Waking up this morning to a snowless Ottawa made our week in Silverstar seem even more like a dream . . .
This trip has been in the back of my mind for about three years now, and finally this November everything fell into place. I was able to combine a family vacation and a visit with friends with some amazing early season skiing. I even managed to shock my system with a couple of Canada Cup Races.
Silverstar was like a Winter Wonderland. An incredible network of expertly groomed cross country ski trails (more than 100km interconnected with the Sovereign Lake trails) goes right through the quaint village and to just about just about to anyone's doorstep. Just head outside, put your skis on, and enjoy! Conditions went from good to great with a midweek dump of snow that signaled the opening of the downhill slopes . . . before that Nordic skiers ruled the town.
Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre did a great job hosting the Canada Cup races. The race trails were fast and challenging with many passes through the stadium area, making the event more exciting for spectators and skiers. This will be an excellent venue for the World Cup races next year. With the altitude and little skiing under my belt, the main goal of these races was to have fun and get some experience racing the Canada Cup race format against some of the country's best skiers.
Thursday's 10km skating event (3 x 3.3km loop) was a solid effort, and I ended up 18th out or 28 among the Open Women Category. We left at 15-second intervals - the highlight was being passed by Beckie Scott, who started last and managed to pass almost the entire field. Saturday's event was a 2 x 5km pursuit without a break (Mass Start 5km classic/transition to skating skis and poles/5km skating). I was more apprehensive about this event since my classic ski outings in the last 15 years number in the single digits!
Thanks to some great skis, super waxing by XCOttawa coach John, and a good cheering section I managed to stay in the middle of the group during the classic portion and work my way up a few spots after switching to my skate skis, ending up 13th out of 31 in the Open Women category. I loved the continuous pursuit format - the transition aspect adds an exciting dimension and I could draw on my triathlon experience.
The lack of snow in Ottawa is making it easier to get back the realities of everyday work and family life. But I think it's time to start the snowdance!