Friday, September 13, 2002 - Athlete Perspective
Tourist Attraction

By: Sara Renner

Road hazard ahead. A herd of elk has been discovered by an equally large herd of tourists. An educational guide with precautionary tips for avoiding an antler shishkabob during rutting season could disperse this traffic jam on Bow Valley Parkway. Or a roller ski training session just as easily provides the distraction needed to allow the ungulates to continue their munching in peace.

The sound of approaching cars brakes squealing as they try to maneuver around the bottleneck do little to distract those photographers with the vision of a perfect Canadian Rockies wildlife scene for their Christmas card. But the sound of our pole tips on the pavement alert one visitor that something out of the ordinary is approaching. Suddenly, elk are as exciting as the neighborís pet hamster.

A man standing in front of his car (license plate reads "California") gives up his prime vantage point to investigate the upcoming spectacle.

"Excuse me, but what are you doing?"

"We are training for cross country" I reply helpfully.

As we whiz by, I hear the man explain to his wife that we are going across the country.

"I heard her say that, dear, but WHAT exactly are they doing?"

People in Canmore are used to sharing the roads with cross country skiers. While locals might find it annoying, travelers to the valley find it very intriguing and somewhat puzzling. They would probably be more familiar with a Nordic Trak commercial than our summer training techniques.

This is not the first time our activities have sparked peopleís curiosity. To recover from hard workouts and weight sessions, we soak our legs in cold water. This brings blood circulation to the legs and flushes out the lactic acid, which makes your legs, feel much better the next day.

Instead of filling the tub with water and icecubes, I put on my bathing suit, jacket and hat and submerge my lower body in the Bow River. After the painful first minute whereby your toes and legs become frozen and lose feeling the whole experience becomes quite peaceful and Zen like. I stand in the river and watch it flow by and admire the mountains. Itís like fishing except without the rod or the hip waders.

Sunday roller ski workouts are as predicable an event for the athletes on the National Team as cheap movies on Tuesday night. Glacial water soaks might be a ridiculous notion to most but they are a biweekly event for us. I forget that some visitors have never seen snow, elk or cross country skiing. Iím sure I would get caught gawking at the local scene in Venice Beach in California, too.

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