Category Archives: Uncategorized

New site! mgilday.com

I have recently opened a new website, mgilday.com.

I will no longer be updating this site, but I will leave it open if you would like to read up on old blog posts. Otherwise, feel free to check out the new site for new blog posts, pictures, recent video, results and more!

Weekly Update #33: On Tokyo winning the 2020 Summer Olympics…

You may have heard this weekend that Tokyo has been awarded the 2020 Summer Olympics. If you haven’t well, now you have. Like many others , I read the stories on news sites, saw peoples reactions on Twitter and Facebook and even watched a couple videos of the reactions of some Japanese who were up at 5 am to watch the announcement that was taking place in Buenos Aires.

As I watched the members of the Tokyo bid committee and ordinary Japanese celebrate their successful bid I couldn’t help but feel good. I always get the shivers whenever I see large outpourings of jovial national pride, regardless of whether its my nation or someone else’s.

Inevitably, I made my way down to the comments sections on one of the news articles and, again inevitably, I found comments supporting and congratulating Japan mixed in with a healthy dose of “the Olympics cost too much and nobody cares, or benefits and the money should be spent elsewhere” comments.

The truth is, the Olympics do cost a lot of money. Sometimes, its money well spent and well managed and a host city can have a hugely successful games (Los Angeles ’84, Calgary ’88 and Vancouver 2010 come to mind). Sometimes its not (Montreal ’72, Athens ’04 and I’m sure others). But one thing that people don’t always think of is the emotion that the Olympics, not just the two weeks of Games, but the lead up that starts with the announcement, can bring to a country.

I remember in 2003 when the International Olympic Committee was about to announce who would host the 2010 Winter Olympics. At that time, I had just finished grade 10 and was attending a summer training camp for young skaters at the Olympic Oval in Calgary. There is always a buzz for all things Olympic around the Oval, and every T.V in the place was turned on to CBC to watch the announcement. When Jacques Rogge opened the envelope and announced that Vancouver would be host, the room went crazy. G.M Place in Vancouver went crazy. I think a lot of Canada went crazy.

In that moment, I remember feeling so much excitement. I added up the years and knew that 7 years from that announcement I would be 23, a prime age for Olympic competition. I vowed to myself that I would make it to those Games. It would be an amazing moment, an Olympic Games in my own country! Right after the announcement, I had to head to my next session, and I remember doing it with a little bit of extra energy, knowing that I had seven years to get to my best and not a second to waste.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I didn’t make it to those Games. I just missed out. But thats not the point of this post. The point is that while the Olympics come with a hefty price tag, I’m guessing that if the excitement they generate are enough to make this 16 year old kid dedicate himself to seven years of sport and healthy living then there were numerous others all across our country (and maybe even the world) that did or wanted to do the same. And if a bunch of kids can be inspired to do that from one announcement, then imagine what an entire 2 weeks of games can do!

So congratulations Tokyo, and all of Japan. You may have just committed yourself to spending a big wack of cash, but I’m sure there is already a generation who are inspired to take up the Olympic spirit and carry it with them for the rest of their lives. Call me corny, but to me, thats the most important reason why hosting the Olympics is worth it.

If you’re interested, here is the video of the Vancouver 2010 announcement.

 

Weekly Update #32 – The Press Conference

Thursday was the day that the team was officially announced. Even though the announcement had been leaked earlier in the week by yours truly and others on the team, it was still a big showy event.

Fancypants. Photo from Speed Skating Canada.

Fancypants. Photo from Speed Skating Canada.

The event started out with a few speakers from the COC. Following that, we were presented with our team jackets. It was cool way of doing the announcement.

Chef de Mission and former Canadian downhill skier Steve Podborski giving me my team jacket. Photo from Speed Skating Canada.

Chef de Mission and former Canadian downhill skier Steve Podborski giving me my team jacket. Photo from Speed Skating Canada.

After the jacket presentation, the photo opportunities started. We had several set photo ops to do. The first was a ‘check-in’ to the Hilton on our way to Sochi. Hilton Hotels was announced at the press conference as the official hotel supplier of the Canadian Olympic Committee.

Checking in. Photo from Speed Skating Canada.

Checking in. Photo from Speed Skating Canada.

The second was a team shot outside. First we had to just line up, then we were supposed to ham it up for the camera. I think this one of me flexing and making a face in the back ended up in the Globe and Mail, I haven’t seen it myself, but apparently my Grandmother did and was unsurprised that I was the only one making a face…

Photo from Speed Skating Canada.

Photo from Speed Skating Canada.

Anyways, it gave me a good idea of what its like to be on a red carpet. A LOT of camera flashes.

First group shot as a team. Photo from Speed Skating Canada.

First group shot as a team. Photo from Speed Skating Canada.

For more photos, head over to https://www.facebook.com/SSC.PVC, and like Speed Skating Canada’s page.

After that, it was on to interviews. I did a TV interview for CBC North and then several telephone interviews to different media outlets at home in the Northwest Territories. I’m pretty amazed by the support that is coming from home!

I think I’m still in a bit of shock over the whole announcement of my name as one of the 10 that are nominated to the team. Racing, and hopefully winning, at the Olympics has been my goal for so many years, and I am getting so close to realizing that dream. At the same time, since I’m currently on the sidelines, I can’t help but feel like I’m not making any progress on my path towards the opening ceremonies in February. Despite what I’m trying to tell myself that everything I do now is another step toward being at my best in February, its hard to believe my own words when all I can do is very, very light workouts and rest.

Healing my head has been a patience testing process at best. My body feels amazing. Its not often that it gets this much recovery. But my head and neck are still not perfect. And so I will continue to do my best at recovering so that when its time, I can go full gas.

Weekly Update #29 Olympic Trials

First of all, I am continuing to call this the weekly update. Why? Because its ironic. And ironic is funny. Right? Oh well.

Well, just like that here we are. Olympic trials are upon us. Tomorrow marks the start of 5 days of competition spread over the next 11 days that will determine Canada’s 2014 Olympic Short Track team.

I could get into a big song and dance about how I’ve prepared, how fast the last four years have gone etc, but I’d rather just say this. I’m ready. I’m ready to attack this set of trials like I have attacked every set of trials I have ever raced. There is nothing new here. Its just time to race.

For anyone interested in watching the competition, a full schedule can be found  here: http://www.speedskating.ca/sites/default/files/st_trials_-schedule.final_.pdf

There will also be a live webstream of the competition, link found here: http://sports.tvgo.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1935&utm_source=&utm_medium=&utm_campaign=

Lastly, because everyone likes pictures, here are a couple from our training camp in Budapest and from a foggy/rainy/windy hike up Algonquin Peak near Lake Placid, New York.

Nice little waterfall part way up Algonquin Peak

Nice little waterfall part way up Algonquin Peak

On the summit. Great view!!

On the summit. Great view!!

Mideveil Feast

Medieval Feast

I got to taking pictures of people sleeping on the trip home from Budapest...

I got to taking pictures of people sleeping on the trip home from Budapest…

...thought I was pretty clever...

…thought I was pretty clever…

..but Courtney caught me.

..but Courtney caught me.

As always, thanks to my awesome sponsors SSi Micro, Tait Communications (look for a new website soon!) and the Government of the NWT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Update (?!) #28 – Olympic Season

Our Olympic season is now well underway. We’ve been on ice for three weeks already. This is the earliest that I have ever started skating. It was actually kind of nice to start skating again after only three weeks. Too long off the ice and it takes a while to get your feeling back. Obviously it would have been nice to be on off-season for a bit longer, but being able to get back on the ice with some feeling for our skates still left over from last year will help get us up to speed and working on what we need to excel next year in less time.

I spent most of my off season travelling. First, I was in Toronto to visit Jess. We also made time to rent a car and head down to visit my grandparents in St-Marys.

IMG_5263

Luckily my time in Ontario also coincided with my Grandmothers 91st birthday. It was fun to get out for dinner with her and my cousins to celebrate.

Following Ontario, I headed north. I planned a 24 hour stopover in Calgary on my way to Yellowknife to visit some friends and my sister quickly. It was a beautiful day so Jill suggested a short hike. We did a quick walk up Prairie mountain and took in some Alberta scenery and sun. I don’t get out to the mountains enough living in Quebec now, so I really enjoyed that.


Once I made it up to Yellowknife, it was time to relax! I spent a lot of time out at our cabin, resting, eating and enjoying spring-ish weather. I couldn’t get out and do as much as I wanted to while I was there since I was nursing a bit of a groin injury from the end of the season, but it was still awesome to be out of the city for a while. As I mentioned in my last post I met with SSI Micro to finalize a sponsorship and later that day I visited the CJCD radio station for a quick interview.

BIPTti0CcAA2RKH

I also got invited by the Yellowknife Speed skating club to come out and hang out with the club skaters. Their season had just wrapped up, so we rented the fieldhouse and played some games and ran around a bit. The kids had tons of energy and I had a lot of fun!

Big Announcement

I am very happy to announce that for the upcoming 2013-14 season, I will be welcoming SSi Micro to my team as a Silver Sponsor! I had the chance to visit SSi’s headquarters in Yellowknife last week. They have an awesome set up (yes the TV’s and couches in the pic are at their offices!!) and it was great to meet some of the staff.

gilday_sponsorship

SSi Micro is a Yellowknife, NWT, Canada based communications solutions and service provider. Involved with operations across Canada’s North and the World, SSi’s business, not unlike Short Track Speed Skating, requires inovation and speed to excel.

I have always received fantastic support from the people of the NWT, and I am excited to be able to represent a company that, like me, is excelling to be the best in its field!

About SSi Micro:

Headquartered in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, the SSi Group of Companies provides broadband service across Canada’s North. SSi understands first-hand the challenges faced in providing effective and affordable communications services to remote and outlying areas, and in providing a competitive alternative to the incumbent operator in small and remote markets.

SSi has deployed advanced satellite and local broadband wireless facilities that deliver services throughout Nunavut under the “QINIQ” brand, and in over thirty communities of the Northwest Territories, an area spanning over three million square kilometers. The network uses state-of-the-art full mesh connectivity and supports broadband Internet, voice and videoconferencing technologies.

photo

 

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A travel story

A travel day involving two stop overs enroute to your destination while travelling through two countries can lead to some potential mixups on the best of days. Doing that same travel with a team of 20 and a massive snowstorm in one of the aforementioned stop overs is a recipe for potential disaster. That is exactly what our team headed into yesterday.

We started our travel day from Sochi to Dresden like any other travel day between world cups. With a bus ride and the seemingly interminable process of checking in 20 people and paying for excess luggage. The Sochi airport was a bit of a zoo since there was also a cross country ski world cup last weekend and ski teams were heading back home, massive ski and wax bags in tow. After sitting on the tarmac for a while, we finally got on our way with the knowledge that our connection in Moscow would now be quite tight.

Upon arrival in Moscow, it was apparent the airport was in a bit of chaos. Visibility was reduced to almost none due to a snowstorm and there were long line ups of planes waiting to take off. The baggage arrivals area was very busy as we waited for our bags to come out. Finally, we collected all of our bags, except for one. My skating equipment bag. This is about were the trouble and adventure started. While the rest of the team ran to the check in counter to attempt to make their connection Munich, which was now delayed due to the storm, I waded through the mess that is lost baggage claim in a busy airport that functions in a language that isn’t yours. After an hour and a half of being shuttled around from desk to desk trying to get someone to give me back my baggage tags and let me fill in lost baggage forms, while hearing horror stories from other skaters, including the entire Korean team as well as most of the Norwegian cross country team, our team leader Yves came back. Both of us had to run immediately to the Lufthansa checkin desk or miss our connection. We were finally able to fill in forms but by the time the paperwork was ready, our flight was closed. Looked like we would be spending the night in Moscow.

Waiting for a hotel shuttle in a Moscow snowstorm.

Waiting for a hotel shuttle in a Moscow snowstorm.

Meanwhile, the rest of our team had now boarded the flight to Munich, and were beginning their three hour wait on the runway. Unsure whether they would get away or not, Yves and I had to wait at the airport in case they didn’t take off. While we did that, we rebooked our flight for the next morning. Finally around 1030pm (we left the hotel in Sochi at 1030am and accomplished a 2 hour flight in 12 hours) the rest of the team took off. Yves and I headed for an airport  hotel and by midnight managed to check in so we could grab a few hours shut eye before our 545am flight the next morning.

After four short hours of sleep, we were headed back to the airport. Upon check-in, Yves got a bad surprise. His Russian visa had expired at midnight. Now, not only would he have to fill out paperwork and head to the Russian immigration office at the airport, the office wouldn’t open until 6am, after our flight was to leave. Yves would have to book another flight and would arrive in Dresden, tired and sick this afternoon.

I meanwhile, boarded my flight to Munich where, after a very tight connection, I managed to meet up with the team. They had spent the night in the airport trying to sleep on army cots that the airport provides to travellers with missed connections that have to stay overnight. I felt like a zombie and so did they. We boarded the flight to Dresden and finally had a flight go off without delay or mishap.

But our day wasn’t over yet! Our practice time, and only chance to skate today was at 10am. Having landed just after 8am, we grabbed our bags, and headed straight to the arena. Because I had lost my bag with all of my skating equipment, minus a clean skin suit, a pair of spare blades, and my boots (which I always carry on the plane to avoid situations like this), I had to borrow a helmet, gloves, glasses and guards from various members of our team. After a quick 1 hour ice session, we finally headed to the hotel for some much needed lunch and rest. A routine travel day that turned into a marathon was finally over!

Weekly Update #24.

I’m at the Sochi airport right now waiting to board our teams flight to Dresden for the next World Cup. We’ve got a long day ahead of us with stops in Mosocw and Frankfurt before we arrive tonight in Dresden. I’ll write a more detailed post today on the plane and post it when I get some internet.

The Sochi airport is a zoo this morning with teams from the short track and cross country ski world cups leaving today after taking part in test events. I thought short trackers had a tough time in the airport! Definitely happy I’m not lugging a ski bag around the world!

The Black Sea.

The Black Sea.

tons of food was consumed, including a lot of sausage.

tons of food was consumed, including a lot of sausage.

We went for a team lunch last wednesday. Sorry for the blurriness...

We went for a team lunch last wednesday. Sorry for the blurriness…

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 #19 Shanghai Re-cap

On deck this week is a re-cap of my races at World Cup #4 in Shanghai.

After an unsatisfying week of racing in Japan, we did a short travel day over to Shanghai. The week of training went pretty smoothly. The rink in Shanghai is great. They do a great job of maintaining the ice. It grips a ton, holds up well and is quite fast. It keeps you honest though as you must be efficient or that speed will evaporate quickly due to how much grip there is. Because of this, it is a very fair ice.

I again skated a 1500m and 1000m. I had the opportunity to do a 500m after my teammate Olivier Jean suffered a concussion in Japan and couldn’t race in Shanghai, but I opted to stick with the same two distances in back to back weekends so that I could continue to work on the racing tactics that I was practicing in Nagoya.

Friday’s qualification day went well for me. Winning all of my races I tried to build some confidence for the weekend and I think I achieved that. The tactics and race strategies that I did employ, or attempted to employ, seemed to go smoothly. The qualification day is always a marathon of 10-12 hours straight at the rink and I was happy to be done and safely on to the rounds on the weekend.

Saturday was the 1500 for me. I had pretty good feelings in my warm-up. It is always my goal to be on the podium in each distance and I felt that on that day, I certainly had the legs to podium. In my semi final, I used a well timed outside move to get through a rough and tumble race and on to the final.

The final was, hmm how can I put it, interesting. Early in the race, I was well placed and thought I would be right were I needed to be when the sprint to the end started. Unfortunately, I gave up my 2nd position too easily to a Russian skater and thats when the mess started. That forced me to start working on the outside for the front. Only problem was that just about everybody wanted that route. In the end, I got tangled up in a collision in the straightaway between another Russian and my teammate Guillaume Bastille. This caused me to go down. You can see the video of this race in the post below.

I was none to happy with this race for a couple of reasons. First of all, I felt a bit like I wasted an excellent opportunity to be on the podium. Secondly, I made several tactical mistakes. Oh well, put it behind you and on to Sunday. Oh ya, we made the relay final at the end of the day as well. Moving up from the week before!

Sunday was 1000m day for me. Final chance at a podium? I think so. A couple of good races and I was on to the final. Once again, for the third or fourth time this year, I was in a final against the formidable trio of Kwak Yoon-Gy, Noh Jinkyu and Victor (Ahn Hyun-Soo) An. Also joining us in the final was Freek Van der Vart of the Netherlands. Again, it would prove to be a frustrating race for me. A slip on a well timed outside pass early in the race put me at the back of the pack. A couple of missed oppourtunities later and I was playing the last ditch card for bronze. Never a good card to have to play. It cost me, I collided with Freek and down we went, a Penalty for me.

So that was that. I guess the positives I can take from World Cup #4 is that my consistently is continuing to improve. I am hitting A finals often, and you have to make A finals to medal. Next step is transforming an A final in a win. Its coming.

After the competition, we were treated to an awesome show by the Organizing committee. We (the world cup skaters, staff etc) attended a circus/acrobatic/mind boggling show. My jaw was on the floor the entire time and my hands were sore from clapping. I also met up with my Chinese fan/friend Kyle on the bus ride back to the hotel. He was at the competition working as a journalist and got to check out the show as well. The organizers in Shanghai do an amazing job at putting on a show. I’m happy that the World Cup is supposed to stop there for the next 8 years!

So if you made it this far, congratulations! That was a long one. Check back in a few days. I have a bunch of photos from Shanghai, including a sort of photo essay on what a day of competition on the world cup looks like to share with you guys, so trust me, less reading is coming!