Tag Archives: Championships

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 #26 – Hungary!

The team and I are now in Debrecen, site of the 2013 World Championships putting the final touches on our form for this weekend’s competition.

Like I mentioned in my last post, we spent a week in Budapest acclimatizing to the jet-lag and getting a last bit of training under our belts. Despite having trained in Budapest this summer, I had completely forgotten how cold the rink was. Maybe it was the fact that when we were there in June it was above 30C almost everyday or my mind had erased bad memories of the cold, but I was shocked. Most of the team struggled a bit with not being able to feel our feet after 30 or so minutes on the ice. We also had to resort to extra layers over our skin suits. I like to consider myself a hardy northerner, but even I had to wear a toque under my helmet a couple times. Pathetic!

I love dried dates and figs. I picked some up at the Budapest market.

I love dried dates and figs. I picked some up at the Budapest market.

Olivier was pumped to buy his weight in sausage

Olivier was pumped to buy his weight in sausage at the market

On Sunday we hoped on a bus with the Hungarian team and travelled the 2.5 hours to Debrecen. We are staying at a very nice hotel only a few minutes from the rink. Its been gorgeous here every day. Today, Val, Gabby and I rented bikes from the hotel and went for a little tour around the hotel. The area around the hotel is a big park/sports complex/water park, and the local university is close to, so that made for a nice short tour to shake our legs out on our afternoon off.

Our hotel in Debrecen.

Our hotel in Debrecen.

Afternoon bike ride

Afternoon bike ride

University in Debrecen. According to Gabby, it has a good medical school.

University in Debrecen. According to Gabby, it has a good medical school.

Some off path riding...

Some off path riding…

...And some off roading

…And some off roading

Tomorrow is the last day of practice of the season. I’m ready to get this competition going!

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.