Saturday, December 29, 2001 - Perspective Update

- By: Werner Schwar

The beginning to this season was some of the most rock skiing I have ever done in my life.  It was a good test of my resolve and dedication.  In a sick and demented way it presented a challenge.  Just how little snow could one ski on, for how long and why even bother?  Perhaps I need a shrink, or I am addicted to the feeling of gliding on snow, no matter how thin it is.
The ski season started on a promising note this year.  Lappe received the first skiable snow on October 24, with about 10 cm.  Little did we know this would be almost the most snow we would have for another 2 months.  I just beat out Timo Puiras for the coveted honour of first on snow at Lappe by about 15 minutes, by starting at 7:30 a.m. still in the pitch black of darkness.  At least in the dark a little bit of snow looks better than when the light comes out and you see how little snow you are skiing on.  We skied in our own track and got about 5 days of skiing out of the snow before the weather took a very warm turn.
After the tease of early season snow for most of the rest of November, it was dryland training again.  This is hard on the physce, and gets more difficult as there is not the possibility of night skiing after work.  It was so warm during this time there were many days of shorts and t-shirt, very uncondusive to getting ready for the ski season.
Finally by the end of November it snowed again.  A forecast of 25 cm of snow was a dud and once again, we skied on about 10cm of snow.  Conditions were better than the first snow, but rough and bumpy.  I had to force myself to do intensity as much as possible since the first races were supposed to be in only two short weeks.
As it turned out, both weekends of Continental Cups got cancelled, since the little snow we had went to ice. Part of me was disappointed as I was looking forward to the good competition, but part was relieved as I definitely did not feel ready to race.  We did have a time trial here of training centre people and OttawaXC people on a 1.3km classic track scraped together from every bit of snow available from the sides.
After this conditions went from bad to worse, more rain and warm temperatures made for even more ice.  Skating was hopeless, but we skied a track in off to the side and skied on blue klister and ice for a good two weeks. 
Finally at Christmas we got another snowfall to cover the ice and make for decent conditions.
The Boxing Day Classic was the first real race for me.  That is pretty late to start racing.  I did exactly what I tell my young racers never to do.  I used, new skis and poles for the very first time in the race.  As it turned out it was okay, since my new Peltonens and exel poles were so good, but it was a strange sensation racing on equipment I had no experience on.
During all this time it was hard to ski more than an hour or two at a time.  I have only skied a bit over 500 km before Christmas, that's the least since I was a young junior!
Now that we finally have better snow, I have to work on skiing for longer sessions to get ready for those 50km's.  They say that adversity builds character and knowledge.  I and all of us in Thunder Bay this year should have lots of it!
Werner Schwar

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