Canadian National Championships Team Reports
Waxing was in one level of the parkade of the Chateau Laurier Hotel and it was a complicated series of ramps and stairs to access. Some teams had their own generators and set up outside in the nearby parking lot, and we even saw a few good old propane torches. Corey was on glide, and I was on grip wax. We went with a straight Swix violet klister and had pretty good success for kick. I was happy to only have 4 pairs of skis to klister today, and we are hoping that Mont Ste Anne will have more natural snow to ski on (we have not skied up there yet).
Oh .. I should mention the incredibly thick fog that hung over the race site for almost the entire time that our 2 teams raced today. It was crazy – at one point as the challenge girls were waiting in the transition zone you could only see about 30 feet away . . the girls had to wait until their team-mate appeared out of the fog for the exchange. Corey was happy they had practiced exchanges without much visual warning! Each team skied a qualifier which was timed (can’t see the results on Zone 4 yet); Sean and Alex were 21st of 43 teams, and Anna and Elora were also apparently 21st of I think 33 teams. Both teams did a spectacular job of skiing on difficult conditions, and we were all very proud of them. Following the qualifiers there was only one final for the top 3 teams in each heat plus a 4th fastest time, so 10 in all for guys, and 11 for the girls. Hopefully they will post the qualifiers in Zone 4 soon.
We had a few hours in Old Quebec in the afternoon and 7 of us went for a walk to look for the “Crashed Ice” downhill ice course that was set to host a crazy downhill skating race which participants complete in hockey skates and full pads/gear. The final was slated for this evening, and the expected crowd was to be tens of thousands. You can Google “Red Bull Crashed Ice” and see what I am talking about. The engineering behind the course was amazing, but it did seem a shame to be upstaging the beautiful old streets and character of Old Quebec. And a few of us did ponder the fact that there were so many thousands of people interested in the Crashed Ice, and just a kilometer away the best skiers in the country were racing and not getting anywhere near the attention! We finished our afternoon watching the Open men and women categories in the team sprint finals. By this time the fog had cleared and the sun came out, so we picked a great viewing spot up on a hill and relaxed in the sun.
Evening activities featured another group supper with the highlight of Corey actually eating salad! We thought we would never see the day. And of course, more waxing. Tomorrow is a training day and our chance to make it out to Mont Ste. Anne. Next race will be Monday, short distance classic races.
Hope to send some photos soon.
Corey was heroic in the wax tent today with his quiet calm. He performed a miracle when he ran out of shop towels from cleaning klister, and managed to clean 8 pairs of skis with wax remover and a single sheet of shop towel!
The afternoon was quite relaxing. I had help with groceries and preparing dinner. Corey took the boys shopping for shorts and they arrived back at the condos with extreme compression shorts (knee length) which interestingly were all extra small womens! Corey was reluctant to talk about it.
The team is bonding well, and tonight Elora was dutifully studying Romeo and Juliet with Maya assisting by role playing. At one point as I typed this I heard “be quiet . . . Maya is trying to confess her love to you!”
Sean, Alex and Ben have been superb with their waxing assistance, and Corey and I left them working on the team’s skis as we headed off to the coaches’ meeting tonight.
I have one correction to report from yesterday – the juvenile girls team sprint was not in fact 21st out of 33 but we think 34th of 39. Results are on Zone 4 but separated out into the qualification heats, so you have to note the time and figure it out yourself. We are no less proud of them with this changed result!!
Report #3: Great first day of racing for Ben, Maya and Jamie and a continuation of racing for Sean, Alex, Elora and Anna! Thankfully no rain today, and the temperatures stayed more or less the same with an overcast sky for most of the early part of the day which kept the tracks in slightly better shape in terms of snow condition however the boys reported that putting in any kind of poling power was difficult due to the “pole trench” (Ben’s description).
Grip waxing was tricky again, and Corey and I were digging through the wax box trying quite a few things. The snow was not wet enough for some of the warmest klisters and skiers were initially coming back to report that nothing was great. The favorite with most skiers was an old tube of Swix red that must have been in the wax box a few years. The newer version KR70 Swix red was not getting the same results. Corey and I decided that wax must age like a fine old wine. We squeezed that old tube like there was no tomorrow and just managed to get enough last sticky ounces.
All skiers were focused, and gave great efforts. You can check out results on Zone 4 but to put things in perspective Sean and Elora were within 86% of the winners’ times (and both the younger birth year for their age groups); Alex was 85%, Ben and Anna 84% and Maya 80%. Very respectable!! Sean managed to be in the top 1/2 of the field for his year of birth. Jamie completed her sit ski course which included 2 very tough climbs. She met her goal of staying upright which was no mean feat. A few sit skiers tipped over as the snow was so soft and chewed up.
Maya and Jamie were impressive in the wax tent after the races as they initiated the cleaning of klister from the team’s skis. Elora and Anna got rewarded for their great racing efforts with a hands-on lesson on how to clean klister off their skis.
Quotable quote of the day came this morning as the junior boys were pondering the strange and confusing way the team sprint results had been posted on Zone 4. Alex: “This makes no sense. They must be doing it by looks and tight pants.”
One other amusing quote came yesterday at the coaches’ meeting when coaches were warned about the possibility of seeing a Moose on the trails. “Don’t chase the Moose”. Fortunately nobody encountered a Moose today as the technical delegate promised that no time allowances would be made as this would be an “Act of God”. (I am not making that up)
No photos today – sorry my technical assistant Elora has gone to sleep. Middle distance interval start skate race tomorrow and hopefully a nap in the afternoon! Early start as Jamie races at 8:30!
Report #4: Well, we are well into this competition now, with 2 races left. We continue to get ridiculously high temperatures, and tomorrow the forecast is for a high of 16 degrees. Even at 4 AM it will be +10. The fashions are interesting for racers, and include shorts, tank tops, and even just wearing the bib with no shirt. Today I managed to completely miss seeing Sean race until the last 50 m because I did not recognize him in his new short tights and bib.
The low point of the day for me as a coach was arriving at the venue on the first shift to discover we did not have Jamie’s sit ski in our van. Jamie was racing at 8:30 AM, first up. She was remarkably calm, and took up a position in a sun beam in the back hatch of the van while I made a few frantic phone calls to hurry Corey up a bit faster than the plan. I was relieved when the sit ski arrived in time for Jamie to do a warm-up and get on her course.
The paranordic group had the advantage of early snow and some decent glide for their course. This was important for Jamie as the 2.5 km yesterday had been so tough. She skied her 5 km strongly, and even finished with a smile this time!
Today the juvenile girls raced 5 km, juvenile and junior boys 7.5 km, and Maya had the longest race of the day at 10 km. The happiest skier of the day by far was Ben, who raced very strongly and finished 41st out of a field of 81 – just squeezing into the top 1/2 of the field! Ben’s calculation was 88.7% behind the leader; Alex 86% and Sean 84%. Maya moved up quite a few spots on the list today and finished 38th of 56, 83% of the winner’s time. Meanwhile in juvenile girls Elora placed 52nd of 76 racers, and Anna 56th with 84% and 82% respectively. Great job all!
Corey and I enjoyed a more relaxing day in terms of race support as Corey had prepped the skis almost entirely the night before. When the temperatures are so very high there just is not a lot of choice in the wax box!!
We enjoyed an unexpected bonus today when a Norwegian team was assigned space in our wax tent. They are not speaking any English so we can’t steal too many secrets but it is still a neat thing to be sharing space with them. On another good note, it has not rained so the floor of the wax tent is pretty dry at the moment. No wood floor yet though.
The end of the race day was pretty exciting as we stayed to watch the start of the Open men’s race. The “Nordic Knights” have arrived home to Canada from an incredibly successful World Cup season, and we got to see Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey (among others) race.
Maya was actually finishing her race as the Open men were starting which was pretty good! Sean and Alex were out doing a cool down ski, and the Nationals men’s team were out skiing the trails. Alex stepped to the side of the trails to let them go by and sank in the deep snow to the level of his waist!! This was not exactly the cool pose he was striving for as they passed by!
On the “home” front the team all enjoyed a period of forced rest for 1 1/2 hours this afternoon. Actually there was no forcing involved as all happily leaped onto our pillows for well earned rest. Later on, the vegetarian gang and I shopped for supplies, and Ben cooked up a very delicious tofu and peanut ginger sauce recipe from home, along with some quinoa that Anna had brought from home. We meat eaters enjoyed a beef stir fry version of the same, and it was quite delicious. The team continues to pitch in with meal preparation and clean up, and they are a great group to travel with!
Photos from today once again courtesy of team technical assistant Elora.
Report #5: Another warm day comes to a close! Today was the free technique sprints and we were all off to an early start, arriving at the course at 7:30 AM in order to pre-ski the course before it closed at 8:55. Today’s distances were 1100m for the juniors, and 800m for the juveniles and paranordic.
In the evening Sean, Alex, Maya and Anna headed off with Corey to attend a University evening that was supposed to inform them of university ski teams in Canada. The evening was not that well attended and was not very well prepared this year (it had been excellent at last year’s Nationals). The team had the chance to do a good relaxation/yoga stretch later in the evening. Corey managed to find a unique way of stretching using his jeans as a stretching strap which threatened to send Megan into another uncontrolled fit of laughter.
Today was an official training day that required a lot of “going with the flow”. The course was only open for 1 1/2 hours as the snow conditions have become so poor. The courses originally planned for the long distances have been closed, and racers will be on the same trails that they have raced on all week. There have been sump pumps, lots of shovelling, and apparently fertilizer and nitrogen used to try and get the snow into some sort of shape for tomorrow. The racers were let out on the course today en masse, with an official sending groups out in manageable waves to control the ski traffic. We were very happy that a number of our tested klisters worked well so hopefully we will find something suitable for tomorrow. The schedule has all but Jaymie racing quite late in the day (juvenile girls after 3:00 PM). In our team meeting tonight we talked about the challenge of racing on what will likely be very poor snow – a chance to put the team’s mental preparation skills to the test!
The afternoon was an opportunity for the girls to be part of a “First Ladies of Skiing” panel discussion hosted by Beckie Scott and featuring Chandra Crawford and Perrianne Jones. There were a number of Olympians in the audience as well, which made for some really interesting sharing and discussion. Later in the afternoon Megan attended a coaching session that was primarily aimed at coaching female athletes, but also included some very excellent discussion from the National team coach Justin Wadsworth. He particularly shared information about recovery and time off in April, including the importance of continuing intensity work and strength work after a 2 week complete rest.
We just had our last team meeting, preparing for tomorrow. Spirits are high and as I type I was privy to an enactment of Romeo and Juliet with Elora in the parking lot below, and Maya up on our balcony. I am not sure what the locals are thinking of us.
The first coaching challenge of the day came when the junior boys headed out to test the 6 best klister bets. Only Alex felt he had reasonable grip at that point, and Corey and I did some quick adjusting. The situation was the same for the Nova Scotia team who shared our waxing space, as they were having similar dismal testing results at that point in the day. We were doing our best to spy on the Norwegian wax tent in our tent but I could only tell that they had some of the same waxes out and lying around. And their skiers had all raced before lunch anyways so waxing had changed. It was very much down to the wire. Alex ended up going out on the same wax he had tested, and Sean and Ben ended up with a mix of Start universal klister and rode silver. Sadly for Alex the wax just did not perform at all on the race course, and that is why you will have seen him as a DNF on the results. Note that there were a fair number of DNF’s in the results. In addition to the poor wax, he also found that his gas tank was empty. Meanwhile Sean and Ben ended up with good skis, and both had great races. Both fell on the first lap (Sean twice and Ben 3 times) in the conjestion, having their skis or poles stepped on, or in the case of Ben, having a skier glide up behind him on a downhill and take him out on one occasion. Their wax held out for the 15 km distance (talk to Corey and I some time about base klisters), Ben caught Sean some time on the 3rd lap, and the guys finished 40th (Ben) and 42nd out of a starting field of 75 skiers which was very close to top 1/2 – great work!!! Times were 86.3% of the winning time (Ben) and 85.9% (Sean).