Let the Racing Begin!

Last week I touched down on European soil for the first time in almost 11 months. The longest I have been away from Europe in over half a decade! It’s a strange thing to think about, if I add up all the months that I have spent in Europe ski racing in my life, it is about a year of my life maybe even a little more. Now I am finally back, after a spring, summer and fall of no international travel at all. It took me a second or two to remember how to pack for air travel, let alone a 2+ month trip. I am terribly slow at packing at the best of time, and I haven’t had to move around or put a weight limit on my packing in almost a year. But I managed and all our gear arrived, which is always a miracle with three flights and far too many ski bags.

The 24/7 mask life definitely takes some getting used to. On route to Frankfurt.

I can hardly wait! Racing starts for us next weekend here in Lahti, Finland. I will be starting my season with the 4x5km team relay, look for me on leg 2. Assuming things go according to plan, we will then race two World Cup weekends in Sweden before a short break to prepare for World Championships in Obersdorf, Germany at the end of February. If you’re interested in following along, I have attached my race schedule at the bottom of the page.

Being in Finland means first ski of the day at sunrise and second ski of the day at sunset!

The past few months have been quite strange. Cancelled World Cup trips and no races in Canada has required recreating plan A through D over and over again. In mid-November I was expecting to be leaving for Europe for the December World cup race period. A week prior to our planned departure Nordiq Canada made the decision not to send us to World Cup Period 1 due to their concerns about COVID-19. This was obviously heartbreaking in the moment, especially since period 1 included three of my favourite races in two of my favourite race venues (Davos & Dresden). It didn’t get much easier a few weeks later when I watched my friends and competitors racing these events. But after the initial few days of sadness, I forced myself to reframe, refocus, make a new plan and execute exactly what I COULD CONTROL, not dwell on the many things that were completely out of my control. What I could control was a high-quality time trial (race simulation) block followed by a big volume block leading into Christmas. I regularly do volume focused training blocks in the training season and then reduced versions of those in the winter months between races. This December however I was able to do a volume block with comparable hours to my summer blocks, something I have never before had the chance to do in the winter months.  I have put those disappointment in the rear-view mirror and I am optimistic that this unexpected winter training block will serve me well during the next two months of racing! This season/ lack of season for me so far has been a confusing and difficult one to weight and balance, doing my job ski racing, which involves international travel or staying at home during this global pandemic but not being able to do my job. I have chosen to travel and race with many rigorous safety precautions and protocols in place in order not to endanger others through my decisions. That’s really all you can do in these situations and hope for the best.

4hr skis in December? Why not!
Doing some baking before leaving my kitchen for 2 months!

So what what have I taken away from the last month and a half? Quite a few pretty awesome things actually. Here are a few of my top take aways from a December of training in Canada:

  1. I have finally reached a relative proficiency when it come to the idea of“Focus on what you can control, don’t dwell on what you can’t”. This has allowed me to hold more positive energy in my body and limit the negative energy and anxiety. Although still present at times it has made it easier for me to reframe my perspectives and switch my focus more quickly.
  2. Big volume weeks on snow are way more fun than on roller skis in the summer.
  3. The Bow Valley corridor has some amazing ski locations. And I rarely get to ski them since I am never in Canmore in the winter. So that was a treat! I got a parking pass for Kananaskis and skied out at Elk Pass, Pocaterra and Mt. Shark multiple times as well as Lake Louise and Cascade fireroad in Banff National Park.
  4. Having an entire month to prepare for Christmas is much more relaxing than flying back to Canada 24hrs before Christmas eve. Christmas tree hunting, DIY decorations, wreaths and centrepieces made the season feel very cozy and fun!
  5. Finally, I am so lucky to have the people I do in my life. Friends and loved ones who accommodate and support me and my ski career even when I don’t know what races are in sight or what my season will look like.
Snacking on Rancho Vignola dried apricots during a long ski in Kananaskis!

Although I ended up being in Canada this year for the Christmas holidays, like many others across the country, I was unable to go back home to Whitehorse in December with the travel restrictions and isolation. I really missed my parents, my sister and being home over the holidays and it will make going home in the spring after the season ends all the more special. However, I was very lucky to be able to spend Christmas at my other home in Canmore with my boyfriend Michael and virtually with our families over FaceTime.

Switching up the skiing over Christmas.
Christmas Dinner: Venison steaks and Ticino’s cheese fondue, so delicious!

We have been in Finland for 5 days now. It feels so good to be preparing to race again! We have already had two COVID tests but other than that, training and adjusting to the time change feels pretty normal and both are going well. Most other teams start to arrive tomorrow so it will be interesting to see how different things are from past years once the full World Cup bubble is up and running. I am so excited to get back to racing in T-6 days!

First morning training in Finland with the girls ❤

Below are the races I will be doing in World Cup period 3 and the link to FIS where you can find the results and follow along if you’d like! You can also download the FIS( International Ski Federation) App on your phone.

Sun 24.01.21- 4x5km Relay- Lahti, Finland

Fri 29.01.21- 10km Skate- Falun, Sweden

Sun 31.01.21- Classic Sprint- Falun, Sweden

Sat 06.02.21- Skate Sprint- Ulricehamn, Sweden

Sun 07.02.21- Team Sprint- Ulricehamn, Sweden

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone is enjoying good snow and skiing wherever home is for you!

Dahria

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