Thursday went away with a good long ski to get ready for the Friday’s sprint. Everybody was excited when they went to bed that night and I was aware that a short race was preferable from my side. With only 600 meters to race through I felt like I should be able to manage it!
I woke up on the Friday feeling a bit nervous about the upcoming sprint. I would be the very last person to race of all the skiers so I had good time getting ready and eating breakfast before we left the house that morning. After a couple of hours of warm up and waiting it was finally my turn to go hit the snow. It was a qualifier round so I had to be in top 30 to continue to the heats. Not that I was expecting to go there but when I left the start line I just pumped my way around the short course. When I finished my race I had a strange feeling though. I felt like I could have gone harder and it annoyed me quite a bit. When I later saw the results I knew that I was right. I had completed the course in 1 minute and 20.23 seconds. That was 13.02 seconds later than number one and my place therefore ended as a 78th place out of the 88 people in my category. It wasn’t as much the result as the fact that I knew that I hadn’t gone hard enough that was bugging me but what the heck. I’m not an Olympian athlete yet…
That night we had a Foothills dinner at the community center and quite a few people with connections with the ski club showed up. It was a nice evening and despite the day’s short race I felt really tired when I went to bed that night.
Next morning was our second last day in Whitehorse so besides from training and all the other usual activities it was time to get packed. The training was no big deal since the last race of the week that would happen on the Sunday was the long distance race. For me it meant only a 10 kilometer race but for some of the other guys it meant a 50 kilometer race! So there was lots of time to get organized for the trip back to Calgary that would start right after the race tomorrow. We took our last walk around Whitehorse and back at the hotel we started packing. I didn’t really pack that much that day since I would be racing late the next day and would have lots of time in the morning to get packed. It was with a bit of sadness that I fell asleep that night. It had been an awesome week with some intense races together with some really nice people. I felt ready to give the last energy boost in my last Nationals ski race coming up.
I woke up at 9 and slowly got out of bed. All I had to do before my group would drive to the stadium at 12.30 pm was to pack the last bit of my stuff and get some breakfast, and then of course get the incredible spandex suit on! We left the hotel as scheduled and soon arrived at the stadium. Some of the guys from the ski team were already done their races since they had had a longer distance and therefore had started earlier. I did a short warm up and tested my grip wax before heading to the start line to get ready for the mass start for my category that would include 87 skiers. I placed my skis in the tracks on my respective spot in the back of the show. Soon all of the skiers in my category was standing ready with their skis on and just waiting for the start signal. Soon it went off and all of us started poling our way out of the stadium. I had not really expected the amount of chaos that soon was developing around me and I ended up being between the two tracks caught between great amounts of skiers. After having a guy yelling at me to get my poles out of his way I found my way to a track and after a short while all of us were spread around. That was with me as one of the guys in the back… Still I was not alone and despite the steep climb that is not really my favorite part of classic skiing, I started the steep downhill piece from the top. There had been a lot of people out there that morning so the entire thing was quite icy. But snowplowing is for sissies and not Danish Vikings so I went straight down with full speed and slide on the ice in the turn that appeared for my eyes.
Suddenly my right ski decided to go right and my left ski decided to go left. This of course resulted in a great crash and the guy that I had kept behind me passed me as I rolled around in the snow. But despite the intensity of my crash I skillfully managed to get straight up on my skis straight after my rolling around. I soon caught the guy that had passed me and I never saw him again after passing him. Soon I arrived at the stadium. I had completed the first 5 kilometers of my 10 kilometer race and now headed out on my second loop on the 5 kilometer course. I was starting to feel quite tired and soon I noticed a guy starting to sneak up on me from behind. I speeded up and managed to stay away from him for a while but before I reached the top he had managed to pass me with a slight distance. Fortunately for me we were done with the hard climbing of the loop. We started the downhill and I handled staying on the course down the hill that I had crashed on during my first loop. I started to get close to him and it was about time cause now there was only about 1 kilometer left before the finish line at the stadium. Suddenly I released my final jumbo rocket and exploded in an insane double pole technique! I pumped past him and continued my glorious ride to victory. Double poling into the stadium was just great. I could hear my enemy behind me fighting to pass me but my solid double poling was impossible for him to keep up with! I past the finish line in the time of 35 minutes and 53.7 seconds. That was 9 minutes and 54 seconds after number one and it placed me on the 80th place out of the 81 guys who had completed the race. 6 guys had dropped out during the race so the guy that had been hunting me on the last part was the only person keeping away from the feared last position. I was lying totally exhausted on the ground feeling that I had just completed one of the best races of my skiing career. (if you can call it that…)
I had been through the most excellent crash of my life and had fought an intense battle to avoid getting last and I had completed my goal of not being last at any of the races! I felt ecstatic when I finally got on my legs again after I had been collapsed on the snow for a while. I hugged my dear coach Chris and my other teammates before we started getting ready to go to the airport. We had a little while to get changed before we all drove to Whitehorse Airport where our journey back to civilization would begin. It was late afternoon when we got on board on the tiny aircraft that would bring us to Vancouver where we would switch plane before completing the last bit of the trip back to Calgary. I soon fell asleep on the plane despite the fact that the guy in front of me decided to lean the seat back. One of the things that you learn to hate when you are 6 foot and 5 inches, and on board on a tiny airplane. We all the survived the trip back to Calgary where we arrived around 9 in the evening.
A great trip with lots of intensity, skiing and fun was over and now it was time to get back to Bragg Creek and get some sleep!