Tuesday, December 23, 2003 - Athlete Perspective
XC Ottawa's Ski Mom Series Part 2

Canadian skiers are largely funded by the Bank of Mom and Dad. If you arenít a ski racer or parent of one, you may wonder why it is that parents allow their children to spend hundreds of hours gliding on skis at their expense. Seems silly, almost as crazy as those racing suits they wear. Well XC Ottawa athletes asked their mothers to share their thoughts on having a ski racer in the family. Maybe the advice of these experienced Ski Moms will encourage parents to enroll their kids in a Jackrabbit or Junior racing program:

Ski Mom #4: A Mother's Thoughts On Skiing...
By: Darlene Klein, Sudbury

The skis moved out last week - accompanied by a smiling young athlete happily anticipating another season. Pieces of worn roller ski wheels, worn pole tips and roller board remain. Fall must be here and fond thoughts of ski seasons past come to mind...

  • Smiling boys on the front step beside a withering jack-o-lantern wistfully assuring me that they could "smell the snow coming".
  • The team van full of eager young racers "chasing early snow" in Timmins. This was of course preceded by laundry and followed by laundry!! Love that washing machine!!!
  • Winter friends: other parents lined up in the snow banks to watch another race - a mobile parent support group as we move through the ups and downs of another busy ski season.
  • Getting up VERY EARLY on Saturday and Sunday mornings to volunteer on race day and arriving in the quiet pre-dawn to a glistening race site that quietly awaits the hustle and bustle of arriving racers and coaches .
  • Bleary-eyed coaches who waxed skis through the night so race skis can handle the ice/ snow/ slush... whatever comes along.
  • Going to the restaruant supply store to investigate commercial size pots because nothing else is big enough to cook dinner for these "eating machines"!!!
  • Watching a long line of skiers in bright blue ski suits skate up a hill on the Gatineau Fire Tower Trail as graceful as any chorus of dancers only to have them stop at the top of the hill all smiles - and they know us!! WOW!! (made my day).
  • Watching racers with seeming ease scamper up hills with the likes of names such as: "the Grunt", "Heartbreak", "the Wall"...
  • Now I must go to the basement and check on my equipment. I know where my skis are but I must make sure that my skidoo boots, warmest parka, and mitts are ready so I can join the other mothers (and fathers) cheering along the trails this winter, and, in between, maybe if I am lucky I will get to ski a few of the slower trails.

    Gotta love winter...

    Ski Mom #5: The Joy of Living with a Cross-Country Racer
    By: Dianne Thurber

    Here are a few of the unique thrills of living with, and sharing the ups and downs of, cross-country racers.

    We must recognize that being a cross-country racer is a passion. For a racer, just as with any love affair, it consumes all aspects of one's life, friendships, recreational time, and career decisions, and determines where one lives, what one eats, how much one sleeps, what one wears, what one reads, and so on ad infinitum.

    Cross-country racers have other cross-country racers for friends; with so much of one's life spent in training, relationships with non-skiers are hard to fit in. As intense training can be a solitary activity, you, the family, are happy to see that the skier has friends to ski with. Other skiers are always welcome at home-the house is full of active buddies, always coming and going. This, of course, has the side-effect of placing an extra load on all household systems such as the following.

    Water: Skiers need lots of it. First, consider the laundry pressures-just think how many clothing changes all this training takes-at least three a day. The house has a constant "hum" of washing machine and dryer; there seem to be damp clothes hanging everywhere, and piles of clothes, waiting to be washed, waiting to be dried, waiting to be put away...Some of the piles have a "Do not go near" aroma. My advice would be to avoid this whole scene, but it never disappears. Second, showers and baths-continual; towels-used once and dumped; there are never enough; soap-you are always running out; more towels mean more laundry; towels never dry!

    Drinking water: Well, yes, they need lots to drink. This means water bottles cluttering every horizontal surface in the kitchen. They don't conveniently fit anywhere--they just hang around.

    Water-dripping everywhere, with ski boots drying out, ski clothes oozing puddles, the whole mess of "wet everywhere".

    Clothes: They need and use lots of them. One sock, or one glove, is always lost. You also end up with a collection of "orphan" clothes. Because they are valuable to "someone", you hang onto them forever, moving them from place to place.

    Toques: These come in wonderful colours and shapes. You will amass boxes of them, but the "right" one is always missing.

    Boots: How many? They cover any standard entrance hall-racing boots (skating and classic), pre-race boots, hiking boots, telemark boots, water-proof boots--and many types of running shoes, track shoes, etc. That's only for one racer-multiply by the number of family racers and friends. Also, they usually have big feet-so these are big boots!

    Being part of the excitement of ski racing has had a huge beneficial effect on my reading habits. I have added the Ottawa Sun to my list of newspapers (only during the ski season); I have to buy this on my way to work, because the local shop near my office is often sold out by noon. That means I have to bring the paper to work and make a point of telling my colleagues that no, I am not checking out the latest "Sunshine Boy"-but I have learned about aspects of Ottawa culture that I might otherwise have missed completely, thanks to my ski family!

    Yes, I must admit that I do sneak peeks at cross-country racing web-sites, whenever I am able, in order to find out my family's race results.

    The lasting memories, of course, will be the emotions, rather than the trivia of daily life. The exhilaration of a ski race-crisp air, blue sky, the bright colours on the racers, and knowing each one has done his or her best; the highs when a personal best is also enough for a good placing in a race; when the best wasn't good enough today, the learning and dreams for "next time"; the determination to aim for victory when it is measured in milliseconds and affected by the vagaries of ice, wax, snow, and mental readiness.

    At a time when, in our culture, self-esteem is pampered and coddled in many arenas, these racers dare to face the objective reality of their performance, race after race. They have learned to live with the results, and add them to their reservoir of experiences. So, life with ski racers offers a contrast between commonly tolerated mediocrity and tenacious striving to do one's utmost-a bittersweet mixture of highs and lows, excitement and realism, camaraderie and joy.

    Ski Mom #6: A Mom's ski history
    By: Mom McTavish (Mom to Megan McTavish)

    Megan started her ski career the winter of 1985 in Revelstoke BC when she was seven. We took her and her sister Kelly to Jackrabbits and they both loved it. Some sessions were at the golf course and some were on Mount Revelstoke. Megan did 1 km in 8 minutes and 45 seconds in a time trial. They did a tour one time to Wheeler Hut at Rogers Pass and saw glaciers.

    When we moved to Timmins in 1986, Megan and Kelly joined the Porcupine Ski Runners Jackrabbit group. They got lost on the blue trail their first time out, and it was a rather stressful time waiting for them to find their way back. It took a long time!!. It was a cold winter but seemed to warm up enough every weekend for them to be out and they had fun.

    Then we moved to Waterloo where Don MacKinnon ran the Jackrabbits. In the spring of 1987 he started a junior racing program which ran all year. Kelly and Megan got right into it with training logs, evaluations, videotaping, roller skiing, etc. In the winter of 1988 we started going to races, and by then little brother James was skiing as well. We spent many winter weekends the next several years being up at 5AM to carpool with the team to Duntroon, Hardwood Hills, Orangeville, Midland, Wye Marsh, Udora, Wildwood, North Bay, Ottawa, and Deep River. Being a serious skier in Southern Ontario involved a lot of travel! One January we put 5000 K on the old green Volvo. Sometimes it wasn't too keen to start or keep going, but that's another story.

    As a mother, having a serious skier in the family was a challenge. Megan always had to follow her training to the letter whether she was sick or injured or the weather was terrible. She suffered for it at times but her love of the sport and determination carried her through and she has done very well. Lately we have not seen Megan race that often, but last year's Keskinada brought back a lot of memories of standing out in the cold watching the start, going inside to warm up and socialize, then standing outside waiting for the finish. Those years really were a lot of fun and despite the cold and early mornings I miss the flurry of activity that went with it. I wish Megan many more years of skiing success and enjoyment, and look forward to being there sometimes to watch.

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