Tag Archives: Canada

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 #31

These days are pretty boring (well I’ve had some exciting news, but check back on Thursday for that!). Like most injuries, the best way to heal is to rest. The only problem is that its easy to rest something like, say, a sore knee or ankle. You simply stay off of it. A brain though, isn’t so easy.

I’ve been trying lots of methods, but its not easy to keep brain stimulus to a minimum. Its not easy on the brain to watch hours of TV, read a book or surf the internet for hours on end. Even just sitting or lying there doesn’t work that well since all I can think about it whether I’m getting better. Or wondering if that little twitch I felt might be a headache and then overanalyzing until I have a headache from nothing other than worrying. Its frustrating.

So what do my days look like these days? Well, I’ve been going into the rink in the mornings while the guys are on ice. This give me some connection to the skating world and lets me watch and try to keep some technical cues sharp in my mind. While I’m there I can do a small activation routine that I’ve been instructed to do by our medical team. Then I normally get some physio done on my neck. Basically thats it for the day. The rest of the time I try to rest my brain as much as possible.

One thing that I’ve found to be effective in calming my mind and allowing rest has been long walks. I’ve been exploring my neighbourhood quite a bit. Hochelaga has some cool things going on. Back alleys are a great way to find out what a neighbourhood is like.

I also do some work with a electrical stim machine to try and reduce the effects of atrophy on my legs. This will hopefully lessen the amount of time it will take me to build back up to full strength once I’m back on ice.

Sorry for the bad quality. I'm putting the nodes on to stim my calves.

Sorry for the bad quality. I’m putting the nodes on to stim my calves.

Video

Weekly Update #30 – Injury Update

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!

 

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 #27 – World Championships

The end of another season. I can’t believe how fast this season seemed to go. World Championships are now done, and I’m back in Canada.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the way things went in my first individual World Championships. It seemed to take me a while to get the goal of skating individually at Worlds checked off my list, especially so since I was slated to compete last year but had to miss out due to my broken shoulder. But its checked off now, and I can hopefully move onto bigger things!

Instead of rehashing the details of how my races went (well I’ll write this: 5th in 1500m, PEN in 500m quarter finals, 5th in 1000m, 1st in relay) I’ll share some highlights and lowlights of the competition with you, the faithful few readers. If you really want to see how my races went, I suggest watching some video. Full coverage can be found online at CBC’s website or on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/user/lgs1083?feature=g-high-rec.

I’ll start with the lowlights, since no one likes ending on a low.

1. All three Canadian men (Charles Hamelin, Olivier Jean and myself) getting penalised  (Dqed) in our quarter finals. Canada has traditionally been strongest in the 500m and after a strong start on Friday in the 1500 with 2 men in the final (myself included), I think we all thought some big results were possible in the 500m. Not to be, and everyone was bummed out about that one. I think I read somewhere that this was the first time that no Canadian man has podiumed in the 500 at World Champs since 2002.

2. Meng Wang’s blatant contact to knock Park Seung-Hi down in the 3000m super final, which ended Park’s chances of catching Meng in the overall standings. Despicable in my opinion. Sure our sport is unpredictable, but predictably taking someone out in order to win does not fall in the category of unpredictable. Win fair and square or accept that someone else was better than you on the day.

3. My pre-competition preparation. This isn’t really a massive low light, but I definitely felt that I fought myself mentally in the month between the World Cup in Dresden and the start of the World Champs. As a result, I didn’t come in with as much confidence as I would have liked. That said, I still managed to have decent performances, so maybe how I managed the fact that I wasn’t feeling 100% prior to a competition so that I could get good results can be considered a highlight. Hmm, I’ll take that as a sign to switch to highlights now.

Highlights

1. Winning the relay. We didn’t do well this year on the World Cup. We wanted to be better at World Champs and defend our title from last year. We did.

2. Our team staff. I really can’t say enough about our team staff. They work hard and tirelessly to make it easy for us and they have fun while the do it. Thanks to Yves, Suzanne, Vero, Fabian, Alex, Laurent, Francois, Phil and the coaches Derrick and Fred. For this trip, a special mention goes out to Fabian our sports psych for helping me keep my head on straight, and Vero, our physio for keeping the body in one piece at the end of the season.

3. Another highlight was the Hungarian hospitality in Debrecen. The competition itself was very well organized. There was a boardless mat system which no doubt saved me from injury after I fell with a Dutch skater in the 500m. The hotel and food were great, in a great location and close to the rink. I hope they can host more competitions there in the future.

And now…Pictures!

Relay Gold! Photo Credit - Istvan Lehotzky

Relay Gold! Photo Credit – Istvan Lehotzky

Thats a good looking team there! (minus the possessed eyes we all seem to have)

Thats a good looking team there! (minus the possessed eyes we all seem to have)

Notice something wrong with how I'm skating here? Just after the Korean skater on the right bumped me, resulting in their DQ. Photo credit - Istvan Lehotzky

Notice something wrong with how I’m skating here? Just after the Korean skater on the right bumped me, resulting in their DQ. Photo credit – Istvan Lehotzky

Painfaces. 1000m Quarter final behind 2013 World Champ Sin Da-Woon. Photo Credit - Istvan Lehotzky

Painfaces. 1000m Quarter final behind 2013 World Champ Sin Da-Woon. Photo Credit – Istvan Lehotzky

Photo Credit - Istvan Lehotzky

Photo Credit – Istvan Lehotzky

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 #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!

Weekly Update #15 Volume and Remembrance Day

This past week was a big one for us. With only a few weeks between the end of World Cup 2 and our departure for Asia and the next World Cups, we need to take full advantage of our time at home to put in some big training. And we have. Laps on laps on laps was the theme of the week.

Personally, I always like these types of weeks. It gives lots of time to work on technique while the pace isn’t too quick. I also get to experience one of my favourite feelings in sport. I’m talking about that moment when your lungs are burning and your legs are screaming but somehow you fall into a rhythm and it seems like you could keep going forever. Which you can’t, obviously, but you just keep ticking off the laps and making the coach’s lap times until the set is over. Its an amazing feeling, and an addictive one.

At the end of the week, following one of those days that I was talking about above, we (the national team) had the fortune of participating in a great event with some future Canadian short track speed skating stars thanks to Samsung Canada and their Hope for Children program. Samsung ran a contest that gave winners the oppourtunity to come out and skate with us for the day. All of the kids were super excited and ready to learn and meet us, and we were pumped to hang out with them and pass on some pointers.

Group shot at the end of a great event!

It was a lot of fun and I even got to get on the microphone and announced a relay race between some skaters, media and special guests. I think I did alright, but only thanks to years of listening to Dany Lemay, short track announcer extraordinaire!

 

I ended the week by attending Montreal’s Remembrance Day service. I have always considered it very important to attend a Remembrance Day ceremony, or at least observe a moment of silence in honour of all those who have put their lives on the line for what we all value so much and so often take for granted. The majority of the years, it seems I have been on the ice for 11am and we have had to observe our moment of silence on the ice. But this year, with the 11th falling on a sunday, our day off, I was able to make it down to the service.

While it is obviously very important to continue to remember our veterans, especially as we continue to lose veterans of wars past to father time each and every year, I had a new realization this year. While I have attended Remembrance Day ceremonies in both Yellowknife and Calgary, I have never attended one with a real, live, 21 gun salute. The spot we were standing at was maybe 50m away from the artillery pieces that were performing the salute and it gave me a new perspective on war that I had not, and hope not, to experience. The shear noise, violence and concussion of a shell being fired was something to experience. The whole crowd jumped each time, kids were crying and many were seen covering their ears. And this was only from a blank shell being fired. No explosion of the shell, no damage, no fire, no death. I can only imagine what an hours long barrage feels like going off and the damage and fear it rains down on those on the receiving end. It was a true eye opener for me, and not having to experience this in my life is just one more reason on top of many to be thankful for those that have served our country.

 

Weekly Update #14 World Cup Recap

The first block of World Cups is now done. Sunday, we finished up two weekends of World Cup action in Canada, and it was a great two weekends for several reasons.

First of all it was great because I had some good early season results. The first weekend in Calgary I had a 2nd place in the 1000m to go with m DQ in the 1500m (oops!). Being on the podium in the first weekend of racing was a good feeling, especially since it was my first international race since December of 2011 due to my fractured shoulder. I was quite satisfied with the final especially, as I was among some pretty heavy company. All three of the other skaters in my race had been World Champion at one point. In fact, those three guys have 8 World Championships between them.

From a team perspective, our relay team, me included, went out and beat the World Record on the first day of competition. We always target the relay and it was awesome to get the record back from the Koreans. Unfortunately I fell in the final, which put a bit of a dampen on our spirits, but we were happy to have taken the record and are looking forward to receiving our Brothers of the Wind World Record rings!

I also had good individual results this past weekend here in Montreal. I managed to make the A final for both distances that I skated, which I believe is a first for me. I ended up coming away with a 2nd in the 500 and a 5th in the 1500. I think the highlight of those two races was the fact that the hard work and time I have been investing in my starts from day one of this season is paying off. It was special to be on the podium with my good friend and long time teammate Liam Mcfarlane. We’ve been training together since 2005 and have been through a lot in skating together.

So far this season I have been in an A final in every distance. Consistency is one thing that the best skaters in the world have and I hope that I can keep that consistency across all distances going.

The second thing that made these two weekends great was racing at home. And by home I mean where I always train or have trained (as is the case for Calgary). Don’t worry, Yellowknife and the Northwest Territories will always be my home! I was literally floating the entire week we were in Calgary. I love going back there. Its so much fun to walk the Oval and say hi to literally every second person. Seeing so many athletes from different places and sports all in the same place, all pushing their limits and striving to be the best is what makes the Oval a special place to train.

It also felt like home because I had so many people that came out to cheer me on. I don’t think I’ve ever had my own cheering section, but on the sunday I did. Thanks to my parents and sister, Keith, Sarah, Thompy, Brendan and Rosanna, Linda and Blair, Jim and Jo-ann, Dan and Tara, Shane, Karin and Hannah, Laini and Emily, Ben, Fran and anyone I’m forgetting for coming out. I’m sorry I couldn’t make it up to the stands to say hi to all of you!

Montreal was almost the same too. Our Canadian team took advantage of tough ice conditions that we know so well to achieve 12 podium performances, which is a record haul for us! Again, we had great crowd support, me included. My Dad made the trip out and I had Jess, Michele and Kirstin in my corner all week! It was pretty interesting waking up in your own bed and heading to the same rink I go to everyday, only to find out that a World Cup was taking place.

This post is getting a little long, but I can’t finish without a shout out to the Olympic Oval ice makers. Those guys are absolute masters of their art. The ice in Calgary was unbelievably fast this weekend and they have the World records to prove it. Its the fastest ice in the world and the Short Track record books were rewritten. Thanks guys, you’re doing a great job!

Thanks to Oakley Canada for the new glasses and to our team sponsor Auclair for the new gloves!

We recently installed new contrast bathes at our training center. Our team sponsor Intact decided to give us new bath robes to celebrate. Thank Intact, #1 sponsor of speedskating in Canada

I’ve posted a few of my race videos from the past two weeks in the video tab above, so take a week if you’d like!