January Update

With World Championships in Lahti, Finland just four weeks away, I’m happy to report that I’ve had a good winter of racing so far!

I have raced in seven competitions over the last four weekends. I had hoped to keep the streak going, but unfortunately there was only one race within reasonable driving distance this weekend, and it was cancelled due to freezing rain bringing down branches and power lines over the race venue this week.

Continue reading below if you would like the gritty details on all my races so far this season.

I don’t usually do this, but to add some visual content to this post, I have stolen some pictures of me racing from Facebook – all in terrible quality. In order to counter this trend I recently acquired a very nice second hand Fujifilm camera and hope to be improving the quality of the pictures on this site in the coming months!

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Getting to know my Fujifilm X-E1

Race 1 – 10km Classic, Individual Start

This race was a tough one – shortly after Christmas, and in the afternoon immediately following a night shift at the hospital. It didn’t go particularly well, but I was able to blow out the racing cobwebs, pace my efforts well and skied better with each lap of the course.

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Biathlon Sprint. Photo Credit: Nordic Marksman

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Prone shooting. Photo Credit: Nordic Marksman

Race 2 – 10km Biathlon Sprint

This race took place in bitterly cold conditions which usually cause me lots of trouble with skate skiing. Fortunately I’ve found some skis which work nicely on cold dry snow (second hand from Knute Johnsgaard!) and had a really good race in terms of skiing. My shooting is still very problematic as I only hit 4 of 10 targets.

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Standing shooting. Photo Credit: Nordic Marksman

Race 3 – 12.5km Biathlon Pursuit

This race was almost a replay of Saturday’s biathlon race, except that there were four bouts of shooting, and since I am very slow in the range and was not shooting well I was well off the pace. In terms of cross country skiing this was however an excellent 5 x 2.5km interval workout!

Race 4 – 10km Skate, Individual Start

Brutally cold conditions persisted this weekend in Northern New Brunswick. The course was hard and icy and the grooming machine broke down before the race. Instead of a 15km hilly course, we raced a fairly flat 10km. I didn’t have a spectacular performance, but again skied better as the race went on (I’m getting old!) and had an excellent balance workout on the icy snow.

Race 5 – 15km Classic, Mass Start

Actually the worst race of my career. Kevin and I decided to drive 5hrs south to enter a NENSA Eastern Cup race in Maine. Arriving at the skating rink (sorry, race site) we discovered that the organisers had not provided any access to electricity, and we didn’t have a propane torch with us. These tools would have allowed us to iron in a klister wax to the ski bases. This would have been absolutely essential to having a wax which could endure the 15km race.

Being a mass start of 140 racers, there were lots of crashes and general mayhem on course. I lost the ability to kick my skis at kilometer 4 of 15 which made for some brutal suffering in the next 11 hilly kilometres. The organisers did what they could, but the sharp, icy, technical descents caused some injuries and an ambulance was called to the race site.

I learned a few things from this race – mainly to never travel anywhere without a propane torch.

Race 6 – 15km Skate, Individual Start

I was up against some stiff competition in this race and had to start first in the individual start. I knew my only chance was to go out hard and try to hang on. I did really well for 5km and then faded a bit to a more reasonable pace. A podium effort that I was happy with overall.

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Sharing the podium with Lucas and Kevin in the 15km Skate.

Race 7 – 15km Classic, Mass Start

My favourite race of the season so far, an a chance at redemption after my misadventures in Maine! Kevin and I arrived at the race site with an assortment of klisters, heat guns, and waxing irons. We had a busy morning preparing our skis and some others for young skiers in our club.

The mass start took off at a high pace with a leading group of four skiers. Kevin and Daniel soon floated off to battle for first, and my friend Vincent and I settled in for a 12km battle for third place. Vincent put in an incredible effort and I was only able to hold him off by a few seconds by using some of my old man skiing wisdom. He’ll surely be beating in no time with all the work he puts into cross country running in the off season!

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No better way to spend the weekend than racing with friends!

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