The Wild West

Final climb on the skate sprint prologue, courtesy of FasterSkier.com
Passports in hand and plenty of snacks on snacks, eight Academy athletes and two coaches ventured into the Wild West. The drive down to Montana proved to be a scenic one as we paralleled the Rocky Mountains and then into the hunting, and apparently taxidermy, territory of West Yellowstone, Montana. Annika Hicks and I represented the women’s side of the Academy and as far as conversation goes, I’ve never been more informed on all things Fantasy Football and moustache related.
Acade'mos design and tshirt. One of a a kind products by Joey Burton and Graeme Killick. Movember has sparked some serious creativity and facial hair. 
Stopped on the side of the road for a pee break. Not even Stef knows where we are
On the walls of the restaurant. You could say we always ate in company.

A lynx. Just perched on top of the pizza warming station.
Wednesday, November 23 - The races kicked off with two back to back sprint prologues. There were many new elements of this day for me. The race format (you don’t come across back to back prologues every day), the course (high altitude and point to point racing) and putting the new academy suit through its paces. The classic prologue was a shock to my system to say the least. I skied as aggressive and efficiently as I could manage for the day, but all I could muster was a 16th place finish, 5th U23. I think it took me all the way from the finish at the top of the course until I had my warm-up clothes on again in the stadium before my heart rate started to recover. Racers were given an hour between the start time of your first prologue to the start of your second prologue. I spent this time trying to catch my breath as well as clear the lactate that had accumulated in my legs.
Skate prologues are usually my stronger discipline and I was happy with the way I felt and skied the second race of the day. I finished the final climb up Telemark hill in 6th position overall, 2nd U23. As far as the first day back on the racecourse goes? I’m hungry for better results but it’s always good to be back.
iPhone geeks? Check. New suits? Check. Self portrait modelling opportunity? Most definitely.
Visiting Shayla Swanson (former AWCA athlete and entrepreneur extraordinaire) at her Sauce booth as part of the West Yellowstone Ski Festival. Hot Toppings for Cool Weather! Sauce Headwear will keep you warm and stylin' no matter what the conditions.
This isn't where we stayed. If only. They're advertising colour TV!
I'm no biathlete, but this was a cool little shop. You could say the handcrafted firearms unique to each biathlete that are crafted here are similar to the way Ollivander matches each witch and wizard to a wand in Harry Potter.
Thursday and Friday of last week were spent acclimatizing to the altitude, recovering and putting in some easy hours on the beautiful Rendezvous Trails. On Saturday (26th), I put on my race bib for a 5km Classic. I was really excited and apprehensive leading into today’s race. I really love classic skiing, but haven’t had the best of times skiing a solid distance race in this discipline. The course had great variation. A single, continuous 5km loop of varying double pole, kick double pole as well as short and long striding sections made for a great course to race on. I know I need to improve on pacing more aggressively in these shorter races, but I was happy with how I skied technically and my fitness was coming along from earlier in the week. I finished today in 17th overall and 6th U23. Annika had a great day on the trails, finishing 5 spots ahead of me in 12th, 3rd U23. Graeme Killick took the win on the Men's side with the rest of the AWCA men all placing in the top 30. Full results for all racing days can be found at Summit Timing.
Coming back into Canada was fairly uneventful, until we crossed the border South of Lethbridge and faced tornado force winds. As our fifteen-passenger van with trailer in tow merged onto the main highway, I’m not kidding you; a trailer (remarkably similar looking to ours) was blown over and totaled in the ditch. But we just kept on truckin’. We ended up passing 4 semis blown into the ditch and much more debris flying through the air. It felt like the beginning of the Wizard of Oz, except we never were in Kansas.

Just 1 of the 4 semis I saw 'tipped' over in the ditch, victim of the insane strength of the wind that day.

 Timing a jump at the same time as a wind gust really sent the team flying. Provided some great gas station amusement.