Thursday, July 9, 2015

From Thunder Bay to Canmore and back

           It has been a very busy and hectic last month and a half. Two days after I moved to Thunder Bay, my teams annual spring testing camp, A.K.A Boot Camp, began. When I first heard the term “Boot Camp”, I imagined our coach with a whistle yelling at us as we rolled muddy tires, did push ups and sprinted around. Thankfully, that was not the case. The name Boot Camp comes rather from the fact that the training can be somewhat of a shock to the body after the easier months of training in April and May. The goal of the camp was to do a variety of tests in order to collect quality data that would be used throughout the rest of the training season. After getting sick from doing a similar testing camp last year, I made sure to be better prepared for the one this year and all in all the week was a success.

The tests we did included a running treadmill test, an uphill 3km running test, an uphill roller ski test and a skate roller ski time-trial. These intensity workouts were spread out through 7 days and were mixed in with other easier workouts. If you are interested in reading more about my team, I highly suggest you visit our website: My teammates and I will take turns posting articles throughout the season.

A popsicle break during a long bike ride with my new teammates (Alannah,Mia,Sadie,me and Jenn)

We re raced the 3km uphill time trial again a couple of weeks after boot camp and Angus, Sadie, Mia and I all ran a new PB.

I recently came back from our second training camp of the summer. The goal of this “Alignment camp”, which was held in Canmore, Alberta was to provide all the best athletes in Canada the opportunity to train all together for 2 weeks. Our team was joined by the two other Canadian Training Centres, the Alberta World Cup Academy and Centre National d’Entrainement Pierre Harvey (Quebec) as well as the World Cup Team. This made a grand total of 15 woman and 35 men. The fact that it was the first time that I have been able to train with such a large group of strong female skiers made it a very fun and exciting 2 weeks.

The girls and I on a long run in the mountains( Photo:Dahria Beatty)
The 2015-2016 National Ski Team ( I am in the middle of the front row)

This camp was an amazing learning opportunity.I did a variety of intensity workouts with my fellow competitors which allowed me to get a better idea of my weaknesses and my strengths. One of my big goals for the training season is to improve on my upper body strength and ultimately improve on my double polling (upper body only technique). Luckily, the camp provided many occasions to work on that goal. One of the workouts was a double-pole only team sprint. To be completely honest, I was slightly disappointed and a little discouraged when I found out that the team sprint had been changed from a skate sprint to a double-pole sprint. In the past, I have caught myself being a little negative about this specific technique. Before the workout began, I expected it to be difficult and that the last hill of the race course would test both my mental and physical abilities. I was right. On my 6th and last time up, I could feel every muscle in my body burn as I pushed over the hill. Instead of focusing on the pain, I focused on having a quick tempo and staying strong. When I finished the workout, I had an amazing feeling of accomplishment. I may have predicted how hard the workout was going to be, but I had not expected to have as much fun as I did! My amazing teammate, Frederique Vezina and I even won a hand crafted card board gold trophy designed and built by the one and only Coach Pav.

The 2 weeks I spent in Canmore were filled with many other fun activities and workouts that are best described with pictures, so here it goes:

Part way through our 3 hour run at Sunshine Meadows

I was able to take advantage of the Canmore facilities and do a rollerski treadmill test.
The winners of the team sprint workout. From left to right: Sam Greer, Alex Harvey, me and Frederique Vezina (Photo: Sam Greer)

On another one of our runs. The scenery was amazing!
After the camp, I stayed out west a little longer and went on a short camping trip in Kananaskis Country 

Carrying a back pack with all the camping gear

Until next time,


Saturday, May 23, 2015

April Adventures

It is already mid May, and I am getting ready for yet another training season. For those who, like me, have visited the CCC website many times in the last month waiting for the training center and national team nomination list to come up, you are probably aware of my plan for next year. For those who are not, the big news is that I will be moving to Thunder Bay to join the National Development Center! Even though the decision was somewhat difficult, I am confident that it is the best place for me to be at this stage in my skiing career. Other good news is that I have been nominated to the Senior National Development Team!

During the last month and a half I have been keeping myself busy with things other than skiing. For me, the month of April, which skiers refer to as “off month” is the time to switch my focus off of competing and training and have fun doing things I would normally not do. After nationals, I gave my body a well needed rest and focused on the large pile of school work that had accumulated over the past month. Although this does not exactly qualify as “fun”, it felt good to switch my focus onto something else. I also took advantage of the amazing spring skiing in the Gatineau Park. I even went skiing with my dad on April 12th and the conditions were great.
With my dad on April 12th

A couple of days later, the skiing was not so good

Other than that, Emilie and I went on weekend hiking trip in Lake Placid, New York a couple of weeks ago. We had already been hiking in the Adirondacks region about 16 times and climbed most of the peaks but we had never been backpacking. So, to change things up, we planned a route where we could camp overnight in the middle. We were both seeking a true adventure, and we were not disappointed. As any adventure goes, some things did not work out as we planned. This partially had to do with our lack of said planning- which was done at the very last minute.

That being said, we were already a little behind schedule when we departed on Friday afternoon in our Sienna mini-van. About 100m before we arrived at the border to the US, we had to turn around due to sign that said: bridge to the US closed. We had to do a 2 hour detour to get to the next border crossing and arrived at the campground a little past 10. To make things even more interesting, the next morning, as we were making breakfast, we realized that the stove was not working. In my defense, I had tested it out before leaving and it had worked.  After eating breakfast which consisted of a cliff bar and an apple, we packed up our bags with all the food that did not need to be cooked and our camping gear and set out to the trail head. On the first day of hiking, we ran into snow near the top of the mountain which slowed us down. In some places, we would even sink down to our hips. To make it a little more challenging, our 40 pound backpacks were making it quite difficult to balance.
The rest of the weekend went rather smoothly. I enjoyed the perfect sunny weather, the good company, and the beautiful views. I even enjoyed my cold dinner of canned tomatoes, coconut milk and chick peas!

Walking down steep rock faces with a 40 pound backpack is difficult
Cold curry dinner
A nice day for a dip in a freezing cold waterfall

As I am writing this, I am on the plane heading to my new home, Thunder Bay. The last week has been pretty hectic with packing up all my belongings and writing my 2 last CEGEP exams. Thankfully, two of my new teammates happened to be in Ottawa and offered to drive some of my gear to Thunder Bay, thanks Andy and Alannah! That is all for now, I will make sure to give an update on my upcoming training camps.

Until next time,


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Ski season review

The last three months have gone by in a blur. It is now the end of another great season . As a cross-country skier, April is the month to reflect on your season and it is also the month of decisions. But before I make any of those, here is a summary of my season.

World Junior Championships

As it was my third time jumping on a plane to represent Canada at World Junior Championships I had a good idea of what to expect. I knew that adjusting to the time change and recovering from jet lag were keys to having good races overseas. However, nothing I had experienced in the past would be comparable to the 11 hour time change and 24 hours of travel time I experienced in travelling to Kazakhstan. Thankfully, we arrived more than a week before the first race.

The race venue was situated at the top of a large pile of sand in the middle of the city of Almaty. All of the courses swerved around the top of the hill and were sandwiched between the city and the mountains. If we got to the race site early, there was a beautiful view, but as it got warmer, the smog would rise and we would be skiing in a cloud. In Almaty there was virtually no snow. So, when we arrived at the race site they were busy unloading snow from trucks and running the snow guns. Parts of the distance courses were ready to ski on but the sprint course was yet to be created. That being said, I was not surprised when the sprint race was delayed by one day.

 In Kazakhstan, most people do not speak English. We needed the help of a English speaking volunteer in order to get around. One day, we headed over to the Bazaar in Almaty to get a taste of the culture of Kazakhstan. The bazaar was full of alleys of tightly squeezed booths selling everything from socks to carpets. When I tried bargaining down the price of wool socks, I had to grab a calculator and enter in the price so that the salesperson would understand. We also visited the food bazaar where I was a little shocked to see pig heads hanging as a decoration at the booths to show the kind of meat that was being sold.

With teammates Maya (centre) and Annah (right) above smoggy Almaty 

With Sophie at a ski venue an hour away from Almaty

All in all, results wise, World Juniors were a success. Here are some of the highlights:

We started the week off well, with 3 junior women finishing in the top 25 in the classic sprint which fired all of us up for the rest of the races. 

The quarterfinal with Maya (far left). I am bib 19.   Photo:Lisa Patterson

Three days later, I achieved my biggest goal of the season which was to finish top 15 in a distance race. Crossing the finish line in 14th in the skiathlon was an absolutely amazing feeling.
Photo: Raphael Couturier

The day after, I was able to watch fellow U23 Canadian Olivia finish 12th in the skiathlon and bust out some of her moves with a celebratory dance at the finish line!

Finally, the 4X3.5km relay was, as usual, my favourite race of the week. This can be explained by the fact that it is an opportunity to race not only for yourself, but for your team. It is also the perfect excuse to put matching Canadian flag tattoos on our cheeks and red sparkly ribbons in our hair. This year, I was scramble leg. I had one goal in mind and it was to stick with the front pack for as long as I possibly could. After about 2km, I was in 4th. Unfortunately a skier clipped my ski and I ended up going flying and losing my binding. One of the Canadian coaches was quick to give me a new ski but by that time I had lost the front pack. I spent a good amount of time after the race thinking about what I could have done to avoid the fall but I came to the conclusion that there is no point in wasting time on something you cannot control. Even though things did not go as planned, I was happy with how I skied and I had a great time cheering on my teammates.
Team relay       Photo: Camille Cheskey 

Canada Winter Games
After World Juniors, I was invited to travel to Europe with other Canadians to race a series of Scandinavian cups. For several reasons, I decided to turn down the offer and head to Canada Winter Games in Prince George BC instead. I had a little more than a week at home to catch up with my 3 Cegep courses and to get over the unavoidable overseas cold before it was time to pack my suitcase again.

Canada Winter games are organized to look like mini-Olympics. There is an athlete’s village that is situated close to all the hotels. The village includes a huge cafeteria where we all eat, an athlete’s lounge with various activities and a big stage.

The races were held at Otway Nordic Centre. The conditions, the courses and the weather made for an absolutely amazing week of racing!

Marie and I after finishing 3rd and2nd in the sprint. Photo: Raphael Couturier
The Quebec team
The 10km skate podium
The Highlight of the week: wining gold in the relay with these girls
While I was in Prince George, I also had the opportunity to help out at a fast and female event.

Photo:Pacific Sport Northern BC
Photo: Pacific sport Northern BC

The season ended as usual with National Championships. This year they were held in Thunder Bay at Lappe Nordic Centre. The volunteers and organisers made it an absolutely flawless event , thank you! 
The week started off with the club team sprint. I had been looking forward to this race ever since I had received an e-mail in January from two time Olympian Perianne Jones asking if I would like to be her teammate. Peri has been an inspiration to me for the longest time so it was an honour to race with her. 
The A final with Maya, Annah, Ember, me, Sophie and Jenn (from left to right) Photo: Bernard Pigeon
Nationals is probably the toughest competition of the year. Everyone has had a different season and so everyone has a different goal in mind. As for me, I was in survival mode. I had just been through the longest season of my life and it was time to give everything I had left in the tank. I knew it was my last races as a junior so I decided to enjoy every moment of it.
Th traditional hug after nationals sprint final Photo: Bernard Pigeon
In the 20km skate race. ( I am bib number 312) Photo: Benoit Theroux
Photo: Benoit Theroux

Now it is back to reality. I want to thank everyone who made this season such a great one. 

Thanks Kieran Jones ( my coach) , for going out of your way to help me; for the times you have driven to Chelsea to have a meeting, for all the long e-mails you have answered from the other side of the world and for supporting me every step of the way!

My family, for being the absolute best. Thanks Emilie for taking notes for me in class while I was away.

My teammates: thanks to all of the Nakkertok crew and the rest of my teammates from around Canada for making workouts and competitions a million times better!

All the volunteers and wax technicians who took time off work to come to races and help us race our fastest.

Wayne Johannsen, thanks for helping me out with my skis this year. 

Finally, thanks to the Chelsea Masters for organising the Master to Juniors event that helped pay for my trip to worlds.

Until next time!