Monday, July 8, 2002 - Athlete Perspective
NSDT Update: Back on Snow

By: Erik Carleton

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Although June was the first month this year most athletes in Canmore have not been on snow, the NSDT Canmore will be skiing in both July and August, thanks to the CODA Haig Glacier Camp. This remote piece of civilization is located in Kananaskis Country, northwest of the Kananaskis Lakes, near the Alberta-B.C. border. The Haig is one of my favourite training camps each year, and this year will be my tenth. After nine straight years attending at least once per year, I was shut out last year due to the extreme fire hazard in the region. Our group, consisting of the NSDT, the under 23 National Team, some members of the Pierre Harvey Training Centre, and our cook Dave Wood (nephew of the National Team coach), will be the first group up this year, and the late season snowfall will yield great conditions. Our camp runs from July 8th to 14th, and we will be joined by Team 2006 on the 11th, who will be staying until the 22nd. Sounds like the weather will be great.

For those of you who don't know, the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA) funds the Haig camp. It consists of three buildings: a cook house, a bunkhouse, and an multi-use facility that houses the CODA staff member. At the beginning the camp seemed quite primitive, but over the years gradual improvements have been made such as a the addition of a water pump and a hot shower. Considering its location, the camp is quite luxurious, but it serves its purpose of creating a great training opportunity. We are very fortunate to have the facilities we do, in the protected area of Kananaskis. All garbage is flown out, and human waste is burned in special outhouses. Just imagine the smell, and understand that one does not stand down wind when the burner is on. It is a beautiful area to visit, even ignoring the fact that your gear is flown in and 10 km of groomed trails await you each morning.

Our daily routine will consist of a start around 6:30, an immediate Rusko test, and breakfast of porridge, fruit, juice and bread. Then we pack up all our gear, sport drink and snacks, and hike 45 minutes to where we ski. Our skis are waiting for us there, courtesy of the helicopter. We'll ski 2-3 hours, and then return to camp for lunch. Then we have some time to relax, and grab a nap if required. Next we'll do our afternoon workout which varies between core strength and a second trip up to the glacier for a ski. With the training done for the day we can relax, enjoy our dinner, read, watch movies or play games. Actually, there are other activities, such as video analysis of technique, stretching, massage, meetings and chores. On a side note, we also do the 2.5 hour run in to the camp from Upper Kananaskis Lake on the first day and the return trip at the end. We travel light on this run, since all our gear and food is flown in by helicopter. We don't have much free time at the Haig, but we are going there to train. Of course it never hurts to take a moment and admire the spectacular scenery: the glacier, mountains, waterfalls, and the valley below.

From a training point of view, this camp will have two major foci: volume and technique. We will be well rested, with three to four days off the week before. This substantial rest is not simply preparation for the week ahead, but also takes into account the first major block of training for this year. Although we work on technique in dryland training, the Haig Glacier is a great opportunity to apply this to on snow skiing. The terrain is not too difficult, and it is a great time to make sure roller skiing hasn't incited any bad habits. The camp atmosphere, lacking the distractions of living at home, makes it easy to complete long days of training. Being on snow certainly does not hurt the motivation, although we will make sure to stay in zone 1 for this week. The other half of the big volume equation is proper recovery.

An important consideration when training big hours on the glacier is the altitude, which significantly affects recovery. The sleeping area is at 2300m, and the ski area around 2600m. Although this is not extreme altitude, one still needs to pay extra attention to hydration and recovery. Many athletes find it difficult to get a good night's sleep, especially the first few nights. Ear plugs and afternoon naps are indispensable tools to ensure sufficient sleep. Waking recovery methods include stretching and massage, as well as proper nutrition. A big part of nutrition is simply keeping the fluid intake high. A good rule of thumb is to consume one litre of fluid per hour. Although water may be sufficient for hydration, over the long run of the camp you are better off with sport drink. A little effort goes a long way to ensuring proper recovery.

The Haig is a great place to train in the summer, and being on snow is a big bonus. Without it we would go many months with only dryland training. Although this can be overcome, we get a jump on winter, especially in terms of technique. The freedom of the glide awaits!

Erik would like to recognize his sponsors:
Rudy Project

Erik Carleton has been a member of the Canmore National Development Team for 6 years. He has represented Alberta at 9 national championships where he has won numerous medals.

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