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

Western NORAM
By:  Matthias Purdon   (2011/12/22)

On December 3rd I left Ottawa for Silver Star British Columbia with the Ontario race team and I haven't looked back since. Since Silver Star I've traveled to Rossland, Vancouver, Whistler (and the Whistler Olympic Park and Callaghan Country trails), and back to Vancouver.  It has been an absolutely great trip so far.  I've done some of the best days of skiing of my life, fitness is improving, and I am reconnecting with old friends and making some new ones along the way.

The view from our house in Silverstar as the sun rose.

The training camp in Silver Star was a revelation of what a good camp is all about. We trained hard (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KC-L149Udj8&feature=related) and easy at altitude, worked our technique, together ate thousands of dollars of food, had our lactates tested, cooked, joked around, and slept and rested hard. Essentially, it was an immersion the ski life, or as our coach Pavlina Sudrich would tell us, a chance to discover our passion for life as a ski racer, and to be "hard as (    )".  Although my races at the season opener NORAM were not the best I emerged from the week stronger and more focused for the season ahead. The team as a whole was very successful with several medals and many top ten finishes. Kudos to Ottawa native Ben "Wuzzuzza" Wilkinson-Zan on a stellar double first place weekend! Thanks also to our head coach Pavlina Sudrich, assistant coach Dave Tindall, and sport physiologist Rob Rupf for their hard work. Their effort in making a memorable week for all 17 Ontario athletes was really appreciated!

I should also note that it was in Silver Star where we watched the feature length downhill ski film "All.I.Can" by BC's Sherpa cinemas. An inspiring film that would lead to other adventures later in Trail BC... (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZrbU_bUkJk)

(All video links were put together by Pavlina)

After Silver Star it was off to Rossland with a pared down team of Ontario athletes (Scott Hill, Greg Kilroy, Leif Lennie, Adam Birosh, and myself) and Pav as our coach and wax tech. For a good summary of the road trip to Rossland (and a clever summary of the going-ons of a provincial ski coach) check out Pav's latest blog post.  Needless to say, we were pretty tightly packed but we made it safe and barely needed the extra insurance we put on our rental van on the way through Vernon, which by the way, was a good idea, Leif.

Rossland is a really cool town with an excellent assortment of ski trails. We trained all week in preparation for NORAM # 2 which was a 1.6km skate sprint and a mass start (10km women 15km men) skate race on day 2. I did not qualify in the sprints (still lacking the "jam" for these) but by all accounts it was an exciting day of racing with Jesse Cockney (AWCA) winning the mens race and Jessica Diggins (CXC) taking the womens race. There was also a big crash in the mens semi-finals with the whole heat going down except Mike Somppi (NDC Thunder Bay, NST). Dave Greer (who had his own unfortunate crash on the hairpin in qualification) caught this excellent sequence with his camera.

So tight going in...

Skis sliding, first hand on snow...

Total blow out! with the exception of Mike (in the red National Team suit) who escaped unscathed. 

Later Jesse Cockney turned on an excellent performance out sprinting Brent McMurtry for the win...

(Photo credit: David Greer)

The distance mass start 15km skate race went well for me.  I skied more or less in the top 25 for the first two laps of 3.75km, feeling better than I thought I would while I warmed up. In the last two laps my shins started to burn (a common symptom of the first skate race of the season) and the pace that I had pushed in the first half of the race started to catch up with me. Despite this I held things more or less together to finish in 34th. It was hard effort but it felt good to go a little over what I would consider good "15km" pacing early on. These races are the best training I have ever done in mid-December by far!

In Rossland I said goodbye to my Ontario teammates and Pav and took a ride with xcOttawa alumni Colin Abbott and the Callaghan Valley Team coach Chris Manhard to Vancouver. I will miss the temporary team we made in Silver Star and Rossland!

Pav and I on a red PB!

Vancouver Whistler Vancouver (repeat?)

After rolling into Vancouver with half a big mac in my stomach (Colin and I decided to try one as a life experience... not really worth it) I was ready for some time off.  Three days of taking it easy, hanging around with my sister and nephew, learning how to play the Uke, was the key. Lingering cough- gone, darkness under the eyes- vanished!

After some rest it felt like time to do some long skis in the Callaghan Valley. I made a plan to meet with my friend Camille Cheskey who is living the ski life in Whistler, and working at the Nordic Shop in Squamish. Two amazing days of skiing, catching up, and sushi eating ensued. Thanks so much for having me.

Making fresh tracks at WOP (Whistler Olympic Park) which is hosting
World Junior/U23 trails this year.

The snow here is pretty old but there is plenty (Although it is probably dumping there now...).  This is up the hill from "Norwegian Woods" loop.  This particular stand of "Norwegian" forest was the unfortunate victim of a clear cut. 

The sun finally set on a great day of skiing. Clear days in the Callaghan are over for now but I will remember this one!

The second day I decided to climb up to the Callaghan Ski Lodge on the Callaghan Country ski trails (next to WOP). It had clouded in a bit but it was still amazing up there!

Somewhere off the Alpine Meadows loop...

After skiing up in the alpine for a while I returned to WOP where I got a ride with Vesta's friend Jess (who is working at WOP as a ski instructor) back to Squamish. During this trip the generosity and willingness to help out in the ski community has really been made apparent to me. Indeed, without this community my whole trip could not have happened the way it has. I've thanked a few people in this article and thanks again to all those people and the those I forgot to mention. (Like Kyle, who lent me his winter Jacket a couple days before I left because I didn't have one)

While waiting for the bus back to Vancouver I took refuge from the rain at Sushi Sen for some of the best Sushi in Squamish. This has been amazing. Needless to say I will be back in this neck of the woods soon! Looking forward to xcOttawa arriving... It will be great to see you all again.

Thanks for reading!

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