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KeskiDads - My Winter Challenge: 20th Edition
By:  Toni Saidla   (2005/02/25)


Canadian skiers are largely funded by the Bank of Mom and Dad. If you aren’t a ski racer or parent of one, you may wonder why it is that parents allow their children to spend hundreds of hours gliding on skis at their expense. Seems silly... almost as crazy as those racing suits they wear. Well a year ago XC Ottawa athletes asked their mothers to share their thoughts on having a ski racer in the family in the SkiMoms Series and now it's time to hear from the Dads that recently did the Keski.

This was my 20th Keskinada or equivalent (i.e. counting the earlier "Gatineau 55"). As usual, on arrival I found the hum of activity in the gym cheery and invigorating. Adding to the welcoming atmosphere was the Norwegian Embassy stand, with its special pancakes. My very thoughtful wife, Dianne, handed me one, which I disposed of quickly (yum!).

On heading out to the start zone, I found the weather encouraging-a cool-sounding -20 was actually quite pleasant, given the almost complete absence of wind, the brilliant blue sky, and the bright sunlight. I lined up near the back of wave E-not very ambitious, but this guaranteed that I would not constantly have to watch out for faster skiers trying to squeeze past and, of course, I might have the pleasure (shallow, immature, juvenile, etc., I know!) of passing the odd slower one (as things turned out, these were rare birds indeed!).

I tried to pace myself, and to keep in mind son Karl's coaching tips re technique. Pink's Lake Hill was hard work, but the following stretch offered a chance to catch my breath. At Penguin, I cast all pride aside and diagonal-skated or herring-boned up all the steeper parts. Burmah Road I navigated the same way. I had lots to drink at each feeding station. As usual, I had made the wrong decision regarding whether or not to carry my own water bottle; I took one along, and had not the slightest need for it (this is like the familiar situation at the bank; whichever line you get in, it invariably turns out to be the slowest and therefore the wrong one}.

On the other hand, on the home stretch down the Western Parkway, I suddenly slightly queasy; I realized that, contrary to my usual pattern and despite the generous offerings at the numerous feeding stations, I had completely forgotten to eat (how was this possible? does experience teach us only that we don't learn from experience? or was this an extended elder moment?!)! Enraged though I was, I resisted the temptation to smash my ski-pole or express my feelings in honest hoser language (after all, there were little kids around!), and resolved to conserve my energy until the finish.

On the very last hill, coming up from Asticou parallel to the Parkway, I ran into a horde of bunny rabbits, with Moms and Dads-this was a regular traffic jam. Good for them, though-they were doing the 10-km. variant-these are our hope for the future (like sons Karl and Martin not so long ago)! At this point, my legs were so tired that I did not mind the imposed slow-down. I somehow managed to trip at the very top, fortunately with damage only to my dignity. The last downhill run was an invigorating treat as usual, and I managed to sprint to the finish, to the cheers of ever-patient Dianne.

The shower afterward felt heavenly, and the meal really hit the spot. Only the usual cold beer was missing, but this aspect was well taken care of later, at home.

The ski trails were in excellent shape, and the Keski, as usual, was well managed and run. Hats off to the organizers and volunteers. It was wonderful to see so many people, young and old, men, women, and children, taking advantage of this splendid outdoor sport opportunity. I hope that the Keskinada keeps growing in participation. As for myself, there is no better feeling than wrestling grizzly bears and surviving to do it again next year!

Interesting Reading. . .
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