Monday, December 7, 2009

Ready,,, Set... Go!

This weekend was in many ways an experience. It was a weekend with skiing, guns and of course lots of snow.
Friday Kim picked me and Bryn up at school. Unfortunately I therefore missed my last class which was math. What a shame... Anyways when I got outside the snow was falling and the wind was blowing. We were going to drive to Canmore in a snowstorm! After an hour and a half we arrived safely and without any crashed car. We had seen a couple of cars in the ditches though and there had even been a camper that had parked in the middle of the two lanes. Canadians apparently have some weird camping traditions. We got some hot chocolate before we headed up to the Nordic Center just above Canmore. We had a workout there which went pretty good. The other guys on the team was getting ready for their big race the next day. I just skied around trying to keep up with them. When we were done I went with Vincent to his family's cabin a little down the road outside Canmore.

Saturday came but what met me when I came up from the basement of the cabin was a really sick Vincent on the couch. He had been up at two in the morning throwing up. So unfortunately he was to sick to go for his classic race. So me, Stan and Linda (Vincent's parents) left the poor guy and drove up to the Nordic Center. Here they were really making ready for the races. The last things were getting settled and the athletes were warming up. Kim who was doing the starting of the races had asked if I wanted to volunteer that day since I wasn't really doing anything else. So that's what I did. At all the qualifiers I was standing at the finish line pressing a button every time a skier passed the finish line. That went pretty well but after 280 skiers my fingers were getting kind of cold in the -16 degrees. I got some food and a couple of hours later at 1 o 'clock my new task was to load Kim's gun. A very exciting job, and even better I had a second task: trail-jumper! If there was a false start and the skiers continued skiing I was supposed to jump out on the tracks a hundred meters ahead and stop them!
Unfortunately there was no need for me on the trail so I only loaded Kim's gun. The good thing was that the finish line was just besides me so I could cheer my team mates on.

After a cold day as a volunteer I thought it had to be more fun to race. I asked Kim if I could join the midget boys category tomorrow but she didn't think that was possible. So me, Stan and Linda went back to the cabin to get changed before heading back to Canmore where there was a party with the ski team. It was a nice evening with good food and good company. When we came back to the cabin we went straight to bed to get some sleep before the Sunday that was another day of racing. When I woke up I took on the sexy tights that Chris (my coach and a great man!) had given me because today it was my turn to race. I didn't really feel that nervous before we arrived at the Nordic Center and found out that the sports category that I was supposed to be in had been cancelled. Instead I was now in the junior boys category where I belonged considering my age. So instead of the nice relaxed sport group I was now in group with guys who had been skiing for 10 years. This was a quite scary thought since I have only been cross country skiing for 2 months! I had three hours until my race and that was a lot of time to wait. After a long time it finally got time to do some warm up and soon I was standing at the start line with a group of other guys who knew quite well what was going on. As Kim fired the gun we all started off and after 200 meters I was behind. This was expected so I just continued going as well as I could. My only goal was to pass somebody out there. After a lap the girls that had been started after the boys started to pass me. This was my chance! They passed me with 20 meters and then I accelerated and passed them. It was a great feeling all the 10 seconds it lasted before they passed me again. But I had achieved my goal and now I only had to reach the finish before I myself was done.

After my third lap I spend my last energy passing the finish line as fast as I could. And just as the finish was reached the commentator said: "And here comes Bjorn Ubbe from... Belgium! All the way from Belgium ladies and gentlemen!" I couldn't possibly come up with a better way to finnish my 6 kilometers race and was smiling a lot when took on my warm pants and went into the lodge. I had done my first race on skis and even though i finished 15 minutes later than the winner and 7 minutes later than the second last person I was quite satisfied with my time: 34 minutes. After all I have only been skiing for 2 months and if it hadn't been 6 kilometers of uphill skiing I would have kicked their butts. It was great to race but one lap would probably have been a better distance for my small lungs. A great experience and definitely not my last race over here!

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