Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Western Canadian Champs

Just five short, cold days after getting home from Whistler we were back at it racing NorAms in Canmore this past weekend. After a year packed with mini tours last season, the NorAm schedule only includes two this season with this weekend's Western Canadian Championships being the first. A serious cold snap rolled through Canmore bringing the temperature down around -30C. Training sucks when it's that cold so the prep was not ideal going into a weekend of NorAm racing but everyone was in the same boat and we made the most of it by keeping workouts short and doing as much indoors as possible. First up on the schedule was the individual 10km Classic. I love racing 10km Classic races, I've always thought of it as my favorite race. Too bad that love didn't translate into a stellar race. I went out hard and paid the price on the tough continuous climbs of the Canmore World Cup trails. Finishing the day in 13th nearly two minutes back was not how I imagined that one going, thankfully there's always another day in ski racing and I was excited to race the next day's Skate sprint.
I really, really love the Canmore sprint courses. They ski really well, they're very wide and there's no shortage of hard climbing on them. Saturday's course featured only one real climb followed by the mammoth 500m decent back into the stadium and finish straight. I was really focused on redeeming myself from the previous day's poor result and skied what felt like a pretty decent qualifier as I finished it in 2nd place behind teammate Phil Widmer. On to the fun stuff, the heats! The heats played out pretty well for me and I tried a few new things in the quarters and semis before getting ready for the A-final. I knew I had good skis going into the final and decided to try to relax as much as possible and let the skis work for me on the decent and finish straight. I came into the decent in 5th place and worked my way on the downhill to just behind the leaders and hit it from there. Winning my second NorAm of the year felt amazing, so good I tried my hand at Cam Newton's TD celebration, the jury's still out on whether I did it justice. I need to send a big thank you to the techs for such awesome skis, you guys are the best!
All that remained on Sunday was the 15km Pursuit start Skate. Starting 1 minute 43sec behind the leader Brent McMurtry my goal for the day was to ski strong and make up enough time to finish as the top U23. I started in a group with Brian McKeever and Michael Somppi. We skied well together and I worked really hard at the front to make sure we kept the pace high throughout and I ended up catching and passing Dave Greer to finish as top U23! I'm so happy to finally have a strong distance race as I hadn't really found my legs in the distance races to date. Also, a really big shout out to my boy! Kevin Sandau for making up 42 seconds on Brent and winning the overall tour on Sunday. After about thirty minutes at home it was back to the CNC for the first ever Boyz Got Game event hosted by Canmore Nordic. Thanks so much to Roy Strum and Phil Wood for making this event happen and including my AWCA teammates and myself in this program getting new skiers excited about the sport. It was so much fun to ski around with kids around the same age as I was when I was idolizing skiers like Robing McKeever, Connal Robertson-Moore and all the other BSR alumni. Hopefully we managed to hook them on skiing and Canmore's grassroots programs continue to develop all the way to the top. From here we're off to Ottawa next Wednesday for Eastern Canadian Championships and the second mini tour of the year. And after that it's off to Europe to prepare for U23 World Championships in Turkey. I'm so excited to get to the real meat of the season and race some fast Euros! Until next time, thanks for stoppin' by!

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