Here we are again, Whistler BC for the third time this season and this time it's for some pretty meaningful races. Trials are always a stressful time of year and this year was no exception to that as we were met with some pretty hairy conditions on the sprint day, the day I was focusing on as we left for BC. But first things first, the 30km Pursuit.
I really like distance racing and consider myself an all rounder with both sprint and distance, but I really have trouble with 30km. This was my fourth year skiing a 30km and third time at trials and my struggles continued. My plan going into the race was to stay as relaxed as possible and make sure that I hung on the pack of leaders to the sprint finish and let my speed give me a shot at winning, easier said than done. I lost contact with the leaders after 7.5km and skied the remaining kilometers in no-man's land on my own skiing between a couple groups of guys ahead and behind me. With such a twisty turny course it was easy to get a glimpse of other guys throughout the course and get a sense for time lost/gained to the other groups. This made for a somewhat nerve-racking last few laps as it was clear to me that I was bleeding time to the group of three behind me and my head immediately started game planning for what to do next. In the end I was able to stave off the surge from that chasing pack and I finished the day as the 3rd U23 behind my boy! G-Kill as he took the U23 win over Dave Greer. I had dreamt of winning this race and having a stress free sprint day but the body had other plans and obviously I wasn't up to the task. Moving on.
On to the fun stuff; skate sprinting. I've always loved skate sprinting but this season I've had a measured improvement in this race and going into the day I felt it was mine to lose. As for the crazy weather I was talking about, when it rains it pours but in this case when it snows it dumps in Callaghan Valley and did it ever dump! This falling snow made for a pretty treacherous course with the trails being reduced to one athlete wide. Thankfully I avoided the major wipeouts and was able to finish the day 3rd overall and 1st U23. Winning one of the U23 days guaranteed a spot on the trip to Turkey for the U23 World Championships, although I have yet to be told if I made the trip or not, call me?
With the sprint day in the books I was ready to hit the trails again and hopefully find my elusive distance legs in the 15km individual classic. The conditions were night and day compared to the previous day's snow storm as we were welcomed by blue skies, firm tracks, and some nice -10C weather for the morning. I skied a bit of a longer warm up to try to wake my legs up from the previous day but once again my distance racing was leaving something to be desired. I'll figure it out before Turkey. After a quick pack and shower we were jetting off to Vancouver to fly home to the seriously frigid weather that Alberta had waiting for us. I skied in -30C with Gerard today! Fingers crossed for the Western's races here starting Friday.
Last but certainly not least, I would be remiss to not thank the gargantuan support team AWCA had in Whistler which made for great skis and almost no prep work on our end. Thanks everyone who helped send seven AWCA athletes to the World Junior and U23 championships!