Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Canadian Rockies - Paradise on Earth?

Two weeks ago I arrived in Canmore, Alberta, a beautiful little town nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. We're an hour and half from Calgary, twenty minutes from Banff National Park, and not far from Lake Louise. If you're looking for a great laid back town, amazing scenery, friendly people, and some of the best skiing in all of North America, Canmore will blow your mind. I know definitions of 'paradise' vary, but for those that include mountains, snow and Nordic skiing and Biathlon, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a more scenic locale. It's hard to see the details in the pictures below, but click on them to get a larger version.

I came to Canmore with part of the team to get on snow in preparation for the Olympic trials, the start of which are now less than one week away. If you refer to the picture of skis in my last post you can see that it takes a lot of skis to compete at the elite level. That picture is a sampling of the athlete skis, but is probably only one half of the number actually used by the 20 or so athletes in the program. Anyway, that's relevant because part of my job while here in Canmore has been to get my skis ready for racing. Each pair of skis has a different flex pattern to it and then is stoneground. Stonegrinding cuts various patterns onto the base of skis to give them optimized gliding properties for various snow conditions that range from cold, dry, and sharp snow crystals to warm, wet, pellet-like snow. Getting a pair of skis ready to race after stonegrinding requires many layers of wax and numerous miles of skiing to 'work in' the bases. I calculate that I skied about 110 miles in the last week and a half to get my skis race ready. Lots of work, but well worth it when the racing gets underway.
The Canmore Nordic Centre - Biathlon Range

Last week I came down with a head cold so my training has hampered somewhat. I did feel well enough to race the sprint race last Saturday. It was a great opportunity to go hard and work on putting a whole race together on snow. My skiing was good and I had 1 prone and 1 standing penalty so I was pretty happy with the effort. My cold has cleared up this week so I was really looking forward to the sprint race that was held yesterday. While these races don't matter for anything they were a great opportunity to go hard and make a few final adjustments before the Trials kick off next weekend in MN. I felt good skiing and only had 1 standing penalty. I feel good going into the races in the coming two weeks.
Views of Canmore from the Nordic Centre

I travel to Grand Rapids, MN tomorrow where we'll spend just a few days more preparing for the official start of the season next Saturday. The racing kicks of with a 10k sprint Saturday and a 15K mass start on Sunday. The following week we race two more sprints and one pursuit race. The field is deep this year because of the Olympics so there will be great competition.


Patrick said...

Pretty close, eh? You should see it now! We just keep getting more and more snow. Good to meet you last weekend!
train on,
Patrick (from the running shop)

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Quincy said...

So proud of you, buddy! Been following your blog for awhile now, thanks so much for the phone call while we were moving this summer! Been enjoying Christmas with Mario, his family, and my wife's crew down in sunny Florida! Miss ya, keep it up and give the best to the family!

God Bless!

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