March 2022- Mixed gender racing finally made its debut at the World Cup level, we had the return of Canadian Ski Nationals after two years of cancelations, and as this Olympic quadrennial came to a close there were many tearful goodbyes to longtime teammates and coaches who are moving onto new adventures. Many people expect that once the Olympics end, athletes get to go home to rest, recover and process the experience. However, in the XC ski world, March is often one of the busiest months of the season. This March was no exception. The last month of racing included 10 races on two continents, lots of travel and many ski related events. It was exhausting but it was also a blast.
March 20th-27th, Whistler BC held the first Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships since 2019. It had been too long. It was great to be back amongst the young up and coming racers in Canada. There is something so fun and exhilarating about racing for your club and training team, sharing the excitement of racing and good performances with such a big group of athletes. Seeing so many young athletes living those same type of experiences that I look back so fondly on from my many National Championships. Weeks at Nationals past that helped shape and guide my development and choices towards becoming a full time athlete.
This year the Canadian Championships was combined with the US Super Tour series finals. This meant that we had a deep field from across Canada and the USA in the senior categories. My body was feeling tired and run down after a long season of racing but mental will managed to keep me afloat and competitive at least in a few of the 5 events. I added another individual National Championship title to my collection in the Classic Sprint where I also stepped onto the international podium in 3rd. But the highlight of the week was racing the Team Sprint with Whitehorse Ski Club/ Team Yukon / Alberta World Cup Academy teammate, Sonjaa Schmidt. For those who are new to reading my blog or haven’t heard me say this on repeat in person, team sprints are my absolute favourite race. I just love them. Being able to do two team sprints in March made it a pretty great month in my books. Club pride is a big deal at Nationals, so becoming National Team Sprint Champion with Sonjaa was super fun and exciting. Whitehorse also had an incredibly strong performance as a club throughout the week. With only 15 athletes competing across all the age categories we finished 3rd in the overall club aggregate. As a club we had great performance and results from the whole team with almost everyone contributing many points towards the aggregate standings! I think this is only the third time in all my years competing at Nationals that Whitehorse has been on the club aggregate podium. That speaks to the depth of the young skiers coming out of Whitehorse right now as I was the only senior athlete racing for Whitehorse at Nationals this year.
The other team sprint I did in March was a mixed Team Sprint in Falun, Sweden the last weekend of the World Cup season. It was the first time having mixed gender events on World Cup. I teamed up with National Team teammate Graham Ritchie for this new event with a new format. Unlike a traditional team sprint where 10 teams make the final and do 3 laps of ~1.4km each, this team sprint final included 20 teams racing 6x1km each for a total of 12 laps per team. But there was an extra catch. Every second lap (the men’s laps) the bottom two team got pulled from the race. Sounds fun right? Well it was. Graham skied like an absolute champ and really put us in great position keeping us safe from elimination every lap. We got to the finish line without being pulled and finished the inaugural race in 7th! I’m already looking forward to racing this event again next year and trying to improve on this result and shoot for the podium with Graham. I have been waiting a long time for mixed gender events to be on World Cup! The introduction of the mixed team sprint and mixed relay this spring was an exciting development for the sport.
March wasn’t just about racing. A big thanks to Nordiq Canada for organizing an awesome women’s panel in Whistler during Nationals. I was thrilled to see such a big turn out of young racers with great questions and big dreams. It was inspiring for me to see and hear what so many of them had to say. Nationals was also a a final farewell for many of my close friends, teammates and my longtime coach from the roles they have been in, for most of them, over the past decade. I could write a post for each and every one of them but then you would be here reading for the next month. So here is my short summary that barely starts to cover my feelings. First of all, the biggest thanks to my coach of 10 years, Chris Jeffries for all the dedication, and passion through the learning and growth we have experience on this journey. You have been so influential in shaping who I am as an athlete, ever since I started training with the Alberta World Cup Academy when I was 18. I am excited to watch your transition into your new role as Nordiq Canada’s High-Performance Director and look forward to continuing to work with you in a new capacity. Also a big thank you and good luck to Academy coach Julia Mehre Ystgaard as she returns to Norway to continue her education. It has been a pleasure working with you the past few years and I hope we will have the chance again soon.
To all my teammates and friends ending their racing careers and moving onto new life opportunities, congratulations and good luck. We will miss you greatly on the race course but I know we will still enjoy many skis together. Special shoutout to Maya, Cendrine, Laura, Laurence, Thomas, Bob, Russell, and Etienne for being great teammates and training partners over the years. Thank you for helping me become a better athlete in training and a better person in life. To all my other friends and competitors retiring in Canada and around the world, we will miss you all greatly.
After a heartfelt end to the competitive season with lots of toasts and much gratitude for the incredible ski community I am a part of, I capped off the race season with the inaugural Sovereign2Silverstar Ski Marathons. This weekend of racing had everything you could hope for in a loppet, a fun flowing point to point course on amazing trails (one day in each technique), great volunteers, great organization, some cash prizes for the wins and most importantly a bunch of like minded people out skiing because they love it. Thank you to the organizers for inviting me, I will definitely be back again.
After the Sovereign2Silverstar Ski Marathons, which made it so I had done three 40km+ ski races in 8 days, I took an entire week fully off any and all kinds of exercise. I mostly just slept a lot, thought about how tired I was and watched a full season of Bridgerton on Netflix. Now about 10 days post marathons, I am starting to feel like being active just for the fun of it and my mental capacity and productivity has greatly improved to the point where I could actually write this blog, which is one of the best indicators for my body that I am actually starting to feel physically recovered. My next few weeks will be spent exercising for fun, catching up on school and life tasks, cooking meals from the new cookbook my sister just got me and visiting relatives that I haven’t seen in far too long. I am really looking forward to getting back to Whitehorse at the start of May and connecting with friends and the community as I begin the 2022/23 training season. I am hoping to organize a little event the first week of May that hopefully many of you in Whitehorse will be able to join. Stay tuned for more details on my socials in the coming weeks.
Thank you for following along on my ski journey again this year!
Wishing everyone a wonderful Easter long weekend 🙂