Monthly Archives: January 2013

Sochi pictures

So, as promised, I brought my camera to practice today. Luckily, the sun came out!

Sochi has been great so far. The rink is new and nice and the volunteers are friendly and will check your accreditation more times that you can count. The biggest thing that we have all noticed is that the entire area from our hotel to the Olympic park (about a 15 min drive without traffic, 45 with traffic) is one enormous construction zone. Everything is being built. Roads, train tracks and stations, hotels, Olympic venues. You name it. Even one part of the road that we drive on is open only to us as its still under construction. It seems like there is a TON of work still to be done, but I’m sure that they will finish it all up for next year and that everything will look great!

Another shot of the main stadium under construction.

The main stadium under construction.

The iceberg is huge!

The iceberg is huge!

Security is tight even for a test event. X-ray scanners, metal detectors and pat-downs everytime we get to the rink

Security is tight even for a test event. X-ray scanners, metal detectors and pat-downs everytime we get to the rink

This building will house the IOC during the games. The dirt construction area is what everything around the rink looks like

This building will house the IOC during the games. The dirt construction area is what everything around the rink looks like

The temporary dirt road that we use to access the rink

The temporary dirt road that we use to access the rink

Contruction of something Olympics related

Contruction of something Olympics related

Flat roofed building is the Long track oval.

Flat roofed building is the Long track oval.

Morning view of the Black sea from my hotel room
The stadium that will be used for the opening and closing ceremonies is, like so many other things in Sochi, still under construction

The stadium that will be used for the opening and closing ceremonies is, like so many other things in Sochi, still under construction

Some snow up in the mountains. Kind of reminds me of Vancouver. Warm and ocean influenced city with snow capped mountains in the background

Some snow up in the mountains. Kind of reminds me of Vancouver. Warm and ocean influenced city with snow capped mountains in the background

The biggest rink is home to men's hockey.

The biggest rink is home to men’s hockey.

Inside our rink.

Inside our rink.

The Iceberg, the arena for Short Track and figure Skating

The Iceberg, the arena for Short Track and figure Skating

LOTS of construction all around the Olympic park

LOTS of construction all around the Olympic park

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Weekly Update #23 So(rt of)chi

Just popping on to post a quick update from Sochi. We arrived safely yesterday and are settling in to our hotel. We skated twice today and had our first experience at the rink. I’m hoping it will be sunny tomorrow and I’ll bring my camera with me so I can throw some pics up here of the rink and surrounding construction zone(s).

Weekly Update #22 – Canadian Champion!

Like I mentioned last week, this past weekend was our Canadian Championships. Its a big meet. Not only does it serve as the Canadian Championships, it serves as a selection meet for the remainder of the World Cup season and the World Championships, it also goes a long way in determining who is on the National team for next season.

Its a meet you want to be ready for. Lucky for me, I was. And I came away with my first ever Canadian Championship. Heres how it unfolded.

Friday was the 1500m. Despite a (as normal) nervous lead-up to the weekend, I had found a really good feeling in the last couple days of practice. During warmup on Friday, I could feel that I was physically on a good day. Knowing this, I stayed out of trouble in most of my races, made smart moves when I needed to and managed to win the 1500m. Good way to start!

Just after the finish of the 1500m final. A little bit of intensity... Photo by Patrice Lapointe, Fotosports.ca

Just after the finish of the 1500m final. A little bit of intensity… Photo by Patrice Lapointe, Fotosports.ca

1500m podium. Guillaume Bastille, myself, Vincent Cournoyer. Photo by Patrice Lapointe, Fotosports.ca

1500m podium. Guillaume Bastille, myself, Vincent Cournoyer. Photo by Patrice Lapointe, Fotosports.ca

Saturday, we raced the 500m. In the past, I have had some trouble with this distance. Too often, I have finished well down the results and failed to score big points. Since the teams for World Cups and World Champs are selected from a cumulative ranking of points amassed over two sets of trials races, it is important to count as many points as possible on any given day. This season, I have invested heavily in fine tuning a new start position in order to improve my start, which is crucial in a 500m sprint. It seems to be paying off. While I’m not always first off the line, I am in the mix a lot more often, and almost never find myself with a gap to close if I get off the line in last. Instead of focusing on closing the gap, I can focus on passing and winning the race. By the end of Saturday, I had made my way to the A final, a first for me at a Canadian Champs, and finished with a slightly disappointing (at the time) 4th place. Still, my best result in a 500m to date.

Sunday is the longest, and hardest day, of trials. Why? Well first of all we already have two days of racing in our legs, and second we have to race the 1000m four times, as well as finish an intense weekend with a grueling 3000m. In the 1000m, I again made my way into the final and like the 500m finished 4th. In all honesty, I was a bit disappointed with this result. I never really managed to make a move in the race and felt like a bit of a passenger. I have to give kudos to the distance winner Charles Hamelin though, because his skating was a big part of that feeling. He was simply extremely strong on that day and I think all of us in the race felt a bit like passengers on the “Locomotive de Ste-Julie” as world famous announcer Dany Lemay likes to call him.

Next up was the 3000m. What can I say. The 3k is always a slog. A stressful weekend of racing takes a lot out of you and grinding out 27 laps is going to hurt. I managed to win the bonus points sprint after nine laps with a cheeky little acceleration. After that, for whatever reason, I decided that I should go ahead and pull about 15 of the remaining 18 laps. That kind of effort catches up with you and unfortunately for me, it caught up with me in sight of the finish line. I was passed 3 times in the final lap to finish 4th again. I’ll save you the details, but I was definitely cursing myself. In a weird twist of fate though, Charles, with who I was battling for the overall, fell of his own accord and thanks to my taking the bonus sprint, I managed to have just enough points to take my first Canadian Championship by a razor thin 16 points (very slim margin, as each distance is worth 1000 to the winner)

All in all, a good weekend for me. With that result, I’m qualified for the last two World Cups of the season and I will also be competing individually at the World Championships. I’m excited for the rest of the season! Thanks to all of my supporters, especially the Government of the Northwest Territories, currently my only personal ‘sponsor’.

Lastly, below is a picture of my new World Record Ring. My teammates  Charles Hamelin, Olivier Jean, Francois Hamelin and each received one of these last week for our record breaking relay at the World Cup in Calgary this past October. The Olympic Oval has the fastest ice in the world and anybody who breaks a world record there become a member of the brothers of the wind and receives a ring as recognition. I am happy to be part of the club!


 

 

Weekly Update #21 Christmas and Trials

Coming up this week is our Canadian Championships. They are being held here in Montreal, which is nice for us Montreal based skaters since sleeping in your own bed and competing on your home ice is always a nice comfort. The Canadian Championships are also the selection competition for the last two World Cups in Sochi, Russia and Dresden, Germany as well as the World Champs in Debrecen, Hungary.

For me, this week will be all about refining a few specific things that I have been working on and focusing on relaxing and gearing up to hopefully have some good performances on the weekend.

To end this blog off, check out a couple pictures from my short Christmas trip to Canmore. Because travel to Yellowknife from Montreal takes at least a whole day each way, our family decided to meet part-way in between the two, in Canmore, and easy choice and pretty awesome place all around. I took advantage to get in some mountain time, one day of snowshoeing and anther of hiking.

Group shot at our destination for the day, Rummel Lake.

Group shot at our destination for the day, Rummel Lake.

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There hadn't been many people up the trail since a recent snowfall, which made for some good bushwacking powder adventures

There hadn’t been many people up the trail since a recent snowfall, which made for some good bushwacking powder adventures

The beautiful Spray Valley. The day started out cloudy and cold, but the sun came through just as we started out.

The beautiful Spray Valley. The day started out cloudy and cold, but the sun came through just as we started out.

If you are in Montreal and want to come out and watch this weekend, come on out! Racing starts a 2pm on Friday and Saturday, and 10am on Sunday.

Weekly Update #20 Photo Blog!

First of all, happy new year and welcome to 2013!

This week, I have a few pictures that show a little bit of what a day at the rink during a World Cup looks like. Since I was racing, I was only able to take photos when I wasn’t getting ready for a race or racing, so there are only a few. Meh.

Waking up to a fairly nice sunny, smoggy Shanghai day. Racing doesn’t start until 2pm and we head to the rink around 1130am so its nice to take advantage of the late start to relax in bed for a bit.

Can’t lie in bed all morning. Getting some abs done to wake up the body.

Arrival at the rink. I was racing the 1500 on this day, which was the last distance to get underway, so when I arrived, the 500m guys and girls had already been on the ice for warm-up and were getting ready for their first races. Liam and Charles sharpening their skates.

Our super hard working and always smiling physio Vero. Our staff work the longest hours of anyone on the team and they are always happy and smiling even when they’ve been on their feet all day. They are one of the big reasons that our team is an awesome one to hang around and travel with.

After my on ice warm-up, I had some time to kill. Time to pull out the book. There are sometimes long waits in-between races and I like to read to pass the time. Its way more relaxing than watching races all day and listening to Gangnam style play over and over. It’s also a good escape for the mind. Sometimes a rested mind is better than (or at least equal to) a rested body.

 

After all of the individual races for the day have been finished, the relay races start up. This is a pic of the our team racing our relay against Japan (front) and Hungary (3rd). I didn’t race the relay this day, so I was in the stands  to cheer on the guys.

So thats it. After the relays are finished, its wait for the bus, get home to the hotel, cold bath, dinner, relax, bed. Repeat!