Even Olympic Athletes Have Emotional Highs and Lows
Where to start? I’ll be honest, I’ve had an extremely difficult time getting words on paper for this blog. The last couple months have been an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least.
Let’s Start with the Highs
Being nominated to compete for Canada at the Olympics in Korea, spending time in the leader box on the second run of my Slalom race, and watching The Arkells perform at Canada House while celebrating the completion of the Games with my Canadian teammates, are just a few of the highs.
Now for the Lows
It’s not uncommon for athletes to feel low after experiencing the incredible high of being part of an Olympic Games. I felt this along with a sense of underperforming and not meeting the goals I set for myself.
This emotional roller coaster hit breakneck speed shortly after the Olympics when an unfortunate injury upon my return to Canada sidelined me for the rest of the season.
During the Nik Zoricic Foundation’s Ski4 Nik Day, I had an awkward and very slow motion crash that twisted my knee. I immediately knew something was wrong and my season had likely come to an early end. Life changes pretty fast in these situations. Instead of boarding a flight to Calgary for the final races of the season, I was making daily doctor visits. Ten days later I was in surgery to repair a torn MCL and Lateral Meniscus. And so my rehab began.
The Mental Battle
Anyone who has ever been through an injury knows the mental battle is equally or more difficult than the physical struggle. Not to mention the time commitment required for the initial phase of post-op recovery. Hence my difficulty finding the time and mental space to feel confident enough to share these words.
It wouldn’t be fair for me to say there haven’t been some dark days throughout this process but I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by incredible family, friends and therapists to help me stay positive on the difficult days.
I’d be lying to say I accomplished my goals and skied to my expectations at the Games. I didn’t and that’s the reality for 90% of Olympians who finish outside the medals.
That being said, the placing you see on paper isn’t always reflective of an athlete’s performance or how he/she feels about it. To describe it in the most Canadian way, I’d compare my performance to a hockey player who worked hard, played the way his coach asked, but didn’t score any goals or assists. The media and general fans won’t often take notice of this athlete because he didn’t show up on the score sheet. Yet the athlete is still very proud of his performance because he did what he set out to do and with a couple small breaks he may have been the superstar for that game!
As for the future, my number one priority is getting back to full health and I will continue to chase my dreams on the World Cup Circuit next season!
I am absolutely thrilled with the online participation! $2300 was raised for the Foundation this season… amounting to 150m of safety netting for skiers across the country!!
The Nik Zoricic Foundation and their initiatives will always will be a foundation I choose to support. By providing safety equipment that is up to standards they are eliminating some of the risk associated with ski racing – allowing athletes to feel comfortable in training and competition environments.
As we prepare ourselves for all the adventures and experiences 2018 will offer, many of us will reflect on the past year…looking back at our successes and failures; the good, the bad, and even the ugly
All these experiences are equally important and part of this thing we call “life”. I strongly believe we cannot be fully satisfied with our accomplishments without having to endure and overcome disappointment or failure. The ups AND the downs are vital life lessons that enable us to feel completely fulfilled.
With a new year comes new goals
I’ve never been big on setting specific New Year’s resolutions, but as an athlete I am constantly setting and adjusting my goals. Goal setting is a skill that is engrained in athletes from a young age. That said, throughout my career I’ve had difficulty articulating my goals clearly, attainably, and realistically. This is a skill I am constantly honing because in the right context, goal setting can be a very effective tool.
It’s not just about Outcome Goals
Often when people think about their goals, the tendency is to jump straight to the long term “Outcome Goals”. It is extremely easy to become overwhelmed and impatient if you strictly set results-based goals.
Example: winning a specific competition, getting a promotion or trying to lose weight.
Consider Performance Goals
I prefer to immerse myself in another, more difficult layer of goal setting – “Performance Goals”.
What are the specific actions you need to take to optimize your chances of achieving your goals?
For example, if you want to lose weight, you’ll need to go to the gym “x” number of times in the week and you’ll have to stock your fridge with healthy food options.
Spend time on the most challenging layer of goal setting – “Process” Goals
“Process Goals” are very detailed and precise short-term goals that enhance your ability to reach the performance goals set. Personally, I find many process goals to be a specific mindset and not necessarily a physical action.
Using the example of trying to lose weight, your process goals may include:
committing to a routine, meal prepping, finding enjoyment in the workout grind, surrounding yourself with the right people, and finding confidence in yourself throughout this process.
Combining “Process” and “Performance” Goals will allow you to achieve your desired “Outcome” Goals.
Everyone has their own unique goals
The most important thing in this exercise is to set clear goals that ultimately serve as a reminder to keep you driven towards achieving success.
In recent months, I have used this model/visual specifically leading into a race. It has allowed me to recognize and acknowledge the result I want to achieve without going into competition with a results-oriented mindset. Rather, I can break it down into performance and process oriented goals, which allow me to stay better focused on the behaviors that make a difference and really matter.
Goal setting is unique to everyone. There isn’t a right or a wrong way to do it, but I guarantee that when your goals are written down on paper, you’ll be less stressed and more realistic with your expectations for the coming year and beyond.
I hope everyone reading this can now set their sights on making 2018 a productive and successful year – with clear, attainable and realistic goals. Happy New Year!
Before I get started, I’d like to take some time to introduce myself and share what I am hoping to accomplish through this monthly blog series with CSI STARS
I am a professional athlete—an alpine ski racer, to be more specific. Born and raised in Toronto, skiing began for me as a family activity. At a young age, my parents would drive my two sisters and I a couple hours north of the city every weekend during the winter to ski at the Craigleith Ski Club. Together, we grew a passion for the sport, eventually leading to many missed days at school because of travel for training and competitions throughout the winter.
When I was about 14 years old, I started to show real talent and potential as a racer and we decided to focus as much energy as we could on the sport. I moved up through the ranks and eventually at 18 years old, I qualified for the Canadian ski team and have been a member of the team for the last seven years. At 21, I raced my first World Cup and have been travelling year-round as a full-time athlete since—competing in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games and three World Championships.
This year I’ve partnered with CSI STARS in hopes that through our relationship, I can provide insight into what it’s like being an Olympic athlete and how I can relate my experiences to the business world and everyday life.
Regardless of the profession, we can always work to learn and improve based on the experience and knowledge of others—even in unrelated fields. Business and sport may seem very different, but the daily struggles of a professional athlete can be very similar to that of a working professional. With the right application of skills, your potential for success can increase exponentially.
In this installment, I want to share with you something I have personally been experimenting with and working hard to develop in recent months — Preparation.
Several months ago, I started working with a new sports psychologist. One of the first things he asked me was, “On days you leave the house and feel mentally and physically prepared for training or competition, what is your routine from the moment you wake up?” Since then, I’ve learned that there is no right or wrong answer to this question; each individual has their own way of easing tensions before starting their workday. I started to explore this question by making a list of all the things I enjoy doing from the time my alarm goes off until I leave the door. Here’s what I found…
I am a sports fan, so regardless of where I am in the world I like to sit with my cup of coffee and check out the scores and news from the previous night in pro sports.
I am active on social media, so I scan my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds while having breakfast to catch up with friends and family around the world, or read the news.
Typically, I am preparing for a day of physical activity and for my body to be prepared, I need a minimum of 10 minutes of light stretching to be sure I am feeling limber. During this time, I often put my headphones in and listen to songs that motivate me or generally put me in a happy mood. Some days I choose songs that really amp me up while other days I like to relax to something more low-key.
Finally, I need to be mentally prepared. This is a step that is new to me and has been, hands down, the most influential step to my daily success in recent months. I sit for 10 minutes and meditate, using an app on my phone called “Headspace” (I’ll expand on this below). After I’ve completed this entire routine, I feel prepared and ready to tackle anything on my plate that day.
I challenge you to ask yourself these simple questions:
How can I be best prepared for a productive workday?
What steps can be taken to improve my morning routine?
Timing is everything in this process
I used to think I only needed 45 minutes to wake up and get out the door. Being an athlete, sleep quality/time is extremely important, but I often found myself feeling rushed. In experimenting with my routine, I’ve figured out that I need a minimum of 90 minutes to feel completely engaged mentally and physically to proceed with my day. Believe me, this isn’t always easy. There are days where I need to be out of the house before 6am to hit the slopes, which means waking up at 430am. But in the big picture, what is going to affect your day more—losing 45 minutes of sleep or being mentally prepared to be your best self that day? The way I see it, sleep can wait—success can’t.
Earlier, I mentioned my practice of meditation. I know, I know, this may start to sound very hokey pokey! Trust me, I felt the same when my sports psychologist recommended (more like forced) I try it. But, the results speak for themselves!
Over the last three months I’ve challenged myself to be consistent with this practice. It wasn’t easy at first, but now I can say that it’s probably the single most important step in my routine to be fully prepared for my training and competitions. Being mindful and aware of my thoughts and how my body feels has allowed me to free up the ongoing clutter of worries and doubts that we have all experienced at some point in our lives. There are mental tools and techniques, such as visualization, focus or noting, that I utilize regularly throughout my day.
I have never felt more comfortable standing in the start gate with all the pressure on me to perform and execute my game plan on demand. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but I strongly recommend downloading the “Headspace” app and working it into your routine with an open mind. I truly believe that everyone can benefit from being a little bit more mindful regardless of what they’re doing with their day.
What is YOUR routine?
I encourage you to take the same challenge I did and experiment with it. Find a routine that works for you and stick with it — consistency is key and I promise that you will feel better and your work performance/output will increase!
I wanted to take this opportunity to update everyone about what I have been up to recently and what lays ahead for me in the future…
This past ski season, I was competing in pain and discomfort for the majority of the year. The pain was not bad enough to stop me from skiing, however, it altered my ability to perform the way I wanted. Injuries are a part of the sport and competing in some pain is often normal for many athletes. I made the decision to grind out the season as best as I could and then make arrangements to see the doctor as soon as I wrapped up the year.
Our medical staff had an idea what the problem was, concerning my hip and low back; however, could not confirm until I saw a specialist and had images taken. After undergoing X-rays, an MRI and a CT Scan, it was clear that there is an issue that requires attention.
I have, what is called, a Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI) in my right hip. The injury is chronic and has likely progressed over time due to added stress on the hip from both skiing, and other sports throughout my life. In basic terms, the bones in my hip joint have overgrown, resulting in a pinch in the joint. Due to the shape of the bones, I have difficulty rotating my leg internally and an overall lack of hip mobility. This impingement has also triggered a small tear in my labrum (the cartilage in the hip joint). The combination of these injuries lead to the discomfort I experienced all season and is likely what led to the issues with my lower back.
Over the past month, I have seen several doctors to figure out the best option for me. The general consensus was clear: if I do not take care of the issue now, I risk further damage. In being proactive, a surgery date was booked for May 25th to perform a hip arthroscopy. The surgery will take place in Toronto, which will allow me to be at home during the beginning phases of rehab. Over the last few weeks, I have been in Toronto training extremely hard to prepare my body to be as fit as possible going into surgery.
Tomorrow morning a new challenge begins for me. I wont know exactly how long it will be until I can ski again, but I guarantee that I will work my butt off to be back as soon as possible. I am confident that I have the best support team surrounding me in order to accomplish this. Surgery is a minor speed bump in my road to success and I cannot wait to overcome this challenge and come back motivated to succeed.
I wanted to write this post so that there are no surprises to my friends, fans and sponsors. Tomorrow is Day 1 of a new chapter in my career. I will keep you updated as I progress through my recovery.
The Olympic Games are the pinnacle of sport. The opportunity to represent your home country at the Games is something that all athletes dream about. It is an event where you compete not only for individual success, but for the success of an entire nation. Athletes will push their limits, make themselves vulnerable, and put it all on the line for the chance to do something special for their Country.
About two weeks prior to the Games, the final selections for the Olympic Alpine Ski Team were being determined. Leading up to that point, I knew that I had not met the hard line criteria that our team had outlined. This being my first full year on the World Cup circuit, I was continuing to improve every time I stepped in the start gate, but I had unfortunately failed to put all the pieces of the puzzle together to come up with any significant results. Fortunately, an extra spot opened up for the Olympic Team, and in the final hours leading up to when the team was officially named I was informed that I would be going to Russia to compete for Canada! It came as a bit of a surprise, but I couldn’t have been more proud! I couldn’t wait until the meeting was over to inform my family of the news I had received. I secretly pulled out my phone from my pocket and texted my dad, simply saying: “I’m going”. A few hours later from my hotel room in Austria I had a conference call with both my parents and my two sisters, who were all overjoyed with the news! It was a moment that I will never forget.
Dad took a pic of his phone haha!
Trev and I driving to the airport, on our way to Sochi
We travelled to Russia a couple of weeks later, four days before my first competition. Things didn’t go quite as smooth as I had imagined when I first arrived. Our chartered plane was packed full of Olympians from Zurich to Sochi. We departed the plane and I could feel the excitement level rising, we were here! But my excitement quickly came to a halt when I was stopped at customs. Apparently, North America is the only place in the World where our birthdate is written “mm/dd/yyyy” as opposed to “dd/mm/yyyy.” The customs officer noticed this when he saw my accreditation/visa into the country and immediately stopped me. I tried to stay calm, but I instantly thought to myself – “well maybe I won’t be an Olympian after all!” I was quickly informed that it was not a huge problem, but I would have to fill out some paperwork in order for them to print me a new Visa to enter the country, which they said would take 20-30 minutes. So as everyone was collecting bags and loading the busses, I sat and waited behind customs. Well, 20-30 minutes turned into 3 hours! But, I finally did get my Visa and was granted access into Russia! Turns out, the man who approves the Visas was out for dinner so it took a little longer haha!
Olympic Flame in the Coastal Village
Exploring Rosa Khutor on the first day in Russia
The drive from the coastal village to the mountains is about an hour long. I made it to my room in the Canadian residence just after midnight; I didn’t fall asleep until 2 or 3 in the morning because I was like a kid on Christmas morning. Unpacking and trying on all of my new Hudson Bay Company team Canada clothing! My roomie, Jan Hudec, had already been there for about a week and gave me the in’s and out’s of the Olympic village and how everything worked. Jan is a seasoned veteran and it was great to share a room with him at my first Olympics. He is an excellent leader on our team, is always there to help and is a role model for the younger athletes. Jan ended up winning bronze two days later!!! It was pretty cool to be at the race watching my teammate, and roommate, step onto the podium to earn Canada’s first Olympic Alpine Skiing medal in 20 years! Congrats Jan!
View from the gondola overlooking the Athletes Village
My room with Jan (aka.Panda) – Welcome to University?
The COC provided us with amazing amenities – Including this sweet gym in our building!
Pre race activation lift
Wellness centre provided by COC
MP and I watching Jan win the Bronze medal
Alpine Venue Finish Arena
Panda is tired after his performance!
The days leading up to my competition were spent on the hill training in the mornings as well as getting accustomed to the Olympic lifestyle. Everything is a bit different at the Games, especially in Russia. Security is really tight, so getting from point A to point B is a bit of process, but eventually it just became routine and everything was really smooth. For example, everyone at the games has an accreditation that needs to be worn at all times that is scanned by security whenever you leave and enter a new area. They always know where you are, which is kind of creepy! On the shuttle to the ski hill, they would put stickers on anything that can be opened (doors, windows etc.). Upon arrival if any of the seals had been broken, a full search of the vehicle and the people on it would ensue. At first this all seemed like a bit of a nuisance, but at the same time it was comforting to have this level of security.
Trev and I exploring the ski area in the early morning before training
Our Crew watching the womens slalom
I should probably talk about my competitions. After all that is what the Games are all about! I was feeling really confident going into the GS, my stronger event. My excitement level grew tremendously in the days leading up to the race and on the morning of the race I felt ready! The entire day was an amazing experience and I was so proud to stand in the start gate and wear the bib with the Olympic rings on it! Surprisingly I did not feel overly nervous. I was competing at the Olympics for Canada, no higher level of competition exists, so why should I be nervous? There was nothing to lose, only to gain! On the first run I skied solid and was 95% happy with my execution. Unfortunately, I made a silly mistake over a roll leading into a blind gate and was forced to make a recovery just to stay in the course. I managed to make it to the finish line, but the mistake was too costly and I missed being in the top 30. I was still able to start my second run and I skied well again, coming in 24th on the run and moving up to 29th overall. I definitely had mixed emotions from the race, but regardless it was still an amazing experience. My Mom and Dad were in the crowd and when I crossed the finish line it was amazing to look into the stands and see them cheering and waving the Canadian Flag for me! It was a very special moment to share with my family because they have worked just as hard as I have in order for me to be competing at this level!
Looking out of the start house
View from the start of the GS race
Trevor and I getting ready to go!
Mom, Dad and I after the race 🙂
The slalom was a few days later, on the 2nd last day of the games. Once again, I skied quite well on my first run despite a few little mistakes. Although, it was probably my best run in a slalom race in World Cup so far. Still, it was not quite enough to make the top 30. I was extremely disappointed. Finishing 34th place after the first run and just 0.4 from making the flip. I can think of so many places in that 1st run where I can make up that time, but that’s just the way it goes. In the second run the conditions and the course were tough (to say the least) and a lot of the field failed to make it to the finish. I scrambled to make it down and finished in 20th position but I was very far behind the leaders because of all my “coffee breaks” on the way down!
Race day training
Looking out of the start of the Slalom
Inspecting the Slalom course
Pumped up and ready to go!
Brad looking absolutely adorable with his Olympic Helmet
Regardless of how I performed in both of my events. I felt extremely fortunate just to be competing at the Games. I was 1 of 4 Canadian athletes who had the opportunity to stand in the start gate of the technical events. That alone, is a valuable experience that many athletes do not get the chance to feel. This season for me has been about learning, and putting every experience into my back pocket, for use in achieving my future goals. It is just a matter of time before I am ready to break into the top group on the World Cup Circuit….I am confident of that!
We had to take pics with the Rings!
Canadian Ski team with the Rings
The evening of the slalom race I received an email that made me smile! The COC had provided myself along with the other slalom boys a ticket to the Gold Medal hockey game…Canada vs. Sweden! The following day we packed up all our stuff and headed down to the coastal village. I was able to meet my parents at the Canada house to have a few celebratory drinks before we headed to the stadium to witness the Canadians win the Gold! I couldn’t have asked for a better day.
Dad, myself and Sam on our way to the game!
Crowds piling into the Gold Medal Game – Go Canada
Slalom team + Morgan watching the Canadians kick some butt
Oh Canada – hearing the anthem gave me the chills
From there the entire Canadian Olympic team gathered for the march into the Closing Ceremonies. It was a special moment to share with all of my fellow athletes competing at the games. Walking into the stadium, wearing Red and White and waving the Canadian flag! I made many new friends in the last week and we all have one thing in common….we are all Olympians at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games!
Skube and I with the Canadian Moose before Closings
Canadians gathering before we march into Closings
Sea of Red!
The Russians put on quite the show
After the Ceremonies the COC hosted a pizza and beer party at the Canadian residence. They put together a video montage of the past 2 weeks for everyone to watch. It was very emotional and inspiring to see all the success stories and medals that Canada was taking home. At 2am, we had to get on the bus and make our way to the airport to fly back to Europe. The 2014 Olympics were finished.
We are Canadian!
Hoisting our MVP – Stefania – She keeps our bodies in tiptop shape so we are ready to race
You can’t buy moments like these
It was a little sad to be leaving Sochi. But at the same time, it was refreshing. It is the start of a new four year period until the next Winter games. I left feeling hungry and determined; to improve every day so that I can reach the goals I am striving towards in this sport. I am very proud of what I have accomplished so far in my career, but I am young and I feel like things are just getting started. There is so much more that I want to accomplish and I am ready to work hard to achieve those goals.
Canadian Ski team saying Goodbye to Sochi
My road to PyoengChang 2018 starts NOW!
Thank you for reading – The support I have received in the past month from friends, family and fans back home has been unbelievable! It will never get old to hear from the people who are following me. You guys keep me going!
As I finished up a long 3 month block in Calgary for Summer training…I was more then ready to fly back home to Toronto for a bit of a break. Number one on my priority list while I was home was to spend some time up north at our family cottage on the lake. I landed in Toronto on Friday just after midnight. My parents had already ventured to the cottage a day earlier, so my buddy Jon agreed to pick me up at the airport. The two of us decided we were better off driving through the night rather then going home and having to drive north in the morning. We left Pearson airport around 1245am and arrived at the lake around 315am. It definitely wasn’t an easy drive but the roads were open and time flew by as I was catching up on lost time with one of my good friends from Highschool. Also, waking up to the sunrise over the glassy lake made it all worth it! I was able to spend 4 days up north with my parents and other relatives…relaxing, soaking up the sun, swimming, water skiing, ATVing, biking and barging around the lake.
How can you not want to be here??
Jon and I lounging in the sun.
Number 1 all day!
hiked out to the back lake in the woods at sunset
Arching some turns 🙂
I returned back to Toronto mid-week with a pretty busy schedule ahead of me. I was able to set up a round of golf with about 12 guys at The Summit G&C where my Uncle is the Superintendent. A group of Sponsors, Friends and Family made for an enjoyable evening on the golf course. Although, I was extremely rusty after only hitting the links a few times through the summer. The course was punishing and I found myself searching for lost balls nearly every hole! The following day I entered in my first ever mountain bike race just north of the city. A weekly series that takes place through the summer…more fun then competitive. I wasn’t sure what to expect but as soon as I started riding my competitive nature kicked in and I was sure to push my limits because deep down I wanted to come out on top! After 15Km of riding, I managed to win the category that I was entered in…reassuring me that I was in good shape from all my summer training in Calgary! Last on my list of things to do while at home was a photo shoot for Sunskis eyewear. Once again, this was a first for me. Honestly, I felt more nervous for this then I do at the top of a ski race! Haha. I spent about an hour in front of the camera trying to act natural, modeling different shades and clothing. I think I have some work to do, but it was a very fun/hilarious experience for me. I spent a few more days at home, relaxing, spending time with my family/friends and packing for my upcoming trip to Argentina!
Perks of my sister Tara being a Chiro.Getting my body dialled in before my trip
On paper, it seemed as though my flights to Ushuaia (basically the bottom of the World), although quite long, was going to be a walk in the park. Plans changed…as they so often do. It ended up being one of the toughest travel experiences to date. I’ll do my best to lay it out for you:
▪ 10pm Sunday evening: Board plane in Toronto.
▪ 1030pm: Plane moves to runway
▪ 1035pm: still on the runway, not moving. Technical difficulties, engine will not start
▪ 11pm: Plane is back at the gate…waiting for mechanics to fix the broken part
▪ 1am: Received news that Pearson does not have the part…Plane will depart at 1030 am next day.
▪ 2am: myself and 3 of my teammates cab back to my house and go for a late night swim and get to bed by 3am.
▪ 1030am Monday: depart from Toronto-Santiago-Buenos Aires.
▪ 2am Tuesday: arrive in BA and collect about 100 pieces of luggage/equipment, which needed to be moved and loaded into a truck.
▪ 330am: check into BA hotel.
▪ 4am: sleep
▪ 10am: back to the airport to check-in….with all of the luggage! (What a mess!)
▪ 230pm: depart for Ushuaia.
▪ 6pm: arrive in Ushuaia. Once again collecting all the bags and loading them.
▪ 730pm: Arrival at final destination!
After close to 48 hours from when I left my house for the Toronto airport, two nights in a row with less 5 hours of sleep each night, and transfering 100 pieces of luggage about 6 times…we finally made it. Everyone grabbed a bite to eat, settled in and went straight to sleep, excited to wake up and get back on snow the following day.
I wasn’t lying when I said we are at the bottom of the World
skis on skis on skis
Brad is sad…packed into the bus after a long day.
So far we have had 5 days of training here in Ushuaia. It is my first time being here and although we are in a small town in the middle of nowhere, it’s been great so far. Exploring a new town and skiing new slopes is always very fun. The town is quite typical to most of the other places I have been in South America…. Quite run down, lots of graffiti, plenty of garbage, muddy, and tons of stray dogs roaming the streets. A completely different culture and lifestyle then we have in Canada, but definitely a neat experience and a new adventure.
Car for sale…any takers?
Brad lookin strong
The crew being tourists. Photo Cred: Erik Read
As for the skiing, so far I am extremely impressed. The training availability at the mountain, (Cerro Castor) which is in the Tierra Del Fuego mountain range, is outstanding. The variety offered to teams for training is top notch. There are 6 or 7 different training hills that offer everything from flat easy slopes to steep and icy terrain. This is the main reason why so many National teams from around the World travel so far to train here in the summer. Some other Nations that are here include: the Italians, Austrians, French, Fins, and Slovenians. We started slow, on some easier slopes with soft snow and slowly ramped up the intensity as we worked through the first week on snow. Since we are located so close to the Ocean, the weather is constantly changing. They say, “If you don’t like the weather in Ushuaia, wait 5 minutes”. This has proved true so far. One minute it will be sunny and calm on the mountain and the next we are in a full on blizzard. Makes for difficult training where we are forced to adapt to changing conditions on the fly.
GS training on a snowy day. Photo Cred: Paolo DeFlorian
Mike Janyk sawing logs in the lodge after a tough day on the slopes haha!!
Today is our first day off on this long camp. We still have close to 3 weeks left here to hone in our skills as the season approaches. Although it is sometimes boring here off the hill, the on-snow training is incredible…which is what we are here for! I am looking forward to seeing what the upcoming weeks have in store for us. Although, I think by the end of the camp I’ll have had enough Ham, cheese and croissants for breakfast to last a lifetime LOL.
We finished up a tough, month long block, of dryland training in Calgary by the end of June. As most people saw on the news, in the last week of June many neighbourhoods in Calgary were devastated by floods caused by the overflowing of the Bow and Elbow rivers which run directly through the city. Many were forced to evacuate their homes for several days until the water receded enough to allow residents to return and begin the clean up process. Luckily, at Brad’s house we were safe from the water but, as Sasha and I sat watching the news all day we knew that the damage was going to be disastrous. It was the first serious natural disaster I have experienced first hand and it was definitely an eye opener. The city was so quiet as everyone waited to find out how much destruction would be done to their homes. As the water slowly cleared away, volunteers gathered by the thousands to help anyone in need. I felt obligated to help anywhere I could. So, myself and several other athletes went down to the flooded neighbourhoods to put some work in. It was hard for me to comprehend the amount of damage as we walked through the streets of the heavily affected areas. In the hard hit neighbourhoods, basements were completely submerged in water and the main floors had up to 4 feet of water. Everyone in the city was now on the same team, and we worked together to clean out the soaking wet, mud filled houses. I’m sure it will be a long process until everything is back to normal but the attitude and vibe among Calgarians who were helping was extraordinary.
Clearing out piles from front lawns into bins
Trev and I during a muddy clean up
Did I mention we work out too?? Trev and I trying to get bigger in the gym!
Photo taken during our teams Power Skating session
Sometimes accidents happen. Dustin Cook caught me with a high stick during pick-up hockey. Not a true Canadian without a hockey scar on your face right?
Doc was nice enough to let me take a selfie while she was stitching me up!
After a hectic final week in Calgary, we packed up the vans and hit the road at 5am Sunday morning. After 14 hours of driving we arrived in Government Camp for 10 days on snow at Mt. Hood. We arrived to 40 Degree weather and most of us were skeptical, to say the least, about what the conditions would be like. As expected, the first few days were more like water skiing. Temperatures were in the mid 20’s by 10am which made for some interesting training…. But at least it was sunny! I’ll be the first to admit that Mt. Hood isn’t my favourite place to train for several reasons, but we had to make do with what was given to us. By the end of the camp, we had 9 days on snow and, despite questionable conditions, we were able to put in some solid work. It is good to have the ability to ski in any conditions so we all tried to stay positive (wasn’t always easy) and add as many skills to our repertoire as possible! You never know what kind of snow conditions you will run into while on the circuit, a race is a race.
The great thing about Mt.Hood is the endless amount of activities we were able to do during the afternoons. Most of us travelled down with our mountain bikes so we took advantage of some great trails in the area. Some days we would bring our bikes to the ski hill in the morning and take a 5 mile single track downhill trail through the forest back to our condos. Even though we were on a ski camp, it is dryland season and we made sure to incorporate several weight workouts through the week. The best part was that, because of the nice weather, all of our workouts took place outside – weights, agility, core, frisbee, biking, pool workouts. I think it was the most active I have been on a ski camp in a while, and all of us left the camp looking much more tanned than when we started! All the activities made the on-snow training more enjoyable for me, that’s for sure!
Top of the course in the early morning
Cold tubs for recovery in the river behind our condo
Thanks to the Alberta team for letting us use their homemade gym!
We hit the links on our day off….Make shift golf bags.
Our new Italian Coach, Max Carca, brought his wife and child to Mt. Hood and we celebrated Eduardo’s (aka Edo) 1st birthday!
Happy Birthday Edo! – Homemade Tiramisu
We made friends with some young ski racers during the camp. They had endless amounts of energy, I miss those days! We had a blast with them though.
This little guy was using us to get his sets of pull-ups in
I flew straight down to Park City to hang out with my Sister, Kendall, for a couple days before I head back up to Calgary for another long block of dryland until our next ski camp at the end of August.
Following our Sunshine camp I was a able to fly home and spend a few weeks with my family. Its always a nice break to be able to unpack my bags completely and settle in for a little while. 3 weeks felt like an eternity to be in one place, especially at home!! I really enjoyed spending time with my family as well as hanging out with my hometown friends who I am not able to see very much through the season. Its quite refreshing to be around people who are not part of the ski community. This year, we were able to start our dryland prep period at home and get our bodies moving again after a long season. I was back in the gym at FITS Toronto where I used to train before I made the National team. The guys at FITS have always been amazing to me and are always happy to help out whenever I need to get a workout in while I am in the city. This was a great opportunity for me to work on my own and prep my body for the move to Calgary in June where our intense summer dryland season would commence.
On June 1st, I packed up everything I needed for the summer and moved west to Calgary. Brad Spence, a veteran on the ski team, was nice enough offer me (and Sasha Zaitsoff) a room for rent in his house. I’ve been here for just over 2 weeks now and thoroughly enjoying the time here with my roomies. We have been taking turns cooking dinner for each other during the week…in classic ski racer fashion it has created some friendly competition. We all take pride in our cooking so we have been pulling out all the stops in trying to impress each other with some healthy and tasty meals! I must say, Brads veteran experience is evident when he gets in the kitchen. Sasha and I are nipping at his heals though!
My days have been crazy busy since I have been here, which is actually really nice. We jumped right into an intense dryland program where our days are jam packed. Along with the normal strength workouts in the gym, our trainers have incorporated some different activities into our program. Obviously leg and core strength are very important for ski racing…but I personally think that general athleticism is very crucial and can be easily transferred onto snow. Activities like hockey, mountain biking, squash and yoga have all been scheduled into our program. All of these cross training sports are amazing for increasing body awareness and developing different muscles that are harder to trigger if you are just in the gym all the time. Most of them require quick thinking and adaptability on the fly…skills which are extremely useful in ski racing!!
Trev “Junior” Philp repping DU in the gym
Erik Read workin the legs
Biking in Calgary with the new young bucks
Mikaela Tommy riding in Canmore
Morgan Megarry taking a breather
Majestic shot looking down the valley..Photo Cred: Conrad Pridy
Now that I am all settled in and have a good routine in Calgary, I am extremely happy and really enjoying myself. I think that it is going to be an excellent summer and I feel like I have surrounded myself with the right people in order to have a successful off season. A couple more weeks ahead of hard work in the gym and then we will drive down to Mt. Hood for a 10 day camp on snow.
Hope all of you are enjoying summer weather, wherever you may be!
It was a little bit of a weird feeling boarding my plane in Toronto in the middle of April to head out west for our teams first on-snow camp of the season. Typically at this time of year we are gearing up for a couple tough months of dryland but instead the team decided to use the resources we have in our own backyard and get some quality training in. As strange as it may have seemed, once we were all together in Nakiska for the first week of skiing, there was a completely different vibe within the team. Everyone was refreshed and at ease, ready to start learning and improving for the upcoming season.
Some big changes were made within the team once the season was finished. Affecting myself and our group directly, was the hiring of an Italian Coach (Max Carca) to run the Mens Technical program. Coming with him would be another Italian (Paulo de Florian) to assist him with our group. When we sat down for our first team meeting, it was clear that the language barrier was going to be a challenge that we would have to work on….but it was also clear that Max has some very interesting ideas when it comes to technique, tactics and training regimes. It was very refreshing to be working with new coaches who have a different outlook on ski racing… Change never hurts.
Our camp started very slow the first week in Nakiska. Lots of free skiing and technique drills along with some stubbie courses. We were able to fit in a ton of runs by days end. Skiing at this time of year allows us to feel virtually no pressure. This allowed us to focus 100% of our attention to improving our technique and getting lots of volume. Not necessarily worrying about how fast you are or if you make any mistakes.
After the first week we packed up and moved to the Sunshine Village over the weekend. At this time, the Womens team and the Mens Speed group all moved in as well. For the next 2 weeks the entire CAST group would be training alongside each other. This made for an amazing training environment. Eating all our meals together, skiing together, making bets on playoff hockey…all of this was great for bringing the team closer and bonding as a group. Even though this is an individual sport, I still think it is very important to have a strong team. You need to be able to learn from the veterans on the team and know that the rest of your teammates have your back if you ever need some help.
The conditions in Sunshine were top notch. At first we had winter conditions where it was -15 some mornings with on and off blizzards. Not exactly what we were thinking when we had envisioned spring skiing. But eventually it got warm and for the last week and a half we had sunshine almost every day. The snow was melting by days end but when we loaded the chair at 645am, there was a strong enough freeze where we could get solid training until 11 or 12 o’clock. Big thanks to the crew at Sunshine Village who allowed us to use virtually any hill we asked for and always made sure the snow was in good shape for training the next day!
Overall the camp was a giant success. It was 3 weeks long but the time flew by. I think we all learned a lot and it was great to start developing a working relationship with the new staff additions to our team. I am home in Toronto now for a couple weeks where I will start prepping for the dryland season. Come June 1st when I move to Calgary, we will have 4 weeks of a very intense dryland block. Stay tuned. Thanks for reading!! Check out the pictures below!!
Well lets see where should I begin. Once again I slacked off and failed to update the website regularly as the season winded down. The schedule for the last couple months was pretty hectic to say the least, although I know that is no excuse. It is easy to get caught up focusing on the daily routine of making sure I am skiing fast and doing the little things off the hill to be ready for the next races. Although, at this point, part of the gig is to make sure my sponsors, fans, friends and family know where I am and what I am up to. So I apologize for not staying up to date on this crazy thing we call the internet…
Ill take you through 4 main race series/events that I was involved in over the last couple months – Vail Norams, World Championships, Noram Finals and Nationals.
When I left you last I was prepping for the Noram Tech series in Vail. At the time I had been struggling to find my rhythm and was hoping to use this series to turn things around. This is almost exactly what happened. I worked a lot with my sports psych prior to this series to develop a plan for the final stretch of the season. My coach was on board with this plan and it definitely seemed to help my performance once I had a clear mindset on what I needed to focus on each day of skiing. I learned that by writing down daily/weekly focus goals that I can attain, it kept me focused on the process rather then worrying about what will happen in the future. I had two days of GS racing in Vail where some bad luck with weather and course conditions kept me from reaching the podium, but I actually skied really well and achieved the small focus goals I had written down. Because of this it was easy for me to accept the poor results and move on without being bitter (this was a huge step for me and my overly competitive spirit). I went into the slalom races knowing I was skiing well at the time but came in with a nothing-to-lose approach and tried to make sure I was having fun every time I took a run in the race. This seemed to work, as I ended up in 3rd place both days behind 2 other Canadians (Paul Stutz and Mike Janyk) and achieved my best slalom results by a massive margin to date!
Slalom podium, Vail
The boys and Coaches in Vail
As a result of smart skiing in Vail, I was selected to compete in my first World Championships in Schladming, Austria. What an amazing experience and opportunity this was for me. The vibe in the town throughout the week was incredible and it was amazing to be a part of my first real big event. The highlight of the week was competing in the Team Event for Canada with 3 other athletes (Mike Janyk, Erin Mielzynski, and Marie Michele Gagnon). Our team was ranked 10th going into the event but we were able to beat out the Swiss and then the Czech teams to move into the semi-finals. Here we lost to the Swedish team but still had a chance to beat the Germans for a Bronze medal. I was the final racer against a well-known name for the Germany, Fritz Dopfer. I remember being in the start looking down over about 20 000 spectators and staring at Dopfer across from me thinking…Wow, lets do this, I can beat him! Unfortunately I fell just short, coming through the finish 0.01 behind him. In the rutty course, the two of us were faster then all but one person throughout the evening, Marcel Hirscher. We were that close to a medal at World Champs! Our team finished 4th, but the amount of support we had from fellow nations in the following days was incredible. Everyone was rooting for us and proud of our fighting attitude throughout the evening as the definite underdogs! In true Canadian fashion, our team pushed right to the end and put up a good battle. The 4 of us all left there with our heads high and proud to be Canadian!
Looking down from the start of the team event
Mike in inspection
Erin and I before racing the Swiss
Mike and I after the race
Team event Highlights!
After such a high, I experienced some major lows. I did not ski to my potential in the technical events and was truly disappointed. I was lucky enough to have my parents there experiencing the event with me which made it much better! Sportcheck, one of our team sponsors, flew my parents over to Europe along with a film crew to tape a commercial as a promo for Family Day Weekend. If you didn’t see the video, have a look! The film crew also left me with a handful of cool pictures from the week. Thanks again Sportcheck for allowing my parents to come to Schladming!
mom, dad and Bruce watching the race
Mom and Dad being CBC celebrities haha
Family Pic in Schladming
After Schladming we had a quick turn around to fly to Alberta for Noram Finals. Going into the week I had a shot at winning the GS title if I skied well and had some good results. This was my main focus and I was lucky enough to finally get some good GS results. Finishing 2nd the first day and then Winning the second day. My first win of the year was also enough to secure the title and earn a World Cup spot in GS for all of next year. This was a massive goal I had set for myself before the season started so it felt really good to attain this and it was a huge step in the right direction moving forward. I was extremely happy with my ability to perform under pressure that I had never felt before. In the final GS race there were 3 guys who all had a chance of taking the title, and after the first run we were placed 1-2-3. Essentially it came down to whoever would win the race. I was definitely pleased to come out on top! In the slalom races, which were held on a brand new hill in Calgary, I under performed and essentially made too many mistakes to be in position for podium results. Thats slalom though. I ended up finishing 2nd in the Overall Noram title which was another major accomplishment. Below are some pictures from Noram Finals.
Here is a clip following the race I won in Nakiska:
Coach Dusan, Myself and Service man – Skube after winning the GS
Robby Kelly taking selfies on the podium
Finally, the Noram season was finished and all we had left was Nationals in Whistler. It is always a blast to be in Whistler where you are almost guaranteed to have bad weather for racing and good weather for free skiing. This was not exactly the case. We had 8 days of sun and incredible racing conditions. We were able to get a few runs of powder in the early days though! In the GS race, I couldn’t keep up with my teammate and College racer, Trevor Philp, who took the title and I settled for runner up. Nationals is always fun though. It is one of the only events in the year where the girls and guys are racing at the same venue. Having the other gender around definitely keeps things light and not too serious! It was great to see all the familiar faces who I have been good friends and teammates with for so long.
We were also able to celebrate the retirement of several Canadian ski team members. JP Roy, Trevor White, Patrick Biggs, Ryan Semple and Kelly Vanderbeek. All of these racers had amazing careers and it was definitely sad to see them go. I wish them all the best in whatever the future brings them!
Johnny D and I finding some Pow
Team shot celebrating the boys retiring!
Nationals GS – Photo Cred. Andy Mielzynski
First runner up!
Well thats all for now. If you made it to this point in the blog, I commend you! I am back in Toronto hanging out for a couple weeks before our first on snow camp in Sunshine. Stay tuned for more updates through the spring and summer months!
Special thanks to all my Sponsors – Skiis and Biikes, JD Barnes, Black & McDonald, and Craigleith Ski Club. As well as my equipment sponsors – Rossignol, Swix and Dainese. Biggest thanks to everyone who has supported me through the season! It really means a lot to have such amazing friends and fans!