Monday, March 13, 2017

Lahti WC

Before heading to Lahti, I spent a week training in Davos, Switzerland. The skiing there was amazing with beautiful blue bird skies and perfectly groomed trails. Although, to be honest I was probably most excited about the breakfast spread at the hotel. Croissants and brie every morning? Yes please.
Enjoying Davos with Emily

Annika Hicks taking in the beautiful view

From Davos we headed to Otepaa Estonia to race a World Cup weekend. The Saturday was a skate sprint and it was probably the best qualifier I had all season. I crossed the line feeling really happy with myself. The next day, a 10km classic race, usually one of my favourite races, was absolutely brutal. The course was punishing, the most challenging course I had ever encountered and my body just didn’t feel good. I left Estonia feeling discouraged and intimidated by the international scene. “Stay positive, push it aside and focus on the next” I told myself. Unfortunately this is easier said than done.

Skate sprint qualifier in Estonia 

The next day we were off to Lahti. My first race at World Championships did not go any better. I was desperate for an explanation to why my body wasn’t responding. After approaching my teammates about how I was feeling, I realized two things. The first was that in order to race fast I had to continue to believe in myself 100% no matter how hard that may be. The second was that they believed in me and believed we could succeed as a team. As simple as this may seem, knowing that they had my back and that I had theirs gave me the extra boost of confidence that I needed for the rest of the races.
As the week went on, I felt the team energy build. The wax techs, the coaches and the entire Canadian ski community started to get excited about our women’s team and our standout performances. On the 10km classic day, I finally found that “perfect feeling” I had been looking for. I often find it difficult to give an explanation as to why some races go better than others. This time though, I know why. I was extremely confident. Before the race started, I knew that my body felt good, that my skis were fast and how the course would feel. Everything had already to come together, I just needed to do what I love best: ski my heart out.

Skiing my way to 36th in the 10km Classic 

Post 10km. The spit on my face shows just how hard I went...

By the time that the team relay rolled around I was more excited than ever to show the international scene what us Canadian girls were made of.  We all agreed on who was going to ski what leg, playing to each of our strengths. I was going to ski the first leg, Emily the second, Cendrine the third and Dahria would anchor. The morning of the relay, we decked ourselves out in glitter, ribbons and Canadian Flags. Even some of the wax techs and coaches joined in the team spirit. The result was a 10th place, which is the best Canadian Women’s relay result since 2006.  More importantly though, it was a real team effort. 
Starting off the relay
Tagging Emily after the first leg

So happy!!!

Need I say more?

The team behind the team. Thank you!!
 On my last day in Lahti, we all went to cheer on our men as they raced the 50km. Watching Alex win gold was really inspiring and it was incredible to be part of the excitement. We celebrated the end of a good week the best way possible, with gold medal cake and lots and lots of pizza.

I am now at home in Chelsea recovering from a head cold but I am hopeful that I'll be ready to go on Friday for World Cup finals in Qc. If you can, you should come out and cheer me, 7 of my NTDC teammates and the rest of team Canada on as we race on home soil.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Plan A

        Ever since the very first workout of the season last May, my eyes have been set on U23 World Championships in Soldier Hollow, Utah. I sat down with my coach, as I do every season, and we put together the ideal plan, Plan A. The plan was pretty simple. Part 1 would consist of the summer and fall training, arguably the most important months of the year for cross-country skiers. The main focus would be on training at altitude to be as prepared as possible when it was time to race at 1800m in Utah. Part 2 would consist of the ski season leading up to the championships. Together, we decided it would be best for me to race the Noram circuit in December rather than race on the World Cup circuit. This would allow me to build into the season, gain confidence (something I was lacking last season) and hopefully race at my fastest come February.  After Worlds we had no plans, I would go with the flow. Plan B was buried somewhere in the back on my mind, but I would not allow myself to think about it.

How did Plan A work out I the end?

The summer training went almost perfectly. With only a few minor setbacks I came out of the training season feeling fitter than ever! Then, as planned, I built into the racing season and earned myself a spot on the U23 World Champs team. Seems alright doesn’t it?

Then came time for the real test: U23 World Champs.

If I had to describe my races at U23’s in one word it would be “okay”.

OK1 (əʊˈkeɪ/) (adjective): Satisfactory but not especially good.

Although now that I read the actual definition I realize that it is somewhat flawed. “Good but not especially satisfactory” would be a better description. Overall I am quite happy with my races. I pushed hard, I had a lot of fun and I learned a couple of things along the way. But am I satisfied? No. Like any high level athlete, I am constantly on the search of that “perfect feeling”. The feeling where you are racing your heart out and your legs, your arms and your lungs are hurting but you feel amazing all at the same time. The feeling where everything comes together. For all 3 races in Soldier Hollow, I can think of many positive points and these small accomplishments are what make them good races but I was missing that "perfect feeling". I left U23 World Champs with a pit in my stomach, a growing hunger that got me fired up for the rest of the season.

Fortunately my season was not even close to being over. I was given the opportunity represent Canada at senior World Champs in Lahti, Finland. SENIOR WORLD CHAMPS!!!!!!! 

This was a dream come true.

To add a little bit of suspense, a blog post about Senior World Champs will be posted later this week.

As always, thank you for reading!