2010 Vancouver Olympics

2010 Vancouver Olympics
Welcome! It is here I hope to keep all of my sponsors and supporters up to date about my everyday life as a full time Biathlete. I will post regular updates about how my training and race season is progressing, which will hopefully provide a little insight as to exactly what my life is all about. With the Sochi 2014 Olympics fast approaching, I invite you to join me on my journey as I pursue my dreams...

Friday, January 30, 2009

I know...Long Overdue!

This post brings you up to date on the more exciting details about what exactly I've been up to this since my last entry.

Roller ski Trials

When I left off on my last post I was gearing up for our trial races which would take place while racing on roller skis.  Canmore would be host to the North American Summer Biathlon Championships and 3 races over the course of 4 days would determine the athletes that would take part in the early season pre-Christmas tours to Europe.  Having trial races on roller skis (for upcoming races that will be on snow) creates quite a bit of controversy among the athletes as roller skiing isn’t quite the same as skiing on the real white stuff. Another way to look at it is if skiing on snow is 100% efficient, than other types of training that although close, will not be as efficient.

The races were stressful and I didn’t have stellar performances over the course of this competition, but I performed well enough and qualified as the 4th man selected for the IBU Cup tour in December.


A new definition of PAIN!

I mentioned in my last post that we had been visiting the Olympic Oval in Calgary from time to time to make use of the new treadmill that is being used by the national speed skating and ski teams.  The machine is basically identical to a running treadmill but is much larger and more powerful.

Warming up on the treadmill (the Olympic Oval can bee seen in the reflection from the mirror).

While waiting for the snow to fall in Canmore, we made frequent trips into Calgary to take advantage of the treadmill and do a series of extremely gruelling and punishing VO2 Max interval sessions.  The treadmill is extremely useful as you can ski and be monitored under a controlled setting which is difficult to do on snow.  The speed and grade can be changed at the push of a button and there’s no cheating or easy way out for the athletes.  Either ski the speed the belt is moving or you’ll face the consequence and find yourself dangling from a safety harness suspended from the ceiling!

A typical V02 Max session during this period of training was in a pyramid form and went as follows:

3% grade – 22km per/hr – Two skate

6% grade – 18km per/hr – One skate

14% grade – 11km per/hr – Off set

14% grade – 11km per/hr – Off set

6% grade – 18km per/hr – One skate

3% grade – 22km per/hr – One skate

The intervals were a max out effort and extremely hard to complete.  Lactates (determining what level of stress the body is under by measuring the amount of lactic acid in the blood) were taken halfway through the session and I set a new lactate record for myself of 16.0. This is very high for a guy with a relatively low lactate curve!  I don’t think I have ever been in this much physical pain while training, but it was motivating to learn that I am able to push myself to this type of limit and know that even when I think I have nothing left in the tank, I can always dig a little deeper.

What happens when the treadmill picks up speed a little too fast!

Where’s the snow?

We experienced an unusually warm October and early November here in Canmore which is a skier’s nightmare.  At this time of the year the dry land training has taken its toll and we are extremely eager to transfer our training over to snow.  There was little to be found anywhere in the country and after our early season ski camp to Silver Star got rained out, I made the journey to the only place in Canada where there was decent snow; home!

I arrived in Hay River around the 10th of November for 10 days and made use of the excellent snow conditions to prepare myself for the race season which was quickly approaching.  I had the entire trail system to myself most days and trained on my own which gave me the opportunity to fine tune areas of my skiing and shooting that I felt needed work.  The only downside was the weather.  Soon after my arrival temperatures dropped after they had been very moderate during the three weeks prior to my arrival.  It was my fault for not jumping on plane sooner, but I still managed to achieve what I had come for; excellent early season skiing!


NorAm Cup #1

I arrived back in Canmore just in time for the North American Cup #1 which would serve as my first official competition of the winter season.  I had strong performances in both races with great skiing and decent shooting.  I finished Saturday’s race in 3rd place and would have been on the podium the next race as well, but instead found myself disqualified after Sunday’s Individual race due to accidentally skiing part of the course wrong.  I wasn’t too worried as I still had a solid race, and the competition served its purpose as a tune up before heading to Europe. 

Racing in the NorAm Cup#1 - Canmore, AB


Off to Europe!

Six days following my first races of the winter, I was on my way to Europe on my first tour of the season to take part in a series of International Biathlon Union races.  Our first stop was in Obertilliach, Austria to race in the IBU Cup #2.  An internal selection process within the Canadian team would also take place during the early stages of this tour to select the top two men from our tour to join the team on the World Cup circuit.  Entering into the first IBU Cup race I was ranked second Canadian.  After a strong performance in Saturday’s 20km Individual race I crossed the line in 25th out of 132 competitors shooting 16/20 while putting in a solid effort on the skis.  This result sealed the deal and I was on my way to race in my first World Cup!


Obertilliach, Austria - In the two days leading up to the the first race it snowed non-stop.  When the storm was over, a total of 1.5 meters of fresh powder had accumulated.  This made for extremely soft trail conditions during our first competition and resulted in one of the hardest 20km races I have ever done!


World Cup Debut!

After Saturday’s 20km race in Obertilliach, I had a couple hours to pack and grab some food before I jumped in a vehicle and was on my way to the World Cup to race in a Relay the following morning.  After five hours of driving through a lot of snow and rain we finally arrived in Hochfillzen, Austria.  I felt alright until I went to get out of the vehicle and it was then I realized that my body had stiffened up from sitting for so long and that I was in a bit of rough shape!

I woke up at 4:30am the next morning either due to nerves or maybe as a result of the ongoing battle with jetlag, or likely a combination of both!  After quick morning run to loosen up my body and some dry firing in my hotel room, I was as ready as I could be to race!  The whole experience was a little overwhelming.  I had no idea what to expect.  I had never even been to watch a World Cup race before and had only ever watched them on TV.  Driving into the venue we passed by a steady stream of fans making the journey to the stadium and once I saw this, I knew I was in for a new experience!  Once I arrived at the race site it was more or less the normal routine of testing skis, zeroing, and warming up before the race.  My ski testing got off to a bit of stressful start after I wrecked a pair of my team mates skis by hitting a rock, but after that everything went normal!

I was racing leg 3 out of 4 for our 4 x 7.5km relay and listened to the results while skiing around the warm up loop and got the occasional view of the race on the jumbo screen near the range.  Canada was off to a great start.  The wind conditions made the shooting difficult, but in comparison with the other teams, we were shooting well and having a good day.  Robin, our first man out tagged off to Scott in 8th place.  Scott had an impressive leg to tag off to me in 5th place.  Now, to put things into perspective, Canada’s best relay finish ever up to this point was 13th.  I was a little stressed out that my debut on the World Cup would be in a Relay race, and it didn’t help the pressure to have Scott tag off to me in 5th!   I only had a few seconds to worry about this and before I knew it I was out on course and settled in to doing what I’m trained to do; race!  Given the circumstances, I raced a solid leg, and tagged off to Jean Philippe in 7th, who had an incredible last leg given the pressure our team was under to finish and maintain 7th place, only13 seconds off 4th place.  It was a great day for everyone on our team and it was a bonus to have Canada’s best finish ever in a Relay on the World Cup.  It was also an extremely exciting debut for me in my first World Cup race.

I stayed on the following week to race World Cup #3.  My races were OK, nothing spectacular but it was great to be able to gain experience racing amongst the World’s elite.  After the last race it was in the vans and we were off to spend the night in Munich before heading home for Christmas.  This year I decided not to spend Christmas at home in Hay River due to it being difficult to get quality training in, as it is often extremely cold around Christmas!  After arriving back to Canmore in the early hours of the 23rd, I drove to Nelson on Christmas Eve to spend 4 days with my brother Paul’s family and my parents who drove down from home.  Despite getting sick while in Nelson, it was a nice way to relax and spend my break after a busy few weeks of racing.


                          WC#3 - Shooting prone during the Sprint race in Hochfillzen, Austria.

Photo credit - Christian Manzoni

9 Seconds Off…

I arrived back in Canmore on the 28th and began training with my team again the next day.  On the agenda was a tough week of training high in hours, strength, and intensity.  To finish the week off, I registered to race in a Haywood Cup 15km cross country skate race.  The competition also doubled as a team selection for the cross country skiers to pick the U23 (under 23) World Championship team as well as athletes to race in upcoming cross country World Cups.  It was a good opportunity for me to race as the top skiers in the country were there and it allowed me to gauge where I compared in ski speed to the athletes in the cross country world.  I wasn’t exactly expecting a stellar performance given the week of training I had just finished and the fact that I had been sore almost every day from starting a weight program again in the gym.  I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome and ended up skiing quite a solid race and finished up in 4th place overall and was the 2nd U23 man.  Had I been 9 seconds faster and won the U23 category, I would have secured myself a place on the U23 World Championship team.


Judgement day…And I’m off to World Champs!

On January 15th our second and last set of trial races of the season took place.  Up for grabs was the last remaining spot on the World Championship Team, and 4 spots that were open for the European Championship Team.  I always find these selection races some of the most if not the most stressful of the season, mainly because of the ‘do or die’ scenario.  Either race well and make one of the teams, or get stuck at home in Canada and race the domestic circuit.   The number of top ranked athletes fighting for the positions this year was impressive, as the increasing depth in the men’s team is raising the level of competition. To select the teams, an average percentage of the best 2 out of 3 races are used.  The percentage is determined by the average time of the top 3 athletes divided by your race time.  Therefore, a bigger margin of victory will result in a higher percentage being awarded to the winner, and if the top 3 times are close than the percentage of the winner will be lower.

Fortunately, I can say that the 3 races over the four days could not have gone much better for me.  Every race was very tight, so there was a build up of pressure that came with each day of racing.  I had a very good performance and won the first race on Thursday by a narrow margin of only 2 seconds.  On Saturday I had another narrow victory, this time by 5 seconds.  With the races being so tight and my overall percent lead being relatively small, it meant that everything came down to Sunday’s Pursuit race.  There were 3 of us who were in contention for the World Championship spot by this point and the race could have been won by any 3 of us.  Thankfully, I was able to keep cool under the pressure and was able to put in another solid performance.  I won again, this time by a larger margin of 30 seconds!  I was on my way to race World Championships in Pyeong Chang, Korea!

Racing Trials in Canmore, AB


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