Thursday, 10 December 2015

Off to the Races

 With the months of grueling training already just a distant memory, the race season is now upon us. At the start of every season the first few weekends of racing can be a crazy yoyo. My year started off well with a 3rd place at the U.S. Super Tour in West Yellowstone Montana. I was happy to be on the podium in the first race of the year in a very competitive field. 
Super Tour Sprint

 The following day was a distance race. For those of you who have never heard of West Yellowstone it is at 2100m, so very high.  The end result was Altitude 1- Dahria 0.  Although it was definitely not my best race, it was a good hard effort and a fun weekend of racing. The highlight was that my teammates Kevin and Knute did well on the men’s side.
The three of us who were racing in West plus coach Chris travelled back to Canmore to prepare for the first weekend of Canadian races.
My pain face on in the 5km

Day one of the NorAm was a 5k classic, my favourite race!! I was pumped for this race and confident that I would do great. As it happened, the two days leading up to this race were filled with emotional stress and although my body felt good all the way up to my warm up the day of, when I started racing things went wrong. I started hard but I had no rhythm and my arms started cramping, my lungs throbbing. After the first kilometer it took all my suffering and strength to get me the last 4km to the finish line.  In the end I finished 7th, not a horrible result, but not at all the result I was capable of or the one I was expecting. Honestly going into the race I thought I had a good chance of winning.
Stewing over the disappointment for an hour or so I put the race behind me and refocused for the mass start 10k skate the next day. That race went a lot better, my body was now warmed up from the struggles of the day before and ready to race. I was able to ski away from the field on the last lap and claim a comfortable victory.
The final race of the race weekend, Classic Sprint, was another victory for me! Starting off the year with a double victory has me super excited for what's to come when I go over to Europe in January to represent Canada on the World Cup!
Leading out of the stadium at the start of the mass start.
First Climb

10k Skate podium

Smiling uncontrollably after winning the sprint final

Sprint Podium! Shout out to Jenn for her first Senior NorAm podium!!!

This coming weekend are the final races before Christmas in Sovereign Lake BC. I love staying in Silver Star with its Christmas carols playing, snow covered trees and sparkling lights.  Not to mention they have my favourite race trails in Canada. There is a Skate Sprint on Saturday Dec. 12th and a 10km Skate on Sunday  Dec.13th. If you want to follow the races you can find live timing at http://new.zone4.ca/

This past week I started to get into the spirit of Christmas in anticipation for my trip to Silver Star. Tree decorating and cookie baking was in full swing. We decorated my boyfriend’s tree and then the next day we decorated my Canmore family’s tree. Tree #3 will be decorated when I fly home to Whitehorse next week. That one still has to be chopped down next Monday. 
Tree #1
Tree #2

Christmas card supplies were purchased yesterday so the activity of the weekend at the girls team house will be card making. Heidi Widmer we’ll be thinking of you and your amazing card making skills.
I hope that everyone else is enjoying the holiday spirit as much as I have been and that you aren’t stressing about gifts too much. Happy Holidays and happy skiing!
Till next time


Dahria

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Fall Altitude Camp

The anticipation of winter’s arrival is high. I just finished my last camp of the training season in Park City, Utah. Now the team is in an intensity block, sprinting around the roller ski track and bounding up hills, hoping that soon we will be able to be racing around on snow. 
Two intensity blocks straddled our final camp; before we left for Park City, the Academy did a mini race block with 4 time trials in 5 days. I was really happy with how I felt in all 4 time trials and I made big improvements from my times last year. The best part about the race week was it reminded me how much I love competing and it got me super amped for the coming season and for our final dryland training camp.

Alex, Liz, Delphine, Me, Emily(L-R) at the start of our 10km Classic TT during race week


Park City is at 2000m and there are roads that climb all the way up to 3300m, therefore it is a perfect place to do a fall altitude camp. It's also a chance to get one last blast of summer before the season begins. Park City is my favourite camp of the year. Last year we had amazing weather, beautiful fall colours, and used great training locations, this year was no exception. Although I went to Park City last year, this year’s camp had lots of new experiences. I trained with a bigger group, I did more hours, I skied new passes, including Bald pass which is at 3300m, and I hiked up to the top of Bald Mountain, which is the highest I have ever been at 3650m.
We also did lots of our favourite activities while we weren’t training. Some of us painted pottery on our rest day, watched a high school football game and cheered for the Miner’s the local team, we ate Mexican food from Anya’s Market and strolled along main street trying on fancy cowboy boots.
The two-week camp was filled with great training and smiling faces. It is always awesome to be able to put in such high quality training with teammates and friends around. My favourite workouts were of course the long roller ski/run combo days that took up to the top of mountain passes with amazing views of the surrounding areas. Contrary to what I expected my body felt better as the camp progressed and I was really happy with how strong my body felt during our classic sprints the second week and then in the classic striding intensity the following day. It is always nice to see some positive signs going into the fall. Now a week and a half out of the camp, I have been hit by some post camp fatigue. My legs feel a bit heavier than normal and overall I'm a bit tired. I got the same feeling last year after the camp, that's why this year we went to Park City a week earlier so that hopefully by the Frozen Thunder Sprint on the 26th, I will be all rejuvenated and ready to go! If you will be around Canmore on the 26th come check out the sprint in the morning and then join us at Murrieta's for the National Ski Team Athlete Presentation and Fundraiser that evening. Information and ticket prices can be found on the Cross Country Canada website.

Alex and Cendrine on a run along Mid-Mountain trail

That time Alannah and I found a flock of sheep on the road

Delphine and I at the top of Bald Mtn.- 3650m

Lovely fall colours during one of our 4hr roll/runs

Climbing up to Guardsman's pass (L-R: Annika, Alannah, me)


Our recovery week after the camp coincided well with Thanksgiving. I took advantage of the four days before the weekend to get down to lower elevation to help my body recover from the camp. Seb and I went to Oliver, BC: wine capital of Canada. While in Oliver we toured some wineries on our roadbikes, went apples picking and even got a couple of pumpkins from a roadside pumpkin patch. The pumpkin patch I must add had a vey adorable Border Collie that tried to jump into my car and come home with me, he was too cute!

Apple picking in Keremeos

An orchard with a view

Checking out the vineyards 


Thanks for reading
See you on the snow!!

Dahria 

Monday, 24 August 2015

La Belle Province

It seems like this summer has just flown by, the second nationwide camp of the summer is already coming to a close. After the Canmore National Camp in June, that brought together the training centres from across Canada, these past two weeks have been spent solely focused on us ladies. The Quebec camp has been a women’s only camp that brought together 19 of Canada’s top women for a two week training camp in Mont-Sainte-Anne.
Despite my inability to tolerate heat, the camp has been a lot of fun and very productive. Thankfully for me, I have had my Buff tech headbands to help regulate my temperature and reduce the beads of sweat that drop down my face. There has been a lot of roller skiing with a few running workouts mixed in for variety. A 3hrs run that ended au Chutes Jean LaRose and an uphill stair climbing intensity were among some of the more unique workouts. We also returned to the falls on a few other occasions for some swimming and to soak up the summer sun. 
Crossing the suspension bridge on the Mestachibo trail  Photo:CNEPH

Finishing our 3hr run at the waterfalls Photo:CNEPH


Chutes Jean LaRose with Kendra and Delphine Photo: Alex


Compared to the Canmore camp in June, which had more of a volume focus for me, I am enjoying being able to tone back the hours and focus more on the intensity and speed workouts here in Quebec. The 18 and 19-hour weeks are also a great contrast from the volume block I was doing in July just before coming out east.
Running at Sunshine during the Canmore camp in June

As I mentioned above, between the two formal camps for the summer I put in a volume block at home in Canmore. That block was a two week period with four 4 hour plus sessions. Doing such long workouts was almost more taxing mentally that physically, not that I am saying it was easy. It wasn’t. Because I was doing two long (4hr+) workouts a week, my training was often times different from the rest of the team, making some of the workouts solo adventures. The fact that my coach Chris was in Norway, attending one of his best friends and the nordic skiing wedding of the year, forced me to take training organization into my own hands. Kristin and Devon’s wedding, a very good reason to be absent I must admit. 
However, on normal training weeks organizing workouts seems like a simple task. It isn’t until you are at a point of physical exhaustion, that making simple plans becomes so difficult that you truly appreciate the organization, direction and support your coaches provide on camps and team sessions. To all my coaches past and present, thank you for all you support. In the end my volume block was great for two reasons: firstly, I think it gave me a good training boost going into the fall months and secondly, it has helped me learn to train more independently. That being said,  I don’t know if I would have gotten through the block as successfully without the support of my boyfriend. He drove to pick me up at the end of 4 hour roller skis, skied alongside me reminding me to focus on technique and ran/hiked up Cascade mountain (3000m) with me just so I wouldn't have to go alone, still smiling after 5 hours when we reached the car.
Finally checking Cascade Mountain off the bucket list


Needless to say,  I was more than pleased to jump in for some group intensity sessions with my teammates, Alex, Delphine, Olivia and the RMR ladies at the beginning of August. 
Furthermore these last two weeks of training in Quebec, with over fifteen girls every workout has been great both for me and for women's skiing in Canada.

Team intensity! Photo: CNEPH
Emily, me, and Alannah partway through a 3 hr classic ski

We finished off the camp with a Time trial and now I am headed back home. There is only one more camp in Park City with these lovely ladies before the race season gets underway. I am already getting super excited for the race season with all the gains we have made together this summer. But even more so, I am super excited be able to wear even more Buff products than I already do. Thank you to Buff for becoming part of my support team! I am so proud to be able to represent such an amazing company.
Thanks for reading

Dahria 

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

A New Era

It is hard to believe that it has already been 3 years since I was standing in front of my high school grad class speaking about our futures and what they might hold. A young adult excited to leave home and anxious to join a new team of amazing ski racers. When I joined the Alberta World Cup Academy in 2012, I was the baby of the team and it stayed that way for the past 3 year.
The Academy ladies- 2012
I was always one of the youngest and the first one to get my training hours reduced or to have an interval cut from the set but now the times are changing. This year I will no longer be the baby of our team; I am now one of the veterans. It sounds crazy when I say it to myself but it’s true. The fact that my little sister is graduating high school this week has helped knock it into perspective.

It makes sense. I have gone through the drills, I know how the training works and now it is time for me to share my experiences with my younger teammates, the ones who like me three years ago are excited and anxious to start a new chapter. 

My beautiful sister, Odessa, all ready for prom!
Congrats on graduating little sis!!! I love you
Got out for a great Mtn. bike ride with Kendra when I was home for Odessa's grad. Thank Icycle Sport for setting me up with an awesome Giant Trance for the day!!! Kendra's a great teacher!


This is a new era. This changing of the guard is marked with excitement but also sadness as I am losing many of the teammates who have been part of the building blocks of my ski career. The ladies who have showed me how to train at the next level. Two of my closest teammates have both gone different ways this season. Alysson has moved on to her studies and away from skiing and Heidi has moved to Switzerland to race for the Swiss National Team. I am so excited for them both on their new adventure, but the selfish part inside of me wishes they were still around to train with me.
Heidi, me and Brittany (L-R) after a race in Sovereign Lake last winter, I will miss these lovely ladies

Alysson and I training in Rossland BC

Heidi has been part of my ski development since the very first time I represented Canada when I was 15-years-old. She has always been there for me in foreign countries and on long summer workouts for our front door. It is fair to say that I might not be where I am today if it weren’t for Heidi’s friendship. I am sad to lose her as a teammate in Canada but I can’t wait to visit her in Davos and be training partners again on the World Cup!
Heidi and I watching the sprint heats at the Lahti World Cup.
Next time we will be racing those heats Heids!!! I hope you are loving Switzerland. I miss you.

I am lucky to have an amazing training partner in Emily who has transitioned to the National Team full time but is still there to push me in training.
With those three amazing ladies moving on from the Academy there will be an injection of youth to the team. Delphine and Alex two of my new teammates are fresh out of high school and I can’t wait for the chance to train with a new group of girls, younger and older!

This spring marks the start of a new era not only for the team but for me as well. Over the winter I was struggling with a shoulder injury that was triggered in mid January and caused me pain and frustration all the way until the end of the season. Although injuries are never warmly welcomed I am starting to think of this shoulder injury as a blessing in disguise. It is forcing me to focus on my posture and the mechanics of my body. I am relearning how to stand which seems simple but I think it will have a big impact on my technique going forward! 

My shoulder is still painful once in a while so my training has to be adjusted to try to minimize pain. However, I am starting to see the changes from all the physio exercises I have been doing.
I successfully did a double poling intensity without any pain last week so things are going well! I am back in Canmore now after a short visit home for my sisters graduation and am looking forward to the end of June when the rest of Canada will be coming to Canmore for one big Canadian development centre training camp. Looking forward to seeing everyone!!!

Thanks for reading

Dahria 

Monday, 20 April 2015

From Lahti to Lappe to Lisbon with Love

As I fly over the Spanish countryside on a flight bound for Lisboa there is not a single speck of snow in sight. Seeking out warmth and sun, a strange concept for someone who is searching for snow most months of the year. Traveling to a sunny destination is a signal that the race season has come to an end. It is starting to seem like I am on an everlasting trip. I have been living out of a suitcase for the past 2 months and these last 2 weeks, I have been able to enjoy the company of my mother and sister in beautiful Italy and Portugal where I have had the chance to rest and recover after a long season.
We found some beautiful flowers in a castle courtyard

With my mom and sister in Tavira Portugal

I found some friends on the beach in Portugal #puppylove

Since January 1st I have spent 15 of the possible 97 in Canmore, for the rest of the time I have been traveling, sometimes near, sometimes a far. Every year I am getting closer and closer to living the oh so coveted lifestyle of a World Cup athlete. Although I have not yet made it to the full winter living in Europe with the World Cup Team status, this season has been the closest thing yet. I have been on the road since January 24th. In this time I have been to Turkey, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Italy and have raced everything from National level races and Scandinavian Cups to World Championships and my first European World Cup. From these adventures I flew directly to Thunder Bay for the Canadian Nationals, so home is nothing but a distant memory for me right now, one that is popping into my head more and more frequently as of late.
The last races of the year were in Thunder Bay Ontario. When I arrived, I was hosted by local skiers for the few days before the rest of my team arrived and I was able to experience the true Thunder Bay community. I was very thankful to be able to cook a real meal myself for a day or two. Thanks to Jenn, Erin and Katherine for taking me in and letting me play with your adorable kitten Boomer. 
Thunder Bay Nationals were my first National Championships as a senior athlete. It was a great week overall and I was really excited to capture a Gold medal in the first individual race of the week and then to finish off the week once again on the podium with a close 3rd place in the 30km skate, which was my first 30k of my life.  With a 3rd in the team sprint a 5th and 6th in the 10k classic and the sprint, after falling in the final, being on top of the U23 aggregate podium was something I am very proud of as a first year. Not to mention finishing 2nd aggregate in Open Women to Perianne who has been an inspiration to me over the years! A huge thanks to all the volunteers at Lappe Nordic for putting on such an amazing event!

Annah tagging off to me in the team sprint



Skating into the exchange zone
5km Freestyle podium, my first senior gold at Nationals

5km skate
10km Classic

Excited to be wearing the leaders bib after winning the 5k


The group of 4, racing my first 30k


30k podium at Nationals
Haywood Ski Nationals Awards banquet- 1st place U23

The 2015 Ski Nationals were a great way to finish my season after a 6-week block of racing overseas. I was disappointed about being sick while racing at the U23 World Championships this season and not being able to perform my best there. Despite sickness I was still happy to get a top 20 in the classic sprint the first day of the competition. My 2 weeks of racing on the Sando Cup circuit after U23’s was a great experience for me, qualifying 22nd and 23rd respectively in the two sprints, I was much closer time wise to the winners (who have won WC qualifiers) than when I raced the Scando last season. Seeing this improvement for last season made me confident that with a bit more experience at the highest of levels, such as racing the Lahti World Cup, I will be able to feel comfortable racing at that level and start to be able to become competitive with time as Emily has been this season. With the Tour du Canada next season I am looking forward to hosting the World in our backyard and taking advantage of not having to travel to hopefully make a transition from where I am now towards the World Cup Team!          
20km Mass Start in Madona Latvia
Racing in Latvia
The finishing stretch. On my way to a 1st place qualification in Vietalva
My coach Chris and I getting ready for the World Cup in Lahti
Canadian Women after the sprint qualification in Lahti

Training day in Lahti

There are a couple more weeks of "spring break" left before the new training season begins, I am headed back to Whitehorse to enjoy the end of their ski season. This season as well as this career I have chosen to pursue would not be possible without the amazing support of my sponsors, family and friends. My sponsors: Skookum Asphalt, Alkan Air, Capital Helicopters, Icycle Sport, Rancho Vignola, Lanctot, the Yukon Government and my amazing grandparents and my adopted Canmore family you are all amazing and I thank you for being part of my journey and believing in me!
Thank you all so much and I am looking forward to seeing many of you in the coming weeks!

Dahria