2012/13 is upon us, but before we get too far into the new year, we would like to celebrate 2011/12, a year in which XC Ottawa had a lot of fun and many stand out performances.
As always, the season started off in May and while some of us went back to our home province or territories for the summer, others stayed in Ottawa to train. We also said goodbye to Colin Abbot and welcomed Kyla Vanderzwet to the group.
The first training camp took place at OWL rafting and was a great way to kick off the training year. As always, it was lots of fun as well as motivating, and ended with a super fun trip down the Ottawa river in sport yaks with Dirk VanWjik.
Just before school started up again we did another training camp in Lake Placid with most of the group coming back from their homes. This was a very fun camp with some long roller skis and some amazing hikes. We stayed at the Olympic Training Center, which had a great cafeteria so we were never hungry.
After this we spent our time between intervals at Mooney’s bay and Penguin hill in the Gatineau. We also spent most of our weekends roller skiing in the park.
Our first on snow training camp was in Montmorency. It was nice to get on snow and get out of the city, even if there were a couple of rocks in the snow.
When we came back to Ottawa to our dismay there was still no snow. This drought of no snow would last until many of us went home to good skiing, while the team that stayed in Ottawa was stuck with little snow until Christmas day.
The lack of snow was not the case for everyone however, Sheila and Matthias headed out west for the early NorAm races in Silverstar and Rossland and there was plenty of snow there as well as some good results by both.
Also, just before Christmas some of the team in Ottawa also headed to Craftsbury, Vermont (day 1, day 2, drive home) for some early races and some snow on a 1.4km man-made loop. Katie McMahon was particulary happy with her 3km classic prologue where she finished 56th in a very large field of 138 racers in the women's category. Megan McTavish and Lee Hawkings also had a very strong start to the season with Megan finishing 6th in the 5km skate and Lee finishing 12th in the 1.4km classic. In Craftsbury the racers had to do two classic races in one day, and the second race of the day was exactly twice as long as the first one. Interestingly enough Megan's time for the second race was exactly twice as long as the first race, even down to the tenth of a second.
After the Holidays it was off to Whistler, B.C. for the World Junior/ U23 trials races (skiathlon, sprint, classic). With lots of snow, great trails, and an awesome support team made up of our Coach John Suuronen along with wax helpers Justin Demers, Eamonn Watson, and the McCarthy brothers. There were lots of great results at this event by the team, some of which ended up being "favourite race moments of 2012" by a few team members. These were: our rookie member Kyla Vanderzwet had an awesome race in the skiathlon finishing 20th. Karl Saidla also had an awesome race in the skiathlon at Whistler, he finished 19th.
Katie and Andre also managed to get out to the U.S. Nationals for a couple days before coming to Whistler. Apparently they got extremely warm weather and dismal snow but Andre the tank still managed to pull out an awesome 32nd place in the skate sprint, being the top Canadian. He was only 8 seconds off the winner!
After getting back from the World Junior Trials the skiers on the Carleton University team only had a week off before the first university races in North Bay. The whole Carleton team had excellent races. On the men's side Lee Hawkings won both races, the 10km skate and the 10km classic. The Carleton men also swept the top-6 in the skate race and the top-5 in the classic race. On the women's side Ingrid Hagberg took the win in the 10 km skate race followed by Kyla Vanderzwet in 2nd. In the classic 10 km Ingrid placed 2nd and Kyla placed 4th.
The next race series would be the Eastern Canadian Championships (sprint, skate, pursuit). This is also a nice race weekend because it’s at home and thankfully we get to spend a good majority of our time on skis training at Nakkertok. The weather for the races was amazing this year, which made for some really fun racing, and maybe helped with some terrific results posted by XC Ottawa athletes. Vesta Mather had a very good 10km skate race finishing 16th open women. Megan McTavish also had a very strong weekend, with good races all around she finished 6th overall in the mini-tour. Thank you to our wax helpers and feeders for Easterns, this includes John Langstone, Craig Storey, Steve Bursey, Alicia Berthiaume and Nevin French.
After Eastern's some of the team headed off to Orford, Quebec (classic, skate). Megan had another awesome race finishing 5th in the 5km classic. Lee Hawkings also had an outstanding race finishing 13th, followed closely by Karl Saidla. Thanks to Nic Clifford and Craig Storey for helping out with the waxing there.
The Gatineau Loppet was a big race in Ottawa this year with some high level competition. From XC Ottawa we had Matthias and Karl racing on the men's side, and on the women's side was Sheila Kealey, Megan McTavish and Vesta Mather. Sheila had a very exciting race finishing 4th women overall and losing in the sprint finish for the medals. Matthias also had a great race staying with the lead pack the whole way up until the last corner where there was a pile up between the leaders, similar to the previous year, and Matthias ended up 4th.
Next up for the team members also associated with Carleton were the Ontario University Championships (day 1, day 2). This would be a weekend event held at Laurentian Nordic in Sudbury. We started with a classic 10 km race on Saturday. Lee and Peter came 2nd and 3rd. The next race would take place that day and would be a skate team relay. Carleton got two men's teams in the medals, 2nd place consisted of Peter Beisel leading it off, followed by Logan Potter, and then Lee Hawkings bringing in the anchor. The 3rd place team consisted of Kyle Power who led it off, followed by Nansen Murray, and finishing with Andre Marchand powering out the last leg. In the women's 5km classic Ingrid placed 10th followed by Kyla in 11th in a very deep women's field. In the women’s relay Carleton placed 2nd and 3rd as well. The first Carleton team consisted of Kendra Murray, Ingrid Hagberg and Anna Crawford. The 2nd place Carleton team consisted of Kyla Vanderzwet, Liza Rozina, and Holly Jones. Sunday was a mass start 10km skate race. We started out in the stadium and quickly entered the narrow trails, the first couple kilometers were pretty hectic but it spread out nicely after the first half of the first lap. Lee came second again followed very closely by Peter. In the end Carleton lost the overall team title to Thunder Bay for the first year in the last 3. For the women’s race Kyla came 6th followed by Ingrid in 7th.
After OUA’s there were no big races between then and Nationals for most people. Some tried to keep their peaks going by getting a good block of training in, others went to Sweden for the massive 90km race known as the Vasaloppet and competed there.
At home people took part in the always-fun Thea’s race at Nakkertok north, with many people taking home some good prizes.
Nationals were held in Mont-St-Anne, Quebec from the 17th of March to the 24th. With the late start came extremely warm temperatures and a struggle for good snow. With these troubles the organizing committee worked extremely hard and pulled out some amazing races with the conditions given to them. We started the national’s week with the team sprint on the Plains of Abraham, some strong performances in the university category along with the open men and women. After a day off the next races would be a 10km classic for the men and 5km classic for the women. Following that the next day was the 15km skate race for men and 10km skate race for women. These were a tough couple days with hard interval start races in slow and soggy conditions with very hot weather reaching up to 15 degrees Celsius. The next day most of the team headed to downtown Quebec to check out the city on our day off, we got some maple toffee and walked around the windy narrow old streets. The skate sprint was originally supposed to be held on the Plains of Abraham however the snow was melting to quick so they were moved to the race trails in Mont-St-Anne. With some special formula the organizers were able to make the race track rock solid even though it was above 10 degrees, it was a interesting experience. The last races were the 50km classic for the men and 30km classic for the women. The race course was a 5km loop, so we had to do a number of laps. It was a very exciting race with lots of crashes and interesting stories. Megan broke a ski and Peter broke a binding and skied half a lap with his ski partly on and crashing down the biggest hill. It was a long tough day but an exciting and rewarding way to finish the week. Also notable was Anna Geiger-Whitlock's retiring race in the 30km classic, she skied well and was fist pumping all the way to the finish. The week was a good mix of relaxing, racing hard, enjoying some balmy weather, and relaxing in the sauna.
XC Ottawa is an athlete run team that would not be able to function if it were not for the support of our coach John Suuronen, all our great sponsors, and all the help we get from different members of the ski community throughout the year. The talented Jessica Spring designs our suits. All our Vauhti gear and wax comes from Canadian Wintersport Corp. Eload and Emend provide us with sports drink to make sure we're properly hydrated during training. Fresh Air Experience is our go to store in Ottawa gearing us up with whatever we need for skiing. For poles we use the always-reliable Infinity poles. Our awesome ski suits are made by Podiumwear. To protect our eyes from the sun and snow and other harsh conditions we use Rudy Project sunglasses. Lafleur de la Capitale is a major supporter we would not survive without. OWL Rafting and MKC are also amazing supporters which help us to get the most benefit of training in Ottawa. XC Zone is also a great supporter of team XC Ottawa, and Clif bar provides us with nutrition we need for racing and recovery.
Throughout the race season and training in the summer it takes lots of support in make a team run smoothly. None of us would race fast without the endless time and effort put in by our Coach John Suuronen, with developing our training plans, following our training logs, coming to early training everyday, waxing for races throughout the whole winter and countless other contributions. Craig Storey is a huge part of team XC Ottawa, not only for the huge task of running the website but also for the multiple races he comes too and helps wax, he also comes out to training in the summer and gets us up the hill as fast as we can go.
This winter we had a long list of people who offered to give up their weekends or take time off work to come out and work hard waxing our skis and freezing out on the ski trails giving us feeds, which shows how amazing the ski community is in Ottawa and all around Canada. Justin Demers, Eammon Watson, John Langstone, Steve Bursey, Alicia Berthiaume, Nic Clifford, Camille Cheskey, Jess Blenkarn, Andrew Stewart-Jones, Holly Jones, Chris Mamen, Nevin French. Their are also people that come out and help when we need to put on races such as the Boxing Day Burnoff and the Duathlon. This includes the McCarthy family for helping during the boxing day burn-off as well as with the waxing in Whistler. Kevin Gibb also gave us a hand with pulling off the duathlon at Nakkertok. Thank you so much to our sponsors and supporters that we could not survive without.