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Making Lemon-Aid: A Guest Post by Coach Howden

Kieran, Bella, Pat, Alec & Madi in Holmenkollen on their way to the Statoil cup in Hovden, Norway. (Photo: Ron Howden/Team Hardwood)

Kieran, Bella, Pat, Alec & Madi in Holmenkollen on
their way to the Statoil cup in Hovden, Norway. (Photo: Ron Howden/Team Hardwood)

By Team Hardwood Coach Ron Howden 

What do you do when qualification races don’t go the way you wanted and you don’t make either trip to Europe?

A. Go home and feel sorry for yourself

B. Get upset and give up skiing

C. Race domestic NorAms

D. Get on a plane and go to Norway and Sweden

E. C & D

On Jan. 17 when Cross Country Canada published the teams for the junior European trips and 3 of the 4 athletes that I coach didn’t qualify,  we went back to the house where we were staying and had a team meeting and I asked them the question above.  All three of them came up with the same answer: E.

For Bella, Madi and Kieran this is their last year in Junior, they were hoping to make the world junior team and if not then the B-tour.  As so many other athletes they were dedicated to their training in the summer, found a way to balance their training, racing and University through the fall and raced well in the early season.  By the time world junior trials came around they all raced as hard as they could, but in the end others were faster on that day.

When we sat down after the race we all decided that we were not going to let others determine our fate, if we were going to succeed in this sport then we had to work with the ups and downs.  This one decision set the wheels in motion for the plan for the rest of the season.

Step one, look at the FIS calendar and find the best time to go to over to Europe and the best races to go to and how we can blend that with the two Noram’s that are in Quebec.  We decided on the following schedule

  • Jan 30 & 31 – NorAm Mont Ste. Anne
  • Feb 5-7 – Eastern Canadian Championships – Gatineau
  • Feb 12-14 – Statoil cup – Norway
  • Feb 19-21 – Intersport cup- Sweden

Step two, send a few emails to get entered for the races, book accommodation and rent a car.

Step three, pay for the trip. Amazingly the whole trip was about the same cost as they would have paid if they went on one of the planned trips so it was in the budget they set for the season.

As their coach I am super proud that these three athletes were able to accept the decision, make a new plan and refocus.  As a result they were able to turn an unfortunate result into an incredible learning experience that will last with them for a lifetime.

The road to achieving your goals will be filled with successes and disappointments; it is how we deal with these that make us a better skier.

(Ron Howden is head coach and technical director of Team Hardwood, a nordic developmental program based out of Barrie, Ontario.)

inspiration

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