the day.
Race conditions don't get much sweeter than this, fast tracks and blue skies.

Cute little cousins from St. Louis flying their Canadian "colors" for the weekend. I was so pumped to see this!

Ma girl Zoe Roy flying to 2nd place - love that grin!

The 10k skate was epic. It was a perfect day for racing with clear skies and mild temperatures. The track was fairly fast and had lots of tough hills and twisty, fast descents. My strategy was to pin it right from the first lap, going fast right off the line and just trying to hold on. It was painful all the way through, but as my friend Brian McKeever would describe, it was "a good pain : speed ratio". I finished in 5th place, just a couple of seconds off the podium and 36.6 seconds behind Brittany Webster who is now off to World Championships. 
I'm diggin' the new Ontario Team suits and my fast Salomon skis. 

Open Women's podium, 10k skate L-R: Amanda Ammar, Zoe Roy, Brittany Webster, Andrea Dupont, Me
Beauty ski at foggy Hardwood Ski & Bike with friends Erin Tribe and Amanda Ammar - spectacular trees and fast snow. Ahhmazing. 
I'm back in Ottawa now and racing resumes tomorrow at Nakkertok with another classic sprint. Saturday is another 10km skate and Sunday is a 15km classic with a pursuit start based on the aggregation of Friday and Saturday's events. This format is called  a "mini-tour" since all  three days are aggregated to crown an overall winner. Should be an exciting weekend!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Ready for More

The races in Thunder Bay were already 3 weeks ago and boy, am I sure ready to get back at it! I spent an awesome 10 days training back in Ottawa and I am now the Thomas family chalet near Hardwood getting ready to race at Highland's Nordic this weekend. Ottawa was  a great chance to catch up with old friends and training partners and we had  real mix of weather and snow conditions which made for excellent practice. I hope every race at Nationals in Whistler this March is on klister - I freakin' love skiing on that stuff.

"Home" home has been incredible this week. The conditions at Hardwood have been excellent and it's been nice to spend a few days doing the hermit thing to just chill out and get focused for the upcoming races. I've spent lots of time reading, sleeping and cooking. If you haven't read Rick Mercer's book "A Nation Worth Ranting About" already, do it now. It's amazing. It was hilarious, insightful and positively inspiring. I also have to make mention of the fact that my mom is ready for the apocalypse here. If I didn't have such a thing for fresh vegetables I would be able to live here for months without hitting a grocery store, the fridge, freezer and cupboards are that well stocked.

Pretty Sugarbush trees in the sun

How can you not be stoked to go skiing when the drive to Hardwood starts like this?

It might be kind of old news now but I did decide to leave the Alberta World Cup Academy team in December. There's no real drama in the story (and I think the dust has settled just fine) but I had a good talk with Alex Matthew's at a couple of days ago and she wrote a really nice article about it. Alex and the whole crew at Faster Skier do a brilliant job of covering and promoting cross-country skiing in North America. Thank you Faster Skier! If you're interested the article is here and  let me tell you, it's flattering to even be thought of as a contender for the World Champs team, wow.

Kids Christmas at the Thomas Chalet with my brother Andrew and our furry little sister Alexis.
My parents and brother will be coming up from Mississauga for the weekend so that's sure the bring even more fun and positive energy. Can't wait!

Thanks for reading :)

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Racing NorAMs in Thunder Bay

Welcome to 2013! After an amazingly fun and relaxing holiday break with my family near Hardwood it was back to "work" on the ski trails of Lappe Nordic in Thunder Bay. There were 3 races: a 15km skiathlon (half classic then a transition to skate, without a break), a classic sprint and a 10km individual start skate. These races were exciting for the usual reason, being races, but were also exciting because they were some of the selection races for World Junior and Under 23 Championships and World Championships.

The 15k skiathlon was my best race of the season so far by a longshot. It was one of those incredible days where skiing almost feels effortless and you don't realize how hard you were pushing until you cross the finish line and try to catch your breath. These are the kind of days athletes dream about while training all year and especially satisfying after what a terrible performance in the 15k world cup in Canmore last month. I finished second behind national team skier Emily Nishikawa and my good friend Zoe Roy rounded out the podium in third.

Above: charging up the "grunt" with Zoe and Emily. It was a chilly day at -15 so we were well bundled up!

The classic sprint day was next and the most exciting part was definitely the epic crash Kara Jaspers and I had in our quarter final heat. There was a sharp left hand corner at the bottom on the big downhill on course and I charged it over-confidently, bailed and then had Kara sail over me as I started to get up. The frame by frame is below. I did manage to get up quickly and make up enough time in the heat to finish second and move through to the semi finals, phew. The 10k skate also went well and I finished 6th, only about 20 seconds off the podium!

I feel great after getting some solid racing in and I'm confident that my form is back where it needs to be to continue the season. The next NorAm is at Highland's Nordic, near Collingwood, Ontario in 2 weeks. Rather than fly all the way back to Canmore for less than 2 weeks I've opted to train back in  Ottawa. The ski conditions are awesome here and it feels so good to be back!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Welcome the New Year with a Laugh

Just wanted to share this picture from the World Cup in Canmore last month. Local school kids made posters to welcome athletes and they were put up all arond the athlete's lounge and wax rooms, this one was my favourite by far!