Thursday, December 26, 2013

Olympic trials preparation and outcome

Canmore, AB hill on the notorious 3.3km Loop

I have spent the majority of 14 years working towards one goal: to reach the Olympics in my chosen sport of Biathlon. Particularly, the last 4 years have been committed to competing in Sochi, Russia and I believe the next 4 will be focused on competing in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018.

For the Olympic Games this winter, the final fourth spot for the Men's Canadian Biathlon Team was selected based on two trials races over two days. I was in good form with an excellent summer of training but I had been nervous for the past several months. Managing the pressure was the toughest mental test I have experienced in my 24 years. I knew I had to perform my absolute best. Even if I could have the race of my life on the given selection day, I had no control over the results of a hungry pack of competitors all fighting for the same goal.

Months went by in suspense as I critiqued everything in my game plan. I had run through the races in my head so many times that the Canadian Olympic Trials races felt almost like a dream. I knew what I had to do, and I was ready to do it.

I am proud to say I finished the races with no regrets about the summer training, my preparation, and my performance. On the given day I gave everything I had and mastered (almost) everything in my control, and that is all we can ever ask for. After the final race I took a deserving few minutes to lie face down in the snow as my heart rate slowly crept down from just shy of 200BPM. I had finished the races ranked 2nd, and after a lifetime of training I was left sitting in that lonely first spot shy of the Canadian Team. The entire experience will stay with me for the rest of my life and hopefully drive me over the next four years towards the 2018 Winter Games.

In ten days I will be off on another new experience. my first World Cup start in Oberhof, Germany. In front of one of the biggest Biathlon stadiums in the world, Ill be very proud to wear the maple leaf and compete against the best of the best. The stadium fits around 10000 people with another 10000 spectators out on course!

Oberhof, Germany DKB Ski Arena

Approx. 10000 spectator stands

Friday, September 6, 2013

Spinning Through the Alps

A significant portion of our training camp in Switzerland was done on the bike with multiple climbing opportunities and mountain pass loops. Jasper and I brought a camera up Goschenen on a 4 hour ride which basically captured the essence of euro-riding (especially in the mountains). 
Tight, windy roads...
Small traditional Euro towns every few km...
Perfect pavement...
Roads built into the side of mountains...
Traditional cobble stone portions....
Another typical portion cut straight into the side of the mountain...
And of course phenomenal destinations!
Every trip to Switzerland reminds me why I love riding so much. So many climbs that recreate what I watch on TV in the Tour de France every year and fast 80-90km/h decents to keep you on your toes. Very fortunate to have this opportunity!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Alps Altitutude Opportunity

At the beginning of the year I decided to spend August in Europe preparing for an Olympic season. I planned with team mate Jasper Mackenzie (and old coach iLmar Heinicke) to spend three weeks in Switzerland at high altitude with an additional 4 weeks in Altenberg, Germany. I just rounded the 11 day mid point to the altitude camp and everything is running smooth and looking positive. 
Easy running/hike up at Furka Pass, Switzerland to +2500m
The goals in the first week of altitude training is to adapt to the altitude while monitoring recovery. This means paying close attention to resting heart rate, eating and sleeping well, and insuring training does not exceed more than 70% of maximum capacity. The next few weeks will include increased intensity and really taking advantage of the altitude benefits.

Altitude training, in theory, allows an athlete to push their boundaries which would normally not be possible at sea level. An athlete can push their body to 100% with reduced oxygen quicker and test the limits to which their body can go. For this reason, I did not hesitate to take advantage of this altitude opportunity when it arose. I invested in this relatively expensive endeavour in anticipation to be in top form come Olympic trials at the end of December. Time will tell if it pays off towards my goals this season, but at the moment all I can do is take control of every little detail to be best prepared for one of the biggest seasons of my career! All this said, it is most definetely my dream to compete in Sochi 2014.

I hope to keep my family, friends, and supporters up to date over the next few weeks as I build a base for the winter and experience new scenery and push my physical limits! I am very appreciative of my sponsors to make training at this level possible and send a big thank you! Cheers and stay posted!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

...And off to Europe

At the end of the month (a few days) I'll be heading off to Andermatt Switzerland and Altenberg Germany for a 6 week training camp! I'll be traveling with Canadian team mate Jasper Mackenzie. The Andermatt, Switzerland camp will be a high altitude camp sleeping at 2427m. According to wikipedia Furka pass (where the hotel is located) is the 20th highest paved road in Europe!

(Furka Pass)

(Furka Pass)

We are continuing from the Swiss alps to Altenberg, Germany where we will continue our training. The camp ends with German National Biathlon Champs in Ruhpolding! Stay posted...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Canmore Declares State of Emergency During Flooding

Despite an obstacle filled start to an Olympic season I’m feeling surprisingly optimistic and encouraged leading into the summer training. I have definitely had some momentum killing incidents that shifted my focus from my typical spring training. I encountered my second ski related surgery in the past 3 years as well as coped with massive flooding which actually left me homeless. So aside from focusing on training I had to coordinate my schedule with recovery, work, training, finding a new home, moving out of my flooded place and preparing for a 6 week camp in Europe starting August 1st all while keeping my goals in mind!

Fortunately I didn’t lose much in the flooding considering the devastation that hit Canmore but it certainly threw a wrench in my routine. There were approximately 100 000 people homeless in Calgary and close to 50 homes lost in Canmore during the Southern Alberta flooding. The place I was staying in Canmore had a few inches of water in the basement, just enough to cause a hassle and some water damage. The flooding also limited training opportunities in town with many of the roads closed or destroyed. I found a place to stay until I leave for Europe July 31st and I have a new place arranged when I return in September!

Here are some local pictures from flooding this past week. Thoughts and prayers with the families affected.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Banff Bike Fest

I had a humbling experience this past weekend racing in the 2013 Banff Bike Fest stage race. After only a few hundred kilometers on my bike and recovering from a cold, the intense prologue certainly came as a shock to my lungs. Five races in four days also proved to be demanding as I recovered my health and found my cycling legs. Regardless I had alot of fun (especially the final stage: Tunnel Mountain Road Race) and Im always excited for some friendly competition!
1.5km  Hill Climb Prologue

21km Minniwanke TT

78Km Tunnel Mountain Road Race

I didn't achieve the results I wanted by any means but here is the General Classifications for the weekend (I finished 16th overall in Cat 3)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

White snow to white sand!

Typically underestimated, recovery is equal if not more important than the training itself...right? The body continually impresses me with its capabilities, but one thing is for sure: without rest on a daily, weekly and annual basis a high performance athlete will burn out. April is the skier’s annual rest period to fully recover and prepare for another 11 months of focused training. Each athlete has individual hobby’s, jobs, and vacations they fill there “down time” with and I was fortunate enough this year to spend mine in true vacation style. I spent a week in the Caribbean (for the first time!) soaking the sun and clearing my mind of anything that might hold me back heading into full commitment in May. I also used this time to revisit my races and training from the past year and consider what I can learn from the past experiences. So here is how I spent my relaxing time...

Private Holland America Island in Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Typical tourist in San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico
Myself and the gorgeous Cindy Clark~ formal night selfy

The year was certainly packed with travel. racing, training and most importantly enjoying the experiences and having fun. I realize with each year that one of the simplest yet important factors to performing at your best is enjoying it all (aka having FUN) It sometimes gets lost in the High performance world of results, training hours, and shooting percentages but I truly believe it is a fundamental component to success. With Olympics coming soon, My goal this year is to simplify my thoughts and basically relax! It sounds silly I know, but I have trained for 14 years and I know that the skiing speed and the shooting will follow if I’m in the right frame of mind!