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I would never dream of complaining about being a cross country ski coach and working for FasterSkier – I have a job which allows me to be outside doing exercise in a sport that I love, and a job which lets me interact and follow the best cross country skiers in the world. That being said, sometimes having two jobs which rely on the same schedule can make things – a little tricky, let’s say.

This last weekend was a prime example. Saturday and Sunday I was slated to take a coaching course which involved an on-snow component, as well as some classroom time, and some video technique analysis – all things I have no problem learning, and I was actually pretty excited about the content. However, when you factor in the rest of the weekend which was jam packed full of things I enjoy, I would have liked an extra few hours of daylight.

Things Which Made My Weekend More Hectic Than Anticipated:

-Thursday, Dec. 30, fellow FasterSkier staffer, journalism legend, and poor Fantasy Nordic competitor, Nat Herz swung through Ottawa on his way down from a little vacation in the back woods of Ontario. This is the second time Nat and I have managed to connect in Ottawa, and he was irate after his first visit due to his total lack of Beavertail consumption, which I had promised. For those unfamiliar with Beavertails, they are basically a piece of fried flat bread, most often covered in butter, brown sugar and lemon juice, and then eaten in seconds. In my short experience with him, I have discovered Nat is a bit of a sucker for desert, and the Beavertail definitely fits in that category. As a result, he was set on finding one, but after some slight evening diversions, including a quick visit with a veteran of the ski community and a dinner that involved a guy with a greasy beard, we flat-out ran out of time, and Nat was stuck Beavertail-less for the second trip in a row. He now hates Canadians, and my job may be in jeopardy.

A Beavertail not consumed by Nat Herz

– After a scant five hours of sleep, I bounced up Friday morning to watch The Tour de Ski begin on Friday, Dec. 31, with a prologue. After catching the women’s race and eating a few pieces of toast (actually toast, as a result of his sister standing in front of Charcoal the entire time), Nat headed for home, leaving me to watch the men’s prologue, and then get started on coverage for both. Quick note on prologues – kind of a goofy format, which I don’t really like. Not that exciting to watch, and random people do well, only to drop off the face of the earth in every other format. Not sure what the point is, but judging by the lack of spectators, not that many people care.

– The coaching course started on Saturday, January 1, at 8:30 AM. And if you check your dates, that would be New Years Day. Not entirely sure how it got there, but clearly the other people in the course and the organizers were not in the 20 to 25 range.

– The weather was brutal. Saturday was several degrees above zero, rain, and then a freeze Sunday night resulted in tricky conditions to say the least. I made a pair of hairies in an attempt to have classic skis with grip – no dice. Instead of benefiting from perfect snow, we dodged puddles, patches of grass and dirt, skating-rink-like conditions, and pouring rain. I’ll be honest – the conditions sucked. Impressive reaction from the participants however – absolutely everyone (including myself) was still keen to be out there, and there was a complete lack of whining.

– The World Junior hockey tournament is in full swing. Like at least a couple of other Canadians, I’m somewhat interested in hockey. I know who Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are, but I also know who Danny Carcillo and Brayden Schenn are, which should give anyone vaguely interested in hockey just an idea of how closely I follow the sport. World Junior’s is a fixture on my calendar around this time of year, and the elimination games began on Saturday – when I finally arrived home from the course, around 6 PM, the Canadians had just finished ousting the Swiss from the tournament.

The exact opposite of the ski conditions at my coaching course

– More importantly, Saturday morning was the second day of the Tour de Ski – and it turned out it was a wickedly exciting hunter-style classic pursuit. With the Canadians killing it (Kershaw second, Harvey 9th)and after watching it today, it was an awesome race which would have been unbelievable live. A quick note on hunter-style pursuits – completely sold on this concept. There is nothing more intense than the start, with so many skiers going out like crazy. While the end result in men’s racing is often the leader getting swallowed up and then destroyed, the fact that total time plays a factor means the mass start racing is way better.

– Sunday morning I woke up feeling terrible, and seriously considered staying home to avoid the skating rink skiing, and more importantly, to catch my favorite World Cup format (a classic sprint) with two Canadian and one American man clearly looking for top results. But I hustled out the door, but not before I was able to check qualifying results – and with the top qualifying by Kershaw, Harvey, Newell, and even Freeman in the heats, not to mention Randall, I just about pulled the plug. While I love all cross country skiing, sprints, and in particular classic sprinting is almost an addiction for me. The speed, tactics, close finishes, falls, and upsets all make it the best format on the World Cup today. I left home exacting a promise from a friend to text me results as the day went on, which turned out to be an awesome idea, until the final. He gave me the start list for the men’s Final, I waited, and then received “Oh man, you have to watch the mens final for yourself,” which, at 10 AM when you have another 7-8 hours of coaching course without internet access, was probably the most painful thing to hear.

– During this whole 3-day process, I finally managed to sell my van. Except the guys who bought it picked it up when I wasn’t home, leaving me to collect bits and pieces of paperwork and spare keys, and finding a way to get them to a small town 45 minutes away before he left to head back to school after the Christmas break on Sunday morning.

– And a huge thank you to George, Sabrina, Jordan and Duncan McTaggart for dinner on Sunday – not having to make dinner after a busy weekend was awesome!

Favourite Workout of the Week (or last couple of): This is tricky, because in 7 days in Canmore I skied 17 hours, including two amazing 3 hour classic days. However, just before heading to Canmore I went to Ontario Cup #1 in Duntroon, ON, as a coach to support 20-ish Nakkertok skiers. The first testing run around the skate sprint course on Saturday morning reminded me why I no longer race – my legs burned after heading up the one steep uphill on the course.

What I’m Watching These Days: 24/7 – a pretty cool new HBO series that covers the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. A lot of behind the scenes stuff, including some intense coaching moments. And obviously the 20 km Pursuit and Classic sprint from the Tour – both were deadly, and without a doubt the highlight of World Cup racing so far this year.

Is YouTube Really Worth My Time?: Surprisingly, for once it’s not. If you’re out there making YouTube videos, hurry up, because I need some entertaining stuff to watch

Testing in the morning. Don't tell anyone I took this picture - I was supposed to be testing, not having fun.

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