Friday, 10 March 2017

Double World Championships and making Olympic criteria

Race season is winding down quickly, Wednesday I raced the Drammen World Cup sprint and now I am back in Canada. There is only the World Cup finals left next weekend then a few races at Nationals.  It’s crazy how quickly the season passes by. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was boarding a plane in Calgary to head to Europe for the first races of the season.

Having been back in North America for January and then racing the U23 World Championships in Utah it split up my European travel nicely.
U23’s were a great event and it was exciting to see the talent coming up in Canada and be one of the leaders of the team instead of a youngster for once.  I had my best international result in the sprint, qualifying 8th and finishing the day in 12th. 
In the pack during the 15km Skiathlon
U23 World Champs quarterfinal action
From there I travelled back over to Europe to join the team and prepare for my first Senior World Championships. Leading up to World Championships we race a World Cup in Otepaa, Estonia. In the sprint I qualified 30th for the heats and finished 29th at the end of the day. This was my third top-30 result of the season, which means that I have now met the Olympic nomination criteria for the 2018 Winter Olympics. 
Bib number 1! Pretending it was a mass start not an individual start...
Sprint heats in Otepaa! 
Otepaa sprint qualifier
I left Otepaa feeling really excited and confident going into World Championships. Preparation went well and I was amped for the Sprint, the first race in Lahti. In my warm up my body was feeling heavy and once I got out on the race course I couldn’t find my usual form. I crossed the line feeling disappointed with my race before I even looked at the results. I placed 37th in my first World Championships race, not a bad result by any means but after having raced into the heat just 5 days earlier on the World Cup it was definitely a bit of a disappointment to not make the knock out rounds at World Champs. As the week went on I started to feel a bit better again with each race. I skied the team sprint with Cendrine, raced the 10km Classic, anchored our relay team to 10th place (best result since 2001) and finished off the championships by posting my best individual result of the week with a 34th place in the 30km Skate. The championships ended with the men’s 50km the last day. Since we were done racing we swapped out our race suits for our parkas and lined the course to cheer on our men. It was absolutely amazing to be there to watch my teammate Alex take the 50km gold and become World Champion. 

All the hugs

Thank you Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club for the signed flag! 

Best support team ever! Thank you all!! 

From Lahti I took a 3-day trip to Norway. I got to ski at Holmenkollen in Oslo and race the Drammen World Cup, which is a city sprint through the streets of Drammen Norway. It was a really fun race and I felt like I skied well. Unfortunately I came up a bit short of making the heats but I took full advantage of the day to stay and watch the heats and enjoy the amazing atmosphere. I think Drammen is my favourite WC venue of the season.
Meeting Devon and Kristin's beautiful little girl Asta
Making friends in Norway!!
Sprint qualifier in Drammen!
The boys told me it's never sunny in Oslo, they were wrong, two days of beautiful sunny skiing!

Now that I'm back Canada, I have a week to recover and train in Quebec before World Cup finals start March 17th!!!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Getting ready for my final Junior/U23 World Champs

Next week marks the end of a generation for me. It has been eight years since I first put on the Canadian suit to represent my country against the best cross-country skiers my age in the world. This was at the 2010 World Junior/ U23 Championships in Hinterzarten, Germany. Now 7 years and hundreds of races later I will be competing at my final World Junior/ U23 Championships still with the same maple leaf on my suit but as a very different person and racer and with very different goals. Instead of being the 15-year-old baby of the team with only 2 pairs of skis and no expectations except for to do my best, I am now the oldest on the trip, the experienced World Cup athlete with more skis to test than I can carry.
How times have changed. As I go into my final U23 World Championships, I am trying to remember the feelings I had my first time racing for Canada in order to minimize the thoughts of pressure I put in my own head and to focus on doing my best by having fun racing my heart out in the sport I love for the country I love.
With the U23 World Championships in Utah it is a huge advantage for us.  We do not have to travel over to Europe and we know the courses we will be racing. I have set high expectations for myself and will do my best to try to achieve them but in the back of my mind I keep reminding myself that I am not defined by one week of racing. No matter what the results, there will be many more days to come where I will have great races wearing the maple leaf and U23’s are just three races in a season where I will do over 30 races. There are many great races behind me this year and many more amazing opportunities to come, including Senior World Championships in Lahti, Finland and World Cup finals, which are being held in Quebec City, Canada.
Relay's are amazing because you are racing for more than just yourself and those are the times when grit you didn't know you had shows through. Racing my best race of the season in the World Cup relay in La Clusaz, France in December
I am super grateful for the amazing season I have been able to enjoy already and the opportunities I have been giving for the coming months. It has been a highlight to be able to race to 25th and 26th place finishes on the World Cup on back to back weekends in December and record the second fastest time on my leg in a World Cup relay. To race to a 3 second victory in the skate sprint prologue at U.S. Nationals and to start out so hard in a race that I ended up losing over 30 places in the final kilometer, an experience that is frustrating and humbling but will not doubt make me stronger the next time.
With only a few days left before the World Junior/ U23 team travels to Utah, I am enjoying some quiet moments in one place before I hit the road again to kick off the second half of my season which includes 17 race starts and 6 countries. I won’t be back home until the end of March, good thing I’m used to living out of a suitcase.
Until next time! 
On top of the U.S Nationals Sprint podium in Solder Hollow, site of the upcoming World Junior/U23 World Championships
Photo: FasterSkier

Enjoying being back in my AWCA race suit with some amazing teammates for the final U23 World Champs prep racing at Western Canadian Champs in Whistler last weekend.

Top of the sprint podium at Westerns in Whistler, feeling ready for Worlds. 

Some days all you need is a long ski with coach.