Canada Winter Games - Halifax 2011

Here's a quick vid to give you an overall feel for the games. Canada Games theme song also!

Good Times in Halifax

On February 18th the Team Alberta athletes for Cross-country skiing hit up the Edmonton airport at 5am to board a charter flight to Halifax. This would be the week of feeling like a sheep in a huge herd. For the first day, I literally felt so lost anytime I couldn't see a blue (Alberta) jacket within sight or I wasn't being herded off somewhere by the collies, I mean volunteers.

We settled into the hotel that night at the ballin' Mariott. Big upgrades from the last Canada Games I went to in 2007 in Whitehorse, where we were staying in bunks in dorm rooms. However, the walk to the food court in Whitehorse was way closer than the escalator and pedway maze of a trip to get to the food court in Halifax. It took this sheep a couple tries to find the best route to the feeding station. In order to avoid hoarding of food, they don't let you take any food into or out of the banquet hall where the food was served. That meant lots of travel back and forth to the food court as well as challenging each other to see who could sneak the most food out. I saw some impressive pant stuffing as well as risky hoodie packing maneuvers, all in an attempt to have a snack in your hotel room.Cool building in downtown Halifax. Possible cool night club entrance? I thought so.
The one and only Theodore the Tug boat. I was probably just as excited as you are.

Martock was the site for the snowboard cross, halfpipe and cross-country skiing, an hour drive west of Halifax. It was sweet being at the same site as other sports, talk about a clash of sports though. Spandex versus condom toques.

The first day of racing was a 7.5km Skate race for the ladies. The courses here have more transitions than a synchronized swimming team routine. Maybe not that many, but you get the idea. The constant switching of technique made for really fun racing and ensured that you worked every section of the course to use all your momentum efficiently. There is only one long climbing section on the course, in fact it's called "The Climb". I knew I would have to attack this climb on each pass as part of the 3.75km course. EmNish of the Yukon struck Gold! I wonder how many times that's been used? Alysson Marshall of 'the greatest place on earth' took silver and the H.Wid came home with a bronze medal. I was happy to be on the podium today, the race went by so quickly that I really had no idea what to expect as far as results went but knew I put a good, hard effort on the line. Annika Hicks of Alberta was a close 4th place followed by Alana Thomas of Ontario to round out the top 5.

Marlis giving me a good push through the stadium

Rounding the last corner before the finish. All above photo's courtesy of The Jess Cockney.

Sprint Day. Whoop. So, I mentioned the transitions and the sprint course was no exception. The snow here is mainly artificial, and the majority of the climbs were the granulated sugar type. For the qualifier, I had to keep the legs moving as quickly as possible and fight the urge to sit back on my skis. Other than having to dodge a blind para-nordic skier, Meghan with Team Alberta, and her guide, the qualifier went smoothly. The qualifier was 1000m and under 3 minutes. One of the shorter courses we've done this season. I won the qualifier over Alysson and Emily, but all the times were so tight that it made me that much more excited to see how the heats would play out in the afternoon. I lead the quarter and semi-final heats and earned my spot in the final along with EmNish, Alysson, Marlis Kromm (AB), Erin Tribe (ON), and Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (QC). I lead the heat off the gun and the last push over the top of the final climb is what cost me the gold. Alysson had the better line coming into the stadium with a lead on me, so I jumped in her draft for the slight downhill into a 180 degree turn and 50m finishing straight. The finish happens so quick, and for the most part, whoever was first in the lane took the win. I'm happy with silver, but the gold is always the goal, so I will be back at the next Canada Games. Kidding. I think I've had my share of CWG experiences. EmNish won the bronze medal.

Women's sprint podium

I was selected for doping control after the race, and was waiting to 'pee in a cup' but was picked up by a snowmobile while I was waiting and whisked down to the pressing awards ceremony in the stadium.

Sprint day was followed by a rest day from the racing, but we went up to the Martock site, an hour's drive away from Halifax, to ski the track for tomorrow's race and soak up the rare sun rays of the week.
All 14 pudding cups you see in front of Matt, he ate. The man can't turn down a challenge.

Today was the 10km Classic, and I was not feeling tip top. I had been running away from a sore throat and sniffle since the beginning of the week and it finally caught up to me today. It didn't drag me under as much as I had anticipated which was a great relief, but my race today lacked any snap or higher gear. I ended in 12th today and was completely wiped in the afternoon. Ready for a rest day!
Some of the coolest medalists from today. What?

You haven't seen a real used book store until this one. I think the owner needs to be on an episode of 'Hoarders'. It was madness. The above photo is actually his office. Yes, there was someone working in there!!

Rest day. Rained aaaaall day. But on a positive note, I took the ferry to Dartmouth and back, just for kicks and met up with a high school friend who gave me an informed and personal tour of her house and campus at Dalhousie. B-e-a-utiful campus, even in the pouring rain!
Thanks for the tour of Dal, Lynsey!

Embracing the East coast with a lobster dinner with Team AB. So delicious!

Kevin and I ready to dig in.

Final day of competition. The prestigious 4x3.75km Relay. I think I was more nervous for this event than any other this week just because of how exciting it is to race this event and the expectations attached to it. In Whitehorse, I was the first classic leg of the relay and we ended up winning the gold so I was looking to defend the title. Our finest youngster on classic skis, Maya MacIsaac-Jones, lead out team AB and tagged off to the quick and snappy Sara Hewitt in second place, BC with a 15sec lead. Annika Hicks skied a solid third leg, first skate leg, and tagged off to me in third position, right behind Équipe Quebec as we headed out to on the finishing leg of the relay. Every attack I made was matched by Olivia and I settle for a bronze medal for Team AB. I felt strong on the course today but made a bad ski selection which meant I didn't have the glide to back up my fitness. Disappointed at first, but totally pumped to share this with my teammates. An impressive showing from the Team AB men, definitely untouchable today. It was also great to watch the BF, Joey Burton, ski a strong classic leg for Team BC as they claimed the bronze medal as well.

Yo Respek. Men's Relay team.

Beautiful face paint, modeled by the beautiful Annika Hicks.

We hit up the closing ceremonies the next day. Listening to some amazing beat boxing and violin playing was the highlight of the ceremony. The rest of our final day in Halifax was spent wandering around and chilling in The World Tea House, the best tea and chill spot in Halifax. That evening we were Alberta bound and boarded a chartered flight for Edmonton. We arrived late in Edmonton, waited for our bags and then spent the night at the Travel Lodge to drive home the next day. Including the overnight stay, flight and van ride home the next day, this trip was as long as traveling home from Europe. Needless to say I was happy to come home, especially because it was my 20th birthday and my mom, sister, brother, Phil (fresh off the plane from Oslo) and Joey had a dinner planned that night. Finally a good, home cooked meal. Awesome.

Mascots at closing ceremonies
Gerard and Graeme ordering yet another tea at the World Tea House.

Joey and I at the
Martock site! We try not to let the BC/AB rivalry get in the way.

Next stop, Canmore Ski Nationals, March 12-19th! No travel involved, which is fine by me. If you're in the Canmore area, these events are going to be action packed, the best racers from across Canada competing for national titles, schedule of events and details can be found on the above linked site.