World Champs Race Recaps: P1

VERTICAL RACE: 847 meters

I am one to speak with high optimism, and I’m usually stoked about most things. However, in the case of the vertical race, I finished with heavy disappointment.

The race followed a “king of the hill” format- first one to the top wins; one big climb of 847 meters. The course setters threw snow into the streets and sent us racing up through the middle of Verbier town center. This was neat, both for spectators and athletes. The streets were packed with people. Another fun element was the helicopter camera following along and filming. I took a few moments to look up and smile as it flew overhead.

Vert Race- photo by Ohler

Vert Race- photo by Ohler

 

“Don’t go out too strong!” advised many people over and over. A frequent mistake is to start to fast and then blow up partly through the race. In hindsight- I didn’t start fast enough. And then combined with the low angled course that traversed and traversed and traversed, I actually found it difficult to get enough speed to get my heart rate going. As a climber, I felt as though I was on a Nordic course. I kept hoping for some steep hills.

Crossing the finish line I sprinted as Katarina cheered me on. I pushed my hardest in the last 5 min, but that wasn’t enough. Within moments of crossing the finish I quickly recovered from my meagre sprint finish and was ready to climb another 847 meters. I fancied more vertical. I wanted my body to sense the tolls of a race, but I was fresh as a daisy.

With reflection, I have to remind myself that not everyone can become a world cup racer instantly. It takes time to figure out strategy, personal limits, and knowing how to race. I quickly assigned myself the homework of gliding technique and spending a bit more time training on flatter terrain.

All in all, I grew as an athlete, as more of my limiters were highlighted. It was an  experience abreast with sadness and joy.

 

INDIVIDUAL:

After feeling a little down from the relay and vertical race, I had my race face on and was ready to tackle the individual race. I had a few goals which included going hard, slobbering, and dropping of exhaustion at the finish line. I was hungry for an intense and hard race.

The start went pretty well. I managed to find myself stuck in the throng of ski poles, skis, elbows, butts, etc. Oddly enough, a fellow competitors pole managed to catch my skin and flick it off my tip right within the first 60 meters or so- this was a tiny setback, but with mental fortitude I made no big deal and managed to push myself to remain with the pack. With a refined focus, high cadence, and a strong will, I could stayed within sight of the many top females throughout a good duration of the first climb.

A few race highlights to note: I crashed hard on a descent. I passed 4 athletes on the 2nd ascent. I continued to keep several key athletes within sight.

Boot packing down from Peak Six Blanc

Boot packing down from Peak Six Blanc

With the last ascent only gaining 200 meters I coached myself to attack the climb and redline it. Unfortunately my binding collected ice and would not engage. My boot would not properly clip into my binding- thus over and over and over again I walked out of my ski. As you can imagine this was both frustrating and also time consuming. I stopped at one point to try and remove ice and sort out the problem, but efforts proved nil. The ready to attack Michelle was unable to attack.

Competitor after competitor passed me through my gear failure struggle as I snailed my way up the last climb, attempting to remain positive.

As I crossed the finish line- I lacked in slobber, high heart rate, and the desire to collapse. Again I felt discouraged.

Martha and I posing in front of our names

Martha and I posing in front of our names

 

Stayed Tuned for the amazing “Teams Race” Report!!!

Mont Buet

looking across  the valley

looking across the valley

Sitting at 3096m, Le Mont Buet, was my second French summit. We started with a beautiful train ride across the countryside to arrive at our destination- the bottom of the baby piste at La Poya village. (Here in France the bunny hill is more commonly referred to as the baby piste. It truly is for children only.)

We followed alongside a creek for a gentle tour up into the valley, and then started to ascent a large wide open bowl. The terrain was stunning with the majestic peaks surrounding us.

 

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Although we only went a few days ago, in the middle of Feb, it was smoking hot! I easily could have been skinning in a bikini! Water conservation was a must. The pace slowed a little as the day went on, making our way under the hot sun.

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The summit was excellent and contains amazing views! No surprise there.  A total climb of 1708 meters and many horizontal km made for a great day combined with excellent skiing on the descent (excellent skiing is hard to find these days with the lack of precip).

 

Hip hip hooray pour le Mont Buet!

Sur le sommet

Sur le sommet

ISMF World Champs coming soon….

 

ismf wc logo

The ISMF World Championship opening ceremonies start tomorrow afternoon. We will parade proudly down the streets with our Canadian flag amongst many other nations. A total of 251 athletes are expected to compete. There will be athletes from Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Spain, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Iran, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Switzerland, Sweden and the U.S.A.

The countries to watch out for will be Spain, French, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. Everyone expects the infamous Killian Jornet to podium in several of the men’s events-specifically the vertical and the individual. For the women we are watching Swiss Maude Mathys and French Laetitia Roux.  Laeititia started ski mountaineering when she was a mere 9 years old. I have counted 26 different skimo racing victories that she has claimed. Needless to say, I will be racing against the athletes who are leagues above me. I am super excited to learn and challenge myself!

Allez! Allez! Allez!

BG-Verbier-2015-Home-0

Peak 6 Blanc

I have been in Switzerland for almost a week now and I have been training quite a bit.  Most often I ski once a day, sometimes twice a day.

Yesterday my teammate, Travis, and I finally summited our first Swiss Peak!

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We walked 5 minutes from our chalet and started skinning (climbing) uphill.  We found a beautiful spot along the ridge with fresh snow and wonderful views.  We skinned to the top of the resort and explored past the boundary and summited our Six Blanc! This French name translates to the 6th white peak.  We were able to see so many mountain ranges surrounding us.  It highlighted how different Canada is from Europe as everywhere we looked we could see little villages and homes littering every single mountainside.  We felt like we were in the middle of nowhere for only a moment’s time, as there was always a little house or chalet perched along a hillside somewhere.

 

Travis skinning up

Travis skinning up

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From the peak we were able to ski a full 1300 meters almost right back to our chalet.  The access is incredible!  The valleys here are so deep compared to Canada as the village wasn’t even valley bottom.

Peak 6 Blanc

Peak 6 Blanc

EuroLand

After a 14 hour flight, layover, car drive, etc I have finally landed!  Last night after all the travelling, all Travis and I managed to do was eat some food, go for a walk, and sleep.

This morning we skinned up through the village of Bruson to the ski resort and had a little ski down.  Already, on the first day, I broke my race pole :( As you can imagine, I was not impressed and actually let out a little bit of colourful language.

broken pole

 

Travis and I are staying in a cute little chalet that used to be a barn.  It is well over a 130 years old.  The kitchen and living quarters were previously in the basement where the livestock also spent the winter nights.  It is now obviously in much different conditions.  chalet living quarters

 

On our little outing today we ran into other Cnd teammates, Kat and Eric, on the slopes. Their residence is only a 1 min walk from ours! The world is always small.

Well- off to buy some groceries, do a little housekeeping, and hopefully get in a second ski this afternoon!

 

Castle Mountain Race 2015

Phew- what a whirlwind of adventure.

The Castle Mountain Skimo Race is a spectacular event full of athleticism, mental stamina, challenging skiing, technical skinning, and remarkable scenery.  Just days after completed this competition, I’m still grinning from ear to ear and what a great event it was.

course map

course map

In short- the race had it all.  The skin track favoured no one, but instead incorporated all styles.  Due to a low snow year, the technical kick turns and course through the trees included a bit of alder-bashing, branch grabbing, and a bit bush whacking.  Before a third of the first ascent was completed, every athlete had their turn of tricky skinning.  In addition to technical components, the ascents included steep hills and flat sections, giving everyone a chance to shine at their strength.

2013 start line

2013 start line

One segment that I am particularly fond of is the boot pack.  Oh goodness I love bootpacks!  It involved several joys such as running across a technical rocky ridge, downclimbing, slipping, and jumping.  Parts had just a skiff of snow covering to make it slippery.

 

Rocky Ridge (2013 Race)

Rocky Ridge (2013 Race)

After a long bootpack we went for a long run down lonestar.  Usually filled in with powder, my skis chattered across chunder and and rock hard wind lips.  This took me by surprise and I believe I pulled in the reigns and didn’t ski it as confidently as I could’ve.

Ascent 2 held its own little goody bag-500 meters of non-stop arduous steep climbing right up the cat track.  The headlong climb made it difficult for me to pick up the pace.

The last descent in the cat skiing area challenged me, which also took me by surprise.  Last time I skied like a boss through that area- this time I was bucked around as if I were riding an upset horse.  It was embarrassing & I felt transported back to the first day of ski touring.

Finally I hit the cat track and alternated between tuck and skate-skiing to the finish line.

To sum up-> conditions! conditions! conditions!  It was a great race with some demanding conditions.

 

Earning Your Turns

At this time of the year the earn & turn ratio is a little heavier on the earn side.  Skiffs of snow mixed with November rain adds up to a lot of work for little skiing.  But when your heart is happy being outside, going for a walk and throwing skiing into the mix equals fun.  I’d rather breathe fresh outdoor air than spend endless hours in the gym.  I start to care less about the “work” or the lack of skiing and more about enjoying the scenery.

 

Skiffs of snow

Skiffs of snow

In the shoulder season it is all about perspective.  The days are short and the terrain is limited.  Scrambling and mnt biking are pretty much out of the question.  Doing 7 min laps at the nordic center is fun, but it’s not an all day adventure.  Thus, going for a walk with skis on the pack gives hints of good times.

 

Skinning up

Skinning up

A few friends and I tested out our gear, looking for kinks and reminding ourselves of our ski systems.  We explored new places, had some icy skiing, and had some “powdery-esk” turns in the mix.  We laughed at the rocks and the dirt and managed to still fist pump at the end of the day- despite the fact that our “skiing” was more accurately hiking.

Yay shoulder season :)

Couliour Boot Pack

Couliour Boot Pack

Heading on out

Heading on out

 

Upski Girls Training Camp

 

Up! Up! Up!

Halloween Hike Selfie

Halloween Hike Selfie

With snowflakes kissing the mountain tops- many of us are amping up for the ski season.  Dusting off our skis, putting new batteries in our beacons, and getting those quads into shape.

Kylee Ridge Running

Kylee Ridge Running

The later part- forging a good foundation of fitness- was one of the main objectives last weekend at the Ladies SMCC dryland training camp.  A group of girls including team members from SMCC got together for 3 intense days of training, discussing nutrition, forming training plans, and connecting with other women.  Complete with boot camp, 50km run, rain, sunshine, snow, and power hiking- we continued to enlarge those thunder thighs that will take us UP! UP! and UP! during the skiing season.

Kylee soaking up the sun

Kylee soaking up the sun

 

After lots of sweat, high fives, smiles, and newly formed friendships-> Here’s to looking forward to future years to come!

All fun in the land of snow!

All fun in the land of snow!

 

Keep It Simple

“The first day I have to eat one potato only.  And then today I am eating carrots and I need to take a green tea pill at 10, then 1, then 9pm.  Tomorrow I have to avoid pills and drink lemon juice, control my insulin, and finish my day with a load of fibre.  The next day I overload on calories so that I can be calorie deficient again on Monday.”

“Woah woah woah- Hold on a second!” my mind screamed as an acquaintance of mine explained her elaborate diet regime.

Human nature seems to be attracted to complicated regiments that are vastly different from their current lifestyle- believing the “elaborate” component must mean it will be a triumphant path to weight loss. These success diets tend to have lots of specific rules and requirements, which makes the regime convoluted and incredibly difficult to follow.  AKA- it will likely fail.

I’m writing this as a vegan athlete.  I don’t eat meat or any animal products. No beef, no cheese, no milk, no fish, etc.  From my lifestyle I look at these diets and I, the vegan athlete, state those diets are too complicated.  To find success you need to keep things simple; Keep it sustainable.

Find small little shifts in your lifestyle that you can implement for the long run.  Focus on whole foods.  Not sugar replacements.  Not diet foods.  Just pure whole food.

Make your shifts today! Now! Not in a month from now.  Start today.  And recognize it will be a journey with bumps and hiccups along the way.  For many, there will be hiccups, and that is what they are – hiccups.

A great poster I found on the net.

A great poster I found on the net.

 

I WON! I WON!

Well- in a sense you could say I lost.  An interesting experience happened on Sunday.

After a great breakfast, I drove to the start line, not arriving too early as it was cold outside.  When I arrived, no one was there.  I figured the organizers were running late. They ran late last year.  I waited and shivered in the cold for 30 min last year waiting for access to a bathroom.

“Well, might as well start warming up,” I thought to myself.  With shoelaces tied I went through my pre-race routine.  But something didn’t resonate well with me….. something didn’t seem quite right.  The lack of other athletes preparing certainly contributed to my 6th sense.  I asked Mitch to check the website again- yup- we were in the right place at the right time.

What was going on!!??!  9:40 rolled around and still it was myself and one other athlete prepping for the 10AM race start.  Then Mitch flung the door open, “You missed the race!”

What!!??!

Thankfully, Mitch stumbled across the facebook page.  The previous morning they changed the race start location AND time whilst removing the first 14km of the race.  Again- Whaaaaaaat!?!

Well poop!  I was all charged up and ready to go.  But I was 50 min late and 14 km away.

I did the only logical thing: I ran the race by myself.  I counted down and shot off the start line to achieve the “glory shot.” And then I ran my heart out.  I attempted to run “race pace” the entire 25km, but without my competitors, I lagged in a few spots.  I also stopped for a potty break part way though :)

In a sense- I think it was harder on my own than if I were in the race.  I didn’t have the visuals of other racers behind me to nudge my pace along.  I didn’t have crowds cheering me on the sidelines.  It was me and the pavement- nothing else.

I may not have won a trophy- but I came in first place!