Sunday, March 20, 2005 - Perspective
Z-Tour Update: Back By Popular Demand

- By: Shayla Swanson

Things are going well on the Z tour and Edmonton proved to be an excellent experience.   The Birkebeiner has been kind enough to take care of our food and housing costs, and we have been referring to ourselves as the Birkie “red group”.  We have been growing quite accustomed to this treatment and have realized that the real “Red Group” would be quite the dream come true!

We had lots of public relation dates with local clubs and we tried our best to show the kids just how cool our sport really is.  After every ski we had a signing session with the skiers in our groups.  They brought jackets, skis and paper for us to scroll our autographs on.  One girl realized that she already had my signature on her skis from the previous year so she decided an updated version wasn’t necessary.  After the fact we realized that perhaps we should’ve told her that if we end up on this tour again next year, she might not actually want our signatures anymore J.  We also realized that the kids aren’t too picky…Rob Soffer, the strength coach got an offer to sign some skis too!  He was flattered, to say the least!

As far as the racing, things went well!  Rhonda didn’t end up racing this weekend because she has a busy month coming up and wants to save her energy.  She skied the course before we started and packed down the fresh skiff of snow on the track….Thanks Rhonda!!!!  Jacqui had a good one and won the 31km Journal Tour against some stiff competition from some fellow Albertans.  She commented that this year was better than the last because she didn’t feel drunk at the finish line!  Her efforts landed her two Birkie medals and a lovely plastic plaque to adorn her wall.  This year I decided to “buck up” and try the 55km.  It was an experience to say the least...I would be lying if I said that I didn’t want to be finished at 31km!!  The experience was great until then, but at 35km I had a farily severe bonk and barely managed to squeak across the finish line ahead of my competitors for the win!  I think I would have been in trouble if the race had been another kilometer.  Jacqui and Rhonda were recounting my finish line experience, “Shayla, do you remember what you were saying at the finish line?  You sounded quite intoxicated!!!”  I replied, “ Ummm…not really!!”  We’ll see if I am brave enough to do it again next year!!

A very honourable mention goes out to Jacq who managed to sell about 70 project podium calendars over three days in Edmonton!  She is talented sales person, and found ways to combat every excuse!

Unsuspecting Birkie racer: “oh I haven’t got any cash.”

Jacqui: “Well…there’s a bank machine around the corner!”

She was able to charm almost anybody, but had some trouble with the older crowds.  They seemed to think that $10 was a bit much for a calendar.  Jacqui politely left but should have said, “Listen sister, it’s called inflation!”  I think that the woman would have passed out if she had found out they were regularly $30.

The Birkie really is a great experience.  The people on the trail are young and old, experienced and novice, enthusiastic and grumpy!!  You get to see the whole spectrum.  At the awards ceremony they were giving out prizes to the oldest competitors in the race who managed to ski 55km and then run up to the stage to collect their awards!  I’d say that is quite the accomplishment at 75 years old!  It’s moments like this that I realize how fantastic our sport is, this is one that we can enjoy for a life time.  

Way to go Juniors!!  Keep up the momentum U23’s!!


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