.: Ski XCOttawa.ca :: Skiing in Ottawa and Gatineau Park

By:  Parham Momtahan   (2011/02/25)


Warning: Don’t try this at home kids!

Early this January Steve Thomas, who used to work with me, asks me what equipment he needs to do the 53K Gatineau Loppet Skate Race. I tell him that he’s crazy for starting his attempt this late, but since we have the same foot size, I give him a pair of old combi boots, and I offer him my Fisher RCSs that are now too stiff for me. He gets the skis tested at Fresh Air for his weight, and they're good, so he buys them and picks himself a set of polls.

Mid January we go for a “lesson” one lunch hour for Steve to try out this "new" equipment. After I show him how to put on his skis and use the poll straps, I give him a few hints about one-skate, and two-skate, and we ski around the Kanata ski club for ˝ hour where he has a number of falls on more-or-less flat terrain. But I can tell the talented hockey player in him has a great sense of balance and weight shift. As I sense that he's a good athlete, I don't completely discourage him. Rather I recommend that, to have any chance of finishing the long race, he gets some real lessons and practices at least 4 times a week for the next month, preferably in the Gatineau _Hills_, for the month before the race.

Fast forward to the weekend’s race: I see Steve at the race kit pick up and I ask him how his ski training’s been going. He confesses that he’s only managed to get out skiing about 6 times in total including our little "lesson", as coach Dev has him focused on his tri training. I wish Steve good luck, thinking to myself that he is in for it, especially given the icy conditions. But I also give him a mantra: “Don’t let the old guy beat ya”.

We start the race, with Steve a wave behind me, and every time we do a turn around, I see him get closer and then he passes me at the Champlain Lookout finishing the race around 3:25, 7 minutes ahead of me! I would like to blame this outcome on the quality of my instruction, but I know better. A tadpole no more, indeed :-)

Way to go all of you who raced the Gatineau Loppets. And, talking about athletic talent, congrats to Laurel Johnson who started skiing a couple of years ago and made the top of her category last weekend.

Do you have a Gatineau Loppet story you would like to share?  Send it to info@xcottawa.ca.

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