Thursday, November 19, 2009

An Epic....& a Few Lessons Learned was my day off (mon.) I was looking forward to some back country skiing as the snow has been really piling up in the b.c., even though it’s only early Nov. My plan was to do some sewing repairs on ski pants and then head out. My destination: Sunshine Village Ski area via Healy creek and the backside meadows. I’d done this trip many times, knew it well, knew the avi danger is almost non-existent (except for a small-short rock band that is very well flagged). I set out at 2 PM expecting the ski to last between 2-3 hours.

It was great skiing on snow right from the beginning. It was also snowing, not very cold and shaping up to be a classic winter day. Everything went totally well until I reached the top of the rock band. I was about 2 hours out (the quickest I’d ever done the tour was 2 hours total-so a little slower this time) and was following the flagging on the trees up to the alpine. Once in the alpine everything looked completely different than all the other times I’d ever been up there. Wind, snow and flat light conditions eliminated all mountain reference points. It was now 4 and darkness would start in 1.5 hours....I was getting a little nervous. I’ve done this tour so many times I didn’t even think to bring navigational tools (compass, map, gps). I was going to bring the latter, but I’d left it in my other vehicle and Deb had that in Banff.

I began praying to find the remaining flagging, but never did. I figured I was pretty much still on course so took a left and heading out for the remaining couple of km’s to the ski area. At this point I didn’t recognize anything. Later, after pouring over the topo map at home I realized I probably was on course, but a couple of ridges over.

I reasoned that there was maybe a 20% chance I’d gotten turned around and could be going the wrong direction. It was now 5pm and light was really fading. At this juncture I made a critical decision. I could either continue on with a chance of never finding the ski area, thus I’d be shuffling around in the windy alpine and would have to spend the night hunkered down somewhere....not a very appealing thought. The other choice was to back track my ski tracks. I was over 3 hours out, so that would make for a loooong, dark ski...not very appealing either, but I thought it was my best chance to get home to my warm bed.

As I was backtracking, at one point my trail had been blown away. This was the only true moment of panic as I realized if I didn’t find that trail I definitely would be sleeping in a tree well. After a loud shouted prayer I was able to find the ski trail in the now seriously waning light. Back in the trees the trail was easy to find. I made it safely down the rock band and down the drainage to Healy Creek. Now however, all light was gone. This would have been no problem, but dumb-dumb here didn’t bring his headlamp. I had 5 km to my truck. The trail is pretty straight forward, but in this darkness it would be possible to veer of track and never find it again, so I proceeded very cautiously.

What happened next I’m not sure if it was a blessing or the ski came out of the binding. Now I have a thing going with Dynafit bindings. In rando races I’ve lost a lot of time trying to get those stupid bindings on. In the darkness it would be very difficult. I never did get that ski back on. I must have tried 100 times. I even took the boot off my foot and kneeled down trying to feel it in. Using the light on my watch gave me a little visibility, but I still couldn’t get ‘er. So I continued down the trail, occasionally stopping to give it another go....but to no avail. I mention that it might have been a little of a blessing in that with the free foot I could defiantly feel the firmness of the track and if I was inadvertently getting off the trail. It was a slow slog but finally I could see the light of the gondola base.

It was a quarter to 9 when I finally got to my truck. Immediately a SSV staffer came up on a snowmobile and asked if I was Steve..... "uh yeah". He gave me his cell phone to call Deb and let her know I was ok. I could hear the kids cheering in the background. I wondered how many people knew about this.

Sooooo, here’s what I did right: I left a detailed description on the phone answering machine as to my itinerary. I carried a down jacket with me and extra dry gloves. A night out would be very uncomfortable, but in this weather easily survivable. In retrospect I think I would have found the ski area, but in evaluating my odds, I made what I still think was the right decision to backtrack.

What I did wrong: no headlamp......that was really dumb. Plus not having the gps. The whole thing would have been a no brainer even in the white out if I just had the gps. Sometimes gps can fail, so a map and compass are important too. A partner is always a good idea, but not always feasible.

The day after the ordeal I ordered an E-Bivy from MSR. It’s a 71$ emergency bivy bag. At ½ pound light enough to keep in your pack. I also am in the process of putting together a permanently designated back-country backpack with 1st aid and repair kit, extra sox-shirt-warm gloves and food. I’ll keep the bivy bag in there too as well as a compass. I’ll never leave home without a map/compass and warm jacket.....oh, and a head lamp! In addition, my good friend Dave, who was preparing to get up at 4 am the next day to come looking for me, has offered to let me use his sat phone any time I venture out.

I guess a lot of people learn valuable back country lessons the hard way. It could have been a lot worse for me. Fortunately, I’ve hopefully learned the lessons and now will always be prepared for the worse. Even if that pack is a little heavy, that just means the workout is better.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Blisters and Beauty

Last week I did one of the classic tours around here in the Canadian Rockies. Mt. Shark to Sunshine Village ski area via Mt. Assiniboine. Winter or summer the beauty of this high alpine traverse is amazing. I’ve vowed to go back this winter and make the trip in 2 days. My venture began at the Shark trail system (back up nordic venue for ‘88 Olympics). The trail to Assiniboine was ~25 Km. I counted 5 storm squalls along the way. The higher I hiked up Marvel pass the worse storm #4 got. Tonnes of lightning and a lot of hail put me under a tree for a few minutes while I calculated my move over the exposed alpine pass. There seemed to be a window of clearing so I bolted for it. I found out later that even down in the valley the storm got pretty adverse as it knocked power out in Canmore for 2 hours. Up high- you can imagine the lightning peril!

The view over the pass was amazing though. Crossing over into BC I could see the Tamaracks were getting ready to turn brilliant yellow and drop their needles. Just as I got into the trees storm #5 hit and the lightning cranked up again. Man was I feeling blessed, lucky, etc.! I was planning on camping, but there are a series of huts (Naiset hut system) that only cost 15$ per night, so I went for it. The rain was really picking up and only a few meters higher the rain was turning to snow. As luck would have it, the cabin I went to had an incredibly friendly couple that had not only stoked the fire making for a toasty warm hut, they’d just finished their dinner and had a lot left over. Not wanting to pack out the leftovers out they begged me to finish it off for them. I was sort of expecting them to dissapear a.l.a. "Angels are Us"...that’s how unbelievable everything seemed.

Before setting out on day #2 I had to spend some time just soaking in the views of the majestic Mt. Assiniboine. While sitting on a bench looking across lake Magog up to this Matterhorn wanna be mountain, I was so struck by the stunning beauty I was so overcome.. I think there were tears in my eyes....(ok, enough of this sensitive ‘90's man stuff).

The only glitch in the day was the ball of my left foot. A blister had been forming. Day 2 saw another 22km of trail and that blister really worsened and then another started forming on my right foot in the exact same place. By the end of the day I had the 2 most ginormous blisters I’d ever kidding they were both 4x7 cm!! I was pretty relieved to get to camp at Douglas lake. The last day’s hike out was a mere 13km in the Sunshine Meadows. It was so nice up there. I was really wishing though that it was winter because then I could ski out the last 9km all downhill. Hiking with those blisters was painful!!

Lessons I learned:
-I really, really like the new sleeping pad I got for the trip. Big Agnes from MEC. 97$ and well worth it. It’s an air mattress with Prima loft....toasty warm!

- don’t use lightweight hiking shoes when carrying a pack. I think you need the extra support hiking boots give, even with a lighter pack (mine was 30-35 pounds). I think this was the cause for the blisters

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hiking & Running with Poles

This morning I bagged one of my local favs....Grotto Mountain. Well, technically I didn't get to the total top, just the false summit. It's where I generally go. From the Alpine Club Canada clubhouse it's a major vertical climb. much of the hike is serious steep. It's good training for rando racing bootpacking because of its equivalent steepness.

A hike such as this without poles would be much harder....both up and down. Going up I generally double pole it really leaning over and reefing on those poles. On the descent it keeps your speed in check and is a good back up in case the ankle starts rolling over.

A friend recently commented that he couldn't bring himself to run with poles after observing all the "Nordic Walkers" at the ski hill where he works. Granted, the new fad has its fair share of "cherry pickers" (those that really aren't using the poles but pluck them ahead anyway), but the guys that do it right really use their arms.

Here's a video of some jr. athletes bounding....some good, some not so good:

The bottom line is that xc & skimo are quadrepedal sports, using all 4 limbs. As such, it places a higher demand on the cardio system (why xc skiers record such unworldly VO2 values). So we've got to train this way.

While in line for some lunch in Italy for the skimo Euro champs last year Dave D. and myself talked a bit to the Austrian delegation leaders. One of them commented that they used to just mountain bike all summer, but with their new coach- a former nat'l team xc skier, they were radically changing things. Mountain biking has a couple of serious limitations. First, it's not quadrepedal and second, it's not weight bearing. In the 80's a few of my xc friends would bike a lot, but take their saddles off (making it weight bearing). It was a whole new workout!!! Try it, you'll see the difference (just make sure you don't mistakenly sit down onto the seat post....ouch!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Go Vertical or Go Home!!

Last weekend Deb & I did the inaugural “Hector’s Haul” running race up Kicking Horse ski area. It was a 4400' climb over 4km. With only 8 competitors (Deb being the only female), a podium finish was within grasp. I say this half jokingly because races like this are all about training. The timing was interesting as we’d just returned from our family vacation. After 10+ days of sitting either in a car or at the beach I was feeling less than fit, but pretty well rested.

Local ski patroller, Ian Gale and myself went head to head until the final alpine bowl where he seemed to want it more than me and pushed harder....going for the win at just around 1 hour. I ended up a couple of minutes back.

At this stage of the training year I’m doing 1 interval workout each week. We’re still in the base period, but next week will transition into the build period. So for the next 16 weeks I’ll increase the intensity workouts from 1/week to 2. I still remember my ski coach talking to Greg Lemond about his training and racing. Greg was the first American to win the Tour de France. He received a lot of criticism though for not doing so well in the classic Euro races leading up to the tour. But Lemond knew what he was doing. He shared with my coach that he knew about lactic acid curves (charting your heart rate and lactic acid level) and that too much hard stuff moves your curve in the wrong direction, meaning that when it comes time to won’t. Another great athlete, Swedish skiing star Thomas Wassberg once mentioned that he was proud of the fact that he never won a race before Christmas. However AFTER Christmas he won a lot, including Olympic and world championship races.

Racing is good for training though, even in the base period. It keeps you mindful of the discomfort often felt in racing and it keeps your body on that upper edge. But for sure it shouldn’t be over done this time of year.

As for vertical, it’s time to start climbing!! I was pleasantly surprised at my mental attitude during Hector’s Haul (other wise known as H.’s Hurl). I think I’m getting used to prolonged vertical climbs. Rando racing sure puts a premium on this. The first uphill at the Euro champs individual race last year took me almost an hour.

So from here on out I’m planning on doing 2-3 major mountain vertical hikes per week and one shorter uphill interval workout. I love these workouts as you usually get rewarded with an amazing mountain top view!!

So....go Vertical or Go Home!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Racing in Thin Air

April 25th I found myself in the rarified air of the big CO....that’s right, Colorado. Taking a 1 week sabbatical from my work to reflect, unwind and recharge, I decided to head south for some sun, friends, mountain biking in the desert of Moab and yes a Rando ski race in CO.

Having taken my final 4 week period of rest/recovery otherwise known as “de-training” I wasn’t in the frame of mind or physical space to enter the longer, more demanding race, so at the risk of being labelled a sand-bagger I entered the rec course. I didn’t wear my nat’l team suit as to give myself away, but I ran into Scott Coldiron at the start and my cover was blown.

After Canadian nationals and my disasterous performance there I just didn’t have the heart to continue training hard intervals and such to prepare for this race that probably wouldn’t help my Canadian standings. Besides, that injured knee from the Euro champs still wasn’t 100% , so I decided to end the race season, rest up, plan the next year’s training and get ready to mount my drive towards the 2010 season.

However, being in CO it was too tempting not to toe the line on the race. I reasoned with myself that even if I wasn’t in full on race mode, every start gives a new experience and lessons that can be learned. There’s just so much to this sport to figure, pacing, training, technique, etc.

But holy cow!!! Is CO ever high up in elevation!! The race was at A basin and started....yes STARTED at 11,700 feet! We ascended up to over 13,000 feet.
I watched the first group go up and I thought to myself, maybe I should have entered the full on race division as they seemed to be moving pretty slow, then I started my warm up and realized why they were moving so slow!! There’s no air!!

I started out ok....leading for awhile, but as I kept a watchful eye on my heart rate monitor I realized that backing off a bit would make my day a whole lot more enjoyable, so I slipped into 2nd place where I remained all the way to the top of the mountain.

The rec division seemed to be the main race, at least numbers wise. The longer event had only recently been added, so there almost seemed more prestige.....anyway, all told it was a great experience. The downhill down a double black chute (after bootpacking up) was powder ice crust and a real pain. Yet I skied it ok with the new SkiTrabs helping a ton.

So what up now? Training man!! I’m recharged, refocused and ready to go. I’ll do some posts on laying out a systematic plan for the year. A couple guys have asked help with this, so I’ll start to put some info down. Plus, I’m contemplating putting together a manual on the “when to’s, why to’s and how to’s” For ski mo. Let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in!!!

Ciao 4 now!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Trapper Jerry's Last Run down Delirium Dive

I’ll admit I don’t know a lot about the history of "Trapper Jerry", but here’s what I do know. Supposedly he worked around Banff decades and decades ago. At age 94 he’s become somewhat of a local folk hero legend. His legendary status has been achieved by his unbroken string of years descending "Delirium Dive" at Sunshine ski area. If you’re a local, you’ll know about Delirium. It’s a double black diamond super expert area that is technically inbounds, but has a decidedly back country, wild feeling to it. You cannot enter into the gate without a partner, avalanche beacon and shovel. It’s super steep and definately not for the faint of heart or the "sort of kinda expert" skier....

So today it was Trapper Jerry’s big day. My party of four just happened upon the momentous occasion as we barely squeaked into the gate under the 3 o’ clock deadline. Jerry was accompanied by 3 ski patrols, with another in radio contact from above.
I shouted out to friends to hurry and get their butts up the bootpack when I suddenly realised what was transpiring.

We watched a very tentative 94 year old barely pick his way down the easiest line. It hadn’t snowed in awhile and the white stuff was very firm and skied in. On my earlier 3 runs I’d been thinking how if one were to fall, there would be no way of stopping the slide unless you had one of Andrew McClean’s whippet ski pole self arresters..... which still would be iffy as to its effectiveness.

Just as we were watching, to our horror, the worst came true. Old Trapper Jerry lost his balance and started his slide. The 3 patrollers helplessly watched as their companion in care careened speedily out of control down the mountain. Now you’ve got to understand Delirium, it goes on and on in its steepness. Before the steeps end there are several cliffs. Not super big ones, but you could easily flop off into a 50-100 metre drop.

T.J. was doing a major rag doll. Arms, legs head....everything just flopping around. When he finally came to a stop, very close to one of the afore mentioned cliffs well over ½ km from where the slip up started, we were sure he’d broken every bone in his 94 year old body. The patrollers immediately radioed up to the patroller watching with us that only his shoulder seemed injured. It could be bad, but man o man it could have been a lot worse.

As I skied down in the general direction, I tried not to turn above him, because each turn would release snow balls and even rocks that would shoot down the mountain. O’l Jerry had his pockets unzipped, because all the way down the slide path there were several Kleenex’s spaced out, Blistex and other assorted junk. I came to a stop a fair bit away from the crumpled geriatric pile and talked with one of the patrollers. He said they were going to try to bring him out on a sled...a huge task considering the terrain and the distance back to the main ski area proper.

And then this patroller stated the obvious, "I’m pretty sure this is Trapper Jerry’s last run down the Dive."

Saturday, March 28, 2009


ok, now the racing season is over. If there were more races to do, I'd do them, but the season has run out. I know some people who are tired and want some off time, but now is the time to get on those boards!!

When I lived along Lake Superior we got super dumped on with snow. The race season would be over in early/mid March, but the skiing would often last another 4-6 weeks. With the melt/freeze crust the mornings were set up for great skiing. We’d embark at dawn skiing on snowmobile trails until we found a good crust layer and then go darting randomly through the woods and between trees dancing over a firm crust layer. If we stuck to the "biler"trails sometimes we’d cover up to 100km’s. By noon the crust would be thawing so we’d call ‘er a day, come home and collapse into bed for a recovery nap. The results of such adult play forays? An incredible sense of comfort on skis.

It’s called accumulated snow time. Being on your skis for hours on end, just playing would give us an amazing sense of balance, comfort and "at-homeness" on our skis. We’d often wonder why we didn’t do this in the fall, pre-race season.
So, if you’re a skier... a true skier that loves to be on the boards in the woods, backcountry, on the trails, etc. don’t put ‘em away!!!

Today it’s March 29th and it’s snowing like crazy out my window. The skiing out my back door is the best it’s been all season. The weather man is calling for the entire week to be cold and snowy. And to think we almost went down to Moab!!! That would have been a huge mistake!!
I’ve got to face it...I live in ski country and I’m a skier. For the month of April I may be done with structured intervals, races and time trials, but there are many ski adventures awaiting. Starting tomorrow. My 9 year old daughter Anna and I are skiing into Lake O Hara for an overnight at the hut, then it’ll be a month of downhill, back country, xc, wood ski tours, etc. I can’t wait. Detraining period will have to wait!!!

2009 Canadian Ski Mountaineering Champs's my personal race report for the race today. The final result was not at all what I was hoping for and I'm a little bummed out. However, life is good. I live in the mountains. As long as I've got my health I'll be skiing. My family (which went w/ my this weekend) is awesome and fun. Finally, there will always be more races to do and goals to shoot for. Here's what happened to me today:

we ran around the lodge before clipping into the skis for the downhill. I was a little slow as usual getting into those dang Dynafits, but wasn't too far behind.

Hill 1:
going up I wasn't in the bindings right and had to stop and re clip in slowing me down (did I say I hate Dynafits?). I was only about 20m behind the lead group of 5-6 and a quick transition into the first downhill brought me right back into things.

dh #1:
My new SkiTrabs did their job and I skied respectably down the difficult dble black chute.
A decent transition put me chasing the pack right w/ Reiner the eventual Canadian winner. Another good transition put me still in contention. I was flying down the hill and almost had a major wipe out. I’m convinced an angel righted me up as I was about to crash Big at hi speed and somehow recovered. I then proceeded to the transition point and became one of the talks of the race. I came in somewhat "hot"....actually, really hot and crashed super big. It was b/c I hit the fence. I was fine, but several guys in the lead pack verbally made sure I was ok.
shades of disaster looming:
Up the switchbacks as we now began to climb back up to the start were problematic. The skins weren’t delivering enough kick and despite all the switchback practicing I’d done, I was losing time. Then as a couple of guys were bearing down, I lost a skin. I was reeling in Jeff, but had to stop and grab one which was handily placed in my suit.
Coming up to the top of the bootpack I again struggled to get my dang Dynafits on, but wasn’t too far behind the lead group.

Dh#3 and big climb
I went down ok, but w/ the lead group out of site, didn’t take the chances I’d taken earlier. Now there were 2 guys between me and the lead group. As I climbed up the bowl, my skin tip attachment was coming off. Somehow the knot had worked its way through the stopper I’d placed on there. After putting it back on several times I was able to gingerly ski with it until the bootpack #2.

Top of the world and major disaster.
Having been warned that if you lose your ski at the top of Dogtooth mountain (hi point of the race), it’d be a point of no return for the ski, you and your race. Maybe I was freaked out by all that, but in any case, I couldn’t get into my Dynfit binding (are you seeing a pattern here?). Finally, after monkeying around w/ it for what seemed like several minutes I started the narrow, spooky descent right next to the "point of no return cliff". Wouldn’t you know it, my Dynafit binding wasn’t on and I lost a ski. Fortunately it didn’t careen off the end of the world, but I was in a major spook zone. The big Swede then passed me here as I was sliding around on one ski. After finally getting in and moving ahead, I clipped my pole on a tree and it bounced out of bounds sitting on the edge of the now several timed mention "point of no return". So I had to side step down and retrieve it.....more time lost....what a gong show!

Dare Downhill
Finally, some good news, my run down this dble black was actually pretty decent. The snow was good, my turns were good and it was fun.

Disaster once again
After all the playing around at the point of no return, people were starting to catch me. At the final transition, not 1 of my 4 skins was sticking to my skis. About 4 people came in and finally I started begging for a skin. Some really cool, natty snowboard looking guy tossed me his synthetic back ups. I never got his name, but I love this man. With the synthetics I was bomber in my kick. The funny thing was that all the folks that passed me really weren’t in my aerobic league, so I blazed back by them all (well the close ones anyway).

It was great to finally finish this race. I was about 15-18 min. back of the leaders. A few of the guys I’d beaten the last time we raced, but that seems like an eternity ago now. I was so bummed out as with my missing Fernie (knee injury) and Nelson (being in Europe), it seemed like if I’m to have any chance at getting back to Europe to redeem my poor performance there I had to deliver today. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.
I really needed to have Whistler. It would have given me another chance to race and score some points towards the nat’l ranking, plus it’s a course that suits me. It’s long, not too technical and you don’t have to do a lot of Dynafit switches!!

What really gets me is that aerobically, I’m fit. And w/ my technical blunders it’s as if the hard training was wasted. Of course there’s purpose and joy in the journey, but when you’ve done many really hard gut busting workouts to be ready and blow your race because your skins aren’t working or you can’t get your skis all seems kinda sad. Week after week of my Sunshine ski resort interval workouts and time trials.... weekly Canmore Nordic Centre intervals and other training...oh well.

The good news is, there’s always another race. Always another challenge. I learned a heap this year. The Euro experience was amazing. I did a major gear upgrade. For the first time ever I did my dryland training specifically for rando racing and hope to do so again this year with refinements. I don’t even know if there’s a chance for me to go to world’s next year, but even if I don’t, the domestic calendar is getting good and it sounds like Whistler is going to be a major North American championship race. Life is good.

European Ski Mountaineering Champs Race report

2009 European Ski Mountaineering race championships
race report:
I’ve gotten in the habit of writing a race report for big events ever since I started doing Ironmans 5 summers ago. It’s a great way to review, contemplate, and plan for the future. I decided to do one for this event as it was my season focus and I want to learn as much as I can and come back for more.
It was amazing to be able to compete in this event. My fitness level was about as good as I could have made it to prepare. Unfortunately as some of these events have gone, I made several mistakes that negated a lot of my fitness preparation. Fortunately, these mistakes are easier to fix than not having a sufficient training base. At this point my heart’s desire is to return to this level of competition and prove to myself that I can do it at an acceptable level.
The Good:
It was really great having Dave D. there as someone for support. With his involvement at an international level I was able to get a lot of good info and be in the race loop. He brokered a great deal in that the int’l body paid for housing, food and race entry.....a 400Euro bonus. Amazing!
Being in Czech the week before allowed me to be fully acclimated to the time zone. If possible an entire week before the comp. is really helpful to be over in Europe. Having the coaching gig I was busy, but not too much. I was tapered to a good level, yet able to get some good workouts in at race intensities to get my anaerobic systems ready.
I didn’t pre-ski the course, but would have liked to. I wasn’t prepared for such long demanding downhills. We pre-skied part of the race, maybe 25%. That was helpful. However, these courses are so well marked compared to N.American ones that I knew getting lost wasn’t an issue. By pre-skiing the course you know where to hammer and what challenges lie ahead. I’ll try to do this in the future as much as possible.
The Bad:
Having broken one of my skins at the Sunshine race I repaired it and didn’t think it’d be an issue. It held during my ½ hour plus warm up, But right at the start it fell off. There went all the skiers as I had to take off my ski and re-install the skin. 5 minutes later as I’d caught back up to the group, it came off again, so I removed my pack and pulled out a replacement. By this time I was hopelessly behind. I continued to hammer though, catching many of the women and some of the men. At this point we started our climb up a single set of ski tracks making it difficult to pass. My heart rate was at my typical level all the way up the 1 hour climb. We had a short bootpack which went well then the long downhill. My legs were totally seizing up on the long demanding downhill. I couldn’t believe how painful it was. I’d tried to train for this, but will need to adjust my training to better prepare for the future. Perhaps the new boots contributed. The fwd. lean is greater than on my others and I only had 1 day on them. The skis worked ok, but on the downhills I realized that I need some beefier skis. I’m looking into some Goode’s. It looks good for a pro deal from Couloir. They’re great over there.
The final bootpack w/ fixed rope and crampons was ok. I’d never raced w/ crampons before and only used them at all once. It was fun though and I was glad I got to use my new CAMP ones I received for my Christmas gift from Deb. I should have practiced a little more putting them on. I did a little, but will work on it in the future. I had trouble getting on the 2nd one. I also had to purchase a via ferrata rope system. It cost 150 Euro. Only found out the day before I needed it. You can get one at MEC for 1/3 the cost. It’s use was optional and I didn’t use it.
Now came the disaster.... The final descent was icy and skied out. My soft Atomics really couldn’t handle it. I crashed hard. Hurt my knee. Lost my ski. It flew down the mountain. Fortunately someone retrieved it for me and helped me put it back on as I’d suddenly become Dynafit challenged. Meanwhile my legs were absolutely locked up. This whole thing is embarrassing to even mention, but it was part of my race and one that hopefully will never be repeated.
As I finished I didn’t even make my goal of finishing before the flower ceremony.....bummer.
Things I did right:
-This past summer I did a lot of hammer hikes with poles. I see now how important these are. I’ll do more and start sooner
- getting the F1's was really great. They’re lighter, more flexible for longer strides and more comfortable uphills.
- I did a lot of Sunshine intervals and the week before I left even though I was tired from the Sunshine race I did a time trial to the top, setting a p.r. in 1:32
- incorporating more anaerobic intensity this year has been key in feeling comfortable hammering in these races. I’d been neglecting it the past few years concentrating more on Ironmans and level 1 training.
- I’ve done several short interval workouts at the Nordic Centre where I also work on my transitions (5-6 min up). It’s helped, but of course you can always improve. The new boots did throw me off a little.
- At the start when I had my skin problem I tried not to give up and keep hammering. It would have been easy to mentally quit
Things to improve:
- First things first... my knee has a strained MCL. It presently hurts a lot. Get this healed up first. Dr. Says movement is good for healing so I’ve been staitionary biking and easy skiing. I’ll be ready for Golden for sure.
- I’ve already replaced the skin that caused the problem
- new Goode Carbon fibre skis hopefully will allow me more hammer ability on the downhills
- My switchback kick turns were pathetic. Work on this.
- Keep working on anaerobic power. Short, long and steady state intervals
- in the past I’ve had good success with 4-5 hour xc skis in preparing for marathons. Do more 4-5 hour skis
- Do more balance training (dryland +). Get Jungle Jim to give me some advice on this and maybe even ask Jan Hudec what the CC’s are doing these days for that (glad I have some pretty good advisors!).
- Do more isometric training at the top of my hammer hikes. Maybe more specific downhill training like plyometrics.
- keep working on downhills. Get out more. Back country, front country...just do it. Take up Mike’s offer to train at the Farnham glacier this summer
-Next year enter the Norquay mountain stoker. I may suck, but it’ll give me incentive to downhill train harder.
- practice transitions (continue), practice: putting skis on pack. Crampons on. Also work on hooking up fixed rope system

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Nordic Nudes... keep your lycra on girls!!!

When the original "Nordic Nudes" unveiled themselves in 1998, even though I was a chaplain at those Olympics in Nagano, Japan I thought the whole idea was kinda funny and harmless. Now as a father I’m seeing things a bit differently. A recent conversation with the father of one of the Canadian nat’l team women who recently bared all for their "Girls with Guns" nude calendar was enlightening. I asked him (as did about a thousand others) how he felt about his daughter bearing herself for all the world to see. His answer, "It’s just too bad they have to do this anyway!" The tone certainly belied the fact that this was a fundraiser with an attitude. Actually, as much protest as money maker (and it has been successfully making money). But what message are they sending out? To me it’s loud and clear.... " ‘ can’t get what you want? Just take your clothes off!"

How many times have you heard an NBA or NFL player (usually after getting busted for some vice crime), exclaim, "I’m no role model...I don’t want to be a role model." Well guys, we’ve all got some news for ya, whether or not you want to be a role model, there are millions of young kids following your moves and emulating them. Same goes for Olympic athletes. Especially skiers. Especially in our town of Canmore. My 9 year old daughter has an autographed ski poster of the original Nordic Nudes hanging above her bed (the lycra clad one). She recently came home with her top 20 goals, several having to do with ski racing. In particular, noting the influence of Chandra Crawford, she wanted to win a world cup in her home town as she saw Chandra do the year before.

So biathlon girls, et. al....having a hard time with funding? Why don’t you buckle down and knock on some corporate doors yourselves instead of waiting for the overworked sport administrators to do so? How about picking up the phone and making some calls? That would certainly do a better job of preparing yourselves for a career after the skis and guns are put away. Or I guess you could just continue to take your clothes off, but what kind of career is that preparing you for?