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Our venture into "La Capitale Nationale"
By:  Chris Mamen   (2003/01/31)


For the past 11 days, you may have noticed an absence of the blue, white and black XC Ottawa suits in the area. Some would guess we were casually sipping hot cocoa in front of a hot fire while plotting to take over the world. But in reality we were challenging the extreme cold and testing the frostbite limits of our cheeks and noses (much harder). 9 athletes and 2 coaches met up at Carleton University, Thursday January 16 for the 6 hour drive to Mont Ste-Anne. After narrowly missing large milk trucks and other speeding vehicles on the highway, we arrived to our enormous house for the next 6 days equipped with 18 beds, a Jacuzzi and everyone's favourite: a sauna!

We joined up with our fellow teammates the next day and set off for our pre-race ski in the -23 weather and tried to imagine ourselves racing the hilly trails of Mont Ste-Anne. Unfortunately for some of us, we ended up stopping to warm up our extremities more than we skied. But to our relief, the races the next day were cancelled due to the excessive cold temperatures. The classic race was moved to Sunday, and did go ahead because it had warmed up to a balmy -17! A number of NADC, XC Ottawa and Carleton skiers had exceptional results, with Tom McCarthy taking top honours in 29th position, followed by teammates Lee Churchill in 31st, Karl Saidla in 34th position, David Zylberberg in 35th position, Arno Turk in 41st, and Glen McIntyre in 53rd position. Of the juniors, Ed McCarthy pulled off an amazing race and finished in 6th position among the juniors with Chris Mamen in 12th position, and Skeets Morel in 17th position.

With the classic race moved to Sunday, the 15 km skate race was moved to Monday, which brought a warmer breeze and temperatures around -12. This time, Karl cracked the top 20 with a 17th place followed by David in 19th, Lee Churchill in 22nd place and Tom McCarthy in 32nd position. This time Skeets Morel took 10th place with Chris Mamen in 14th, Ed McCarthy in 18th spot and Steve Tuttle in 25th position.

We awoke the next morning to -24 degree weather, but went up to the trails anyway to find out that the sprints were cancelled. All in all it was a very successful weekend for the team with Ed McCarthy and Chris Mamen chosen for the Junior Development Tour. Ed accepted the challenge to compete in Italy and Switzerland for the following weeks.

We spent the week in Mont Orford, Quebec trying to figure out many of the oddities of the town. We were joined by 2 women from Ontario who played a vital role in helping balance the overload of testosterone; and by keeping John's brutal jokes to a minimum. We stayed there for the rest of the week and raced the 10km/5km events for Saturday, and the 15km/10km races Sunday. It was an exciting weekend for all with Alicia Berthiaume finishing in 13th place and Laura Clements in 18th position. For the men, David Zylberberg finished in a very respectable 14th place followed closely by Karl Saidla in 15th. Steve Bursey finished in 29th position and Tom McCarthy was in 32nd. With Ed McCarthy away in Europe, teammate Chris Mamen took 8th place in the juniors with Steve Tuttle in 10th.

Sunday brought many stories with a mass start to keep everyone well aware of their competition. Karl Saidla and Tom McCarthy finished in 21st and 22nd positions. Chris Mamen was 28th, David Zylberberg in 34th place, Steve Bursey in 38th and Steve Tuttle in 47th. It was a huge event for all with over 80 skiers starting the race in the winding hills of Mont Orford. Alicia Berthiaume completed the 10km mass start in 22nd place with Laura Clements in 27th position. It was a crazy day and everyone was quite happy to sprawl out in the car for the 3 hour drive back to the real "Capitale Nationale". Navigating through Montreal was quite the experience but eventually we found ourselves back at Carleton Athletics content with our efforts, and looking ahead to the Keskinada!

Interesting Reading. . .
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