Sunday, May 28, 2006 - INDi2010 Racing Team
Karla Mika leaves R.J. Burnside to pursue Olympic dream

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FROM THE age of a young child we all have had dreams.

Looking back later in life one can look back in time and say their dreams became reality or not. For many of us life takes us on a different journey that is simply good, bad, or okay.

A common question to adults is, do you have any regrets in your life?

A talented woman in the area is going to make sure that she has no regrets.

As of last Friday, Karla Mika, 27, worked for R.J. Burnside and Associates as an engineer. At the end of the day she became a full time athlete. Mika wants to make the Canadian national team to represent our country in cross-country skiing at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

"To ski at the Olympics is my dream!" she says in such a way that you know she will do everything in her power to realize it.

Yet people ask her why leave a good paying job, security, benefits and a nice place to work for no money, no security, no guarantee.

Quite simply she states, "I'd rather not have made it and tried, rather than not to have tried at all."

"It's a big risk to do something that you necessarily don't know will work out," she adds. "But ... partially, it is the journey of trying to be satisfied with your life. And that's a big payoff!"

"Work is work. I can always come back to a job. I have the rest of my life. I have the next four years to pursue my dream," she says with excitement.

Last winter, which Mika claims was a poor season for her, her best placing at nationals was 17th, a decrease in her performance from the previous year by five placings.

Despite the fact the blue-eyed, blonde speed diva on skis struggled with illness, she feels work hindered her from focusing on the things needed to be an athlete - training, eating, and stretching.

Now, for example, she will have the time to go to a training camp, hosted by the National Team Development Centre next week, in Thunder Bay. Canada's legendary ski champion Beckie Scott, an Olympic gold and silver medalist, and other Olympians will also participate.

Mika plans on training mostly in the area using Duntroon Highland's Nordic as the main training ground. Former junior national team coach Larry Sinclair is her mentor having already created a year's training program including running and rollerskiing. She will also train from YMCA Collingwood and run with the Collingwood Running Club.

Part of her program is skiing up Grey County Road 19, affectionately known by triathletes as the eliminator, and being driven down by Sinclair to start the grueling task again.

"It's definitely epic," she claims.

Says Sinclair, "This is the kind of training that Karla needs to make the next step. She certainly has the capability of making the jump."

Mika will also train for a week in July at Heig Glacier on the border of BC and Alberta. Another training camp is scheduled at Highlands Nordic with seven other members of Indi2010 (Independent Nordic Development Initiative For 2010), a group just on the verge of making the very elite level in Canada.

"When the snow comes," she says, " I'm going to follow the races. I'll live out of my bag. I'll follow the Super Tour Series in the States and the Noram Cup. It's going to be fun."

"These past three years it always have been a challenge. Now, I don't have to worry about it. I can just go!

That's the winter and then we'll see."

Fittingly, her associations at R.J. Burnside and Associates sent her off with a farewell party tagged Go For Gold!

Alex Hargrave is a sports writer for The Sun. His column appears each week in the newspaper. To read him online, visit

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