My Ticket to Estonia

Cred: Dan Roycroft

Thunder Bay, World Junior Trials

January 6-9

Day 1 – 10km Pursuit

The Lappe Nordic race site was throwing down some cold temperatures today. Wearing a Buff and plenty of IceBreaker was the look of the day to ward off the cold weather. The 5km Classic leg felt like a ‘panic fest’ from start to finish. Starting amongst a swarm of fast, excited and very competitive girls, I was trying my best to ski calm and relaxed. The first 5km blew by for me and as we returned back into the stadium to enter the exchange zone, the category was still tight together. My exchange went smoothly, no flying skis or face plants, bonus. As I headed out for the skate leg, I was happy with my positioning. Heather Mehain, Annika Hicks and I formed the lead group and headed out to challenge the notorious 5km Skate course at Lappe. Coming into the last 2km of the course, we were still skiing strong together. As we rounded the corner to begin climbing the final grunt, the words ‘I think I can’, popped into my head. When I’m racing, there isn’t much room for complex thought processes, so I latched onto these words, put my head down and hoped my legs would follow.

It was cold alright, a frosty beard to prove it Cred: Martin Kaiser

Crossing the finish line and realizing I had won was a huge relief, I had stamped my ticket to World Juniors in Estonia! The finishing moments also came with feeling of surprise. I’m not sure if I threw my hands over my mouth at the finish line because my nose and lips no longer had feeling, or if it was out of pure shock that I had just won a distance race. I’d like to say I’ve always believed that I could be a well-rounded skier, competitive in both sprint and distance races, but my body really surprised me today!

Myself and Annika Hicks on the podium for the 10km Pursuit. Heather Mehain (not present) was second. Cred: Martin Kaiser

Complete results from today’s race http://www.zone4.ca/results.asp?ID=3331&cat=all

Day 2 – Rest

It was cold and we rested, pretty much sums it up.

Day 3 – 1.2km Classic Sprint

Back to the action. There is always a special feeling when I wake up and know it’s sprint day. The qualifier started at 9am, we arrived at the site before the sun and definitely before the temperatures had time to warm up. The women’s course consisted of an aggressive double pole start, a long descent and a long striding section back to the stadium. The qualifier took just over three minutes, but that was plenty of time to loose feeling in my toes and fingers. I qualified as the 5th Senior Woman and 1st Junior, but was 9 seconds back from Peri’s lead qualifying time of 3:15.83. I started behind her and knew she was having a good one when I lost sight of her in the striding section. This wasn’t my strongest qualifying result this season, but I was feeling positive heading into the Junior heats in the afternoon. The sun came out for the afternoon heats, and I was pumped bout dat.

I felt strong in my quarter and semi-final heats and earned myself a spot in the A-final along with Michelle Workun-Hill, Heather Mehain, Camille Pepin, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt and my teammate Janelle Greer. Striding up the long climb before the stadium I was in the lead, but knew that I was skiing amongst a strong field. Pushing hard towards the finish line, Janelle was hot on my heels and I barely squeaked out the win ahead of her. Michelle Workun-Hill rounded out the podium in third place. As I straggled back to the hotel that afternoon, I was happy with another good day of fast skis and racing, but also very wiped.

The best news of the day came in evening, when my coach, Mike Cavaliere, told me that I had made the point standard to race the World Cup in Otepaa! This World Cup is the weekend before World Juniors but on the same course and venue. It hasn’t been confirmed yet, but I’m really hoping that I will be selected to start my first international World Cup and get to know the sprint course before racing it for World Juniors.

Final results for sprint day - http://www.zone4.ca/results.asp?ID=3343&cat=all

Final Day of Racing – 10km Skate

More cold temperatures meant that the start time was pushed back until 11am. I attempted a sleep in, but I’m not very skilled in this regard. My goal for today was to win the overall. If I could pull off a top 5 result, I would be really pleased with my weekend. After a harder than normal warm-up, I headed to the start line. I was really trying to get the blood moving before this race because I knew it wasn’t going be an easy one. After the first 3km, my splits were promising. Tempo and rhythm were the only words in my head and I just kept on rolling through the kilometers.

On my second lap, I lost concentration for a split second and took a spill at the bottom of the ‘S Turn’. That was dumb. After a bit of rest I was ready to go again. I was feeling strong heading into the last 2km of the course and the splits between myself and second (Annika Hicks) were tight. On the final climb I was so happy that I had good skis to help out with the glide, but it still felt like I was hauling cinder blocks instead of legs up the hill. After crossing the line and learning that I had held onto the lead, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe that I had managed three wins this weekend! More impressive, however, was the hospitality and organization at Lappe Nordic. The trails were awesome, the apple cider abundant and the volunteers always friendly. Big ups to my teammates and the support staff for making this weekend unbelievable. Of the 19 spots available, The Academy has qualified 9 of its 20 athletes for the World Junior/U23 Championships, prittttay pritttay impressive.

I’m back in Canmore today, laying low and reviewing the weekend. The real work is about to begin. With World Junior Championships just two weeks away, there is plenty of work to be done. The Canadian Team will leave this Sunday, January 16th, for some training in Finland before we head over to Estonia for the real action. Here's the link to the official site for World Junior Championships, http://www.tehvandi.ee/njwsc/index.php

Thanks for checking in! Adios amigos.

Results for the 10/15km Skate - http://www.zone4.ca/results.asp?ID=3344&cat=all