I, just like so many other cross-country skiers and winter enthusiasts, have been getting ready to ski for the past 6 or 7 months.† I have rollerskied countless kilometers, I have run endless hours and I have also biked great distances.† I have endured the weights in gym sessions to the best of my capacity and I have managed to get enough motivation to miss†few of them since July†(quite an accomplishment for me).† Many of these training sessions were fun and needed no extra motivation, but for a number of others I needed to fast forward to this time of year and remember what it is like to ski on snow while I rollerskied on pavement, and what it is like to fall in a fluffy white cushion after leaving a non-negligible amount of skin on the road.†
Next weekend is XC Ottawa's early on-snow training camp at ForÍt Montmorency.† It mostly consists of skiing, eating, sleeping and if you're lucky enough to have spare time then a little ping pong.† This may sound weird to anyone who has not been to la ForÍt or to those who have not been for a long time, but there is a very odd time warp effect up there.† I†can't explain it but time simultaneously speeds up and slows down.† After a single day it seems that the pace of life has come to a crawl and you see your own everyday life as a sequence of expedited reactions to the environment.††Up†there, it is usually a winter wonderland.† The main building which includes the rooms and the cafeteria reminds me of what a research base in Antartica would look like.† The surrounding forests and the lack of internet connection isolates you from the world and the associated stress.† At the same time there is usually little time to do anything else up there.† You catch up with†friends from other cities who are doing the same thing; making the most of this mostly secret mystical place where lumberjacks and cross-country skiers meet.† For me, this is a good break from the hectic Fall schedule with school and work before the exams and racing really begin.†
More generally, from the moment you get on snow you forget about all the less desirable side effects of loving a sport to this degree and you are simply gliding.† Until the first hill on classic skis that is.† It feels awful.† You are huffing and puffing, backslipping and going nowhere.† You start to wonder if it was all worth it, if all that training and those surpassed benchmarks will really translate to on snow performance.† If the competitive cross-country skier ever has a bittersweet moment about his quest it is in that first week of snow.† The euphoria of snow is quite obvious but the fear of slowness is always in the back of our minds.† A number of questions follow about the purpose of all of this yet there are no definite answer until at last you recover your skiing abilities.† At this point in time, optimism is at a record high.† Right at that point there is no hesitation.† I am where I could only hope to be.† Despite all the adversity I am conscious that the time, the money and the suffering of the past 6 months were all worth it; I will never regret it.† Another ski season is here and I will be able to make the most of it in one of the best skiing†cities in the world with teammates as passionate as I am.
Some pictures from last year's camp at Montmorency . . .