Friday, September 27, 2013

Summer time is over

As it always does, summer has flown by and I'm only two short weeks from skiing loops on Frozen Thunder and prepping for my early season World Cup opportunities. Thanks largely in part to the June flooding in the Bow Valley our training camp schedule has been anything but routine. We've just had a training camp cancelled for the fourth time this season! It's been hard to stay focused and working hard when plans are continually evolving and changing but the training has still been high quality and I feel like my coaches and I are moving in the right direction as we get close to the race season. My team and I headed to Montana to train around Whitefish in the middle of August. I really love the training in Whitefish and the National park just outside the city. My consistency was a little low at this camp compared to last year but I was still able to run a personal best 10km with a 32:52. Along with this August camp I've been working hard with my teammates in Canmore and the areas around the Bow Valley all summer. Also this summer I had an opportunity to speak at a youth conference about my journey as an aspiring Olympic athlete. Speaking at the Metis Nation of Alberta’s Annual Assembly and Youth Conference was a great opportunity to connect with the aboriginal community. It's rare that I have this type of an opportunity and I hope in the future to be able to do more of this work with youth. Here's a few photos of the past summer's happenings. Also I need to say a massive THANK YOU to all the Candians that have donated to CAN Fund and as well to the organization itself for supporting me this upcoming racing season! It means so much to have support from people all across the country and I feel so privileged to have been selected by CAN Fund to receive this support. I can't wait to do what I can to raise the profile of the organization even more! Thanks for checking in and catch ya later! jesse
I spent much of my talk discussing the power of relationships in all areas of life. I focused on a friend and former teammate of mine as an example of fortitude and perseverance.
It was so great to interact with all the kids at the conference and spend time having them focus on their personal goals and discuss how they want to shape their process for achieving those goals.
One of the many quiet roads in Montana that made for another successful camp in Whitefish.
All smiles on a long run in Banff National Park.
This is about halfway through the four hour workout in Glacier National Park in Montana. It's easily one of my favourite places I've ever ran.
All this hard work needs a bit of fun too! Coach Stef dominating the swim-to dock in Whitefish!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Quick hit

The past racing season would have been a great year to document through the process but unfortunately I was too busy writing in my dream journal instead of this blog. Last year was full of unbelievable highs and my fair share of soul crushing lows. Highlights and lowlights include: finishing last in the Canmore World Cup 15km Classic, having the best race of my life two days later in the World Cup Skate sprint and finishing 9th (qualifying 2nd), missing the World Championships qualifying, racing overseas in Norway and Finland (highlight), racing overseas in Norway and Finland (lowlight), defending the Team Sprint National title with Brent, missing the podium in the individual sprint at Canadian Nationals, and winning the overall Haywood NorAm title. Erratic and over-dramatic capture that eclectic mix of results and happenings pretty well. Through it all I've come away with a sense of encouragement and excitement at what I'm capable of and that the work I've been doing with my teammates is leading us down the right path. I'll let the photos do most of the talking with this post, no promises on better maintenance of this blog's current news but I'll try. A huge THANKS to my supporters last season; Russell at E. Grubens Transport, Jamie at Nuna Logistics, Dr. Suzanne Perkins, and Shades on Caribou. I'm so grateful for your support and I look forward to another great year of working together!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Don't call it a comeback

Four unfinished drafts and seven months later this seems as good a time as any to get this ball rolling again. As far as catching you up on what I've been up to, where I've been and how it's all been; May was early skiing in Oregon, June was our long bike ride in the Kootenays, July was the Haig Glacier trips for the year, August was some ridiculously hard training south of the border in Montana, September and October was my trip with the NST to Utah for altitude and intensity. How was it? It was all fantastic! Of course there are hours of long workouts, hard intensities, gym sessions, cold baths, and everything else that make up a spring, summer, and fall schedule of training but those camps were the main focus for their respective month. And here we are in November with less than two weeks until our race season kicks off Vin Diesel style. The abridged version of my training year doesn't sound like very much training when it's comprised into one poorly written sentence but this has been by far my hardest year of training to date. As repetitive as that last sentence is among athletes, it is true. I felt like I needed to be aggressive this offseason and the coaches rewarded my loud talk with hard work for the entire team. Here are few photos to capture a small portion of the training year that seemed to pass by as quickly as I wrote this post. Check back for updates as the season moves forward, thanks for reading!
Although I didn't have time during the actual bike ride, this angst packed "night-before" photo sums up the magnitude of the ride. 217km is a long ways to ride a bike.
All the hard training makes time off that much sweeter. Kevin, Patrick and I were lucky enough to join Matt and his girlfriend Jules at his Shuswap cabin early August.
Back to work in a big way late August with our camp in Montana. Our rollerski and run in Glacier National Park was one of the major highlights.
Wakeboarding and wakesurfing to relax at the lake Montana. I'm on the best team in world.
Our Montana camp ended with a 10km run. Despite the heavy training load and tired bodies we all set PBs and I clocked a 32:55.
Back to the USA in September for my best camp of the year in Utah. This was my first time to Utah and I hope I'm back for many years to come.
Salt Lake City and Park City were great cities to be based out of and we had no shortage of quiet roads to fill our 3-4 hour rollerski workouts.
Over 10,000ft and the best way to close the camp in Utah is apparently with a bear claw bigger than you!
All this and I made sure to find time to stink it up on the links. My dad is and seemingly always will be the better golfer between us. See ya on the trails! jess

Thursday, March 29, 2012

There's no Canada like French Canada!

After a short two week break from racing we were back on a plane headed to our next stop for the season; Quebec City. La Belle Provence, and more specifically Mt. St. Anne, played host to our 2012 Canadian National Cross Country Ski Championships and considering the seriously summer-like weather they did an amazing job holding all the races on schedule and with relatively great conditions. I was really excited to start the championships with the Team Sprint, an event I skipped last year for the first time in eight years of travelling to and racing Nationals. I regret not racing last year quite a bit. This year I was teaming up with Brent Mcmurtry on Foothills 1. Brent won this event last year with my teammate Kevin Sandau so I was really looking forward to defending the title for Foothills. The race was held on the Plains of Abraham under hot sunny conditions of around 10C! The race played out well for Brent and I and we were able to ski away from the field with the Whitehorse team of David Greer and Graham Nishikawa. Brent skied the first leg and I was in charge of the anchor leg against Nish. Nish skied a really strong last lap and was positioned ahead of me in the final stretch before taking a small stumble that I avoided. His misstep was enough to open the door for me and I was able to close the win for Brent and I. I was really happy to win this team event but unfortunately it was the high water mark for the week as I struggled in the individual distance races under the hot 21C weather and sloppy conditions. The 10km Classic went ok, a slow start and strong finish on the two 5km laps made for a 10th place finish in some pretty tricky waxing conditions. As for the 15km Skate, that one sucked! I skied such a strong start and felt good with just over 5km to go. A few major bonks later I crossed the line in 20th and well off any type of goal I had going into the day. From here we had a rest day and a chance to prepare for the upcoming Skate Sprint. I was able to ski my best qualifier ever, however I was unable to move past the semi's and had to settle for 12th on a day that I was really excited about. After all that we still had the 50km Classic on the horizon. I am amazed the organizing committee was able to hold this race and I really need to give them lots of credit for that as the conditions were deteriorating quickly and I was definitely betting against the race being run. In the end they held it and we raced it. Alex Harvey and Devon Kershaw, fresh off their amazing season and World Cup finals in SWE, skied away from the field after their butt-face antics at the start of the race. Those guys are fast and it's good to see the level of speed we need to be competitive internationally. I finished the race strongly and crossed the line 7th tying my only other result in a 50km (Whitehorse,2010). From there we packed our skis, cleaned our barn house, and jetted off to the world's longest banquet in Quebec City. Now I'm back at home finishing up the last week of training before the real end to the season on Saturday; Mt. Shark! Shark has been the site of some real pain train races for me and I'm expecting more of the same for the 12.5km Skate. Thanks for following the season so far, the end is near!
Doing our part for Foothills! So fun to race in the club suit once a year.
It felt pretty silly racing with just a bib but 21C was a bit too hot for the race top.
Easily my best qualifier ever, really happy with that.
Quarter final action with some Euro Jabron.

Friday, March 2, 2012

A trip to Turkey

To me Turkey seemed almost like a place made up and stuck in my atlas to fill the pages alongside all the other far off, mysterious lands of the Middle-East. I never thought I would end up visiting this country and getting a chance to see their culture first hand. A couple days home now and I can appreciate lots of things about the country and the people but it feels great to be back home sleeping in my own bed and skiing on familiar trails with my friends. As for the racing of the past four weeks; it's left me wanting more to say the least. Although this trip started great with my third NorAm win in Ontario at the Eastern Canadian Championships, my main focus of the season was over before it ever had a real chance to get going. I had been dreaming of the U23 World Championship Skate sprint for the past six months and had envisioned a great day skiing my best race of my season and finishing on the podium. Not even close. I failed to qualify for the heats finishing 10 seconds behind the winner and sitting in 39th place. Leading up to these races my coach, Mike Cavaliere, and close friend/teammate Graeme Killick and I travelled from Ottawa to Italy for a preparatory altitude camp in the town of Livigno near the Swiss border. This small camp went very well with lots of great skiing, strength workouts and lower altitude intensities to bring the body up to top level. To me the preparation seemed perfect and I was confident in my speed and improved qualifying from previous seasons. The course was strikingly similar to the sprint course in Rossland, BC. I had a great race in Rossland earlier this season and felt ready to find that same feeling come sprint day. In the end I came up short but the great thing about ski racing is that there is always another race and another chance to be competitive and the next chance came two days later in the 15km Individual Classic. Unfortunately it was another hard day for my body and I was only able to finish 47th, well off the pace. By now the high altitude, hour long bus ride to and from the site, and the 200 person buffet had taken it's toll on my body and I was battling a serious cough deep in my chest. With one race to go, the 30km Skiathlon, I focused my best to try to come up with one good day from my body and to find the feeling I had racing in Canada in so many previous races this season. I skied a strong classic leg for the first 14.5km and was positioned in the lead group sitting top 15 when I crashed on the high speed downhill leading into the stadium. From here I struggled to find my rhythm until well into the skate portion and by this time it was too late and I had lost too much time to the leaders to stay competitive. I finished 29th on a day that my body felt close to the level I know I can ski at. Sorry for the whiny update but these championships were one disappointment after another for me. Thankfully we've still got some important racing to do this year as we are heading out in two weeks time to race National Championships in Mt. St Anne, QC. I'm really excited to have some more races to redeem myself for the poor results from Turkey. Here's some photos to enjoy, I don't own the U23 photos and I also don't feel like spending any money on them so all I have is the silly watermarked versions. See you in the 418!
I was really happy with the three races at Eastern Canadian Championships. The 30km classic was probably the most fun I've ever had racing.
Easy hours in Livigno with Graeme.
Lots to learn from this skate sprint day at U23s.
We had great weather the entire trip in Erzurum for the races and this is a pretty typical day in the stadium with bright blue skies and cold, hard tracks.
The boys! Our boys skied a great relay finishing ahead of the USA and in the top 10.
The Junior ladies Skiathlon. This is the first hill out of the stadium, long and very gradual.
Here's a view from our parking lot at the hotel in Erzurum. Pretty great views from 2400m!
The Turkish drivers are TERRIBLE! The road up to our hotel was so congested one day that we had to abandon our bus and take to gondola up to the hotel.
We found a bullet casing outside our hotel. What a great way to start the Istanbul adventure day!
The entrance to the palace we visited downtown Istanbul.
What a crazy place! The Grand Bazaar... how bizarre? how bizzare?
I get pretty bummed out with everything when my ski racing isn't going well, thankfully Marlis was never too far away to cheer me up!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Western Canadian Champs

Just five short, cold days after getting home from Whistler we were back at it racing NorAms in Canmore this past weekend. After a year packed with mini tours last season, the NorAm schedule only includes two this season with this weekend's Western Canadian Championships being the first. A serious cold snap rolled through Canmore bringing the temperature down around -30C. Training sucks when it's that cold so the prep was not ideal going into a weekend of NorAm racing but everyone was in the same boat and we made the most of it by keeping workouts short and doing as much indoors as possible. First up on the schedule was the individual 10km Classic. I love racing 10km Classic races, I've always thought of it as my favorite race. Too bad that love didn't translate into a stellar race. I went out hard and paid the price on the tough continuous climbs of the Canmore World Cup trails. Finishing the day in 13th nearly two minutes back was not how I imagined that one going, thankfully there's always another day in ski racing and I was excited to race the next day's Skate sprint.
I really, really love the Canmore sprint courses. They ski really well, they're very wide and there's no shortage of hard climbing on them. Saturday's course featured only one real climb followed by the mammoth 500m decent back into the stadium and finish straight. I was really focused on redeeming myself from the previous day's poor result and skied what felt like a pretty decent qualifier as I finished it in 2nd place behind teammate Phil Widmer. On to the fun stuff, the heats! The heats played out pretty well for me and I tried a few new things in the quarters and semis before getting ready for the A-final. I knew I had good skis going into the final and decided to try to relax as much as possible and let the skis work for me on the decent and finish straight. I came into the decent in 5th place and worked my way on the downhill to just behind the leaders and hit it from there. Winning my second NorAm of the year felt amazing, so good I tried my hand at Cam Newton's TD celebration, the jury's still out on whether I did it justice. I need to send a big thank you to the techs for such awesome skis, you guys are the best!
All that remained on Sunday was the 15km Pursuit start Skate. Starting 1 minute 43sec behind the leader Brent McMurtry my goal for the day was to ski strong and make up enough time to finish as the top U23. I started in a group with Brian McKeever and Michael Somppi. We skied well together and I worked really hard at the front to make sure we kept the pace high throughout and I ended up catching and passing Dave Greer to finish as top U23! I'm so happy to finally have a strong distance race as I hadn't really found my legs in the distance races to date. Also, a really big shout out to my boy! Kevin Sandau for making up 42 seconds on Brent and winning the overall tour on Sunday. After about thirty minutes at home it was back to the CNC for the first ever Boyz Got Game event hosted by Canmore Nordic. Thanks so much to Roy Strum and Phil Wood for making this event happen and including my AWCA teammates and myself in this program getting new skiers excited about the sport. It was so much fun to ski around with kids around the same age as I was when I was idolizing skiers like Robing McKeever, Connal Robertson-Moore and all the other BSR alumni. Hopefully we managed to hook them on skiing and Canmore's grassroots programs continue to develop all the way to the top. From here we're off to Ottawa next Wednesday for Eastern Canadian Championships and the second mini tour of the year. And after that it's off to Europe to prepare for U23 World Championships in Turkey. I'm so excited to get to the real meat of the season and race some fast Euros! Until next time, thanks for stoppin' by!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Whistler Round 3

Here we are again, Whistler BC for the third time this season and this time it's for some pretty meaningful races. Trials are always a stressful time of year and this year was no exception to that as we were met with some pretty hairy conditions on the sprint day, the day I was focusing on as we left for BC. But first things first, the 30km Pursuit.
I really like distance racing and consider myself an all rounder with both sprint and distance, but I really have trouble with 30km. This was my fourth year skiing a 30km and third time at trials and my struggles continued. My plan going into the race was to stay as relaxed as possible and make sure that I hung on the pack of leaders to the sprint finish and let my speed give me a shot at winning, easier said than done. I lost contact with the leaders after 7.5km and skied the remaining kilometers in no-man's land on my own skiing between a couple groups of guys ahead and behind me. With such a twisty turny course it was easy to get a glimpse of other guys throughout the course and get a sense for time lost/gained to the other groups. This made for a somewhat nerve-racking last few laps as it was clear to me that I was bleeding time to the group of three behind me and my head immediately started game planning for what to do next. In the end I was able to stave off the surge from that chasing pack and I finished the day as the 3rd U23 behind my boy! G-Kill as he took the U23 win over Dave Greer. I had dreamt of winning this race and having a stress free sprint day but the body had other plans and obviously I wasn't up to the task. Moving on.
On to the fun stuff; skate sprinting. I've always loved skate sprinting but this season I've had a measured improvement in this race and going into the day I felt it was mine to lose. As for the crazy weather I was talking about, when it rains it pours but in this case when it snows it dumps in Callaghan Valley and did it ever dump! This falling snow made for a pretty treacherous course with the trails being reduced to one athlete wide. Thankfully I avoided the major wipeouts and was able to finish the day 3rd overall and 1st U23. Winning one of the U23 days guaranteed a spot on the trip to Turkey for the U23 World Championships, although I have yet to be told if I made the trip or not, call me?
With the sprint day in the books I was ready to hit the trails again and hopefully find my elusive distance legs in the 15km individual classic. The conditions were night and day compared to the previous day's snow storm as we were welcomed by blue skies, firm tracks, and some nice -10C weather for the morning. I skied a bit of a longer warm up to try to wake my legs up from the previous day but once again my distance racing was leaving something to be desired. I'll figure it out before Turkey. After a quick pack and shower we were jetting off to Vancouver to fly home to the seriously frigid weather that Alberta had waiting for us. I skied in -30C with Gerard today! Fingers crossed for the Western's races here starting Friday.
Last but certainly not least, I would be remiss to not thank the gargantuan support team AWCA had in Whistler which made for great skis and almost no prep work on our end. Thanks everyone who helped send seven AWCA athletes to the World Junior and U23 championships!