Wednesday, August 15, 2001 - Perspective
Phil's XC Journal #5

- By: Phil Villeneuve

Hi Everyone,

Watching TV isn't something I do on a regular basis (mostly because of the poor reception I get) but once in a while I'll plop myself on the couch to watch the 'tube' and relax after a hard day of training. During the past month, Le Tour de France, the World Track and Field Championships (which just happen to be held 3 hours away in Edmonton, AB), Formula 1 racing and Mountain bike World Cups are but a few of the big sporting events that have been shown on television. However, since my house is a little outside of town, tucked away beneath Chinaman's Peak and Rundle Mtn., cable is unavailable and CBC is about the only channel I get to see without having to decipher the figures from the permanent snowstorm. This isn't really a big deal because I can usually catch the action at a friend's place.

Unlike most sports fanatics, I don't drool at the upcoming Hockey Night in Canada. I refuse to watch the bazillion number of NFL, CFL or NBA games that seem to air non-stop in their appropriate seasons and I only occasionally watch golf or baseball as an excuse to have a nap! I feel I am definitely a minority in this group. On the other hand, I would watch every 5 to 6 hour stage of the Tour the France from start to finish, every second of the 5,000m or 10,000m race at the World Athletic Championships and the whole 3 to 4 hours it takes to show a 50km XC ski race at a major Championship. (I say 'I would' only because they never show an event of this type in Canada from start to finish and if they do, its not without some kind of interruption from Brian Williams or another blabby broadcaster!) I am absolutely positive that this would bore the life out of many, many viewers...but I love this stuff. I look forward to travelling to Europe every year so I can watch Eurosport which is the equivalent of our TSN or ESPN (without all the typical North American sports) but shows the entire event from start to finish of whatever it may be. I was fortunate to be racing in Austria last year while the World Nordic Ski Championships were being held in Lahti, Finland. Every morning after our workout, our team would cram into the Pension's tiny television room and watch every race from start to finish. We were all in heaven!

The Outdoor Life Network (OLN) has been the only station that has even come close to showing the type of coverage that Europeans have been enjoying for years. I'm sure that they only get about a fraction of the amount of viewers that Europe gets but hey, maybe one day! This year's coverage of the Tour de France (if you happen to have checked out a stage) was a big improvement over the previous years'. The reason? American Lance Armstrong was battling it out with the World's top cyclists for his third consecutive title. So it only took three years of Lance's domination and probably thousands of fanatic's calls telling OLN: "Hey, why don't you do a better job of covering the Tour, can't you see that one of our own is winning?"

OLN has also started showing some XC Skiing World Cups most likely to build up the hype of the events at the Olympics in Salt Lake City this coming winter. I haven't had a chance to see their ski coverage because OLN apparently doesn't air the World Cups in Canada. Do we, as Canadians need a WC champion to get coverage? With the Olympic Games so close to home and the potential for best ever results perhaps this will help the situation. Until then, we'll have to resort to borrowing tapes from a friend of a friend that knows this guy that has a cousin in Sweden that is a ski fanatic (fancy that, a ski fanatic from Scandinavia) and has taped all the races. So, write letters, send emails, harass them until you can't any more and maybe one day, our (my) wish will be granted. I guess I'll also have to move to a house where cable is available or find a satellite company that wants to sponsor me! Then again, maybe its best I just stay where I am and concentrate on training. With all these sporting events at my viewing delight I might be tempted to stay in and not go training...no, I don't think so! As most of you are sports fanatics as myself I'm sure you'll agree on my views. What else can we do? Any ideas? Until then, I'll keep watching my fuzzy CBC and look forward to those afternoon baseball games!

Funny, this entry wasn't what I wanted to write about at all. I started on a topic, my mind strayed and my fingers just kept going. I guess the original topic of this week's entry will have to wait until the next one.

That's it for today.
Phil

p.s. I almost forgot. If you didn't get a chance to check out my race result from my last journal entry's website here it is... I finished 2nd overall. With that result I qualified to represent Canada at the World Mountain Running Championships to be held in Italy next month. Unfortunately, I will not attend the Championships because it takes place during a period where it is important for me to focus on high intensity training. Travelling to Europe in the middle of this time frame would not be good for training or recovery. Maybe next year...

(Phil Villeneuve was a member of the Canadian National Ski Team for two years and has been a part of the training centre system in Canada since it's beginning. He now lives in Canmore where he continues to pursue his Olympic dreams.)


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