Monday, April 25, 2011

New Website is up and running!!

Thanks to Chris Kontos at PROS Marketing in Midland ON, I now have my very own website!! This new website will be taking the place of this blog, so this will be the last post you see on here.

The new site will serve as both a means of keeping everyone up to date on my happenings and whereabouts, as well as providing the public, anyone who is interested that is, with a means of supporting me in my goals of reaching the Olympics! This can be found on the right side of the home page, and is a Donation button to my paypal account.

I also have some big news about my new living and training situation on the blog section of the website, so check it out!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Back to Ontario

In my last post I mentioned I was unsure as to what I would be doing for the past couple weeks, so I figured I should let everyone know what ended up happening. After a couple days of some tough decision making in Canmore, I decided that it would be best for me to call it quits on the season and not go to the races in Sun Valley last week. So with that decision, I ended up spending one last week in Canmore, getting in as much skiing as I could before traveling back to Penetang for my month of recovery. I arrived here at my parents' house last Tuesday night, March 29th, and have just been enjoying my time and catching up with friends and family.

Being the beginning of the month, I really don't have much in the way of news yet. The decisions that decide my fate won't be made for another couple weeks, so until then I'll be staying around here and starting my sponsorship campaign again. The Penetang/Midland area has been absolutely incredible in supporting me in the past couple of years, and I'm hoping to get out there and give as many more people the opportunity to work with and support me as I can.

Until next time, cheers!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

2011 Canmore Nationals

Yesterday marked the final day of my 6th Canadian National Championships of my career. This year Nationals were here in Canmore, which was a very nice change of pace, not having to travel anywhere and getting to race on the great trails at the Nordic Centre. Another big highlight to this past week was that my parents were able to make it out for the whole week, so it was great to have them here and see my new home, as well as a week of racing. Jacquelyn's parents were also able to make it out for a few days, so I had a great time showing them around and having them see just what cross country ski racing is really like.

Going into this past week of racing, my confidence really wasn't too high. After a long season of travel and sickness, I have been unable to sneak in any solid weeks of training since Christmas, resulting in my fitness not being where it usually is at this time of year. So after deciding to sit out the team sprints last Saturday in order to try to conserve some energy, my first race was last Sunday, a 10km skate individual start. My goal for my races at Nationals was to get that feeling of desperation and ability to really push myself past my limits back, because that has been something I have been really struggling with for the last 6 weeks or so. So on a positive note, I was able to do that in every race this week, so I am relatively happy about that. Unfortunately, my lack of fitness means that even pushing myself past my limits isn't enough to achieve the results that I know I am capable of. So I ended up finishing the 10km last weekend in 18th in my category, which is considerably further down the results than I would have liked/expected.

My next race was the 15km classic individual start. This race was a similar story, though I was feeling a bit better than the previous race. I managed to ski my way to 7th place, which, given my current state, I was not overly upset about. The following day was the classic sprint, and a very difficult day for the wax techs. The conditions made it nearly impossible to have both fast skis AND good grip. So with the conditions coupled with my fatigue, I fought my way into the B final, and finished 11th on the day.

After the sprints I had two days off to recover and prepare for the final race, the 30km skate mass start, which took place yesterday. Having never done a 30km skate race before, I was a little bit nervous about how it could go. It was a very tough race on a challenging course, and I skied my way to a disappointing 20th place. While the result was really not what I was hoping for, I felt that I raced it as well as my body could have done. With about 2km to go, the muscles in my legs started spasming a bit, and on the last downhill I very nearly blacked out. So I clearly could not have pushed my body any harder than I did, so that was the positive aspect that I was able to take from the race.

Last night was the Nationals Banquet, which was held at the Banff Springs Hotel, and I can easily say that this was by far the best Nationals Banquet I have ever attended. The awards went smoothly and in a timely manner, the food was fantastic and plentiful, and it was very well organized. Great job organizing committee!!!

I am now taking a day off to recover from this past week, and am actually awaiting a phone call that will decide what my plans are for the next couple weeks. There is a chance that I may be heading over to Sun Valley, Idaho next weekend for the Supertour Finals, which would be 4 more races to finish off the season, before returning to Canmore a few days into April. If I do not go to those races, I'll likely stay here in Canmore for another week or so and take advantage of the great skiing we have here before heading back to Ontario for a few weeks.

That's all for now. Once I figure out what my plans are for the next couple weeks, I'll be sure to throw an update on here to let you know.

Until then, cheers.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Canada Winter Games and beyond

It's been a while since my last post, so I'll just pick up where I left off. My visit home in between Easterns and Canada Winter Games was a little bit bittersweet. It was great to see and spend time with everyone again, though the week ended with me developing some cold symptoms just before getting on the plane for Halifax. Getting sick during race season is a terrible feeling, but doing so on my way to Canada Winter Games just made it that much worse.

I played the week day by day, seeing how I was feeling and then deciding what the best course of action would be. So I ended up sitting out the first two races, in the hopes of getting better for the 3rd and final individual race. I woke up that morning still definitely with a cold, but due to the fact that this was my last chance to ever race at a Canada Winter Games, I convinced myself that I was ready to race. Unfortunately, no matter how convinced my mind was, my body just did not cooperate. Right off the start of the 15km classic race, my body just felt so heavy, with no energy flowing anywhere. After a grueling, and frustrating, 6km, I pulled off to the side of the course, removed my bib, and dropped out of the race.

So while the racing aspect of the week was tremendously disappointing, I still managed to have a great time just being there. The city of Halifax did an amazing job organizing the entire event, with over 6,000 volunteers! While I spent a good chunk of my time in bed trying to get healthy, I still managed to get out and see a little bit of Halifax, and got to know the way from my hotel to the Athlete's area (lounge and food place) very well. I also had some fun taking part in the pin trading that took place throughout the week (sounds lame I know haha, but actually became a priority for nearly everyone at the Games). As soon as everyone arrived in Halifax, every athlete was given a bunch of pins from their home province. So I made it my goal to get one pin from every province and territory. It was close (the market was immediately flooded with Ontario pins, making it very difficult), but I managed. I put all of my new pins on my athlete accreditation lanyard, and it made a good Canada Winter Games souvenir.

Feb. 27th, the Games wrapped up with the Closing Ceremonies, and I was finally going home to Canmore. I spent last week doing some easy training, just making sure my cold was completely gone, before starting back into some harder training this week in preparation for Nationals. Nationals this year are here in Canmore, running March 12-19, and I can't wait!

Race days are Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. I'll try to get some updates up periodically throughout the week. Until then, cheers.

Monday, February 14, 2011

2011 Eastern Canadian Championships

I have just wrapped up my latest weekend of racing at the 2011 Eastern Canadian Championships at Nakkertok in Ottawa. The Academy and I flew out to Ottawa last Wednesday, and spent the next 36 hours hours preparing for the first race on Friday. Eastern's this year was in the race format of a mini-tour. So what that means is, it was 3 races over the course of 3 days, and your times from each race were added together and dictated your starting position for the last race. This meant that whoever crossed the finish line yesterday first, won the overall tour.

The first race was a 3km skate prologue, and was my first ever prologue. So I wasn't entirely sure how to go about it, but with a very big climb about 1km into the race, I decided it would probably be best to go out a little conservatively and then slowly wind it up, so that I didn't blow up at the 1km mark and have nothing left for the last 2km. So I went with this plan, and actually managed to execute it perfectly, but unfortunately this was not the best course of action. I ended up losing too much time in the beginning, and ended up finishing 7th Junior. So lesson learned, in prologues it's best to just giv'er from the start and hope that you don't start really bonking until you can see the finish line.

Saturdays race was a 1.4km skate sprint. This was a very up and down day for me. My qualifier was a pretty mediocre race for me, it was anything special, but I felt pretty good for it. I ended up qualifying 8th Junior, which was definitely further back than I had hoped, but I knew anything could happen in th heats, so I wasn't too discouraged. My quarterfinal went amazing well, I managed to get to the front after the first 100m and stayed there. I felt great and skied it tactically perfect, and ended up having enough of a lead coming into the finish to just ski easy for the last 100m. Sadly, this high in energy did not last much longer. The first half of my semi-final felt OK, but then I started hitting the wall and finished that heat in 5th spot. So my last race of the day was the B final, which was just brutal. The energy that I had had in my quarter was completely gone, and I skied in to the line to finish 12th on the day.

Going into the last race of the weekend, I was not feeling good. Having not had a proper nights sleep since I returned to Canada 2 weeks ago, I figured the fatigue from that was really starting to catch up with me. And with the next race being my first ever 30km, it's safe to say that I was pretty concerned, and wasn't even sure if I'd be able to finish the race. But, it just goes to show that everyday is a new day, because I ended up starting the race yesterday and moving my way up through the field to finish as the 3rd Overall Junior for the weekend. Considering my mentality before I started the race, I was quite pleased with my performance.

The 30km was a very cool new experience for me. I hadn't really thought, going into the race, that it would be any different than all of my other races (aside from just being longer, obviously). But at the 10km mark I thought to myself, "I'm going really hard, and I still have another 20km of racing to do...I don't know if I can hold this pace." But after a couple minutes that thought subsided and I just put my head down and kept pushing through the pain, and before I knew it the race was over. So these greater distances are way more of a mental game than I thought, and you really just have to trust your body and all the training you put in leading up to it to get yourself through. I thought that was pretty cool. A little nerve racking haha, but cool.

So all in all, it was a bit of a disappointing weekend for me. But, in the end I managed to pull through and get on the podium for my 5th straight Eastern Canadian Championships, so I'm pretty happy about that. I'm now back in Penetang for the week, before flying out to Halifax on Saturday for the 2011 Canada Winter Games. I got to try on all my new Team Ontario clothing last night, made me a little more excited :). So the goal for this week is to try to get my sleeping patterns back in check before I leave, because I really don't want to be going into the Games with a massive amount of fatigue building up in me. So with the help of my own bed, and my magical bedtime shake, I'm hoping to get back to sleeping normally and be ready to go by Saturday.

Until next time, happy skiing!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What a Trip!

Well, my first trip to Europe and first set of International races is now in the books. While I didn't really get to do much in the way of exploring cities and checking things out, I did get to ski at three different ski sites, and spend two weeks in two new countries, and it.. was.. awesome!

In my last few posts I talked about my experiences at the Scandic hotel in Finland and my journey to Otepaa, so I'll pick up from there. After my first race on the 26th, there were races everyday, alternating back and forth between Junior and U23 categories. Canada's first day of huge excitement and success came in the U23 mens 15km skate race, as Kevin Sandau raced his way to a 5th place finish. Us Juniors watched from our hotel, screaming at the TV as Kevin skied his final few kilometers to get his first ever top 5 finish at a World U23 Championship race. This result earned Kevin a spot on next years Canadian Senior Development team.

The next day was the Junior classic sprints. My qualifier was pretty disappointing as I broke a pole early on, so did not qualify for the heats. Sadly none of my other teammates managed to get through the qualifier either, with Andy being our top finisher in 31st spot (so close!). On the womens side, Heidi Widmer and Janelle Greer both managed to qualify for the heats, but were unable to advance past their quarterfinals.

The U23 sprints were the following day, and provided us spectators with some very exciting racing. On the womens side, Academy teammate Alysson Marshall managed to crack the top 12, getting her a spot on next years Canadian Senior Development Team. And on the mens side, Jess Cockney skied his way miraculously through the heats and found himself in the A Final! Qualifying in 30th spot (the last qualifying spot), he was able to ski his way to a comfortable 2nd place finish in his quarterfinal, which earned him a spot in the semis. And after finishing 5th in his semi, his luck kicked in big time. The other semi ended up being slower than his, and one of the Swedes who finished ahead of him ended up being disqualified. So after all was said and done, he managed to sneak his way into the last spot in the Final. He finished the day with an impressive 6th place, earning himself a spot on next years Senior Development Team as well.

The following day was the Junior Pursuits. Another disappointing race for me, but another experience in the bank. The top Canadian male of the day was Andy, finishing in 31st spot, and on the womens side, Annika Hicks finished as the top Canadian, also in 31st.

The next day was the final day of competition with the Junior Relays and the U23 pursuits. Our mens relay team managed to edge out the Americans and take 9th spot, while our womens team finished in 11th. The biggest excitement of this day however came in Mens U23 30km pursuit, as Canadian Olympian Alex Harvey was the top ranked skier in the field and looking for gold. And after 30km of racing, Alex out-sprinted Russia's Belov and took the win and got his first ever World Championships Gold medal. Watching Alex win this race was amazing to say the least. Getting to see the Canadian flag hoisted into the air and hearing our National anthem was possibly the most inspiring experience I have ever had.

Despite not having the results I was looking for, this trip was an incredible experience for me. In the past couple of weeks I have been reflecting back on what my goals have been over the years, and it’s hard to believe that at 19 years old, I have already achieved one of my lifetime goals of racing for Canada at the International level. It just goes to show that if you’re willing to put the time and effort in, as cliché as it sounds, anything is possible.

After we finished watching Alex's awards ceremony, we headed back to Helsinki where we spent the night before getting on the plane and starting the journey home. All in all, it was a 22 hour trip from Helsinki to Canmore, and I arrived home around 3:30am Wednesday morning. I will be spending 6 more days here, taking a short break before pressing on with the race season. I'll be heading to Ottawa next Wednesday, Feb. 9th for the Eastern Canadian Championships which will take place Feb. 11-13. I'll then head back to Penetang for a few days before getting back on a plane and flying out to Halifax to compete in the 2011 Canada Winter Games. This is by far the busiest race season I have had to date, and I'll still have another month of racing and traveling after Canada Winter Games, so it's safe to say that I am thrilled with how things are going this year!

I think that's all for now, I'm still a bit of a hurting unit from the jet lag, so I apologize if I left anything out. If anyone has any specific questions about my adventures, past, present or future, please don't hesitate to fire me an email!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

First taste of International Competition, Yikes...

Well my first race at World Junior Championships here in Estonia is now in the books. It came in the form of a 10km skate individual start, and I ended up finishing 64th. It was a hard race, and I'm still trying to find the words to describe my experience. All in all, it was a fairly mediocre race for me. It was definitely not as bad as my race in Silverstar before Christmas, but nothing like my 10km skate in Rossland.

I'll leave my race debriefing comments for another time, but long story short, I am fairly disappointed with my result. Coming into these races I had no idea what to expect, having barely ever raced anyone from outside of Canada before. So I was hoping for at least top half, which would have been 51st spot, but I came up 34 seconds short of that goal.

The rest of the guys said they also felt their races, for the most part, were less than stellar. Andy Shields was the top Canadian in 49th spot, followed very closely by Russell Kennedy in 50th, myself in 64th, and Aaron Gilmor in 68th.

Full results from todays race can be seen here:

Our next race will be the classic sprints on Friday, so we're all hoping for better things then. The U23 racing gets underway tomorrow, so we're looking forward to seeing how the rest of our team will do. Live broadcasting also starts with tomorrows race, and will continue for the rest of our races through the weekend.