Sunday, December 21, 2008

Duntroon 30km


It was a tough race today. I chose my skis based on the forecast that it would snow and I had good skis for the first lap of the race. On the first lap of 7.5k, I was losing a bit over the top of each hill, but I was able to get back on the train each time. It stopped snowing and as the course got skied over, we were skiing on colder, drier snow. My skis were not liking this, and they felt especially slow on the uphills. At about 11km I was dropped by the lead pack. I was on my own to push against the wind. I kept a decent pace, but on the 3rd lap my muscles were too tired to ski well and I started to lose a lot of time. Ellis passed me and I could not match his pace. In the last 4k, I got a bit more energy knowing I was almost done.

With the right skis, I would have had a much better race, but I'm not sure if it would have been enough for a great result. I didn't seem to have the legs to climb the steep hills, which you needed on that course. Thanks again to the Skielite waxers and David Z. for helping with feeds.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Noram skate sprints Duntroon


After a clear night, the snow was very cold, and the air temperature was about -20 when we arrived. I though my qualifier went ok, but I ended up 16th, and 16 seconds back. It was not the deepest field, as I was 5 seconds out of 15th. In my heat I had #5(Ellis), #6(Touchette), #15(Luke V.) and two others. I had a decent start but wasn't aggressive enough to get a good position and left the stadium in 4th place. I tried to move up several times on the uphill to the top of the course, but Luke kept closing the door by moving over to block me. I tried again just before the big downhill, but the snow was too slow on the outside. On the bottom corner I managed to move up into 3rd, but that was short lived. Once we hit the hill going into the finish, the other guys accelerated away from and I finished 4th. That was enough to retain my ranking of 16th on the final results.

I was expecting a little better, since I had good energy, but I didn't really have the snappiness you need to sprint fast. It sounds a bit strange, but Duntroon is fairly low in terms of elevation and you actually have to ski faster than at altitude. I did gain some confidence for the next time I make the heats. At the very least I got in a good, hard workout the day before the 30k.

Big thanks to Luc and Jonathan of Skielite for helping us with the waxing!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sovereign Lake Noram 16km Classic


Yay, finally a classic race! We raced after sunset starting at 5pm on the lit trails. They needed some more climbing to create a race course, so they added two big hills using supplementary lighting. One of the generators died just before the start, so one of the swooping downhills corners was totally dark. I made it through that section in warmup by snowplowing, but I wondered how I could carry speed through there during the race. They ended up parking two snowmobiles so that their headlights illuminated the trail, and I easily got through there during the race.

Just before my start time, I went inside to get changed into the clothes I was going to race in. I used a borrowed Casco visor since I didn't have a clear lens for my glasses and it was snowing lightly. I had turned down the offer of a good quality headlamp, thinking that it would be uncomfortable and would only help a little bit. But, in a quick decision, I grabbed my Tikka 3-LED headlamp and wore that for the race. It was useful since there were some dark sections and it also helped me see the track better. The track was not very solid, and as more skiers stumbled around in the dark it only got worse.

My first two laps of 3.9km went exactly as planned, except for the starter sending me early. My start time was 5:45:15, but the starter began his countdown at :05; 5,4,3,2,1,GO! I hesitated slightly since the clock was showing 5:45:10, but then figured I might as well go. I heard the starter say "oh, I started that guy early". He might have been thrown off slightly since the guy in front of me did not show up. Half way up the first climb, I got a split that I was the leader, which was no surprise given that I started 5 seconds early! I was still the leader at the next split station and soon I was through the traffic of early starters that were a lap ahead of me. I had started controlled, which is exactly what I wanted to do.

At 6k I got a split that I was 14 seconds off the lead and in 3rd place. But, a lap later, at 10km, I got that down to 9 seconds and I pushed a little harder up the next hill. Unfortunately, I started to tire, and it really showed in the easier parts of the course. I didn't carry my speed as well and I started losing time to the others. The last lap I had a good push up the hills, but was wobbly on the downhills and fell on a tricky corner in the last kilometer. I probably lost about 10-15 seconds, but I still managed to finish ahead of a group of guys by only a few seconds.

Overall it was my best distance race so far and showed signs of good things to come in classic races. Two minutes behind the winner in 11th place was a decent showing.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sovereign Lake Noram Classic Sprints

Qualifying results

I double poled the qualifier, as did most of the men. It was snowing lightly the whole time. I didn't feel as snappy in the race as I did in warmup and I ended up 31st Senior Man, 0.16 seconds from qualifying. This was really frustrating because we have worked a lot on double pole this year and today it didn't work out.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mass Start 20km Noram at Sov. Lake


It was a beautiful sunny day here, with perfect winter conditions at minus 4 C, although the snow temperature was colder. I had bib 20, so was looking to move up off the start. As I reached the end of the starting grid, I had no room to skate so I kept double poling. Eventually, I was able to skate a bit, but I was actually further back in the field than my start position. I managed to get over to the right side of the trail where there was a bit of room, but I ended up skiing over top of the classic track for most of the first 5k lap. By the end of the lap, I was roughly in 20th.

Next up was 2 loops of 7.5k. On the second lap, I used the climbs on the way to the top of the course to establish myself in the lead pack, about 15 strong mid way through the race. At one point, I may have been as high as 6th, but guys were constantly jockeying for position and I got shuffled back again. I remained with the lead pack, which had been whittled down to just 10 after the longest climbing section on the course. On the next uphill, Alex Harvey made a move at the front and I got detached from the others. I kept pushing as hard as I could, but first 3 guys passed me and then another. One more guy followed me into the stadium and blew by going into the finish. So I still didn't have the acceleration in the last few kilometers, but overall it was a good result taking into account my tough start.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sovereign 15km Skate Noram


The day started with a big dump of snow. A couple of days ago, it didn't look like there was enough snow to set a track, so we couldn't have a classic race. They regroomed the course about one hour before the start and it was in great condition and there were no rocks to worry about. I started near the front of the fastest seed, so there was a lot of fast guys starting behind. I had a great start and got a split that I was 1 second in the lead after half a kilometer. The next split I was 8 in the lead and then 10. In the meantime, I had caught Brian Gregg for 15 seconds and we took turns leading to keep the pace high.

We worked well together, but I was slowly tiring to the point where I could no longer follow Brian, and he ended up 10 seconds ahead of me. The last couple ks were a struggle for me and I lost some time in the final uphill kilometer. Overall I ended up 16th in Open, or 14th Senior Man, 1:51 back.

The races that were supposed to be in Whistler were moved to Sovereign on Thursday and Friday, and Silver Star on Sunday. So, we will be staying in Silver Star.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Qualifier Sovereign Teck Skate Sprints-Updated

Qualifying Results and Final Results

In a day dominated by fog and wind, it was time for the first Noram race of the year. My qualifying went fairly well. The skis felt really fast and I had a bit of trouble finding my balance, but I was able to push hard. I didn't hit any rocks which is a bonus as well. It turned out I didn't qualify. I was 37th overall and 33rd in the senior men and only the top 30 advance. My time put me 10 seconds behind first, and 0.39 seconds from qualifying.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dawn Mountain Classic TT

Results here

It was 3x3k on a flat course (men and women skied the same distance). There was a couple steep pitches, but it was easily double pole-able. I wanted to use kick wax so I could work on classic technique, and I felt it was a bit of a risk to my back to double pole the whole way. Dan R. and Dave Nighbor double poled the whole way and ended up 30sec ahead on everybody else.

I started mid pack and Eric DeNys gave me a split "leader by 5" after one lap and "leader by 9" after two laps. This was encouraging since I knew George, Haakon and Nishikawa started ahead of me. Towards the end of the race, Dan caught me for 1 minute and Crooks for 30 sec and I wasn't able to accelerate into the finish. It seems I lost time to most others in the last bit of the race, and, if the splits were right, I gave 29sec to George in the last lap. I probably skied a bit too aggressively on the first lap.

The team of Dan M. and Ray gave us good skis both days. I used new orange Rossignol skis both days and they performed well, and I also managed to avoid hitting any rocks.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sprint at Kicking Horse

The sprint qualifier was one lap of the course, which consisted of one big, steep uphill, followed by a downhill into a corner and then tuck into the finish.There were a lot of delays getting the bibs and there was no printed start list. Eventually I got bib #6, and I found out one of the girls was #5. When they finally announced we were going to start, they read off the names and it sounded like she was
starting with the men. It turned out they had a written list of names, with number 2,3,6,7,9, and so on. So all of a sudden I was the 3rd starter.

The skis felt good off the start so I let them glide, and I skied balanced hop skate up the hill well, but I wasn't activated mentally and physically properly for a 45 second effort. I didn't really have a plan for staying sharp without skiing. Watching the other guys start, the starter was letting guys cheat by going early, and I had been honest since it was hand timing. Anyway I ended up 17th and only top 16 qualified. The heats were two laps, which would have been better for me. Shout out to Mikey qualified 9th and ended up 4th. He made some good moves in the semi and he skied well in the other heats as well. Crooks won ahead of Widmer and Nishikawa. It was exciting to watch Sarah Daitch lose a close one to Sara Renner. Andrea ended up 3rd, after taking off on the first lap on the other girls.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dance Night at the Ho!

I had an awesome time working off the Brewski by jamming to a band from Calgary called the Black Coffee Cowboys. They came dressed in black suits and bolo ties, and rocked the house with their rockabilly style. They played their own songs but also some Johnny Horton and Johnny Cash. Imagine Folsom Prison Blues, but triple time instead of the classic railroad rhythm. Thanks for sharing Karen, Chad, Marc, it was great fun!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nationals 15km Skate

It snowed hard from the time I arrived at the site. We were told to be aggressive and get slower skiers to move out of the way, because there was only one well skied in line. I started out and my skis felt rocket. The best line was hard packed from the skiers going over it, but in some places there was huge ruts and big holes on the downhills. I didn't know the first downhill, because I had not ahad a chance to ski it ahead of time. Luckily, I caught Chris Cook on the first uphill, who had already skied a lap and he helped to show me the lines on the downhills. He was also setting a good pace, but most importantly he showed me a rhythm that suited the conditions. Today was not the day to be a glider like I usually am. The first 5k lap seemed to go by quickly as Cooker cleared the slower traffic out of the way for both of us.

I was debating whether to go by Cook and see what would happen. At some point somebody yelled "Go by him", although I forget exactly when and I don't know who it was, but it did affect my thought process a bit, because that is what I was already thinking. My plan was to go harder up the hills each lap. So, on the second big climb of the lap 2, I went by Cook and got a gap. But, after that push, I seemed to tighten up, and by the stadium Cook had passed me back and was hammering for the finish. I still had one lap to go.

It was still slowing heavily and now there was no longer any traffic on the course. My skis were feeling slower and my legs were heavy, and I started getting negative thoughts. I hadn't got a split in a while and that is usually a sign that you are not challenging for a top 15. I lost my concentration and tripped on a flat section. As I got going again, I could tell I was no longer moving well, and that just made me more frustrated. Nish and Gaustad were going well and blew by me. On the last uphill Stefan caught me and then stepped on my ski as he passed. So I stalled and chased as hard as I could into the finish. I ended up 24th overall, 15th Canadian, so it was not the result I was looking for. My laps times were 12:29.2, 13:07.4 and 14:14.7, which is obviously not good pacing. The strange thing is, the first lap and a half felt easy. I was quite annoyed and it felt like I had thrown away a good result.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Nationals 10km Classic

The Nationals 10k used the 3.3k (3500m) loop. You essentially climbed from the stadium to the top of the course, then worked your way to the low point over fast, twisty downhills and gradual uphills. Then, you climbed back up to the top of the last downhill, which takes you back into the stadium. I hadn't skied the course too much, but I found that the course suited me, because the climbs weren't too steep, and there were a few sections where I could really hammer double pole. I started near the front of the best seed and at the first split I was 4th, 10 seconds down on the leader, Koos. My skis were working well in the track, I had grip and they were rocket in the glazed track. I ended up on a klister/hard wax mix, although some of our guys had gone out on straight hard wax.

On the second lap, the track had changed and I started slipping in a few places. I double poled a few sections where I normally would have strided. At the split Dave told me I was 2nd, just 6 seconds down on Koos. I was encouraged by this result and was thinking I could be the leader when I finished. Later in the lap, Eric told me I was 3rd, 15 seconds down. This seemed a bit odd, because my skis were gliding well there wasn't any climbing between the two stations. It didn't matter though, because you always take splits with a grain of salt.

The last lap I tried to pick it up, but I was slipping a lot. I hopped out of the track on the climbs and my grip would ice and I could climb trees. This was an advantage until I got to the tops of the hills and I would try to kick off the ice so I could glide. Luckily the ice seemed to go away quite quickly. Somebody yelled that I was making time on Kershaw, which was encouraging. Nighbor caught me for 30 seconds and we skied together until he switched tracks to get around a couple Foothills guys. I followed, but my skis grabbed a bit in the non glazed track, and he got a small gap that I never closed up. He usually has a good finished, so I was happy I traveled at the same speed for the last couple k's.

I ended up 15th overall and 10th Canadian, so I was satisfied with the result. It turned out that I was 2nd when I finished, with Chris Cook holding the lead. In hindsight, I would say that either Dave missed him, or he absolutely motored in the middle of the race. It is hard to say, but I know a lot of guys who finished ahead of me used "zero" skis (special skis designed to be roughed up instead of using kick wax), so I may have been able to place better if I had a pair of those skis. I know Kershaw and Nighbor were on zero skis. It felt good to be able to unload, and have that feeling like you're "in the race".


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Nationals Sprint Relay

Luke and I finished 3rd in our Semi and I felt like I didn't have to bury myself to do it. We also had the advantage of the longest break before the Final. My skis were good, but I noticed Stefan was gaining on the downhill by taking fast lines through the corners.

Final Results  Semi Final Results

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Westers 15km Classic

In this race I went controlled up the first hill and then hammered in to the first downhill and eventually got a gap that nobody could close up. I started skiing outside of the track more later in the race which felt faster, but might have cost me a bit of grip. Overall I was satisfied.
Full results.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Westerns 10km skate

It was a beautiful sunny day for the race. The start list looked a little funny and not at all random. The top seed was setup with highest ranking going out first. Which means I started ahead of the others and was chasing the guys with no racing licenses. It was a tough course despite there being no huge uphills. There was a lot of gradual uphill and flatter terrain, with fast, twisty downhills in between. I skied the way I wanted to technically and enjoyed the ski. Results here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Westerns Skate Sprint

The 1.1k course was all uphill and then a curvy downhill to the finish. Overall a fun course, with one tricky 180 turn on the downhill. It was clear that being first into the narrow section on the uphill was key as there wasn't many good passing opportunities in the second half of the course.

Final results.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Gatineau Loppet 2008

This loppet was formerly known as the Keskinada! I pieced together a trip and went for it. A 53km skate was on the agenda. I did this race last year, but they used a different course then, since they didn't have enough snow. I wasn't sure what to expect coming off some sickness and not much training.

I had a good start and my skis felt good. At the first real uphill I pushed the pace a bit to see what would happen. As we lapped through the stadium at 9km, Cyrus and Ivan of went to the front. On a narrow uphill section at around 12km, Ivan attacked and Cyrus blocked. I yell "GO OR MOVE" and that seemed to convince Cyrus to move off to the side and I started to chase. But I couldn't get back on Ivan so I eventually pulled off and the German, Robin and Karl Saidla pulled through. Saidla let a gap open up and I figured that was ok. As we came out on the parkway, Karl and I were about 20 seconds behind the front three (apparently Ivan missed a turn and that's how the others caught up). We tried to catch back up, but it wasn't happening and eventually Karl skied away a bit on Penguin. The next 13k or so I was a bit behind Karl and ahead of a few others. Steudler caught me and then as we caught Karl, Jeffries pulled through. Carl and Chris were setting a good pace and I could follow them. Suddenly at 35k, my legs stopped working and I couldn't ski properly. Shortly after, Karl and Will passed me and I couldn't stay with them. I was on my own heading back on the open parkway and losing lots of time. Cyrus passed me with about 5k to go and there was nothing I could do. Unfortunately, it just wasn't my day and I finished 9th.

Full results.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Easterns 30km classic

Finally a 30km race! So far the longest two races on the schedule have been 20km's, so it was nice to be tackling something longer. We were doing 4 laps of a 7.5km loop characterized by steep uphills, rolly terrain and fun descents. It was snowing when we got there but then it cleared out and started to warm up. We were testing waxes on the warmup loop but it was clearly much more skied over than the course. Since we weren't allowed on the course before the race, it was a bit of a guess as to what would work. In the end I went a bit heavy on the wax, because I was worried it was going to warm up more, and the track would glaze as it got more skied over. Also, it was my first race on my new NIS C1 Rossis, and I went for the comfort layer so as make sure I had enough. It turned out my skis were good in the track, but in between the tracks the snow, which had fallen at about 5 degrees colder, was still quite powdery, and my skis were really grabby in this snow. With the race being a mass start, the course was double tracked the whole way, so we were constantly switching tracks to stay on the best line. The worst spot though was the herring bone sections where the snow was powdery. I would try and kick off the ice at the top of these hills, but it seemed like it was a thin layer of ice that formed and it wouldn't come off. I skied fairly comfortably in the pack for 2 laps, but I needed to be careful to not let gaps open up in the gliding sections. Early in the 3rd lap, I put a priority on taking a feed, since there was still a ways to go and I knew it would be a stretch for me to stay with the leaders the whole way. I lost contact and spent the next 5k chasing Butler, while the top 4 moved out of sight. Butler seemed to crack and I reeled him in and passed him right away. Heading out on the last lap, it was clear the snow had changed. I had basically no grip so it was a lap of double pole and herring bone and making sure not to skate. It was the same for all the men, but I was hoping that my skis would speed up more than others. In the end, I was losing time on the last lap, but it's tough to pinpoint why since I was skiing all alone. Overall, a decent race, but I know I could have waxed better. On the other hand, it could be seen as a decent result on a tricky waxing day with no coach.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Easterns Sprints

This new sprint course had the biggest hill we've encountered this year, and the top part of it was quite steep. It snowed a lot the day and the night before the race, but by morning it was clear and the wind had died down. The snow that fell was mostly ice pellets that don't stick together well, and despite the best efforts of the groomers, the course was very soft on the uphills. In qualifying, I picked my new soft NIS2 Rossi's, but it seemed the soft flex didn't help because I was sinking to the bottom on the uphills anyway. My legs were fried after the first uphill, and I couldn't really put the power down on the rest of the course. I was relieved when I heard I finished 24th in Open Men, but I ended up 13.2 seconds back in 2:53.8. After they separated the juniors out, my position for the heats was #19.

I knew I had my work cut out for me since I was up against #2 Fred Touchette, #9 Ian and #12 Poirier. The other 2 guys in my heat I didn't recognize, but I knew I had been ahead of them in qualifying. Not surprisingly, Ian and Fred got the best start and I settled into 4th behind Poirier. Up the first hill we went two in each lane, but I don't think anybody moved up. At the top of the hill, you have to accelerate from almost a stop and a small gap opened in front of me. I made sure to tuck low on the dropoff known as Dirk's Dive, and I got back on. In the next whiskers section I got up side by side with Poirier, but my 1-skate wasn't working in the soft, narrow corridor. I switched to offset but that didn't help and Poirier had half step on me and moved over. I stalled, but still accelerated as hard as I could over the top of the last hill. I tuck skated the whole way down, but I didn't seem to have the glide to get back on. The first three were in a photo finish and I was close fourth, but not challenging. In hindsight I probably needed some structure for the descent. In all, I skied much better than qualifying and I felt like I had done what I could given the conditions and the smaller, quicker competition. My final position was likely 19th, but I was listed as 15th on the results.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Canmore World Cup 15km skate

It was a beautiful day and the conditions were perfect. Some were saying the snow was slow, but compared to most other skate races this year, I found the glide suited my technique. I started #6, and was glad to hear that my relatives in Sweden were able to see me start. My skis felt like they were gliding really well right away. Unfortunately, I didn't feel as good as I had the day before. I couldn't ski explosively, and on the Olympic 5km you lose time the whole way if you are not pushing. My first split I was 3 seconds out of the lead and then 9 seconds. Nothing to worry about yet as I was skiing relaxed. As I lapped Koukal was just starting and Zimmerman (#7) went by me and followed Koukal (#32). I couldn't go this pace and it was becoming clear I was not moving nearly fast enough. Berger (#33) was the next one to go by and I couldn't hold his pace for more than a few strides. Eventually Robin (#8) caught me and helped me to push a bit. I was passed by Chernousov (#34) at some point but I forget where. On the 3rd lap, Devon (#35) passed Robin and I soon after the red group athletes on their first lap. Piller Cottrer (#60) and then Checchi (#61) went by early in the lap and Robin pulled away from me by a few seconds. On the whale tail, Perl (#36) went by looking strong. Then on the very last uphill Teichmann (#62) and Brian (#10) passed me and I followed them to the top. Then it was just a matter of pushing to the finish. Butler (#9) came in not long after. It was a bad day and on a good day I would have been reporting which guys I skied with rather which guys went flying by.