Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November News

It's November! Everyone keeps reminding me there are less than 100 days until the games. It feels kind of like Christmas when you are a kid, you wait for so long it seems it will never happen and then all of a sudden it's here!
Speaking of Christmas, it does feel a little festive already in Canmore, because we got a huge dump of snow, this isn't like the usual pre-season dusting that melts after a few days. It's full on Winter here. Not only is Frozen Thunder in tip-top shape, but it's getting longer each day, and for the more adventurous folk the banff trail is rolled and in great shape! I was down there the other day and didn't hit a single rock. Not too shabby for the first week of November.
I wasn't the only one who was pumped about the snow!

Last week Jesse Cockney I had the amazing opportunity to join Beckie Scott, and Andrew Urton with Ski Fit North for a visit to the Morley Community School  just down the trans-canada highway from Canmore on the Morley Reserve. It was an inspiring afternoon to have a chance to chat with the grade sixes who will take part in the Ski Fit North program and get a chance to ski after christmas. To say they were psyched about this opportunity would be an understatement. We also were able to pass on a few messages to the whole highschool about goal setting and supporting one another. The idea is to continue this dialogue and relationship we have built with the school as we head into the games. I'm not naive in thinking we changed the life of every single student, but if we have made an impact on a handful I believe we have been successful. It was a real pleasure, the school was so gracious, thanking us with poetry readings, gifts, and songs.
A big thank you to the Morley Community School for welcoming us and cheering us on this Winter!
Jess, Beckie and I in Morley. The girls in particular were very happy Jess came to visit!
For the next little while I will be enjoying life at the Nordic Centre. I've had some awesome skis around the outer trails. There's nothing better at this time of year than an endless supply of snowy ski trails!
Until next time,

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A note on rest... and a few other things.

It is somehow October all of a sudden. The trees are yellow, and the air is chilly in the morning, reminding me just how close the winter is. When I left off last time I think I was just getting back from New Zealand, which as I mentioned was an incredible camp, but left me a little emptier in the tank than I had anticipated. I took it easy for a bit when I got back from New Zealand, briefly took up a new sport that involved a bow and arrow, and then decided to high tail it back to the most restful place on the planet for me- Almonte, Ontario.

For me this small, but increasingly trendy town where I grew up is the best place to recharge. I took four days essentially off, which may sound a little excessive, but was just what I needed. Sometimes you just need to take things down a notch. This year especially I don't want to overdo things, and I know in the middle of the winter I won't be saying "gees I really wish I'd just kept training when I was so tired back in September..."

Anyway, back to my mini holiday at home. Despite the fact that I wasn't training I still managed to fit in a few fun things like not one but TWO Nakkertok practices! I got out with these speedy ladies for a sprint session...
An extra big thanks to Fresh Air for lending me rollerskis and poles! Emilie, Katherine, Holly, Alex and I had a really productive day, I hope they were half as pumped as I was at the end of the workout, cause it was pretty great. -also great is the photo bomb happening here.

One of the handy things about my brother being the head coach of the club I'm from means I get to spend some quality time with the Nakkercrew when I travel East, and one of the cool things about only getting to do this once a year is that I really can see an improvement in the athletes each time I visit. I don't think Nakkertok is ready to give up its National Championship Club title any time soon!

While in Almonte I fit in daily visits to Equator Coffee.  It's a spot that should be everyone's first stop as they roll into "the friendly town". Not only do they serve great coffee, but they are incredible generous people. On Saturday while I was there Equator was hosting a block party and all of the proceeds were going to Schoolbox, which is an organization started by some fellow Almontonians that makes education possible for kids in Nicaragua. This spring a few of us in the ski community are making the trip to Nicaragua with Schoolbox to help build a school! We could still use some more manpower, so if you are interested in joining us drop me a line, we'd love to have you!
We are having a fundraiser in Canmore at the end of October which will have lots of killer prizes, so come on out if you are in town!

Now that I'm recharged from resting, and what was basically a big hug full of hometown support from my visit to Almonte I'm back at it full steam ahead!
The team is down in Lake Tahoe, California for our last dryland camp of the year. The last time I was here was 2006, so it's been a while, but it's still an awesome spot, and the Cedar House Hotel in Truckee is just as warm and friendly as ever. Plus they have a cuddly border collie, which adds an extra few stars in my books!
I found a photo of Dasha and I from 2006!

Seven years later not a whole lot has changed- we still do weird poses when we have our photo taken, and she's still a head taller than me.
It's only day two of our camp, so there will be more to come,
Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sweet As!

It’s been go go go since my last update which was when we went up to Castle Mtn Hut.  Since then I’ve developed a very close relationship with our new treadmill, been up to Whitehorse to celebrate the wedding of some good friends, had a visit from my parents and some great friends from Almonte, and been once again back at the SnowFarm in New Zealand where I put in some seriously awesome days of skiing in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Fred, Cendrine, me and AnneMarie out for an awesome ski!
  The most recent part first- the New Zealand part! Dasha and I were joined by three members of the CHEPH training center- Cendrine, Frederique, and Anne-Marie. It was so exciting to have these girls to ski with. Before this camp, I knew of all of them, but had never really spent any time getting to know them. The New Zealand Camp changed that, we spent a good three hours or so a day getting to know each other and the trails at the SnowFarm as we skied loop after loop after loop...

A photo of the five of us ladies courtesy of Fred.
In short they are an impressive group of focused young skiers.  They ski technically incredibly soundly, when I think about my knock kneed 17 year old self bobbing around on the ski trails compared to these ladies, it’s slightly embarrassing to picture how different we would look if I were to pull up an old video. It was fun to share skis and ideas with one another, and have some female company! I learned a few things, and I hope so did they. A few things are for sure they will be forces on the ski trails, and I’m getting old!

Chasing Anne-Marie around at the Snow Farm- all day every day.  It's hard keeping up to the young bucks!
 Our trip to Whitehorse was amazing for a number of reasons, obviously the Nish wedding was the reason for our trip up there and was the main attraction, but we also had a number of Northern experiences that won’t be soon forgotten. Alain Masson the king of kick, and all around amazing wax man and leader of the most impressive JR program in the country lives in Whitehorse and invited us to stay with them while we were in town. Alain, his wife Lucy, and their two kids Sascha and Felix were the best hosts ever. Sascha and Felix kept Joel entertained, while Lucy made sure we were taken care of on every other front imaginable, and Alain guided a group of us on a bike/run excursion to a lake where we caught a bunch of arctic char which we shared with the other out of town guests at a BBQ later in the day! Of course the well documented JP Classic ski race was another Yukon experience that I'm so grateful we were able to attend.
A big thank you and congratulations goes out to our friends Graham and Madeleine for getting Married, and introducing Joel to the Yukon. I have now taken a back seat to his new love named Whitehorse.

Just some of the crew enjoying our first ever July ski race!
 Sascha was pretty impressive on his Unicycle- Joel needed a few more days in Whitehorse to get up to speed, but not to worry we will be back!

Sascha- this photo says it all, unicyclist, ski fan, rad dude.
Joel was lucky Brian was there to help!
 On the training front I’ve been putting in lots of hard work on our new rollerski treadmill, which normally wouldn’t be that fun and I would rather do just about anything else- but when it’s raining out, and I’m on my own anyway the treadmill is actually ok. I’ve been developing a new appreciation for it. I get lots of feedback, and support because the coaches can easily take in my entire workout by sitting beside the mill as I work my tail off until I literally can’t go another step!

Now that I’m back in Canmore, and I’ve got jet lag somewhat under control I took some must needed rest time and am ready to get back at it! Rest days always open up some time for fun stuff, these past few presented me with a new opportunity, and a new hobby!

Even I was surprised at how much fun shooting arrows at a target can be!
Until next time, may the odds be ever in your favour!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Short Photo Update!

Just a few photos of the last few days in Bend, and what I've been up to since...
Photo's are thanks to Beckie Scott- who by the way put on a pair of rollerskis in Bend to join me for a morning workout- first time on rollerskis in 7.5 years, she didn't miss a beat, rollerskied like the champ she is (and wouldn't let me take any photos of it!) and my incredible best friend and blog tyrant Mallory who thankfully takes photos with my blog in mind to make sure I actually post things once in a while!
Louis, Zina and I doing a classic Bend activity- floating down the river in inflatable sharks and alligators, most people had more substantial floating devices than us, but we still had a blast!

We stopped in Portland on the way home from Bend, and hit up some of the city's finest spots, including Stumptown coffee, where I thoroughly enjoyed an entire latte!- which really is saying something, I'm not the biggest coffee fan...yet.

A few nights ago we hiked up to an Alpine Club hut which is perched on the edge of Castle Mountain, it was an awesome way to spend a beautiful evening in the rockies.

Great dinner spot, great company. Thanks to Devon, Kristin, Mal, Riley and Joel for an incredible last minute outing!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

One Amazing Last Minute Training Camp

About a month ago I was sitting not to far from where I am right now, in a state that I would describe as full on panic. Sometimes in my head I can blow things completely out of proportion, and things can go spiraling out of control. Which is pretty much what happened at our last Bend camp. My June training camp plan was crumbling, and I was scrambling, and panicking about what I was going to do.
I had 3 weeks at the end of June and beginning of July where I wanted to do some really focused good work and hard training, but I just didn’t know where I was going to do it and who I was going to do it with.
I did know a few things:

1-    First and foremost I wanted it to be in a camp situation, like most people I can do much better training when I’m away from home. I get more rest, focus more on all the little details, and am away from distractions at home. Not to say distractions are bad- I personally love all of my distractions they come in the form of awesome friends, paddle board outings, puppy visits, invites from a special nine year old to play board games, the list goes on. It is precisely because I love all of these things so much that I sometimes can’t say no that make training camps so productive. It also means that recovery weeks recharge my batteries most effectively when I take them in Canmore. These things all give me an incredible amount of energy and support when I’m not trying to fit them in between two hard sessions, a nap and a massage.
Yep-I love puppies.

And here is that special 9 year old rollerskiing for the first time. He was also my wax tech at nationals. Pretty Awesome.

2-    I wanted someone to train with who was a) a girl, b) had strengths that were my weaknesses and c) was willing to pay their way to join me on a camp somewhere. Eric and Louis chatted about it, and Dasha was on a rest period at this time, and we had already planned to do New Zealand and our Fall camp together, so we put our thinking caps on and called Zina Kocher-Canadian Biathlete. Zina is not only a girl, but she is one of the fastest skiers on the Biathlon World Cup, uphill skating is her thing, and she was able to find some funding to make the trip. I was stoked, uphill skating is probably my least favourite thing to do on skis so this was a good opportunity to learn to love it.
Zina and I doing intervals on one of Beckie’s favourite hills.

3-    I needed a place that wasn’t too high in altitude, and obviously had good rollerskiing and running. With a bonus if there were some opportunities for massage etc.

When I sat down with Tom and Eric to brainstorm we came up with a handful of solutions, but the most ideal situation seemed to be in Bend, Oregon where the boys would be at that time. Our support staff would be down there, so that part was taken care of, it’s at a lower altitude than Canmore so I could do some good intensity work, and the training is seriously awesome (I mean Beckie trained here for most of her career- how much better can it get?) 
Pretty great training out here, as Dasha likes to say “the pavement is smooth like butter!”

Now one month later I’m 100% confident that we made the best decision. Zina just went home after spending 10 days down here, we skated up Beckie’s favourite hills, improved our technique, did three really high quality intensity sessions, and a 5km running race.
We came away with some sweet ribbons at the end of our Freedom Day run!

Oh- and spent a few hours making pottery mugs on our rest day! 
Happy as clams on our rest afternoon. A couple pounds of clay and we are entertained for hours.

What I’m trying to say here is it was awesome. I’m still down here for another week, but even if the camp were over today I’d be completely satisfied that we had accomplished what we came here to do.
Best last minute training camp ever!! I can’t wait to get back to the Snow Farm in New Zealand for the next camp in August!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

What a week.

I don’t really know where to start here. The last week has turned Canmore and many parts of southern Alberta into a wet soupy mess. Some people in town have lost almost everything; we have experienced an incredible environmental disaster. We’ve seen things that have never happened before in recorded history, and the destruction that massive amounts of water can do.

There are photos everywhere, but my friend Noel has done an incredible job capturing things over the last week, both from the air, and on foot. Check out his facebook page for some mind blowing photos: https://www.facebook.com/BowValleyPhotography
One of Noel's impressive images of Cougar Creek
Joel and I were very fortunate to have very little damage done to our home. There was a lot of water in our crawl space, but we managed to get everything out without it getting too wet. Our furnace may or may not work again when it dries out, but that’s really no big deal!
Joel kept an eye on the water level, and put Justin's hip waders to good use too!
More than anything this past week has brought with it (other than enough water to fill the great lakes) a whole lot of perspective. So many times this week we have been able to reflect on just how lucky we are. Our house didn’t get that wet, we have amazing neighbours who all look out for one another, we have so many friends who have offered to help out, and an incredible community that has come together to help everyone affected.

I felt guilty as we left Canmore on Tuesday to head south back to Bend, Oregon for our second training camp of the year. We were fleeing town just as the recovery process was beginning.  But one thing is for sure, it won’t all be finished when we return in two weeks time. There will still be lots to do for weeks and years to come. Even the landscape in places will be different, and in a lot of cases has changed forever.

Bend however is just as we left it over a month ago at the end of our last training camp! This time we won’t be doing any skiing on snow, but mountain biking, rollerskiing, and running on the hundreds of km of trails in this area. For the next 10 days Eric and Joel get to take a break from training with me so that they can run workouts, change rollerski tips, drive large vehicles, and just generally keep things running smoothly as they do being the best coach and wax tech I could ask for. 

This camp didn't fit into the development team womens plan for this year so Zina Kocher a friend from the biathlon team decided to join me for the first part of the camp! It was a pretty last minute decision, but she was able to find some funds to make it happen, and Eric altered my plan slightly so that the first half of the camp is more skating focused and the second half after Zina leaves is more classic. (biathlon races are all skating)

Zina all smiles after coming down the legendary Bend bike trail the "Whoops"!

So far so good! I’ll be sure to take some photos in the coming weeks, and report on how this biathlon/xc training camp goes. At the very least I should come out a better shot, and Zina perhaps a better classic skier!
In the mean time lets all do our best to take care of our planet. I'm guiltier than most flying around the world ski racing, but it's a good reminder to do what you can. We've put mother nature through the ringer and need to start looking after her.
Thinking of you Canmore…

Friday, May 31, 2013

Pink Skis? Yes Please!

Check these out!
Today I was testing out the new pink rollerskis thanks to CCC supplier Peter Rozmovits at Canada Winter Sports!
Not even the rain could dampen my spirits with these boards on my feet! Is there such a thing as too much pink?... probably.
Get 'em while you can, they are sure to be this seasons hottest pair of rollerskis!

Friday, May 24, 2013

A new Year, an Olympic Year...

It’s the time of year where everyone is getting things going again, this applies to me too, and it looks like I haven’t updated my blog since September. September really? Yikes, as I looked through my phone to find a few photos that might represent what I’ve been up to, I realized that 98% of my photos are of my favourite canine friend Sadie. And it might be easier for me to write a dog blog recounting her adventures than a blog of my own.

Before I start posting puppy pictures I’ll try and recap last season. In short it was my best season ever! That being said it had its ups and downs, and there were times when I was walking a fine line between super fit and super tired. I had to pick and choose my races more than ever to conserve my energy. This meant very little distance racing, which wasn’t my plan at the outset, but something had to go, and it wasn’t going to be sprint racing that’s for sure!

The highlight of the season was without a doubt in Sochi on the Olympic courses where Dasha and I stood on the podium in the team sprint. It was the highlight because of the result, but it is also my favourite event of all time, and to share success with a teammate, especially one who grew up in Russia was pretty sweet. Not to mention the fact that we are now more excited than ever about the Olympics next year. Each and every workout for the next eight months we will be thinking about that 1.3km snow covered track.

Now lets fast forward a little bit, the end of the season came and went, and Joel and I both needed some serious downtime. That razor sharp edge I was on for a good chunk of the season finally got the better of me so come April I needed some serious recovery. After spending five months on the road working his tail off for our team Joel was in the same boat, and not having really taken any time to ourselves since we got married in July we escaped to our new favourite Hawaiian Island, Kauai. The ultra mellow pace of life there was just what we needed, a little bit of feet up relaxing, a lot of time spent in the ocean, and some solid adventuring. Add a quick stop at Alcatraz in San Francisco on the way home, and we are recharged and ready for another year!
A little coffee on the beach to start off the day.
Which pretty much brings us to now. We are in Bend, Oregon for our annual spring camp. Our team loves Bend, the skiing, the coffee, the food, the running, the milkshakes, it’s all top notch. It’s so good in fact that we are coming back for our second camp of the year too! It’s been a busy week so far with most of our staff down here they were busy dialing in the fine details of the coming season to make sure we have everything just right in Sochi. We have a truly world class support team thinking about each and every detail imaginable.

There are a few more exciting things coming down the pipes, so I will save them for the next update, wouldn’t want to have nothing to report on in a few weeks (or lets be honest months!) time.

All would not be complete without a few photos of the previously mentioned mutt Sadie…
If you spent much time with this cute furry face you'd have a few hundred photos of her too...
 Until next time- whenever that may be...