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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now that Olympic Trials are over, its time for me to recap my crash from a week and a half ago.
As many who read this blog may have heard, I crashed hard in the first A final of the Intact Insurance Short Track Olympic Team Selections. It was a bit of a freak accident. After taking the bell lap in 2nd place, I was rounding the second to last corner when I hit a rut and went down. Had I just fallen by myself, it would have been a routine, although disappointing, crash. Unfortunately though, Charle Cournoyer, who was following a few positions behind me, hit the same rut and went down as well, piling straight into me. My knee went straight into my face and Charle hit the rest of my head as he went into the mats. I’ve posted the video below.
When a skater falls in short track, the first thing you do is a sort of systems check to make sure everything feels like its in one piece. The first thing I noticed was that my face hurt and it felt like my nose was bleeding. As I opened my eyes to check for the blood I expected to be coming from my nose, I was surprised to see an orangish liquid, one that I’ve never seen before, coming out of my nose faster than you want to see. By that time the doctor and medical team had jumped over the boards and were pinning me in place in case of a severe spinal injury. After they checked with me to make sure I was experiencing any tingling in my extremities and that I could move my arms, legs etc, I wanted to get up and off the ice.
Feeling a little woozy once I got off the ice, our team doctors decided that I should really go to the hospital to get a CT scan on my face and skull since I took such a wack to the face and because that orangish fluid can potentially be an indication of skull fracture. This would mean I would have to pull out of the trials for at least the rest of the day. Normally this would be something that would make me mad and I would resist against (pulling out, not precautionary scans), but this time, I didn’t feel like going back on the ice that day. And when I don’t feel like that, I know that theres something serious.
After an awful drive, starting and stopping in rush hour traffic while concussed and nauseous is not fun at all, we got to the hospital. After a relatively quick wait, I received my CT scan and the good news that no fracture was shown. I headed back home with a banging headache and a swollen cheek.
Its my experience with injuries like this during times of competition that getting injured isn’t the hard part. The hard part is waiting to get better while you watch your training partners and friends get ready to continue racing. I wanted to be out there so badly. But each time I tried to run scenarios of when I could get back on the ice and compete, I worked myself up and my headaches got worse. Finally, after being re-evaluated each day and hoping I would magically wake up each morning feeling 100%, we (myself and the team medical staff) made the decision last Thursday that I would pull out from the rest of the Olympic Trials. There was no way I could get on the ice and be ready for the last days of the competition with anything close to my 100% performance level that would be needed to participate, and succeed, in such an elite level competition.
The decision to pull out was both an easy one and a hard one at the same time. Easy because I know that I only have one brain for the rest of my life (although Liam Mcfarlane may argue differently…he’s sure robotics will take over in the not too distant future) and also because I knew that I would potentially be a hazard to not only myself but the other skaters on the ice. And hard because I had worked hard for a long time so that I could perform at my best at the Olympic Trials and prove to myself and others that I was deserving of a spot on the 2014 Canadian Olympic Short Track Team.
So whats next? Well immediately after the crash, my focus turned to getting back to full health. Since Aug 7th, I have seen a very good improvement in my condition. The headaches are subsiding, my neck is feeling slowly better and I feel more myself each day. I’m hoping to get back to some light off ice training sometime this week and maybe back on the ice in a week or so. Of course its all a day to day thing, as I must continue to be symptom free during my return to training. Everyone I have talked to has told me not to push it and come back too early, and I plan on taking that advice, even if its hard to do as I’m chopping at the bit to get back.
On the Olympic qualification side of things, I am lucky to live in a country that leaves space in their selection policy for medical byes. I will have to ask to be selected to the team through this route, based on my performances from last season. Now that the competition is over, Speed Skating Canada will be deliberating this week before an official announcement of the team in the coming days. Having to request a bye is not what I had envisioned, but I am lucky to even still have a chance to potentially qualify.
As always, thanks to my sponsors, SSi Micro, Tait Communications and the Government of the NWT. Thanks as well to everyone who has wished me well over the past few days!
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.
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!
The main stadium under construction.
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
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
Contruction of something Olympics related
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
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.
Inside our rink.
The Iceberg, the arena for Short Track and figure Skating