at the end of february i departed for Prince George BC which was the site of the 2015 Canada Winter Games. after an early morning flight from Thunder Bay to Toronto i was excited to get on our chartered flight for team ontario athletes later that afternoon. unfortunately the flight got delayed by a few hours resulting in a long travel day. The whole experience was a totally different experience than any other race trip. being a part of a larger group of athletes was a really cool experience. the whole games was run extremely well. the ski venue was great and so was the entire athlete village. first up for the races was an individual classic race. for us ontario athletes it was a tough one coming of a 26hr travel day two nights before. however the wax techs killed it and most of the team had a good day. I ended up 4th with teammate Scott ahead of me in 2nd place getting on the podium for ontario. Next up was the classic sprints. it was perfect weather, just above zero and sunny, a nice change from the minus 30 back in thunder bay. Once again Scott lead the way for the Ontario men finishing 2nd i ended up 5th. the highlight of the day however was Jen Jackson winning the women’s race after coming back from a broken ankle the month before. after a day off checking out other sports and what Prince George had to offer the athletes it was back to racing in the skate mass start races. I was able to have a great day and finish second getting the silver medal. it was a really fun race on a great course but the best was yet to come. all week anticipation was building around the 4 person relay. for the men BC, Quebec, and Ontario were all relatively equal so as you can imagine this race was hyped far in advance. for the women Quebec was the clear favourite but everyone was still pumped to race as a team for once. The girls had a good day but finished outside the medals. after having a strong skate race i was set as the anchor for our mens relay team. Ben Wilkinson-Zan started off with an unbelievable leg dropping the whole field. Scott was second and just increased the gap. when Jack who was 3rd handed off to me we had nearly a minute lead. i have to admit i was by far the most nervous i had ever been for a ski race. with a minute lead going into a 5km a virtually had to win and if i didn’t it was all on me. i was able to keep the butterflies in formation and stay on my feet and hold onto the lead to the finish. all three of the other guys i did the relay with are some of my best friends who i’ve trained and raced with for many years. it was a pretty amazing experience to win the relay with them. it was something i definitely will not forget. and now the good part, pictures!
The race season is now well under way closing in on the home stretch of the season. This year began out west in Rossland BC. There was very minimal snow surprising making for some very interesting races. For myself I picked up a bug the week leading up to the races so I sat out of the Saturday race and only participated in the 15km classic on Sunday. It was a fun, but thrilling race with lots of sketchy icy downhills. Since I was just getting over sickness I only had the chance to ski one lap of the course prior to the race. The first big downhill I went into it the way you normally would. Push hard over the top, tuck and step around the corner. I immediately washed out and crashed not realizing how icy it was. Otherwise it was a good race and with the majority of the field crashing the fall didn’t cost me all that much.
After the first NorAm was in the books we were supposed to travel to whistler for the 2nd Noram the following weekend. However Whistler was suffering from a lack of snow even worse than Rossland and so the races got moved to Sovereign Lake. Which is the cross-country race at Silver Star Mountain. I was very excited to do my first 30km individual start race in whistler. With the move to Sovereign I was a bit more nervous for it with big climbs, fresh soft snow and high altitude it had all the ingredients for a severe bonk. In the end I was happy with my race and it went relatively well. It was extremely hard, probably the hardest race I’ve ever done but I was happy with how I skied and the result was decent which made all the suffering worth it. The 30km was on December 20th so everyone on the team went there own way afterwards heading home for the holidays. I headed back to Thunder Bay for Christmas before departing for Highlands Nordic for World U23 trials.
Trials went quite well for me. I had a great skiathlon and finished 9th overall, 5th U23. The sprint wasn’t quite as good. I had a decent qualifier but then didn’t do much in the heats going out in the quarters and finished 15th overall. On the last day I skied to an 11th place finish. This put me as the 4th U23 man keeping me in the mix but not quite enough to make the worlds team. Without qualify for worlds next up were westerns in Canmore the following weekend.
Travelling out to Canmore was hectic and upon arrival I started to pick up a head cold that had been circulating through the team. The first race was in Lake Louis. It was by far the most scenic ski race I have ever done. However it was also by far my worst race of the season. Perhaps a combination of not feeling 100% and the quick transition to altitude threw me off but I didn’t ski very well and finished middle of the pack in 24th. The next race was the first skate sprint of the season. I personally enjoy and perform better in skate sprints than classic for the most part. However I still wasn’t feeling great. I skied a decent qualifier but then went out in the quarters finishing 15th once again. The last race of the weekend was a 20km skate mass start. With the extremely wide trails that Canmore has it is the perfect venue for this type of race. Despite still not being in top health I skied a good race and finished 11th place in the chase pack. I was happy with that result and it made the trip west worthwhile.
The next race weekend of the season was Easterns in at Nakkertok Nordic, which is just outside of Ottawa in Cantley Quebec. I have always loved racing at nakkertok. One big reason is that it is in Ontario and at seas level. The first race was a skate sprint. I had a great qualifier finishing 5th and ended up 8th after the heats. The next day was a 15km skate individual start. It was extremely cold and the race got delayed and was nearly cancelled due to the cold. I finished 6th overall. It was a good race but I paced it much differently than I usually would taking advantage of Kevin Sandau’s (the race winner) draft who started only 15 seconds behind me. The last race of the weekend was a 15km classic mass start. Originally it was supposed to be 20km but was shortened due to the cold temperatures. I skied a decent race finishing well off the lead in 9th place. However I was the top U23 on the day that was a bonus to take home a bit of cash.
With the start of a new training season i figured it would be the perfect opportunity to start up a blog. this year i am once again a member of NDC Thunder Bay which means i am training full to try and race as fast as i can when the winter race season comes around. as a member of NDC Tbay the begining of a new season means its time for “boot camp”.
boot camp is the kickoff training camp of the year for us and is located at home in Thunder Bay. it consisted primarily of fitness testing as well as lots of hours, socials, and meetings. it was also the first chance for the new member of NDC 2013-2014 to get to know thunder bay and their new teammates. the new members of the team are 3 junior men all hailing from southern ontario. it was a great camp with lots of pain and hopefully some gain. next up for myself and the team are heading to Bend Oregon for a training camp from late june to early july.
i will try to makes posts now and then whenever i have something interesting to write about. thanks for reading !
teammate Jen Jackson put together a great video that sums up boot camp very well.