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