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Posts Tagged ‘fun’

Game On!

Friday, January 13th, 2012

It has begun.

The 2012 ski season. A dozen different races in two countries, three provinces, 6 different plane rides, countless kilometers to drive, and hundreds of skis to wax.

It’s daunting, for sure, but something I have been pumped about for the last 8 months. If you think you train all year as an athlete to race in the winter and are stoked to kick things off, multiply that by 40, and you understand about where I’m at.

Things began nice and clean this year – on January 1st, otherwise known as New Years Day.

On the back of a completely lacklustre New Years Eve celebration, I hit the road for Rumford, ME, and US National Championships.

Now, it’s been well documented that I’m not a huge fan of following ‘directions’ or even getting good ‘directions’ in the first place, so I should note that the GPS I organized for the trip to Rumford was half-assed at best.

Kieran’s version of a GPS. It’s not as good.

But despite my lack of planning, I only made two or three wrong turns on my way to Black Mountain. Where I found some conditions better suited to a ski race in April than January, as the snow was a tad thin, and the weather was balmy. But as it was the first race of the season, we powered through, testing some skis, and slapping on some wax in our cushy digs.

Temperature in Canadian at Black Mountain when I arrived. That's effing warm.

At this point, I should mention that we were staying in a ridiculously nice chalet. It featured a crazy stove with a grill top, a games room with a projector, pool table, foosball table, and large screen TV’s in just about every room. Oh, and some large stuffed animals, including a few pretty rad moose that were cool, but had seen better days.

Me and my new moose buddy. We bonded.

About 11 PM, as the three man wax crew wrapped up our waxing and was packing things up, we noticed that instead of the “light snow” we had been promised by the race organizers for overnight weather, it was in fact puking rain. We got soaked just loading a few skis in the trailer. As per Twitter, I ruminated that things might be tough on the race course, but we headed to bed ready to rip at 5:30 AM and get cracking.

Only to wake up the next morning, pack ourselves and our lunches, and find out that the races were a no-go, courtesy of (and I’m not kidding about this) FasterSkier’s Twitter find. Instead of hitting the skis, I hit the pillow, for some much appreciated snoozing time, thanks @FasterSkier!

I spent the day buying beef jerkey and catching up with Alex, Audrey, Matt, and Steve, the FasterSkier staff that I don’t really know but quite like. We had a pretty rad time, although they mostly worked really hard while I was the peanut gallery.

After a quick dinner, the wax team headed to bed yet again, hoping that we could actually see some racing in the morning.

And surprise, surprise, there actually was a race on Tuesday morning. The crew set up our wax digs outside, watched athletes run up and down the road to warm-up, and in general made a nuisance of ourselves (some dude: “hey, we can only run either this power to your wax stuff, or the snow making equipment…” us: “is that a really a debate?”).

Some several skis and covers later, Nakkertok and associated members had drawn third and fourth in the junior A-Final, and had some solid results. Not to mentioned frozen to death in the diving temperatures and surprisingly cold winds. As the races wrapped up, I packed my assorted goods into the back of the Mazda, and made like hell for home, as round two the whirlwind tour continued.

No joke, this was the thermometer reading just after we crossed the border into Canada less than 72 hours after the first reading in Rumford.

With the help of a real GPS and Do Moncio-Groulx (a rad Nakkertok athlete), I cruised into Ottawa around 10:30 PM, stopping just once at the LL Cote in Errol, NH (I think) to buy gas and check out their sale on women’s Carhartt goods. Which was good, because Wednesday afternoon, after some quick laundry, I boarded a plane to Thunder Bay, ON, and the first real test of my winter – Ontario Cup #1 held at Lappe Nordic.

Which will have to wait until tomorrow – but the pancakes are awesome, the trails are hilly, and my athletes kick ass, so it will be good – trust me.

Really? Mystic Pizza? This sounds like the worst movie ever invented - do NOT rent, download, buy, borrow, steal, or smuggle. Just don't.

Canadian Nationals: I May Have Actually Learned Something

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Canadian Nationals. It’s over.

As you can tell, my initial goal of posting something every day failed massively. It was a pretty busy couple of weeks, that involved waxing a lot of skis, drinking a lot of coffee, and in general keeping things under control.

This was my first time at Nationals as a coach rather than an athlete, and I learned a whole lot about ‘the other side of the fence’ as it is called. And it’s pretty cool.

Just some of the things I noticed:

–          Feeding as a coach is just as important as feeding as an athlete. I forgot to make a lunch one day, and after 6 hours with nothing more than a granola bar and an apple, I was scraping about one ski every 20 minutes.

Best lunch of the week - burg and fries from the cafe at the Nordic Center. Made the afternoon survivable.

–          I appreciate the organizers decision to split the sprint day into Senior and Junior Men/Women, and then Junior/Juvenile Boys girls, because it meant that each individual day was shorter, but putting the three classic days in a row sucks for coaches.

–          Getting a sunburn at a ski race is possible. Getting sunburned every single day is impressive.

–          When I worked on a pipeline, you had to be clean shaven so if you had to put your oxygen mask on in a hurry, the seal would be tight. I’m pretty sure wax rooms should have the same rules, because my beard definitely made my mask no longer air-tight. You know when you can still smell wax remover through a mask, it’s not doing the right job.

–          Napping is crucial to success. Finding time to nap is nearly impossible.

–          Just about everybody has a different way to powder a ski. And they all think their way is THE way.

–          If you think it’s messy to klister one pair of skis, imagine klistering 23 pairs. With multiple layers. Three consecutive days

–          I don’t know who was doing the shopping for our trip, but I haven’t eaten as many Oreos and Nutella in my life as I have the past week.

–          The Alpine Club of Canada knows how to pack people in. And advertise for vehicles.

Probably the best advertising I have ever seen. They sure convinced me...

–          Honey Nut Cheerios are excellent for breakfast, but oatmeal takes you a lot further in your morning.

–          I would say well over 50% of the pictures I have from Nationals are of me eating, because that’s the only time when you could take out the camera for a leisurely picture.

–          Personal space was roughly non-existent. It now feels weird to do just about anything alone.

–          Standing around in the wax room does nothing to acclimatize you to altitude. I went out Friday and skied the 10 k that the Open men did 5 times for the 50, and about 2.5 k in I felt like puking my guts out.

–          Coaching is without a doubt harder than being an athlete over the course of the week, but when I saw my athletes suffering through the team sprint the first Saturday, it was tough to think of it that way.

–          When someone says “I bought laundry detergent, feel free to do some laundry” you can either interpret it as ‘you stink’ or a helpful suggestion. I assumed helpful suggestion.

–          The difference between looking badass in the wax room and looking like a moron is personal opinion.

–          When frustrated, throwing your sunglasses into a snowbank is a poor idea, but that’s a story for another day.

–          Using RaceSplitter makes giving splits easy, until you’re using it on a tiny iPod screen, you have 12 Junior boys around the same speed in an 85 skier field, doing 10 k in 3×3.3 k loops.

How you know I have no shame - I think I look good in this picture.

–          Showing up with 43 incredibly talented athletes means that you pretty much have a lock on the Club Aggregate. Which we did. But I can’ really brag – I scored zero points.

–          Semi-formal means jeans and a shirt, at least as far as I am concerned.

Canadian Nationals are awesome. Full stop. And now it’s time to gear up, set up, and figure out the next 11 months of cross country skiing.