Monday, August 2, 2004 - Athlete Perspective
Gord's Ski Newsletter Vol.7, No.2: New Zealand in Style

By: Gord Jewett

As I sit in the Calgary airport waiting for my flight to New Zealand via Los Angeles, I don't have my usual preflight reservations about sitting still for 15 hours. I don't have tired legs from standing in line at check in for an hour, and the check in agent didn't question me like a fleeing criminal for having a giant duffle bag and ski bag big enough for any mobsters last three victims. In fact, as I sit I'm not even waiting in one of those uncomfortable waiting lounge chairs, because I'm in the posh Air Canada lounge eating a croissant and sipping fresh squeezed orange juice. All this, just because I am lucky enough to be flying executive class and will enjoy a slightly larger seat on my flights.

When I decided earlier this summer I would like to go to New Zealand to train for a few weeks in August it was a pipe dream. First of all, only Team 2006 was scheduled to go, and since I'm on Team 2010 that would mean some begging and pleading on my part and some sympathetic coaches to even get permission to take the trip. The second problem was the nearly $3000 price tag on the plain ticket, and the likely $2000 in ground costs. Fortunately for me, I seemed to get past each with some luck and a great support team. It was decided that Dan Roycroft, Adam Kates and I would be allowed to attend the New Zealand camp with Team 2006 if we could come up with the dough. That was the easy part. $5000 was not a sum of money that I could justify spending on a three-week camp at this point, so it wasn't looking good. I then got thrown the lifeline of the century by one of my sponsors in Toronto.

James Coatsworth of Nordic Insurance offered to support me with the Aeroplan miles necessary to make the trip. I was in a state of ecstasy as I frantically began searching the Air Canada web site looking for points flights at roughly the same time as the New Zealand training camp. Unfortunately, that led me to the next hurdle on my path to New Zealand. As anyone who has ever tried to book a flight with points knows, getting flights at the desired time is very close to impossible. I was able to fly on points if I didn't mind flying through four US cities, hitch hiking from Denver to LA in about 7 hours, sitting on another passengers lap for the flight to Aukland and then swimming to New Zealand's south island and walking to Queenstown. It was tempting, but I didn't think it would be the best preparation for the camp. Of course James isn't the type of guy to just sit by and watch an athlete let a good training opportunity slip by. He offered to fly me to New Zealand executive class, at a considerably higher points rate! So I was back on the Internet and happy to see that executive class tickets were available on just about any flight I needed. Gail, James' assistant, helped me cut efficiently through the Air Canada red tape and before I knew it I had put a hefty dent in James' points balance and I was on my way to New Zealand!

James is an amazing guy. Although he is active and enjoys cross-country skiing when he gets the chance, he's never been involved with the racing scene directly. After watching the 2002 Winter Olympics and Beckie's inspiring gold medal performance in Salt Lake City, he decided he wanted to support amateur sport. He wisely surmised that someone at the very top of the sport would already have a half decent level of support, so he chose to support someone who was just about there and needed the boost to get to the top of the podium. A few phone calls later and Sara Renner had a new personal sponsor. It is not very often amateur athletes get support without first tracking down potential sponsors and then harassing them for several months, so for Sara to find out she had a new supporter who she had never met was a very nice surprise. A few months later Sara and I were trying to pull together the inaugural Project Podium calendar for 2003, and I contacted James on Sara's suggestion to see if he was interested in supporting the calendar through his company Nordic Insurance. He was not someone we had to call twice and we immediately had one of the month sponsors that helped bring everyone the first edition of the calendar that has become one of Cross Country Canada's biggest fundraisers.

James has since developed into a friend of mine and is one of my biggest sponsors and supporters. When it came time to find a way to get to New Zealand, James didn't hesitate to help me out. If there were a few more people like him around, there would probably be a lot more Olympic gold medals hanging around the necks of Canadians. James is as much a part of my path to the Olympic dream as anyone else. Thank you James for helping me get to New Zealand.

I'll arrive on Wednesday afternoon in Queenstown and head from there up to the Snow Farm, which is the best place to ski in New Zealand. The snow conditions sounds like they are already great so we should have perfect conditions. I'll get into training in the afternoon after I arrive and try to get some of the travel out of my legs. I then have a medium training load planned for the rest of the week before the hard work starts next Monday. We'll do six hours of continuous skiing on Monday and again on Tuesday, in the hopes of a similar training effect as we had with the long six hour days at the Haig glacier in July. One of the nice things about the Snow Farm is that we stay right at the ski trails, so we don't waste any time traveling to and from training.

While this will be a great chance to do a lot of training and have a break from the impact of stress injury causing activities like running and roller skiing, my focus will be on technique. Classic technique is my biggest weakness and so will be my biggest focus over the next few weeks of bonus snow miles. We'll cap off the camp with a loppet race (that I've heard is somewhere between 42 and 50km) on August 22nd before heading back to Canada. I'll then fly straight out east to Toronto for a break from training and for my sister's wedding on August 28th.

I look forward to keeping you all up to date on summer training in the southern hemisphere!

Gordon Jewett
Calgary International Airport, 1000m above sea level

Gordon would like to thank his sponsors:

Thank you also to:
James Coatsworth
Peter and Robin Jewett
George Kalmar
Michael and Brenda Jewett
Alan Gallie
Irving Wartsman
Jeffrey Wartsman
Jim Meekison
Harold Macklin
Albert Latner
Oscar Grubert

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