Nothing like the first races of the season to remind you that ski racing is actually a pretty hard sport. The heavy legs, flooded arms and burning feeling in my lungs were all too familiar as I crossed the line after the first "race" of the season, a classic sprint race on the Frozen Thunder loop of Canmore Canada.
After 25 days and somewhere between 35 and 40 workouts the SMS T2 team is wrapping up our fall camp out west. And literally everything is sore. Muscles I didn't even know I had are throbbing and pulling on other tight muscles that make things as simple as tying my shoe extremely uncomfortable.
For the final week of camp, the team travelled north to take advantage of some on-snow skiing in Canmore, Canada. Every October, the Canmore Nordic Centre rolls out a 1-2 km ribbon of snow, saved under wood chips from last winter, for our skiing enjoyment. We've spent the last week training and racing on Frozen Thunder, or as some have begun to call it...melting thunder. The rainy weather and warm temperatures are testing the limited snow supply.
Despite the weather, we have had an awesome week with lots of quality on snow time as well as our first two race efforts of the season, a classic sprint and skate distance race. The Canmore Nordic Centre organized an unique format for the sprint day that allowed every racer to compete in all four sprint rounds. Based on qualifying times from fastest to slowest, each racer was placed in a quarterfinal heat of four people. The top two from each heat moved up to a faster heat and the bottom two moved down to a slower heat after each round. Men and women were mixed so everyone had the chance to race head to head with people of similar speed all the way through the finals.
|Early morning light at the Canmore Nordic Center|
|Ida, Matt and Liz doing some work in the weight room. Strength + Skiing + Running + RollerSkiing = 1 Tired Skier|
|Annie trying to stretch out her sore |
|A little rain can't stop us!|
Although the somewhat confusing format didn't seem to follow exactly as planned, the event worked out surprisingly well. Everyone managed to race four quality sprint rounds and wide smiles on the faces of racers and coaches reflected the general mood of the day. Andy solidly won the men's division and Ida Sargent of the GRP/USST took the women's title.
Despite the physical shock to my system, I had arguably my best classic sprint ever. Usually classic sprinting feels like a more frantic version of a classic distance race. Although it's a little unclear exactly where I finished, I did move up from my qualifier and I was thrilled to feel like my flying limbs were actually propelling me down the track instead of simply spinning my wheels.
We followed up Friday's sprint with a skate distance race on Monday and another set of strong finishes all around! The men (plus Jessie and Liz because they are hardcore) skied 6 laps and the women raced 4 to finish up the last hard intensity session of camp. The mix of World Cup skiers and biathletes on the start list made for a fun and competitive field. I finished 7th and was psyched to be in the mix with some of the top skiers.
The racing is what we prepare for and look forward to during all those summer days spent on the roller skis, in the gym, and on the the trails. Finally starting to put that work into racing is one of the best feelings in the world and Frozen Thunder gave us a little taste of what's to come this winter. And maybe, just maybe, my sore butt and tight hip flexors are starting to loosen as the feeling of racing seems like less of a shock and more like an old friend returning to say hello. 'Til the snow flies!
|Anne, Andy, Ben, Erika (me), and Caitlin Gregg post sprint (Matt Whitcomb photo)|
|Happy SMS girls cheering on the boys and enjoying some sunshine|
|Me skating up out of the stadium (Matt Whitcomb photo)|
|Getting ready to go hit the snow|
|Running to strength with Annie P., Paddy Caldwell and Ben|
|Annie and Ben checking out the views|
|Beautiful spot to spend our last week of camp|