Friday, March 2, 2012

A trip to Turkey

To me Turkey seemed almost like a place made up and stuck in my atlas to fill the pages alongside all the other far off, mysterious lands of the Middle-East. I never thought I would end up visiting this country and getting a chance to see their culture first hand. A couple days home now and I can appreciate lots of things about the country and the people but it feels great to be back home sleeping in my own bed and skiing on familiar trails with my friends. As for the racing of the past four weeks; it's left me wanting more to say the least. Although this trip started great with my third NorAm win in Ontario at the Eastern Canadian Championships, my main focus of the season was over before it ever had a real chance to get going. I had been dreaming of the U23 World Championship Skate sprint for the past six months and had envisioned a great day skiing my best race of my season and finishing on the podium. Not even close. I failed to qualify for the heats finishing 10 seconds behind the winner and sitting in 39th place. Leading up to these races my coach, Mike Cavaliere, and close friend/teammate Graeme Killick and I travelled from Ottawa to Italy for a preparatory altitude camp in the town of Livigno near the Swiss border. This small camp went very well with lots of great skiing, strength workouts and lower altitude intensities to bring the body up to top level. To me the preparation seemed perfect and I was confident in my speed and improved qualifying from previous seasons. The course was strikingly similar to the sprint course in Rossland, BC. I had a great race in Rossland earlier this season and felt ready to find that same feeling come sprint day. In the end I came up short but the great thing about ski racing is that there is always another race and another chance to be competitive and the next chance came two days later in the 15km Individual Classic. Unfortunately it was another hard day for my body and I was only able to finish 47th, well off the pace. By now the high altitude, hour long bus ride to and from the site, and the 200 person buffet had taken it's toll on my body and I was battling a serious cough deep in my chest. With one race to go, the 30km Skiathlon, I focused my best to try to come up with one good day from my body and to find the feeling I had racing in Canada in so many previous races this season. I skied a strong classic leg for the first 14.5km and was positioned in the lead group sitting top 15 when I crashed on the high speed downhill leading into the stadium. From here I struggled to find my rhythm until well into the skate portion and by this time it was too late and I had lost too much time to the leaders to stay competitive. I finished 29th on a day that my body felt close to the level I know I can ski at. Sorry for the whiny update but these championships were one disappointment after another for me. Thankfully we've still got some important racing to do this year as we are heading out in two weeks time to race National Championships in Mt. St Anne, QC. I'm really excited to have some more races to redeem myself for the poor results from Turkey. Here's some photos to enjoy, I don't own the U23 photos and I also don't feel like spending any money on them so all I have is the silly watermarked versions. See you in the 418!
I was really happy with the three races at Eastern Canadian Championships. The 30km classic was probably the most fun I've ever had racing.
Easy hours in Livigno with Graeme.
Lots to learn from this skate sprint day at U23s.
We had great weather the entire trip in Erzurum for the races and this is a pretty typical day in the stadium with bright blue skies and cold, hard tracks.
The boys! Our boys skied a great relay finishing ahead of the USA and in the top 10.
The Junior ladies Skiathlon. This is the first hill out of the stadium, long and very gradual.
Here's a view from our parking lot at the hotel in Erzurum. Pretty great views from 2400m!
The Turkish drivers are TERRIBLE! The road up to our hotel was so congested one day that we had to abandon our bus and take to gondola up to the hotel.
We found a bullet casing outside our hotel. What a great way to start the Istanbul adventure day!
The entrance to the palace we visited downtown Istanbul.
What a crazy place! The Grand Bazaar... how bizarre? how bizzare?
I get pretty bummed out with everything when my ski racing isn't going well, thankfully Marlis was never too far away to cheer me up!

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