On Jan 16thfollowing the excitement of WJT I returned to Ottawa. Ottawa is the place where I collect mail and pay rent, aka my ‘permanent’ residence. For two weeks I generally stuck around home base [minus a quick trip to Toronto]. I did stuff like answer emails, laundry, phone calls, practice with Nakkertok, a coach development session, and vacuuming.
Pretty soon it was February and Easterns. With NDC Head Coach Eric Bailey off in Europe for the OPA tour Timo [NDC assistant coach] needed help. Naturally he called in the big guns- Lisa Patterson and myself turned out to be the only ones available so the NDC had to make do…
Ontario ended up ranking second overall for Easterns, 973 points behind QC. This obviously isn’t the ideal outcome but a good reminder that we’ve got some ground to make up and that everyone’s efforts count!
The morning after Easterns Lisa and I left for Orford to lead the NDC athletes at the NORAM races in Quebec [Timo had been so impressed by our performance at Easterns he decided to go home]. I drove a cargo van full of gear THROUGH Montreal not once but 3x during this trip [see tweets about Dubstep, Budget, and downtown Mtl].
In Orford/Magog we stayed at an ‘old fashioned’ roadside Motel that smelt like a thrift store, had little hot water and even less internet, but was otherwise pleasant.
Things I remember about the Orford NORAMs are;
1- the skiing in Orford was very nice. The trails there are narrow and rolling with some long gradual sustaining climbs. The snow was fast, at least during the training week until it snowed Saturday.
2- Mark Doble joined us on Thursday to provide excellent wax room leadership.
3- Sunday was cold. Everest Camp 3 cold.
4- The mass start skate race [Sun] was an interesting one. In the Open men’s race the NORAM leaders made a quick break during the first lap leaving a significant chase pack in their wake which struggled to do anything that made a lot of sense. In the women’s 15km race a giant lead pack formed that no one could really pull away from making for an exciting, and rare sprint to the finish.
5- The NDC did really well. Highlights included Andrea Lee’s 1st place finish and Dudley Coulter’s 9thplace finish. Props to Jordan Cascagnette who we’re sure would have raced a top 10 if he hadn’t broken his pole way out in the woods where no one could help him.
OCup #3 [Timmins]
I had two days at home after Orford then left again. This time I was en route to Timmins for Ocup #3. I had never been to Timmins and had been looking forward to the experience for months.
Northern Ontario did not disappoint. A giant wolf jumped in front of my car near Temagami. Snow started falling 2h outside of Timmins. By the time I arrived the Porcupine Ski Runners home base there was A LOT of pow.
Things I remember about Ocup #3 are;
1- Saturday was a winter wonderland. I got lost trying to find a hill on the race course and thought I might be in Narnia. It snowed all morning and the sun came out in the afternoon. It was glorious.
2- My favorite Midgets [twin brothers from Hearst] who I’d worked with at the Midget training camp in Sudbury came and raced on Saturday. They were so good! I have no pictures because I was too busy cheering. And doing the following
3- The course was kind of flat, but kind of hard because it didn’t afford athletes any real recovery. Midway there were three rolling climbs, the last of which was pretty steep. I watched a lot of people get sand-trapped at the top and lose a lot of time. Don’t get fooled by ‘false-tops’- the part of the hill that is technically the top but not rest. You have to be able to push over these sections until you’re actually on a downhill before you can rest.
4- Sunday’s classic race went well but we were missing quite a few racers from Ocup#3 making the field a bit shallow and with wide time gaps.
5- Monday was the Prologue [Epilogue]. The race ran in a modified format with Juvenile’s and Juniors starting together in a seeded order from fastest to slowest. Awards were still given out by category. I thought this worked REALLY well as it increased both the depth and competitiveness of the field. Junior woman now really had to push the pace in order to stay ahead of some of the fastest Juvenile girls.
After Monday’s Prologue/Epilogue I jumped in my car [which is having LOUD muffler issues btw] and drove to North Bay. Toivo and his lovely wife Leanne were kind enough to put me up for the night. I woke up in their cabin, skied at North Bay Nordic where I ran into GBN, then drove to Huntsville to meet with North Bay’s program director.
I’ve been in Huntsville ever since. Why? Because of OFSAA of course!
Today I pre-skied the OFSAA race courses at the Arrowhead Provincial Park. This is my first ever OFSAA experience and by all accounts the event is going to be WILD. There are going to be sprints DOWNTOWN Huntsville….Stay tuned to the ever developing, ever exciting world of XC Ontario….