Under 23 World Championships qualification races

Whistler Olympic Park Credit: Angus Cockney

This past weekend concluded the U23/World Junior Trial races in Callaghan Valley, just outside of Whistler, BC. This is one of the most anticipated weekends of racing on the domestic circuit because the rest of your season is shaped by your performance at this event. Leading into this past weekend, I found myself reviewing my spring, summer and fall preparation of training - creating a mental checklist of benchmarks to reassure myself that I was as prepared as ever for this weekend. I was confident in my ability, but nervous as ever.
Long training day in Pocaterra area with special appearances from Rhonda Jewett and Chandra Crawford
First skate in the new year at Carrot Creek
It's 2012 in case you didn't hear. Ringing in the new year with the family at Ticino's.

The first race of the three was a 10km Pursuit (exchanging classic equipment for skate halfway through the race) on Thursday. I was so excited and charged up for this race, only to be crushed to the ground with the reality that I didn’t feel as fit as I had thought. The demanding courses at the 2010 Olympic site were a long ways from being my friend that day and I left the course completely defeated and deflated. NOT the start of the weekend I was hoping for. That was Thursday. The one thing about being in this defeated position, however, is that you learn the most about your ability to reset your mind and focus on future opportunities. It was great to be able to see the Academy have such a successful day! Full results here
Pursuit day podium. EmNish, Alysson and Annika (1,2 and 5) representing AWCA
Amazing support staff! 145 pairs of skis to wax for pursuit day. Unbelievable.
One of the chosen modes of distraction for the week, jet pack joyride!
The first book in the Hunger Games series also provided me with a lot of entertainment and distraction. It was hard not to draw comparisons between the book and the charged atmosphere of the weekend.
You know it. Coach Jeffries on training day Credit: Angus Cockney

Skiing the sprint course on training day. Credit: Angus Cockney

We had Friday off from racing and were able to train at Whistler Olympic Park on the hard packed and fast tracks of the racecourse. The next day on the courses couldn’t have been more different. The snow started falling Friday night and continued off and on throughout the day on Saturday. I knew that my legs would have to work extra hard through the new and soft snow, but my qualifier confirmed that I had the fitness to pull it off in these conditions. After qualifying 2nd behind Andrea Dupont, it was time to recover as effectively as possible before the head to head racing.
Mike getting his workout in during the sprint qualifier. Credit: Angus Cockney

For the heats, there was one fast and direct line through the course, and the rest of the trail was harder to navigate. This meant that an early lead would give you the ability to control the pace and conserve energy. I worked this strategy and earned myself a spot in the final. I felt strong and confident in my skis heading into this final and although there was a flurry of butterflies in my stomach, behaving more like obnoxious monkeys; I was ready to put myself to the final test. Crossing the line in first place was such a great feeling, but being able to share the podium with two of my Alberta World Cup Academy teammates (Alysson Marshall, 2nd, and Marlis Kromm, 3rd) is indescribable. But it gets better. After collecting my excited body post race, it was time to watch the men’s final – I don’t know which heat I was more nervous for. Mine? Or Phil’s? I had my mom on speakerphone in the stadium as I commentated the race to her and watched as the men’s field skied so smooth and strong in the tough conditions. I’m not sure how much she understood over my cheering and the loudspeaker, but I think it was clear enough that Phil had captured gold as well. What a day!! Another Academy sweep of the Men’s podium, Graham Nishikawa 2nd and Jess Cockney 3rd. Big ups to Janelle Greer and Rebecca Reid as well for a gold and bronze medal in the Junior Women’s race. Wawaweewah. After a long and eventful day, I was completely wiped.

This past summer doing some sprint training on the same courses, minus the snow
Legs up. Janelle, Marlis and Rebecca between qualifier and heats
Rounding a corner in my semi-final. Credit: Jesse Winter

Team Widmer double gold! Credit: Mike Cavaliere
Men's sprint podium
AWCA podium sweep on sprint day, safe to say we had the best skis out there.

The next day, WOP had changed faces again and the 10km classic individual race took place under perfect skies and fairly hard tracks. I would have loved to finish this weekend with a solid distance race under my belt, but my body was not responding and survival mode was the best I could do. My teammates, on the other hand, had another great day!! Full results here

 In case you need a refresher
The city of Erzurum, Turkey has been in my mind since it was announced as the host of the 2012 U23 World Championships and has been a motivating force to my training and racing. The Championships are February 19-27th and there’s plenty of work to be done between now and then. Click here for more deets on the competition and stay tuned for more updates from the rest of my season!
Thanks for checking in.  
Strugglin' on my own in the 10km classic individual.