Tag Archives: Short

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!

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 Report 18 – World Cup 3 Japan Re-cap.

You’ll have to excuse my lateness in getting this blog out. WordPress seems to be a bit of an unfriendly site in China so I’ve had to wait until my arrival back in Canada to get an update on World Cup 3 out.

The cole’s notes on World Cup 3 are:

1000m: Penalty for impeding in the semi final for 8th place

1500m: 5th place in the A final.

Relay: We won the B final for 5th place after a disappointing semi final showing.

Longer Version

After a long travel day to Nagoya, we settled into our hotel in Japan. Liam and I drew the short stick and ended up with what was probably the smallest room in the hotel. After some quick remodeling, we got settled in without having to sleep on top of our suitcases. Not bad to get a little lesson in space management. It seems to be one of the best skills of the Japanese. There is no wasted space anywhere in the layout of the city. Every inch of building space is put to its maximum use.

Practice during the week leading into the competition was a little bit weird. Normally, the first couple of days on ice, I feel a little bit out of sorts and only get back to feeling like myself on ice after a couple of ice sessions. This time though, my first couple days after arrival were probably my most comfortable on the ice. As the week wore on, I actually became less comfortable. I don’t really have an answer as to why. We did have the last practice session of the day on both the Wednesday and Thursday though, which essentially equated to skating at 5am at home, which may have had something to do with it.

Either way, everybody skates on the same ice during the competition and my Friday qualification rounds went off fairly uneventfully. I had set a goal for myself of trying a few different strategies out and it seemed to work fairly well. Often, it’s a bit nerve racking to move away from racing strategies that you are comfortable with, but it is important to be confident and comfortable in any scenario since short track is such an unpredictable sport.

Saturday’s World Cup rounds in the final brought a bit of disappointment though. Coming up against Noh Jinkyu and Kwak Yoon-Gy, I knew I would have to sharp. I have beaten both of the them at different times this season, but this time, I ended up getting a bit aggressive trying to pass up on Kwak with one lap to go and was penalized, ending my day. I did finish up with our relay semi, in which we had one of our worst outings in a while exchange wise and were eliminated. Overall, pretty bad day.

Sunday I had to redeem myself. I qualified for the final of the 1500m with a last lap double inside pass after putting myself into some trouble earlier on in the race. Although you never want to be passing up right at the end, it was a good move for me and I was happy to be in the final. The final didn’t go as planned though and I got caught dumping speed on a botched inside pass and had to settle for 5th. My goal in each distance I skate is to be on the podium and I didn’t achieve this. Nevertheless, I still felt that my level of skating was at a good level as I left the rink on Sunday.

As always, being in Japan was a pleasure. It never ceases to amaze me how a country that is as densly populated as Japan can be so clean, neat and civilized. I suppose this is one of the reasons that Japan works so well as a society, but it truly is amazing. The people are unbelievably polite, welcoming and helpful to us visitors who can’t speak more than two words of Japanese. Hopefully I can go back soon!

Here are a couple pics from Nagoya. I only took my camera with me on a little run /visit to the Toyota Commemorative Museum of History and Technology. It was a cool museum to visit. They had full size working models of automated assembly lines as well a history of the Toyota company. I’ll bet you didn’t know they started out as designing and making textile machines before they did cars!

Working assembly line

Working assembly line

The shell of the first Toyota automobile

The shell of the first Toyota automobile

One of the Toyota designed textile machines

One of the Toyota designed textile machines

Trumpet playing robot welcomes me to the museum

Trumpet playing robot welcomes me to the museum

My mustache and I on its last day

My mustache and I on its last day

Weekly Update #16

This week’s blog is brought to you by…

Laps: We did more laps this week than the week before. 700 something to be sort of exact. And we did it in less practices.

Replacement Rinks: We were treated to a little involuntary field trip for our Thursday and Friday ice sessions due to a figure skating competition at Maurice Richard Arena

Frozen toes and fingers: Due to spending time in said replacement rinks, which was very, very cold. But who am I to complain. I got to skate!

Movember: My Movember moustache growing season continues. So far, I’m pretty pumped on this one. Just a bit over half-way and its pretty full. If you’d like to make a donation to support Prostate Cancer  research, check out my mospace page at: http://ca.movember.com/mospace/5075573. Thanks to Jess, my Mum and our Nutritionist Catherine Naulleau for their donations!

Winter sport season: As a fan of fringe (to the majority of the world) sports, I’m pretty pumped that cross country skiing, biathlon, long track, alpine skiing and most other winter sports are getting their seasons under way. Streaming Sundays are back!

Next weeks blog will be from Nagoya, Japan. We’re hitting the road next weekend for World Cup’s 3 and 4.

 

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!

Weekly Update #13 World Cups in Canada!

We travelled last night to Calgary for the second time already this season. Reason? World Cup #1. Its been nearly 10 years since Calgary has hosted a World Cup, and I’ve been looking forward to this competition a lot ever since word came out that Calgary would be hosting. I doubt I’ll ever have the experience of having a world cup at my home rink in Yellowknife, so this is about as close as it gets for me, and its pretty exciting.

The last few weeks of training have been all about refining and tweaking our training slightly in preparation for this set of competitions (there is also a World Cup in Montreal in two weeks). Overall, the past few weeks have gone really well, and I’m feeling good about my fitness for the start of another World Cup season.

This morning I headed down to breakfast and ended up sitting with the dutch team since I was the first from our team to arrive. Its been 8 months since I was last on the world cup, and this was one thing I missed the most. As we travel to each world cup, we tend to see the same people over and over. Its a bit of a traveling circus, and everybody gets to know each other. Its a fun vibe and one of the best parts of competing on the World Cup circuit.

If you are in Calgary, or Montreal, come out and watch. There is no hockey this year, so why not check out something new and exciting!

In Calgary, you can get your tickets at: http://oval.ucalgary.ca/stwc

For Montreal, check out: http://www.coupedumonde2012.ca/

Hope to see you there, bring your flags, noisemakers and wear red!

Weekly Update #12 – Now with bonus weeks!!

Alright here we go. Whats new? Well, first off, World Cup trials week came and went. The first trials of the year always bring out some nerves in everyone. After not racing for the summer, everyone is anxious to test out their form and see if the changes they have made over the summer are starting to pay off.

For me, the trials marked my return to racing since breaking my shoulder in January. Even though I hadn’t raced for the better part of 8 months, the longest period I’ve gone without racing since 2004, I was surprisingly relaxed going into the weekend. Maybe it was that I knew that I had put in a good summer of training, or that I just felt at ease in my old home rink and favourite speed skating facility in the world, the Olympic Oval, or maybe it was the awesome lead up to the weekend I had thanks to my sister letting me use her kitchen to cook exactly what I wanted (she cooked for me a couple times too – Huge thanks goes out to here for being my #1 support crew that week). Im going to go with a combo of all of those things.

By the end of the weekend, I had racked up some up and down results. We did each of the 1500m, 500m and 1000m twice. My 1500m was consistent, I finished 3rd and 2nd, which were good results for me. My 500 and 1000 were also consistent, but not were I wanted to be. I finished 11th in both the first time around and 6th in both the second time around. Obviously I’m looking for more in those two distances.

Normally I’d be mad with those results in the 1000 and 500. But I honestly felt like I raced well. I know that I am capable of great results in both of those distances, its just a matter of being patient. I am definitely on the right track.

The good news was that after all that, my overall result was good enough to qualify me for the World Cup team for the first 4 World cups this season. I finished 4th overall. Our team for the men will consist of Charles Hamelin, Olivier Jean, Francois Hamelin, myself, Liam Mcfarlane and one more person to be named by the High Performance Committee as a discretionary choice.

Photo credit – Tracy Hillis

Photo credit – Tracy Hillis

Following trials, I had planned to take a couple of days off and head out to the mountains for a couple days of camping and hiking in the backcountry with my good buddy Reid. We were super lucky to have perfect, perfect september weather for the three days. I absolutely love spending time in the mountains and of course, living in Montreal, I get out way less often than I wish I could, so it was great to get out and enjoy some time away from skating.

Life is tough – Hanging out on an unnamed peak after scrambling up

Smooooke on the waaater. Literally. This is smoke from our campfire.

Ladies, this man is single

Before I wrap it up, I should mention that my blog is now featured on sportcafe.ca alongside the blogs of many other awesome Canadian amateur athletes. Check SportCafe out, they are the leading resource for news and updates from your Canadian Olympic athletes!