Report and Reflections on the 2015 World Ski Championships, Falun, Sweden.
By: Mark Rajack (2015/03/03)
As a Trinbagonian nordic skier, I have been extremely fortunate to have participated in the recent World Ski Championships in Falun, Sweden. Nothing compares to racing in front of thousands of people on the world stage. It was an unbelievable experience and one that has provided memories to last a lifetime.
Trinidad and Tobago flag and skier, racing in front of thousands. Absolutely surreal.
I participated in two races, a 10k free qualifier the first day and the classic sprint qualifier the next day. With the pantheon of world cup and olympic skiers at what is the epicentre of their sport’s origin, it was my goal to represent Trinidad and Tobago in the best way possible, and not to erode the validity or integrity of this wonderful sport. Not an easy goal given that my first time on skis was just two years ago.
See my start here. (go to 20:16)
Mission accomplished !! :o)
I returned from Falun extremely proud of myself for performing so well on the world stage and my success there was wholly a product of the amazing Ottawa-Gatineau ski community. I can confidently say that XC Ottawa was the only team that could get me to this level in such a short time. Thanks also to XC Zone’s Natural Fitness Lab for their learn-to-ski lessons early on and to Nakkertok Nordic for their support. Finally, a huge thank you to Mike Vieira, a world-class coach who provided such perfect skis over this competition and for his countless hours spent coaching me.
You never know who you'll meet.
A big thanks also to my sponsors without whom, I would not have felt the same success. Thank you to Canadian Wintersports for poles and wax, bespoke, top-quality boots from Alpina and the fastest Fischer skis from Lanctot. Jessica Spring also worked her magic and put me in what was of the best suits on the course. Thank you!
A world-class suit for a world class competition.
The importance of making a good impression did not go unnoticed. Sweden’s largest television network, TV4, sought me out for an interview after my first race. See it here.
Personally speaking now, after only two years of skiing, I have a hard time considering myself a competitive skier. To put things in perspective, I am regularly bested by thirteen and fourteen year old racers from Nakkertok - by minutes. Through all my interactions with the wonderful WSC organizers, foreign media personalities and other various national team skiers, I considered myself more of a “sport ambassador”, who can speak to how this sport has changed my life for the better and given me a much-needed love of winter, which had been previously a serious obstacle to enjoying life.
Looking at the same camera? Almost. Loving winter? You bet :)
Doesn't Sweden look like Quebec?
Finally, the number one comment we received as a team, from several world cup and Olympic skiers, was just what an awesome and amazing crew I had supporting me. I knew to be confident in trusting my instincts and selecting a supporting crew who were not only elite skiers themselves, but also very team-oriented and as a bonus, very fun-loving. We were frequently the only table to be laughing during meals or the only section on the sidewalk/bus/train/plane to be genuinely enjoying every moment together. It could only have been this crew that somehow managed to have the ENTIRE side of the major climb of the sprints chanting my name for each one of my strides up the hill. A big thanks to Mike Vieira, Colin Abbott, Steffan Lloyd and Andre Marchand. Let’s do it again in 2017 - Lahti, Finland !
Steffan, me, Colin, Andre. Here's an example of fun on the bus. Steffan found Swedish face paint... nailed it !