Blue bird nationals

Whistler Olympic Park treated us to some gorgeous weather. It was hard to focus with such gorgeous back country views tempting me!
I'm in Vancouver winding down after a beautiful and successful past couple of weeks. The Canadian National Championships wrapped up last week in the Callahan Valley at Whistler Olympic Park and marked the end of my season. I am really happy with how the week played out - I came away with my first Senior National title and won the Aggregate for Open Women and U23 Women as well!

Training before heading to Whistler went really well and I felt mentally and physically prepared to put it all on the line for the last event of the year. Marlis Kromm and I teamed up for the sprint relay and continued our dream team success of 2007 when we won the team sprint as Challenge Girls.
Marlis Kromm and I win sprint relay gold for Foothills Nordic
Foothills, Hardwood and Rocky Mountain Racers on the relay podium

International women's podium for 5km Skate
 The 5km Skate race was the following day and having a strong race at Sharkfest a couple weekends previous had given me a boost in confidence. I was stoked to see how I would measure up to the rest of the nation and a couple Americans as well. This race was so demanding and rough, but all the more rewarding! The weather was warm but the trails remained in good condition and I had amazing skis as well which always helps.
Awards - pumped about Granola Girl!

Canadian Women's Podium. Alana Thomas, myself and Alysson Marshall
My strategy was to ski the first 1km relaxed and confident but aggressive and then gradually turning up the speed. It played out well and I ended up 3rd Overall and 1st Canadian. I've worked a lot on my skate skiing and distance speed this summer and fall so to be able to put it all together on race day and see the hard work pay off is so gratifying!

The day of the 10km classic was hot, hot and hot! The Open Women were racing in the heat of the day and the course held up well, but it still meant lots of slush and klister. Not exactly my forte of an event or conditions, but I put out my best none the less. I really surprised myself today. I have really struggled with my classic skiing this season and being able to ski the whole course in the track today was a feat in itself! I compared the race today to doing a VO2 Max test on a stationary bike. The slower you went - the more resistance was applied and the harder it was. It was all about keeping up the momentum today and trying not to get too bogged down! I faded big time on the last lap and let some seconds slide, but I ended the day as 6th overall and 5th Canadian. So I can be happy about that! My time off the leader was nothing to brag about, but it is miles of improvement over my usual distance classic showings.
Pound dat. At awards with Amanda and Peri
Women's International Podium, 10km Classic

Sprint day! Not gonna lie - this classic sprint course really intimidated me. I know where my strengths are and I let the mental block of not being able to stride efficiently get the better of me. I qualified in 9th position and a long way off the leading time - but the day was just getting going! The afternoon brought out the sun and the tracks went from an ice sheet in the morning to a slush fest in the afternoon. It felt like someone was adding an extra 10m to the course every time you went through the stadium! After a fierce fight between Kate, Peri and I in the semi-final, I earned myself a spot in the A final. Trying to stay hydrated and not overheat today was really important. The energy management was a whole different ball game today than staying warm when it's -16! There is a long striding section right off the bat on this sprint course, so as long as I could maintain some contact with the field striding, I could play to my strengths in the double pole section towards the finish. I played this strategy as best I could in the Afinal, but I didn't have enough gas to best anyone. Ending the day in 6th was not my strongest race, but a definite improvement from the qualifier in the morning.
Fighting for grip in my quarter final
Following Peri through final corner into stadium in quarter final
Women's international podium - Sprint day

The next day I participated in the annual Fast and Female event and was privileged to lead a group of keen 15 year old female racers around the race course at WOP. It always amazes me how receptive to feedback they are and how keen they are to improve. Really exciting to be around and a lot of fun to work with them!
Fast and Female participants at Whistler Olympic Park 2013
Emily Nishikawa and I taking in the view at Top of The World on a day off from racing. Wicked views of Black Tusk!
The Academy women and staff hit up some Indian food between race days.
The final day of racing was a 30k Skate mass start. I was so excited to race today! I knew that my skate skiing and distance felt really strong and that I would have a good chance for a strong result today. The sun was out - I mean really out (16 degrees!) - and the conditions held up decent. The Academy had really good skis today so I did my best to take every advantage of it! The Open Women set up to do 6x5km course. I skied as relaxed as possible for the first half of the race, maintaining a top 5 position throughout. As the race went on, more and more ladies were dropping off the pace and I was still feeling decent! Just how long was I going to hang on for? It was hard to say but I found that the more I focused on the little moments, the faster the race went by. By the 4th lap, it was only 4 women skiing together. By the 5th lap it was down to the final 3. Zina Kocher, Bettina Gruber and myself. On the final lap, Zina made an attack on the first hill out of the stadium and I was not ready to be charging that early out of the finish. As much as I wanted to charge, the legs just weren't feeling it, but could hang on to a decent pace that would get me to the line in 3rd Overall, 2nd Canadian. It may not be golden - but one of the most rewarding and fun races of the season! I learned a lot about pacing and skiing in a pack today. Really valuable and exciting experiences.
Zina Kocher leading the front pack of women in the 30km skate.
Hot damn it's hot. Reeling in the finish line after 30km and the final race of the 2012/13 season!
Justine Brisbane of the Rocky Mountain Outlook and I post 30km. It was so great to see the Bow Valley sending a reporter to the National event for coverage. All the BV athletes appreciate the support!
Wowza that was a tough one. Good though! My skis were unreal thanks to Salomon and the wax support!

Happy retirement Kate! Russell is pouring out the bubblay after a good champagne shower on Kate.

Now What? Unwinding after a season is so great in itself and it makes it even more special when you are able to end on a strong note. I have just returned from some solid time ski touring in the mountains around Whistler as well as Revelstoke. I'm recharching for a couple days here in Canmore before I take off for part II of my April adventures - in El Salvador for some surf sessions!

Thank you so much to all my sponsors for their support. Without your financial assistance I may as well be busking on a street corner for money. And we all know I can't sing. Huge thanks to Buff Canada, Valbella Meats, Shades on Caribou, Banff Lodging Co., Soroptimist's International, Ticino Restaurant and the many family friends that have shown their support this season. It means so much to me that I have your support. And of course - to my family. Without a doubt the best support network I could ask for. You are amazing.

Devon, my bro, Brent and I on top of Mt. Cayoosh in Whistler area. Just one of the summits we bagged over the past couple weeks.