Yesterday- after 9 days together in Silverstar I put the OST athletes back on the plane to their respective Ontario clubs. It was actually a really hard thing to do.
We had six days of quality on snow training under sunny blue skies. The only possible way to top that would be with a weekend of strong racing. And we did. The OST brought three medals home this weekend- along with 15 Top Ten finishes.
That’s not to say that this weekend wasn’t challenging. In retrospect bringing 17 OST athletes to Silverstar with only an assistant coach and a physiologist was a bit ambitious. But man- did everyone rise to the challenge. OST athletes are a class act; respectful, organized, on time, hardworking. Dave Tindall and Rob Rupf were All Stars. They did everything that needed to be done and then some.
One thing I tried to stress on this trip is that while we’re all coming from different places we’re all heading in the same direction with the same goal. Sure-on a club level we compete against our teammates, and on a provincial level we compete against other clubs but we need to work together.
Cross Country skiing is a tough, often lonely experience. Athletes need great teammates; teammates to share experiences with, teammates to learn from, and teammates who will push us harder and further than we could alone.
Athletes on the OST are from very different clubs all across the province but this weekend we saw the group come together and support each other. Every athlete on this trip contributed to our overall success. My hope is that the relationships formed during this trip carry forward and help us strengthen the sport in Canada.
Before dropping the athletes off at the airport I seriously considered kidnapping them. “We could fake your deaths in an avalanche!” I exclaimed. “We could be the Blow Me Down Racers!”
Maybe someday…but for now it looks like our athletes are getting what they need from the excellent clubs they are coming from.