Wednesday, November 28, 2001 - Perspective
Gord's Ski Newsletter: Vol.4, No.3

- By: Gord Jewett

During the summer I am always anxious to get away from home and I enjoy training camps. Training in one place all the time can become monotonous, and travelling is a nice change. By the winter things usually change a bit. It is getting to be the time of year when having just a few days at home is a big treat. I am now in the middle of 9 days at home, which I am thoroughly enjoying! I could go on forever about the joys of being home (a thick down duvet, high speed internet, a window that actually opens, privacy of my own bedroom, etc...). My sister and friends will also be visiting me this week, which is always a nice treat and might convince me that my life is somewhat normal for a few days.

On Sunday night we returned two weeks in Silver Star, BC where we were training and racing. Silver Star usually marks the beginning of the racing season, but since we were in Fairbanks racing earlier this year the races where not quite such a shock on my system. Since I injured myself a few years ago I seem to work into the season a little more slowly, and it takes me a few races to get my legs going full speed. Things have been getting gradually better with every race, and the last race that we did on Sunday was the first race in which I felt I was really "racing".

The racing got started in Silver Star last Thursday with a 12km classic race. Because snow was thin we raced higher up on the mountain than we usually do, and the course was tough but not the best layout for a racing course. It started snowing the day before the race, as it seems to every year. This new snow made the waxing conditions a little tricky, and 20 minutes before the race everyone was still desperately trying different combos in an effort to find something that would stick. I ended up taking a risk and going with "hairies", which means instead of grip wax on my skis I just roughed up the kick zone with sand paper. This usually works in new wet snow and climbing the long climb off the start my grip was perfect. Unfortunately I paid for this when things turned downhill and flat, because my skis were as slow as they come. I ended up 30th by the end of the race - a result that was only one spot better than my race in Fairbanks but considering the deeper field and the bad skis, it was really a much better race. At that point I was definitely looking forward to the first skate race of the year.

Friday night marked the famous Silver Star sprints and thanks to all the new snow overnight we were able to use the normal sprint course in the Silver Star village. These are definitely the most exciting sprint races in Canada every year because of the high caliber field and tight, twisty course. The qualifying was in the afternoon and top 16 advanced to the elimination rounds that took place under the lights at night. I qualified in 12th place, so I advanced to the heats. I drew Pat Casey, one of the US's best sprinters, in the first round. Unfortunately he beat me by a ski length so I was out. Things might have been different if I was on my own skis, which were nowhere to be found when I got to the start gate, but there is always a "might" in ski racing and pondering maybes can drive one crazy. The good news was that since I was the 2nd Canadian in the sprints I got to do the 4 person (2 women, 2 men) sprint relay that pits Canada against the USA every year. Canada didn't have a single skier in the semi final round, so we had a lot of pride to salvage on our home course. The two women skiing for the US team both fell on corners during their legs, and we walked away with the win easily. At least that gave us the pride to bandage the wounds from the individual sprint races!

The sprint races took a lot out of me so I was really happy to have a day off before we got going with the skate race on Sunday. The day off helped me out but by Saturday night I was still tired and worried I might be getting sick. I woke up feeling ok on Sunday morning so it was off to the 15km skate race. This is my strong technique and one of my better races so it was a good chance to get a decent result. I skied the hard course well, and although I was as high as 8th place at one point in the race I ended up 15th. I was also the 3rd Canadian, but on a day when no Canadians skied very well. This was definitely a confident booster for me because it made clear the fact that I can ski among the top 10 in continental cup skate races, and that is where I really should be.

I can now go into the December races with more confidence in my ability to ski well. I went into the Silver Star races with some doubt, and came out feeling healthy and much more sure of my self. Mission accomplished.

(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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