Friday, November 16, 2001 - Perspective
Gord's Ski Newsletter : Vol.4, No.2

- By: Gord Jewett

As I look over this seasons racing schedule, it seems to be almost endless. This is a common feeling in November, when looking ahead it seems that the big races will never come soon enough. I am not fooled though. Like every racing year it will be the end of March before I know it, and I will be finishing the last races of the year. This feeling is very similar to the one I had in May, when it seemed the first races would never arrive. But they have arrived and passed, and I now look forward to the rest of the season with an idea of what I'm up against.

I was in Fairbanks, Alaska with the National Senior Development Team at the end of October for two weeks of training and the first Continental Cup races of the year. I have only been further north once on a trip to Baffin Island, so the sub-arctic in late fall was a very new experience for me. It was a total shock to go from barely below freezing temperatures in Canmore to -25C two days later in Fairbanks. We all thought that the cold would prepare us for the winter and we would feel warm for the rest of the year, but I think the melt down we are currently experiencing in Silver Star has softened us up again.

Fairbanks turned into a great training camp for our whole team. While the races on November 3rd and 4th were important, the real goal of our trip was to get a jump on early snow training and be well prepared for hard training and racing in November. I certainly accomplished this. The secondary goal of racing well in the first Continental Cups of the year was not as successfully met. The first race was a 1km sprint race, and although I have never done well in sprint racing I am hopeful that with my return from injury my speed will also come back and allow me to be competitive in these short events. I will have to keep hoping, because my 22nd place finish was far (over 2 seconds) from the top 16 that qualified for the elimination round later in the day. Things didn't get much better the following day in the 15km classic race. I skied well, but was missing the highest gear that is necessary to be competitive. I finished a disappointing 31st, more minutes behind the leaders than I care to tell. I figured at the time that I had to get one minute faster each week until the next races on November 22nd if I was to ski at the level I am hoping for! Well, I now have a week to go, so I hope that I have two of those minutes under my belt! The first race of the year is always a big test, and fortunately I have lots of time to look at the changes I need to make before the season really begins.

I am now in a situation where confidence is probably my biggest problem, because it has been a long time since I was really competitive at the top international or even North American level. I know that I am in great shape after a near perfect summer of training, so the confidence will come with results, which I am hoping for next week. Of course I've had to analyze everything that I've done up to this point in search of areas to improve. Aggressive racing has been targeted as the most important area by my coach and myself. I will be racing every race this season as if it is my last, and every kilometer as if it is the last of the race. This is the approach I always had before my back injury, and that is the mind frame I have to reactivate to be competitive. I am now in Silver Star, BC where we come every year for the first snow training camp and first races. This year it is the second camp and the races next week will be the second races, and that takes a bit of nerves out of the equation. I used to hate the first races of the year; because it was always hard to know where I would stack up until the race began.

Silver Star had record snow in late October and we even wondered why we were heading to Alaska, but the heat wave that has hit all of Canada is melting the precious snow. It has rained ever since we arrived here on November 12th, and the snow is disappearing fast. We all have our fingers crossed for some cold, but as I write this I can hear the snow melting and dripping off our roof, so I am not too confident. We will do whatever we have to to keep skiing and for the time being we shouldn't have to try too hard, but if this heat wave keeps up...

Tomorrow is a much-needed day off after a few tough days of training, and then things will slowly taper down until the races next week. If we get some snow, Thursday will be a 10km classic, Friday sprint races and Sunday a 15km skate race. I will send updates as soon as I can! Don't miss the live web chat with Beckie Scott tomorrow evening (Friday) at 8pm (EST), 5pm (PST). For more information on the chat click here. She will be available for one hour answering questions.

(Gordon Jewett was a member of the Canadian Team for 4 years before being forced to take 2 years off racing to recover from a serious back injury. Originally from Toronto, Ontario, he now continues his comeback with the National Senior Development Team in Canmore, Alberta. Gord's email newsletter is free to all who want to read it. If you would like to be added to his email mailing list, email him at )


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