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...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thoughts on World Champs…

The World Championships wrapped up the other day with the Men’s 4x7.5km relay. Conditions had improved slightly from earlier in the week, but there were still some corners that were pure ice on the down hills. Our team finished up in 16th, which was far from our best relay result of the season, but I think respectable given the pressure we were under. I actually had my best race of the Championships during our Relay and I managed to finally adapt to the unforgiving wind on the range. I felt solid on my skis, was able to push hard in the up hills, and logged one of my faster ski ranks of the Championships which I was pretty happy about.

Racing the Relay. Photo credit - Christian Manzoni

Following the race which was once again at night, we had to scramble to pack our skis and rifles at the venue and have everything ready to be loaded into cargo vans, which would meet us with our luggage at the airport in Seoul the next morning. Once arriving back at our accommodation we grabbed our last Asian buffet meal and did some last minute packing before heading to bed around midnight. Only a few hours later it was time to wake up to catch a bus to the airport and begin my journey back to Canada. While the rest of my teammates were able to fly back home over the Pacific Ocean, I had to fly home the opposite direction around the world with an overnight stop in Frankfurt. I made it back to Canmore in one piece but I am still feeling fairly fatigued from the travel.

My first World Championships was a fun and interesting experience, and I think it’s safe to say that it was also quite a different and unique experience for many of the veterans on the circuit as well. I can’t say that I’m a fan of racing in Korea, and won’t be disappointed if I never get to race there again! The Championships didn’t really have the same feel compared to the World Cups in Europe and the conditions were so adverse it made racing and training extremely frustrating at times. Performance wise other than in the Relay, I didn’t perform to my expectations which was very frustrating even though my skiing was in good form. I struggled a lot with the conditions, mainly the wind, and I think I lacked the knowledge and understanding that the most experienced athletes showed like Ole Einar Bjørndalen and Halvard Hanevold. This type of experience can only be gained through racing in these types of conditions and I think I am a stronger athlete now having had the opportunity to race these World Championships in Korea. I was happy to finish on a positive note with a good leg in the Relay, and I’m looking forward to the remainder of the season.

Skiing in the cross country stadium with ski jumps in the background.

I’m now back in Canmore and will be putting in a solid week of training here before packing my bag again and traveling to Whistler for World Cup #7. This should be an awesome experience to race on home soil and it will be fun to have some family and familiar faces cheering me on!

See you next in Whistler!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

World Champs Sprint & Individual

Since my last post both the Sprint and Individual competitions have gone underway here in Korea. I procrastinated writing a post about the Sprint because I hoped that I would have something more exciting to write about from today’s 20km Individual race. Unfortunately this is not the case, and I am disappointed to say that I have not been performing to my expectations.

Saturday’s 10km Sprint race was one that I won’t forget. When I woke up the rain had stopped and our team got the word in the morning that the race would be a go. The course would be slightly modified however as parts of the original loop were now too icy and dangerous to race on. Instead or racing 3 laps of the 3.3 km course, we would now race the 2.5km course and do a double lap of 2.5km in the middle of our race.

Working hard to stay on my feet on one of the sketchy downhills

After sleeping in and killing time in the afternoon by going for a run and dry firing at the race site, we made our way to the venue to prepare for the night’s race. The organizing committee trucked in quite a bit of snow and entirely recovered the stadium and most of the course. Everything leading up to the race went normal. Conditions were far from ideal though. The snow was really soft and a mix between slush and sugary manmade ice, especially on the climbs where our skis would get buried, making it a tedious day on the body. It felt like I was trying to ski through sand at many points throughout the race. The descents on the other hand were icy and fast which made the corners on the more technical down hills super sketchy and provided spectators with a few good crashes to watch. I tried not to fight the slush while skiing and instead tried to ski as relaxed as possible which is very important to do in these types of conditions. Instead of powering through the deep snow I tried reduce muscular fatigue by taking smaller steps on the climbs while skiing with a higher tempo relying more on my engine and VO2 max as opposed muscular power. The other difficult element to deal with that night other than the snow was a strong wind that was always present and would switch to stronger gusts throughout the race. In short, I didn’t race well and got off to a terrible start with three misses prone due to having problems making the proper corrections for the wind. Shooting standing was a little better, but still not great and I was out of the running for a top 60 finish, which meant I wouldn’t be starting in the Pursuit race the next day. JP and Robin were the top Canadians on qualifying for the Pursuit in 42nd and 48th place. The only positive from the race was my skiing in which I ranked in the top 45. For me this is solid. Ski speed is all relative however, as it doesn’t do much good unless combined with an excellent performance on the shooting range.

Our wax techs working hard as usual finding us the best pair of skis for the day

I put the Sprint result aside and focused the next few days on getting prepared for today’s Individual race. Training was going very well leading up to today. Race prep yesterday couldn’t have gone much better. I was feeling strong and had seemed to have mastered the tricky wind conditions in the range. I was pumped and ready to go.

After a very thorough zero which included some visualization of different wind scenarios and a solid warm up, I was confident that I could have a good race even if the wind wasn’t favorable. The race started out awesome. I paced my skiing well and shot clean prone and had 1 miss standing. At one point on the third loop I was ranked 25th. This was until I came in for my third shooting bout and things started to go downhill. The wind had changed and this time instead of not correcting enough, I think I may have overcorrected. I left the range with 3 penalties and my next standing bout didn’t go any better. It was very frustrating but I buried my thoughts and fought hard until the end. Once again I had a great ski and once again my shooting held me back from what had the potential to be a great performance. There were a lot of misses today; even from many of the top ranked shooters. Having a lucky day on the range with conditions being the way they were was definitely the ticket to a great result today.

A view of the stadium while training during the day

I’ll take tomorrow’s training a little easier and then it’s time to focus on preparing for Sunday’s Relay race.

Results, articles, live results, and a live video feed of all the races can be found at www.biathlonworld.com

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hello from Yong Pyong!

Well, after a 10hr plane trip and a 3hr bus ride from the Inchon Airport near Seoul, we arrived in the Yong Pyong Winter Resort. The Greenpia Hotel will be home for the next 3 weeks while we prepare and race during the World Championships. The resort we are at is like a miniature Whistler and made entirely with tourists in mind. Apart from the ski hills, other winter attractions include a 400m snowmobile course and ice fishing in a nearby pond. These activities are definitely not authentic over here, but pretty hilarious to watch, especially if you come from the North!

The Greenpia Hotel will be our home for the next three weeks.

The venue is located about a 5min bus ride from our hotel and has been a hot topic of discussion amongst the teams since our arrival. Simply put, the trails are very challenging. The up hills are frequent and each one is long and very steep. Following the giant climbs are technical and super sketchy down hills. They wouldn’t be so bad under normal conditions, but the snow conditions here are a little adverse. All the snow is manmade and the temperature climbs to well above zero every day. With the exception of the Individual competition all our races will take place at night under flood lights and the last few days we’ve been training at night during the same time we’d be racing. By the time the men start training the temperature begins to drop, and the slush during the women’s training just a few hours before is turned to solid ice. Huge ruts on the down hills form and things start to get intense. Every night during dinner you hear of one or two epic crashes from the day and can see the fresh carnage walk through the door which is usually in the form of a scraped up face. The other day my team mate Scott had an impressive crash that definitely took the cake for wipeouts during that nights training! As a team we were skiing the down hills together trying to come to a conclusion about the best lines to take during the competitions. On the last downhill into the range we were skiing down single file with decent speed, and Scott who was third in line started to gain a bit on JP who was just ahead of him. He took an inside line that was a bit tighter to avoid having to slow down, shifted his weight slightly before entering the turn, caught an edge, and then went over the tips of his skis where he literally became airborne. He had nice Superman like form while flying through the air a few feet off the ground, until he came down for an extremely hard landing. Robin and I were skiing behind him and witnessed the whole event. When we skied back over to him I was positive bones were broken as Scott was lying on the ground in a slightly contorted position and in a lot of pain. After the whole ordeal was said and done, and after he came out of what appeared to be some state of shock, he luckily only walked away with a sprained hand and some scrapes and bruises. Initially it looked like it was going to be much worse.

As you can see, there is not a lot of snow...Part of why the course is so sketchy!

While out for a run one day I came across this exercise equipment in the middle of the forest.

Couple conditions like this with the so far typical 8 click wind on the range and we have our work cut out! I can say though that things have improved over the last couple days and the conditions on the course have gotten a lot better and more reasonable. This was until today’s rain storm. It’s been pouring rain all day which is doing a lot of damage to the snow on the course. The winds were also gusting up to 50km/hr last night which also took its toll on the snow. I was up at the venue just a couple hours ago to do some dry firing and when I walked through the stadium all that remains is a sheet of ice with a giant puddle in the middle. I guess conditions over the rest of the course are similar. The rain continues to come down in sheets but apparently the organizing committee has been trucking in snow to the venue since four o’clock this afternoon. There will be a meeting early tomorrow morning to decide whether or not the race will go ahead or be postponed a day so that more work can be done on the course. There is a lot of pressure for it to be a go, especially with all the TV networks that will be airing the races live. I’m sure the organizing committee will be working hard over night to try and make things happen.

Let’s hope the weather turns around so that we can race!

During the rain storm the downhill ski stadium slowly turned into a massive puddle.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

World Cup #6 - Antholz, Italy

My last race during Trials was on Sunday.
On Monday I spent the day scrambling to get packed and organized because by Tuesday morning I was on my way to the airport to catch a flight from Calgary to Munich via Frankfurt. It was a stressful couple of days as it took a while to sort out logistics of where I was going and exactly what I was doing. All I knew was that I would be leaving to Italy and would be racing a World Cup Sprint on Friday. I didn’t find out my flight time until late Monday night, wasn’t able to pick up my ticket until Tuesday morning just before I left, and I wasn’t exactly sure how was I going to get from Munich to Italy.

Everything sorted itself out in the end. Our massage therapist picked me up at the airport in Munich and we drove through Germany and Austria to Italy where I met up with the rest of the team. The next day during official training I did some easy training to familiarize myself with the venue and to try and jump start my body which was tired after two long days of travel. 48 hours after arriving to Europe, I was on the start line to race the 10km Sprint. Ideally it would have been nice to have a bit more time to recover before jumping into race, but I skied surprisingly well and shot respectable (8/10) to finish in 56th out of 114 competitors. This was my best race so far out of my short stint on the World Cup circuit and finishing in the top 60 and being able to qualify to start in the Pursuit is a big step forward in the right direction.

18,000 fans cheering from the grande stands in the stadium.

On Saturday I woke up feeling fairly tired, but I managed to put together another solid race and moved up 9 spots to finish in 48th. Antholz is at altitude which I find for me makes the shooting a lot more difficult due to taking in less oxygen with each breath compared to at a lower elevation. I had to take my time in the range which I think turned out to be smart decision as decent shooting (I hit 16/20) definitely helped to move me up in the ranks. I felt more tired on my skis during the Pursuit. In a Pursuit race the athletes start at the same time interval that they finished behind the leader in the previous days Sprint race. So, the leader from the Sprint race would start first and if second place finished 5 seconds behind first place the previous day, then that athlete would start 5 seconds behind the leader in the Pursuit. This continues until the top 60 athletes are out on course and results in sort of a ‘cat and mouse’ type race where everyone is trying to chase down the leader in front of them. Because everyone starts so close together the skiing gets quite competitive and the pace on the first lap is absolute hell! I was just able to hang on to the pace on the first lap, and skied a lot stronger with each lap as the race went on. Racing in Atholz was a lot of fun. The venue is amazing and racing in front of 18,000 roaring fans is an experience I won’t soon forget!

Early on in the Pursuit in Antholz, ITA

It was a really fun experience and although I was feeling quite tired there were a lot of positive’s from those two days of racing. The biggest highlight was qualifying for my first Pursuit race on my first available chance to do so while on the World Cup! Secondly, I was able to have decent results in the shooting range given the altitude, and thirdly, even though I wasn’t feeling in 100% physical shape, I was able to actually ski quite competitively and was skiing within the top 50 for both races which was good.

After the races were over I took a day off to recover and then it was back to training to do some high volume days at higher altitudes (2000 m) before going Ruhpolding, Germany for a mini-camp before heading off to Korea. Training in Ruhpolding started out great. We were able to put in a lot of shooting volume and did a few hard intensity sessions. On Sunday however, I woke up with a bad sore throat and pounding headache, only to spend the next few days in bed and in quarantine while I did everything I could to try and speed recovery. This was done by trying to get as much rest as possible, hydrating with tea and water to the point where I felt like a fish, and by taking regular dosages of Cold FX, oregano oil, and other vitamins.

Feeling slightly better by Wednesday, we drove to the airport in Munich where we boarded a plane and were on our way to Korea. Adios Europe!

A photo from one of our high altitude workouts in the Italian Dolomites.