Today was fantastic. I got to legitimately ski this morning! Talk about a great feeling. The first day on snow after a hard summer and fall of dry-land training is hard to describe. If you're a skier, you know what I'm talking about and if you're not, just think about anything seasonal you really look forward to for weeks or months and then think about how great you feel when that thing finally happens. I don't care if it's golf, hunting, berry picking or spying the first buds on trees in the spring, we all have one or several things we routinely look forward to. Getting on snow for the first time, for those of you who haven't already guessed, just so happens to be one of my favorites.
Last week was chock full of training and packing in preparation for traveling to Canada for the first on-snow camp of the season. I put in a solid 17-hour week of training and a couple of good shooting sessions and spent the remainder of the time getting all of my winter gear together and my summer equipment ready for storage. The Olympic Training Center was alive with activity as the staff prepared to host the first Luge World Cup of the season. Teams from all over the world were already in residence and more athletes kept trickling in. As always, the mingling of winter sport athletes is fun and interesting. We biathletes think lugers are crazy because they routinely hit speeds of over 80 miles per hour while riding down an ice chute on a little tiny sled. They, on the other hand, can't imagine ski racing for several miles with a rifle. In the end, what all of this amounts to is a whole lot of respect being shared between the various sports and some semblance of camaraderie that comes primarily from our love of snow and ice.
This past week has been a busy one. With a five-week trip looming I was doing my best to get everything packed while also trying desperately to stay under weight with my bags so I wouldn't have to pay overage fees. That turned out to be a bigger challenge than I originally thought, but I somehow managed to make it work. I finished packing late Wednesday night and woke up a short two hours later to drive to the Albany airport. We left the OTC at 2 am and didn't arrive in Calgary, Alberta until 1 pm. We left the airport after 3 and made it to Canmore, Alberta sometime after 5 pm. James, my coach, hadn't slept in over 35 hours and I was operating on only three hours of sleep in about a 40-hour block. Needless to say, travel days are by far one of the toughest obstacles to overcome as an athlete. They throw a monkey wrench in the training plan, screw up sleeping and eating schedules, and potentially expose you to lots of germs. Regardless though, the long hours of travel are very worth it when they end on a freshly groomed corduroy trail.
Canmore is a small ski town nestled in the Canadian Rockies about about 115 kilometers west of Calgary. It was the site of the 1988 Olympic Biathlon and Nordic races so the venue is fantastic. I'm here training with the Development Team for the next two weeks in preparation for our first two races. We'll race a 10 K Sprint on Dec. 1st and a 12.5 k Pursuit on the 2nd. We're staying in an awesome condo that's only a short drive from the venue and so long as the weather cooperates and more snow falls this will be a great camp. Right now the snow is pretty thin because temperatures have been unseasonably warm, but there is colder weather in the forecast, which will allow the race organizers to make lots of snow. I unfortunately only have one picture to post today, but I'll definitely be posting several more soon.