Wednesday, November 5, 2003 - Perspective
Haywood National Team Report: Whirlwind to Alaska

- By: George Grey

The last ten days have had a fair share of ups and downs for me and probably other members of the Senior National Ski Team. In this period we have attended five functions (dealing with the business and media side of sport), traveled from Alberta to British Columbia to Seattle and finished off in Alaska. Through it all we trained as much as travel allowed.

To the seasoned businessman this would be a mild couple of days on the road however it was far from routine for many of us. Although I can handle a seven-hour day of continuous training, I haven't built up the same level of fitness for media scrums and social gatherings. I think we succeeded in providing some positive promotion for the Team and our sport, but there was a price to pay for the travel and the departure from routine as I came down with a mild cold. Feeling a little run down, I decided to take a day off and save strength for our camp in Alaska.

We arrived in Fairbanks, Alaska seven days ago and have been putting back kilometer after kilometer on less than two inches of snow. That’s right…two inches! It is better than six days ago when there was none but still far from ideal. Although the conditions are marginal, our team is training remarkably hard and staying focused on the final preparations necessary to sustain a long winter of racing. Losing focus now could mean the difference between top results through the entire season or survival through the second half of the season. That is one of the driving forces behind the hours I put in during the summer and fall months. I believe those long hours and tough days are money in the bank when it comes to the last month of racing. So that is exactly what our team is doing…banking for the future. The marginal conditions are allowing us to work on other areas of skiing that are not normally a focal point. Our balance, core, and power delivery are constantly being put in check. Balance and core are being tested because of icy and uneven tracks that constantly throw us off kilter. Power delivery might need some more explanation. With the given conditions you cannot kick too hard or you will slip in classic or hit dirt while skating. So we have to back off the sharp kick and use a longer smoother kick with the same power. If that doesn’t work then we are forced to compensate with our core and upper body. One thing I want to avoid is stabbing at the hills with a short choppy stride. It is just a matter of being efficient and not forgetting the basic principles of skiing at the same time.

We have another week here and hopefully a race on the last weekend so we are praying for more snow. If the snow gods are too lazy then I am counting on some time trials of one sort or another. Wherever you are, train hard and I will see you on the start line soon.

Since this article was written the Canadian National Team has been forced by uncommonly poor snow conditions to abondon their camp in Fairbanks, along with other teams that had travelled there to race and train (US National Team, Quebec Team), and have returned to their home base in Canmore, Alberta, where snow conditions are good.

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Source: Cross Country Canada

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