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Athlete Diary Entry: Karl Saidla from Cowboy Country
By:  Karl Saidla   (2005/11/13)


This will be one of two athlete diary entries that come to you from Canmore. Megan and I have both been here training since September. The rationale for being here has a few components that I will try to describe.

To begin, this year there is a unique opportunity for Canadian skiers to race in World Cup races to be held in Vernon and Canmore during the month of December. The qualifying races for the World Cups are being held in Canmore in early December. We thought that we might benefit from having a longer time to adjust to altitude and to benefit, possibly, from earlier skiing opportunities.

As well, Canmore is a place which you might say has a plethora of excellent skiers as well as a selection of training opportunities which is hard to match. We thought that this might be both fun and beneficial to experience. Finally, for the first time in quite a while neither of us had school or work commitments that kept us in any particular place. We thought it would be exciting to spend some time living in another part of the country. Particularly, we thought it would be fun to be in a place with so many exciting things to do.

Oh yeah, almost forgot….I have always wanted to be a whiskey swigging, steak eating cowboy and Alberta seemed like a good place to live out one of my life-long fantasies. Unfortunately I have not even bought cowboy boots or a hat yet. Whiskey drinking isn’t really supposed to improve skiing performance I don’t think either.

So what do I think of being here so far? Well, on the cowboy front I guess it has been a fairly dismal failure. On the other hand, Canmore is bursting at the seams with talented racers and training facilities. From this perspective things have been excellent. I have basically never done the same interval workout twice, which is fun because it is more difficult to dread the difficulty of a workout when you don’t know the precise nature of it. We have also done about a week of skiing since we have been here, beginning with the Haig glacier in September, then at Sunshine starting on October 23, and more recently at Lake Louise. This is certainly a lot more fun and scenic than rollerskiing.

As Megan pointed out in an earlier article we have also been able to enjoy some less specific forms of training like hiking and mou,ntain biking, both in spectacular surroundings.

A less obvious benefit of being here is that we are not involved in as many things as we were in Ottawa outside of training. While it is without question that it is a good thing to have other pursuits in your life like school, work, music and accordion playing, looking back on it, I probably had too many of these other pursuits going on while I was trying to train at the same time. This could probably be said of the last 3 years. I worked basically full time in the summer and then either went to school or worked part-time in the winter, all the time while trying to train at a level that I probably shouldn’t have given the circumstances.

So suddenly, here I am with actually a bit less training on my plate than before (thanks to a new training plan) and a lot more time to do it. This means I have more time to rest and enjoy small pleasures like reading the newspaper slowly while drinking sometimes bottomless cups of coffee. I also have a great job at a sports consignment shop called Switching Gear Inc, run by a great guy named Claude Leger. He lets me work at his store more or less whenever I want, which is kind of hard to argue with.

I don’t even feel guilty about my new lifetstyle because this town is also overflowing with people who don’t seem to do very much. For a quick example, I was in a coffee shop one day when a dreadlock sporting, not so good smelling dude actually asked me if I could tell him what day of the week it was. So I pulled out my day planner to see if I could figure it out! To say the least, this has been very refreshing. It has also made me wonder how I will ever go back to the old life of squeezing in workouts before and after work and feeling like life is essentially an unbroken string of small crises. One thing I should point out is that while I am enjoying having more time on my hands right now, it probably does have something to do with the fact that I was too busy for a long time beforehand. Eventually, I would probably get a bit bored with my current situation. For the moment, I am just enjoying it.

The end result is that I am really looking forward to the coming season of racing with XC Ottawa. I always look forward to skiing and racing, but this year it is easier than ever before.

Interesting Reading. . .
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