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

May Skiing: Training or Novelty?
By:  Tom McCarthy   (2006/05/08)


Two weeks ago, a contact from Ski de Fond Quebec assured me there was ‘at least three feet’ of snow at Foret Montmorency, and that the Quebec team was having a season kick-off training camp this past weekend. Intrigued, yet slightly dubious, Karl and I decided to put faith in our Quebec friends and leave Ottawa’s blooming tulips for the barren-lands north of Quebec City.

Foret Montmorency is a magical place well known to many skiers in Eastern Canada. The host of early-season Eastern races year after year, it gets early snow and it gets late snow. The trails are built on logging roads that follow river valleys and traverse the steep hillsides of the eastern Laurentides. At 700 metres, it is high for Eastern Canada.

15 minutes from the Foret, though, and about 680 metres, the snow was nowhere to be found. I had forgotten my running shoes, and the conversation revolved around what I would do if there was no snow and I had no running shoes. The forestry school campus that hosts skiers is the perfect place for a training camp: nothing to do but eat, sleep and ski – which, if there is no snow, leaves lots of free time.

However, our Quebec contact was quite correct- at the magical kilometer cent-trois (one-oh-three), the turn-in to Foret Montmorency, there was snow- lots of it. We checked in, picked up our key, and went to bed, dreams full of nicely groomed spring skiing and brilliant sunshine. The next morning, full of hearty Quebec food, we headed out into a steady rain, to find lots of snow, but no grooming. In many places, there was about three feet of snow- in exposed areas, only a couple of inches. We skied with the Quebec team Saturday morning, who took us right to the top of the massive climb. We then explored the river valley trails and headed in for lunch, wet, tired, but content with getting on solid snow. The afternoon was more of the same- classic instead of skate, but steady rain. After a solid 5 hour day of slow (really slow) skiing, we turned in, ate some great roast beef, watched some Giro d’Italia with our Quebec friends, and crashed.

The next morning dawned sunny, and we headed out with a plan: to ski as far as we could towards Camp Mercier, the next stop south on the Highway. We didn’t quite make it, but we did get to a really cool snow-covered valley which offered all sorts of good skiing promise, if we didn’t have to turn back for lunch. A short classic ski after lunch and we headed home.

Overall, a great weekend of skiing, and a good way to get the ball rolling for the dryland training season. The conversation on the way home centred around training plans for the coming year, and the philosophical question of whether we came to ski this weekend because of the novelty, or because of the real training value. The conclusion was that they’re not mutually exclusive.


Interesting Reading. . .
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