Hallo/Bonjour from Europe! I’ve been away from Canada for almost a month now, U23
Championships are now over, and we’ve just finished our first week of B Tour racing in central Europe.
After leaving Canada mid-January, I headed with the rest of the World Junior/U23 Team to Praz-de-Lys, France for a high-altitude training camp. Unfortunately, I got a head cold the day after we arrived in France. Because of that, I wasn’t able to get in as much skiing as I would have liked, but I took advantage of the free time to catch up on homework. I also took advantage of the cheese platters our hotel put out every night after supper to try a bunch of delicious cheeses that would be too expensive for me to buy in Canada. Despite being sick, I really enjoyed France– it was so nice to be in a country where I could speak the language (shout-out to my parents for putting me in French Immersion).
After a week in Praz-de-Lys, we headed to Switzerland for U23/Junior World Championships. We stayed in a small town called Bellwald, about a 40-minute drive from the race site in Goms. The locals spoke a mix of French and German, so I was again very thankful to be able to speak French. We arrived there a few days before the Championships began, so got in two intensity sessions on the race course before the first race. I also got to catch up with my friends from other countries who were competing at the Championships!
The first race was a skate sprint. The course was probably the hardest skate sprint course I’ve ever raced on (picture a GIANT climb, a technical downhill, and another hard climb), but it was a lot of fun. I had a solid qualifier clocking the 19th fastest time, and my teammates Katherine and Laura also qualified, which made for an exciting day for Canada.
In the quarter-final, I worked to be aggressive and to stick with the top two girls. They made a gap over the top of the long climb and I ended up finishing 4th in the quarter-final, not enough to move on to the semi-final. Although I was disappointed to not advance, I was really happy with my effort and I finished 18th on the day, my best ever result at Worlds. Check out the sprint heat video below (side note: I’m wearing bib #19, and the racer in bib #12 finished 4th in yesterday’s Olympic sprint!).
The next two races were a 10km Classic and a 15km Skiathlon (where you start in classic and switch to skate halfway through). I finished top-50 in both, which was pretty disappointing since I was aiming for a top-20. I believe performance in races is about 50% physical and 50% mental, and in those races I had a tough time pushing hard mentally. Ski racing is what I like to call Type 2 fun; it’s fun but can also be really painful because you are pushing your body to its limits the entire time. It takes a special kind of motivation to push those limits, and after having put so much mental energy into Olympic trials in January, and I wasn’t able to dig deep into the pain cave yet.
Overall, I was happy with the Championships. Although I felt that I wasn’t peak race shape (it usually takes me a few weeks to feel normal again after getting sick) it was a great experience representing Canada.
After Worlds, I headed with some other Canadian athletes to start B Tour in central Europe. We took a train to Klosters, Switzerland, which was my first time traveling by train– and it was amazing! The train route wound through the Alps (queue Sound of Music soundtrack), giving us beautiful views of mountain passes that weren’t accessible by car.
In Klosters, I was able to get in a few adventure volume days, including a long ski up one of the mountain passes around Davos. I also got to see my brother Michael, which was awesome because this is the first time we’ve ever been in Europe at the same place at the same time!
On the weekend, we competed in Swiss Cup, where I finished 2nd in the classic sprint and 7th in the classic distance race. It was fun to do some low-pressure races, and I was happy because I felt strong mentally and found the “pain cave” again.
We’ve now traveled from Switzerland to Germany, where we will be racing in Zwiesel at an OPA Cup this weekend. After that, we’ll spend our last weekend in Europe competing at German National Championships in Oberstdorf. My body feels like it’s getting back into top shape again, so I’m really excited for the upcoming races.