Tuesday, September 21, 2004 - Athlete Perspective
Gord's Ski Newsletter Vol.7, No.4: Winter all the time

By: Gord Jewett

Electronic newsletters aren't quite a thing of the new millennium at the Haig glacier. When I come up here to train, my computer stays at home for a little vacation while I focus on training and recovery for a week without being bombarded by a steady stream of emails and web news. Of course, I can't leave my newsletter dormant with all this training to write about, so I retreat to my coaches computer once in a while to do some writing when I have an afternoon off. This newsletter will come to you by a somewhat convoluted route. Instead of zipping from my computer to yours via numerous other computers world wide, it will first get flown down to Canmore by helicopter, get emailed back to me and then embark on it's digital journey. Not the up to the second kind of news we are all used to, but a close second from the digitally isolated glacier.

After a hard training camp in New Zealand I went back to Toronto for my sisters wedding. The hectic preparation was not the physical break that is ideal after a hard camp, but the mental break of being away from the National team environment and at home with my family made for a great recovery week. After a beautiful wedding at my parents farm I returned to Canmore to catch up on sleep and get ready for our next training camp. In the mean time I had the chance to do a few running races which is always a fun challenge during the summer. I'm by no means fleet of foot, so it truly is a challenge for someone often referred to a "Clydesdale". The first race was a 10km road race in Okotoks, south of Calgary. It was my first 10km running race, so the learning curve on pacing was slightly steep. The lesson learned? Start slower than you think you have to, because the kilometres get longer as the race goes on! I was not overjoyed with my time of 37:15, which is dead slow by running standards, but it was not far off my target of 36 minutes. Six days later I lined up for an 8km race in Canmore that was about 4km of downhill and then 4km of flats. Of course for a cross country skier this is far from an ideal course profile, but I was very happy with my final 4km's and I was closer to several team-mates that are much more talented runners.

The downside of the 8km running race that was mostly downhill was the damage it did to my legs. I was certainly feeling the pain of pounding down the road in my calves and quads on Monday morning when I climbed out of bed for the run in to the Haig glacier to get our current 3 weeks training camp started. The 2.5 hour run into the glacier climbs nearly 1000 meters and besides increasing the ache in my legs, it was also a gradual transition from late fall to early winter. Winter has come early in the high alpine country around Canmore, so there is plenty of new snow up on the glacier right now. Around the camp at 2400 meters there is only a few inches of snow, but the constant precipitation we have had over the last week has resulted in well over a foot of new snow on the glacier itself. This makes for fabulous fall skiing on high quality tracks and hard wax instead of the usual glacier klister skiing. After five days of training my legs have finally recovered from the beating they took in that running race.

When we first arrived up here on Monday the water pump was not working, so we were hauling water up the hill from glacier fed creek instead of having is delivered for us. Luckily, Ontario skier Karla Mika is up here with for this camp, and along with coach Larry Sinclair she put that electrical engineering education of hers to some use and got the water flowing. I'm foggy on the details, but I have a feeling it might have involved something really complicated like plugging the pump into the batteries! We were all pretty happy to have the pump working again, but then the only down side of all this snow flying around came into play and the solar panel in place to power the water pump is not getting enough sun. So, we're back to hauling water after one day of enjoying the pump. Hardly a hardship to endure in return for the great skiing we're enjoying, but every year the glacier camp gets a little more luxurious and we get a little softer. At most camps water hauling is the dreaded task that nobody wants, but it's become our most popular past-time this week. For some reason we just can't get enough of hauling 97 pounds of water up a steep rocky hill for about 5 minutes. I can assure you, it's bloody hard! I was pretty pumped the first time I got up the hill with teammate Sean Crooks after taking only two breaks. That ego boost was shattered only minutes later when I learned that my coach had done it with one break and camp boss Graham McLean didn't take a single rest (suspicions that their 22 liter jugs were not completely full is rampant)! After a few of the guys on the team had made it up the hill without a rest the challenge became how fast it could be done. The record now belongs to Adam Kates, who made it up the hill with two full jugs in 2 minutes and 46 seconds without a single break. Hauling water is now so popular that our holding tank is almost continually full and we're on the verge of just dumping water out onto the rocks so we can take another run at the record. I'm ashamed to say I still haven't made it up without a rest, but I'm going to blame that on the now slippery and snowy rocks that make footing difficult. I'll just ignore the fact that the record was set in these very same conditions!

This summer I have certainly spent more time on snow than during any other year in my life, thanks particularly to our 3 week camp in New Zealand. By the end of this week I will have spent 35 days on snow since May, for a total of about 107 hours of skiing. That makes up nearly a third of the training hours I have done this year, and will hopefully translate into a smooth transition onto snow in late October or early November. Going into our New Zealand camp I said my main priority was to improve my classic technique and I accomplished that goal. The first day on snow up here my coach said that my classic technique was the best he had ever seen it. The challenge now will be to translate that progress onto the race trails, where the high speed makes technical improvement even more difficult.

On Sunday we'll head back down to Canmore with a big day of training, 3 hours of skiing and then the run out. Our camp will then continue for another 2 weeks based in Canmore. We'll all be staying at home but will be in an intense block of structured team training, so it will be very much like a normal camp environment. I'm happy with this plan as I will be able to spend some time at home while also doing some great training. I have felt great this week and I'm looking forward to taking advantage of that form over the next two weeks.

Gordon Jewett
Haig Glacier, Kananaskis Country - 2400 meters 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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