Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Good Old Hockey Game

As per usual my procrastination has left me (almost) empty handed. As luck would have it I am in Davos while the Spengler Cup is being played. Team Canada's second round game was against hometown club HC Davos, and of course I waited to try and get tickets until 3 hrs beforehand....not a chance, SOLD OUT. The energy around the rink was contagious as Kikkan and I walked through endless hockey fans sporting their teams jerseys tied around their waists.

Canada is the only "national" team present at the tournament of 6 teams. Switzerland has two club teams present, as does Russia (from the KHL), and one from the Czech Rep. All but one of the Canadian players play in the Swiss league. The Spengler Cup draws hockey fans from across Switzerland, many wearing the Canadian team colours as they cheer for Canadian players from various Swiss club teams. I don't recall actually hearing an english voice from any person I saw wearing the Maple leaf.

An interesting fact I learned is that the Spengler Cup began in 1923 and was won by a team from Oxford. A team made up mostly of Canadians studying at the British University, with a future Canadian Prime Minister by the name of Lester B. Pearson on the roster. An official team from Canada didn't enter the tournament until 1984.

I am now the proud owner of an official Spengler Cup Team Canada jersey. Bring on the Anchorage co-ed hockey league! Below, Kikkan and I fit in a bit of last minute shopping on the main street of Davos but stop for a picture in my World Cup Ski AK hoodie. I promised a picture from each ski venue I visit on this 5 week trip.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Postcard day in Davos

Clear skies overnight brought not just postcard quality pictures but frigid morning temperatures around -18c. Thankfully the Central European sun provided not just great photo opportunities but warmth!

It was Kikk's final interval training day before we leave for Oberhof, Germany on Wednesday, where the Tour de Ski will begin Friday. Despite applying binder pre-workout, after about 75 min of skiing only half the ski's grip zone still held any wax. Being the World Cup wax tech that I am I planned ahead and brought more grip wax with us and left the cork back at our apartment.....

Warm river temps left an icy fog over the low lying trails that parallel the town of Davos. At times it was hard to find the classic tracks, and see on coming skiers.
Known as the "sunny valley", the Dishma Trailway was full of skiers taking advantage of the perfect grooming and beautiful scenery. Up the middle of the valley is a two-way classic track with skate tracks heading down each side.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Map of Euro Trip # 1 Adventure

Merry Christmas to everyone!

We have a light snow falling here in Davos with more in the forecast. It was going to be a white Christmas anyways but it looks like it will be a snowy one as well.

Below is a map of the different locations I will be before my return to Alaska on Jan. 24. They are not in proper order based on the corresponding letters, as I am in Davos now.
Tour de Ski will take me to Oberhof, Ger - Obersdorf, Ger - Val Di Fiemme, Ita - Tobach, Ita. After that I will head to Liberec, Cze for a World Cup. Then to my friend's Thomas Freimuth's parents in Lindberg, Ger and he and I will head down to Lienz, Aut. I pasted the link below to see the exact website map.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Adventures in Davos

I can't believe it's already been 4 days since I arrived in Davos. My ski muscles are starting to wake up, although they are voicing their displeasure. Looking forward to Kikkan's planned rest day on Friday! The clouds have arrived a bit since Monday and temps were above freezing today. It made for some slippery classic skis at times. The main valley that Davos sits in runs north-south. A number of the ski trails head up valleys to the East where colder tracks let the grip wax work and gave my arms a much needed rest.

Over the past couple of days I have been joining Kikkan on her daily workouts. The main Nordic trails cut their way through the main valley along the side of Davos. It is incredible here, like in Ramsau how the trails are such a part of the regions experience. Alpine resorts ring the town on all sides.

Today Kikkan had a 2.5 hr classic ski and at the 1.5 hr mark we head up the southern valley trail (has a much cooler name in Swiss - but I can't remember right now). After about 40 minutes of winding our way up valley between the single lane road, and a tumbling river we found ourselves at the Walsurhuus Hotel and Restaurant. Now almost 4 hrs after breakfast we could resist the opportunity to go in for a bite to eat.

A few drinks later and a full pot of cheese fondue between the two of us, we began our descent back down to Davos in flat light and slightly dulled reflexes. I am going to say right now that it was the coolest ski I have ever been on. I only wish we had taken more pictures!

To end the day we joined 10 Aussies, three Swiss, and one other American (Andy Newell) for a pre-Christmas dinner at the Australian flat. The pictures are all the story needs.

Heading back down valley. Incredible stretches of farm land bordered by mountains with perfectly groomed ski trails cutting through it all.
Hotel Walserhuus. What a sight after 2 hr and 10 minutes of skiing at 6000ft.
Kikk and I at the top of a valley that was an authentic Swiss name that I can't think of right now
Finn Marsland and Kikkan getting ready to do some accelerometer testing, for Finn's Master's in Physiology project.

The view Monday morning from our kitchen window
Early Christmas dinner crew.
Andy Newell and I taking a little break after a massive Christmas dinner care of the Australian ski team.
Wally the Wombat makes an appearance to hold up my Christmas gift....the Aussie Boxing Kangaroo flag!!!
Bobo the Davos Penguin aka Finn Marsland (Aussie Head Coach), showed up in place of Santa to hand out gifts to everyone at the table.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Back on the Road!

As the 2010/11 ski racing season has begun, I again find myself living out of the duffle bag, and catching trains, planes and automobiles. As a result I felt it was a good time to fire up the blog to keep everyone interested up to date.

Although I am no longer a racer I find myself back in Europe gearing up to work with the Aussies and experience a Swiss Christmas with Kikkan and some of her US Ski teammates in Davos.

Before arriving in Davos, I left a frigid Anchorage for a snow buried Collingwood, Ontario to visit family and friends for an early Christmas.

Mom and Dad's new dinning room with Sis, Rob and Pat, and Aunty Judy and Uncle Tom.
Opening night skiing at Blue Mtn in Collingwood. Some beer and wings to refuel with Paul and Kev at Windy O'Neils.
Searching out enough space to make a few turns in the 4-5 ft of powder at Blue! This pic was taken just seconds before Paul double ejected from his skis and sunked in "ski free" to his waist.....sorry Paul.

Above is the view that I have to now deal with as I head out with Kikkan skiing each day. We will be in Davos until Dec. 29. On the 29th Kikk and I will board a train to Oberhof, Germany to get ready for the Tour de Ski that will begin on Dec. 31.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ski season leads to Reno season

With my ski season and career behind me it's time to focus my attention to our house....or it's simply that Kikkan is out of town and I can finally knock out kitchen wall down!

Any friends that have dropped by sign our wall.

Roommate Laura Gardner helps start the reno!

Unfortunately the bulls eye beside the L lined up with a stud...

Kitchen view with the cupboards missing.

Showing Kikk via picture that I covered up the furniture.

Short wall now gone.

Already the room looks bigger.

More electrical work than I can handle....

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Racing hurts

After making a smooth transition from wearing a race bib to a service bib as a wax tech with Australia, the harsh reality of making the transition back to a race bib has hit home this week. The past two days I have participated at the 2010 Canadian Ski Championships in Whitehorse, YT. Due to my fall in Whistler I was doubtful last week that I would be able to handle much racing. But to my surprise the hurt I experienced in yesterday's 10km classic, and today's 15km skate was a not from my cracked rib and tissue damage but from an overall lack of race fitness. After the 10km I realized that my back didn't really tighten up, wasn't that sore and if anything felt better.

I made the decision last night to race 15km today (skating has been very uncomfortable since the fall) and like the day before it was a worthwhile decision. Although I wasn't contending for a podium spot I enjoyed the racing. Now that my racing career is winding down I feel the 15km is too short and moving forward I don't think I will get enough of a feeling of accomplishment from just racing 15km with a mediocre result. To finish a 50km race regardless of the result is an accomplishment in and of itself. With that in mind I look forward to Sunday's 50km classic event as it marks the end of my pursuit of skiing glory and my transition into the life as a Master's skier.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Back on the road again

After a crazy three weeks inside the bubble of the Olympic games I got back on the road Monday to start my drive up to Whitehorse. Right away the trip took on a much different feel from when I left Whitehorse just 3 months ago, and about 10,000km later. When I left Whitehorse in November my winter was yet to unfold and my racing season unknown. Now 3 months later I have arrived back in Whitehorse with the truck more full of gear than I left, a season full of ups and downs, a bruised/cracked rib as a reminder of the fun with the Aussie team, and a desire to burn off a month of neglect and try to rally some kind of racing shape for Cdn champs that start in just under two weeks.

I am house sitting for friends of the Lindsey family who I stayed with on my trip through earlier in the winter. It is a beautiful log cabin about 15 km south of town. I skied today right out of the truck after about 6.5 hours of driving. It was my first real ski since I banged up my rib exactly 7 days ago. I also managed to take my first real deep breath without causing some kind of spasm. Fortunately/unfortunately I can no longer blame my rib for my training laziness. It did feel great though to clean the system out with a good ski today. Looking forward to the final few weeks of the season.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Daily Updates

More updates of the Olympic adventures at waxingroos.blogspot.com

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Intro to the Wax Roos!


Check in here during the Olympics to keep up to speed with the Aussie wax team.

Monday, February 8, 2010


After a whirlwind 24 hrs I am back in the Whistler Athletes Olympic Village. I arrived at 8pm last evening and went through accreditation and two sets of security checks similar to boarding a plane. After about a 9 hr drive, from one edge of BC to the other I arrived to a light rain and ready to get out of the truck for a few days. For the next three weeks I will be using Olympic transport to get to and from the competition venue as well as any other venues in the Whistler area. Finn Marsland (Aussie head coach) and I drove into Vancouver at 7 am this morning with an Aussie luge athlete and her Canadian coach Grant (a two time Cdn Olympian in two-man luge) to pick up Ben, Ester, and Paul (the Aussie XC ski athletes) at the airport.

Once we picked them up we headed to Richmond to a Four Points Sheraton where the Australian Olympic Committee was set up and we began a 3 hr process of getting outfitted for all our official Olympic gear. I think in total I have 8 tops and jackets, as well as 3 pairs of snowboard/ski pants, a full formal wear kit for a banquet. Unbelievable how much stuff I have and I am not even competing! This is going to be quite an experience.

We are located in the Athlete Village in what will become a Sport Science facility after the Olympics, so our rooms are dorm like and are the bottom floor of 4. The US team ironically occupies the upper three floors so it won't be hard to visit with Kikkan. Other countries are spread around the village in condo style places that will or have been sold as housing once the games are complete. However, we all eat together in a huge tent complete with a variety of food options and of course Olympic sponsor McDonalds. All the plates, cups, bowls, and cutlery are compostable keeping up with the "green" Olympics theme announced by VANOC.

Tomorrow I will make my first trip to the race venue where we will begin testing waxes, skis, structure, and in general trying to get a feel for the snow conditions. But you can never be too prepared in Whistler where the conditions can change by the minute.

Below are a few pictures from last weekends World Cup in Canmore.

Friday, February 5, 2010

You can't fake World Class

Eleven years ago after competing at the 1999 World Track and Field Championships, I told myself I that I never wanted to race at that level again unless I belonged there. That same thought holds true today as I competed in my first ever World Cup ski event. In all accounts it was an embarrassing performance on my part. I have not skied well at a National level this season and rightly fully so I wasn't even competitive today on one of the World's toughest 15km courses against a field that is peaking for the Olympics which begin in just over a week.

Getting a World Cup start should bring with it such a feeling of accomplishment. That all the hard years of training have finally paid off. To be completely honest this might be one of the emptiest moments in my athletic career. I finished 76 out of 78 competitors and I am relieved that the moment has come to pass.

It's time now to put on my wax tech bib on for the Aussies, and get back to enjoying the World Cup atmosphere in beautiful Canmore.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Canmore World Cups 2010

It is race night here in Canmore and I am still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I am staying with the US Ski Team, having my race skis prepared by Australia, and starting my first World Cup for Canada. Does that make me a multinational?

The weather is beautiful in Canmore and the race course is in perfect condition. I tested skis with Australian Ben Sim today and fit in my own little race prep on the course. This has been the site of a couple of good 15km skates for me, so I hope I can repeat tomorrow.

The irony of tomorrow's race start continues to be amusing and frustrating all at once. For three years I have tried to get a World Cup start. For the past two years I have watched from the sidelines knowing I should be out there racing. This year I knew I wasn't in the shape required to race at that level and was content to watch and help make sure the Aussies had skis that didn't limit their potential. Of all the years this is the one that I get a World Cup selection....crazy.

It's been 10 years since I last represented Canada at the World level. Not since August 2000 in Monterrey, Mexico have I raced in the Canadian colours. The weather was much difference as well as the event. To add to the irony of my ski experience I am starting the 15km skate race tomorrow but not the sprint event on Saturday that I trained for most of the off-season. Although I don't expect any miracles it is always an honour to represent Canada and I am excited for the opportunity again.

In other exciting news the online store at www.skitraxx.com is now live and ready for orders!

View from the hotel in Camore.

Columbia Icefield Tour Bus driving over an unsuspecting Australian named Darlo.

Monday, February 1, 2010

World Cup start?

When I stepped off the plane from Norway on Tuesday evening (last week), it marked the end of my racing season and the beginning of my role as a wax technician for Australia. I have spent the best part of 4 days now in Silver Star training with the team trying to keep up with Ben Sim. Normally I wouldn't begin to ski so hard this early up at altitude (I learned that lesson from before Christmas), but now that I am just a wax tech I have nothing to lose. My role is to make sure these guys are at their best come the Olympics....or so I thought.

As I went to bed last night I checked my email to find that I had been offered a start spot in the Canadian Nations group allotment for this Friday's Canmore World Cup. Ironically enough the start will be in the 15km skate and not the sprint.

I have been carefree for the past few days about proper hydration, nutrition, rest etc. Now my mind is a whirl of thoughts about how to help out the Aussie's as my job requires, help do my part to get the Ski Traxx system up and running (www.skitraxx.com) and race my best at my first ever World Cup.

I am going to jump into intervals with Simbo today (and will wear a heart rate monitor for the first time in 3 weeks), and head over with the team tomorrow to Canmore.

Monday, January 25, 2010

20 Days + 13 flights + 20hrs of driving + 6hrs of train rides = Great racing?

As I sit in the Trondheim airport hotel looking back over the past 3 weeks I can only help but shake my head in regards to my pre-Christmas racing and the period I just had here in Europe. Since leaving Trondheim just 7 days ago I have had 2 flights, taken a 3 hour train ride and two days later jumped into a car for a drive 4hr from Sonthofen to Lindberg, Ger. Two days after that I was back in the car again for 5 hrs to Lienz, Aut where within an hour of arriving was the start of the street sprint. After the sprint I painted the town red until 3 am with a bunch of 20 year old German skiers, and 48 hrs later I am on the podium in third place in the 25km Dolomiten Lauf World Loppet race (the best skiers of the day were in the 42 km). Now another 5 hour drive back to Lindberg and an hour to Munich this morning and two flights to Trondheim I have had my best racing of the year?? Who would have thought. Certainly not me. The enjoyment of the past three weeks rivals anything in my athletic career. The 6 months preceding it were easily the most stressful and least enjoyable. It's not as simple as just enjoying the process and not stressing the little things, and great racing will happen...but I don't believe it can be overlooked.

This past week has cleared the fog that has hung around my athletic future. This will be my final year as a focused cross-country skier. Come May my rollerskis will continue to collect dust and will probably do so until September. However, I will be dusting off my running shoes, track spikes, mountain bike, baseball glove and whatever activity I can participate in. When I was most successful in sport I was not a single sport athlete. That formula may not work for everyone, but in my experience change is good. The body (and my mind) thrives when forced to adapt and I wouldn't be surprised to post some of my best results next winter on snow. I will for sure come back to Europe.

For now it is off to Calgary tomorrow where I will meet up with Kikkan in Canmore Wednesday and then off to Silver Star, BC to begin my stint with the Australian team in their prep for the Canmore World Cups and then the Olympics. Can't wait.

Below are some pictures from yesterdays race. My friend Thomas took third in the 42km event. We started with those guys and through 20km I was able to match the pace but lost 30 seconds or so over the next 5km. Thomas missed second by a boot length to World Cup veteran Tobias Angerer of the German National team. I had the pleasure of skiing the first 20 km with Axel Teichman another WC veteran.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

When in Germany....

I will try and keep this brief. It has been quite a week since I last wrote an update. After leaving Steinkjer, Norway I have travel via train to Trondheim - stayed in the airport hotel overnight. Flew to Munich via Amsterdam on a 6am flight from Norway. Arrived in Munich and waited 3 hrs to catch a train to Sonthofen, Germany in the Allgua region (famous for it's cheese...now I know why!).

I chose a later train ride because it had only one transfer which when you are carrying a 45lb duffle bag, a backpack and a 65lb ski bag it's crucial to not have to change trains often. Despite having only one transfer I had quite an experience. I had a transfer in a place called Passing where I boarded a train to Sonthofen. However, what I didn't realize was that at the stop just before mine the 10-car train would separate into two trains of 5 cars. One heading to Oberstdorf and one to Lindau. Unfortunately for me I got on at the front of the train and was now 5 cars from where I needed to be. I was told I had to move in limited English (which is better than my German). It was a train with it's own rooms and not one with a nice aisle down the center. I began my trip to the back of the train with my duffle and backpack which was not that easy going between cars. So when I was about the start the trek with my ski bag the train came to a stop, I decided I would jump off the train with my ski bag and run down the platform to the back. However, I was not off the train 5 seconds and all the doors closed....except for one at the very back being held open for me. I took off running one arm waving in the air and the other dragging my ski bag (on wheels) down the platform. I jumped back onto the train to some not so kind German words mixed with a bit of English. I didn't really listen as I was absorbed with thought about watching the train leave with my other bags containing my passport, wallet and phone.

Once in Sonthofen, where my friend Thomas Freimuth lives with his girlfriend Nicole Fessel (Germany National team) he and I headed out for a short night ski by headlight in the foothills of the German Alps. Afterwards we went to friends of theirs for a traditional German meal which included fried cheese! One of my favourite past times. I ate and drank like a king which as the week has past has become the rule not the exception. I had my first Heffewiesen/Cola mix and I must say I am a fan.

I was in Sonthofen for not quite two days when we began driving to Lindberg in the Bavarian Forest where Thomas' parents live. On the way we stopped at the Munich airport to drop Nicole off as she was headed to Rybinsk, Russia for a World Cup and her last chance to make the German Olympic team. She needed a top 8....she came 9th twice! It is in the hands now of the upper brass at the German ski federation. Fingers crossed.

After just two days in Lindberg (looks much like the Appalacians in Vermont area) it was time to get back on the road....and the Autobahn! Where Audi's, BMW's, and Mercedes are the norm and the slow lane is for 140 km per hour. Before I left though I went for a walk on a rest day with Thomas' mom to a wildlife "zoo" in the Bavaria Forest National Park. On the walk with their two dogs (one was a 2 month old Australian Shepard pup) we saw a pack of 12 wolves which the pup barked loudly at - from the other side of the fence of course. We also saw 3 Linx, a herd of the original breed of horse from the steppes of Kazakstan as well as the original cow. Very cool for sure.

From Lindberg, we drove to Deddendorf where we picked up Thomas' wax tech Edward, originally from Russia and then onto to Leinz, Austria. We passed along the edge of Salzberg and close to Ramsau and the famous Dachstein glacier. We were driving in style in the Fischer/Subaru racing team's logoed Subaru Forester which ran on two tanks of fuel. One was propane (which Thomas got blasted by when filling up - hand turned red and skin tightened but otherwise okay), and the other regular gasoline.

We arrived in Leinz about 75 minutes before the start of the Dolomitenlauf street sprint. Thomas and I both took part. The course was 350m long and consisted of the 7m long start ramp (only double pole), and a bridge that had the course corkscrew off of itself (much like water in a drain) and back underneath to a one meter drop jump and a 180 turn to the finish. We did 3 laps. Thomas warned me that it was almost impossible to pass once on the course. In my quarterfinal I got myself into second behind the 3 time champion (he won again last night) and cruised through to the semi-finals. Once there I blew my start and ended up 4th of 4 out of the double pole section and stayed there to the finish. It was a great experience though to participate and also watch how Europeans appreciate snow sports.

Today I skied with Thomas and Edward at the race site for the marathon. This weekend is part of the World Loppet circuit. I knew Thomas was a very good skier but I didn't realize how good until a van drove by with a picture of him on the side!

Time for bed now, as I have to get ready for a 25km mass start skate race tomorrow.