Prior to being accepted at the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) in Canmore, you trained and raced with Nakkertok since you were 12. How did the racing program and coach Kieran Jones prepare you for the transition to a national training centre?
Yikes, tough question! Nakkertok helped me grow with respect to skiing, and as a person, in so many ways that I’m not sure where to start!
I guess the biggest thing with Nakkertok is the people. Through most of the 8 years I skied at the ‘Tok, I had great teammates to push me during my workouts, keep me on my toes and share laughs with! All the support people at Nakkertok are amazing too!! There’s always solid advice to be found from the volunteer coaches at the club, the race trips and training camps are organized really well, and the facilities are always being improved by the numerous volunteers.
I really liked working with Kieran because he is really dedicated to his athletes and he is very open-minded. He was always there if I had a question for him, and, if he wasn’t entirely sure of the correct answer to that question he would do the research he needed to do to find it. His focus on the details really helped prepare me for life at the AWCA.
You were a part-time university student at Carleton University in Ottawa while competing in your final year with Nakkertok. How did you manage to balance the demands of skiing and school?
The first step in balancing school and skiing is to realize what your priority is; mine was skiing. With that in mind, I was studying at Carleton more as a distraction from skiing–to keep me mentally stimulated and well-rounded–than for school per se. I decided that two courses per semester was the most I could take without seriously effecting my ski racing (I do think this is a number that can change from person to person), and I made a conscious decision not to get stressed during exams. If your focus is skiing, missing a mark or two because you went to bed on time, instead of studying till midnight, makes perfect sense!
Are you continuing your studies in Canmore, and if so, are you taking courses through correspondence? If not, have you made the decision to put your studies on hold for the moment?
I’m taking one correspondence course through Carleton. I decided that taking one less course would give me more time to recover well (from racing/training), but I didn’t want to drop my schooling all together. You can’t build a healthy body without a healthy mind!
What were your expectations heading to the AWCA? After your first few months, how would you rate your experience so far?
I guess I wasn’t sure what to expect before I came out here. I knew I really liked skiing at Nakkertok, so making the move to a training centre seemed like a bit of a risk, but there were also some obvious advantages that I could see in being at the AWCA. Having spent 6 months here, I’m very happy with my decision to make the move. I think that, if you’re serious about ski racing, there’s definitely a window of opportunity for making the move to a training centre–you don’t want to go too early or too late–and I think I picked the right time.
Looks like there are a couple of former Nakkertok teammates who have joined with you at AWCA; has this made the transition easier? How have the veterans made you feel welcome?
Having friends here has definitely made the transition easier; it would’ve been a lot harder of a decision to come out here if I didn’t know anyone.
All the older guys here are encouraging and I get along with them really well. Right off the get-go I was invited out to dinners and socials (even a game of croquet!); obviously, we all share a passion for skiing so it was easy to fit in and become a member of the team.
How do you keep in touch with your family?
Via phone and Skype. It sucks to not see them in person too frequently, but I still spend an inordinate amount of time talking to them!
You indicate on your blog that your big goal this year is to make it to the World U23 Championships in Val di Fiemme; how has your training this summer reflected this goal?
I saw a number of things that I could improve coming off last season that I think will give me the edge I need to qualify for U23s. The biggest of these were strength, skiing efficiency and really upping my hour total for the year. Working with the Academy this year it’s been easy to improve these areas.
A highlight of your training season so far?
So many highlights! If I have to choose one, I guess I’d say getting to do a time trial with members of the World Cup team. It was a 12km skate rollerski TT and I got to ski against Devon and Ivan (as well as most of my teammates from the Academy). It was an amazing learning experience to race against guys of such a high calibre.
The best thing about Canmore so far…
Not having to drive anywhere. I did way too much of that at home.
What do you miss most about Nakkertok?
I really enjoy training in the mountains in Canmore but, I gotta say, I’m a huge fan of Nakkertok and the Gatineau Park! I think many people in Ottawa/Gatineau take for granted the amazing places to ski, run, or bike that exist right in their backyards. I miss the Park.
Obviously, I also really miss getting to train and race with my friends from the club and with my family (all of whom are Nakkertok members!).