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.


Monday, January 24, 2011


Sunday morning around 11am, the team and I packed up our things at the Scandic and started our Journey to Otepaa. We drove for about 1.5 hours into Helsinki where we caught the ferry that would take us across to Tallinn Estonia. The ride on the ferry was about 2 hours long, during which time we had some lunch in one of the cafeteria places and explored what the ferry had to offer. The most noticeable difference between this ferry and the ones that I have traveled on in Canada was that in every shop, or place to buy anything on this ferry (and there were a lot), you could buy alcohol. The supermarket was pretty much 60% booze, 35% chocolate and 5% random stuff.

The most exciting part of our ferry adventure was probably when we almost got trapped in the landing on the garage floor. It was that little room that separates the garage from the stairwell, and in our case, the elevator. So myself, Russell, Andy, Janelle and Patrick all piled out of the elevator into this room, where there were two big blue doors, one on each side. So after the elevator closed and left, we concluded that we couldn't get the doors open, and then we saw the sign that said the elevator was out of order. So at that point we all just kinda looked at each other with slightly concerned looks on our faces. Being slightly claustrophobic, I thought for sure I was going to start freaking out, but to my surprise and relief, I didn't. We pushed the elevator button in the hope that the sign was wrong, and after a minute or so of thinking we were trapped, the elevator came back. Once we got off the ferry, it was about a 3.5 hour drive from Tallinn to Otepaa. We arrived at the Arula Motel, where will are staying for our time in Otepaa, around 7:30pm.

We got up for a slow, relaxed morning yesterday and left for the race site at 10:30am. As I predicted, when we drove into the race site and I saw the Stadium and all the Nations flags, I started to get a little nervous. Unbelievably excited, but a little bit nervous. I skied for 1.5 hours on all of my race courses, and that just doubled my excitement to race. The trails are incredible, I did some zone 3 and 4 on the 3.3km loop that I'll be racing on for the 10km tomorrow and it was sssooo much fun. Some awesome climbs and a crazy fast downhill, it's going to be fun.

Yesterday afternoon I went for an easy recovery run with Russell and we discovered a small downhill ski centre just down the road from our accommodations. After dinner last night we had a team meeting where we all got our Athlete bibs and accreditation which will get us onto the race trails and into the facilities at the race site. And we get to keep these bibs, so I have my first souvenir from the trip!

The Junior Men (myself included) aren't heading up to the race site until 1pm this afternoon, so I'm going to head out for a run now just to keep my legs feeling good. I have some pictures from the ferry and our first day in Otepaa up on my facebook page now, so feel free to give those a look. I've been trying to get some new pictures up there every day to keep everyone back home up to date. With races starting tomorrow it's going to be a little harder to find time for pictures, but I'll do my best. I'm guessing my next post won't be until after my race tomorrow, for those of you who check back here frequently.

So until then, cheers!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I have about 20 or so pictures up now on my facebook page from the past 6 days here in Finland. And for those of you who have been asking for some shots of me, I finally got a few from todays TT in Lahti, enjoy! (follow the link below)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

First Few Days in Vierumaki, Finland

Wow, I'm tired. Apparently this whole jet lag thing is really getting to me. I did my first bit of intensity today and was really feeling it, so I'm really hoping I start getting back to normal soon.

I had a great journey across the Atlantic on Monday and arrived here at the Scandic Hotel around 4:30pm Monday afternoon. The hardest part of the trip was not falling asleep on the flight from Frankfurt to Helsinki, and then on the drive from Helsinki to Vierumaki. That was pretty rough.

Our set up here at the Scandic Hotel is pretty awesome. The ski trails are only about 200m down the road, so easily within walking distance, and the trails are great. So far I haven't really explored the majority of the trails, having just stayed on some smaller loops in the past couple days. Though I have been told that there is about 30km of trails, so on my 2 hour ski tomorrow morning I think I'll try to explore a bit more.

Last night we had our first team activity (other than training and eating that is) in the form of bowling against the USA team. So each category (in skiing) played against the same category from the other country. Due to my incredible tiredness at the moment, I'll explain that better in case that made no sense at all haha. My team was the Canadian Junior Mens team, and we played against the American Junior Mens team, and all of the other categories, including the coaches, did the same. Little did we know, it seemed as though the American Junior Men must have bowled whenever they weren't skiing, because they pummeled us pretty easily. But, despite that fact, it was still a very good time. This afternoon I don't have a 2nd workout, so I have no idea how I am going to keep myself awake. Maybe I'll find some teammates and go back down to the alley and practice up a bit haha.

I'm going to be posting all of the pictures that I take on my facebook page as soon as I have some to post. Here is the link to my profile:

I'll try to get some up in the next 24 hours.

Well, I'm off to lunch. So to all of you back in Canada, enjoy your breakfast in a few hours haha :).

Cheers... Hmm, I'd like to say that in Finnish, that's my new goal for the afternoon haha, so next time!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dare to Dream

For the past 10 years or so, since I began skiing, it has been my dream to represent Canada in skiing on the World stage at the Winter Olympics. But since then I have learned many things, one of the most significant lessons being that nothing like that happens overnight, so it's pretty important to figure out the path that you need to take in order to achieve your desired end result. So for me, about 2 years ago, after making the Academy team, I decided that my first step towards my goal of international competition would be to make the Canadian Junior National Team. So last season I made that my goal, and despite how far-fetched it may have seemed at times, I made it happen. From there, the next step in my mind would be to qualify for World Junior Championships, so I decided that that would be my goal for this season, as it would be my last shot, being my last year as a Junior. And now, after an amazing week of racing in Thunder Bay ON, I am overwhelmingly thrilled to say that I have achieved this goal.

While my preparation for these selection races may have started 10 years ago, my journey to Thunder Bay for Canada's World Junior Trials began last Monday morning. We arrived the Thunder Bay that afternoon and took the rest of the day to settle in to our hotel. The next two days were spent training and testing skis for the first race, which for me was a 20km pursuit on Thursday.

Thursday brought with it some very cold temperatures, and some very exciting racing. The pursuit was a mass start race, so for my category, Junior Male, there were about 60 skiers all desperately trying to get to the front of the pack. So, like in many mass start races, not even 30 seconds into the race, well over half of the field, including myself and my two teammates, found ourselves crashed into the snow in a huge mangled pile of skis, poles and people. Lucky for me, I managed to not break any of my equipment, so after everyone had finished falling on and around me, I was able to get up and go again. On the downside, for me anyway, some of the other big name contenders in the race were not involved in the crash, so that meant I had a lot of catching up to do. I managed to make my way back up the ranks over the next 10km of classic skiing, and ended up coming into the exchange zone in 7th place, 30 seconds behind the lead group. From there I had an amazing skate leg, picking off 5th and 6th early and then finally catching 2nd and 3rd on the second last big climb. I decided to stay with them for a minute or so to catch my breath a bit before attacking as hard as I could on the final climb. To my surprise, I had enough left in the tank to get a lead on the 3 guys behind me, and I held on to finish 2nd place.

Two days later was the classic sprint day, which in my mind was my best shot at qualifying for World Juniors. Sadly, my body did not cooperate with that thought. I felt very heavy and sluggish out there in my qualifier, and my quarterfinal felt even worse. So I ended that day finishing as the 21st Junior, and tremendously disappointed. That night I did everything I could to forget about that day and look on to the following, which was Sunday's 15km skate interval start race, the final race of the weekend.

Going into this race, I knew that I needed to finish in the top 5 if I wanted a chance at getting a spot on the World Junior Team. After my first lap of 5km, I was feeling pretty good, though I was very temporarily disheartened when Andy Shields, the top Junior of the day, caught me. Andy had started 30 seconds behind me, so since we were only 1/3 of the way through the race and he had caught me, I figured he was having a pretty good day. Like you should always do when in that situation, I did everything I could to match his speed and stay with him, and it worked. We skied the next 10km together, pushing each other as much as we could, until the final climb, when I attacked and managed to open up a small, 3 or 4 meter gap. After a very anxious 40 minutes or so of waiting for the results to be posted, they finally came out and showed that Andy had won, and I had tied for 3rd place. I was ecstatic.

It wasn't long after this that I had a pretty good idea that I had made the team, but it wasn't until yesterday afternoon that I received official confirmation that I have been selected to represent Canada at the 2011 World Junior Championships in Otepaa, Estonia later this month! This means that I will be leaving from Toronto next Sunday, Jan. 16th and flying to Helsinki, Finland, where I will spend about a week training. We will then travel to Estonia for the races, and then return to Canada on Feb. 1st.

On a slightly smaller scale, though still very exciting for me, my performance in the races this past weekend have also qualified me for a spot on the 2011 Canada Winter Games Ontario team. This means that I will be travelling to Halifax around mid-February for my chance to represent Ontario at the Canada Winter Games.

So, all in all, I'd say yesterday may have been the best day of my life haha!! I am now back in Penetang for the week before meeting up with the rest of the Canadian Team in Toronto on Sunday.

Here are some relevant links in you are interested:

Skate Interval Start Results:

Junior and U23 Athletes representing Canada at Worlds:

Ontario's Canada Winter Games team: