The End of the Tour

Well that’s a rap.

The ski tour of Canada is over. It’s been a great few weeks and when I think back to Ottawa and where it all begun it seems like a lifetime ago.

We flew into Calgary and there was instantly a vast difference to out east in Quebec.
There was no snow anywhere. Not even a tinny flake hiding under a tree. It was warm as we all drove out up to Canmore, around 10C.

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The mountains with snow but nothing in the valley.

We arrived into Canmore just as it finished up raining. There was barely any snow in town, just the odd frozen patch here and there. Up at the racecourse tucked into the mountains things were a bit better. There was a lot more snow but most of it man made. The racecourse gets a little shade from the mountains so it does help to keep the snow but realistically it’s not that much.

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Canmore
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Canmore Stadium.
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Looking into the stadium from the first hill.

We had a day and a half off once we arrived in Canmore but we still headed out for our usual pre race ski and to test our skis and see what was working for us or not.

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Randy checking out skis and how we were going testing.

It was immediately obvious that the snow was breaking down very badly as it warmed up each day. It just turned into a boot deep slushy mess at 10:30am as the sun really begun to shine onto it.

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Heads down working hard. Jeremy, Paul and Randy at work

The next day was a classic sprint and I wasn’t be off till around 11:30am. Prime slop time. If I had one criticism of the event it would be that in Canmore for the last four stages the racing times were stupid. They would often have races at 1:00 or 2:00pm in the afternoon when the snow conditions were terrible. They should have been at 9:00am when there was still some hardness and rigidity to the snow. I was one of the last to start and it immediately became clear that the course was a mess. Sadly it also became clear that we had missed the wax with our skis. The last 30 minutes where the snow really broke down had been enough to shift our skis from being rockets to getting too bogged down in the slop.

Frustrated with the race but at least relatively happy with how I felt skiing the course I eagerly looked forward to the next day a 30km skiathlon. However that night I got the disappointing news I was to be pulled from the tour. If you fall back a certain percentage they remove you from the tour and the classic sprint tipped me over.

I was pretty disappointed to go out like that. I knew the next day I was probably not going to survive but I wanted to go out racing and pushing myself to the limit. Not just told as I relaxed in my room. I was really bummed but quickly tried to recover and move the focus to the last little period of racing a week or so on from the tour.

But before that I joined the rest of support crew to try and help out the other athletes. The day of the 30km I was sent out a lot, testing skis and wax and trying to help as best I could. The race started stupidly late again and the conditions were rough. Both Callum and Phil had good races but they eventually were pulled too. By that day a Tour that had started out a week before with 85 men was down to just 60.

After the 30km there was another day off for the athletes before the final two 15km races. Now that the men’s team was all out we all became ski testers and support staff for Jess. Our solo skier in the tour. We were all given durability testing for wax, the boys kick, and myself glide. During a race skis pick up dirt or wax wears off and so a wax that’s fast at 1km could be terrible after 5km. So we got to ski 5km loops testing the wax and seeing which held up the best overall. In the end I think we had some sweet skis for Jess and considering there was 7 of us working for her you’d hope so!

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Phil and Callum off to do more laps and test skis.
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Watching the races in the sun with Phil and some of the Americans. You can see to the left of Phil the snow starting to break down.
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Taking a break from our own racing we watched Manager/Wax Tech Allison McArdle play Curling in the local Canmore league.

In the end it was pretty cool Jess made history for Australian World Cup skiing. She is now the first woman to ever finish a tour for Australia. Only Callum has ever finished one so it’s a pretty short list!

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Randy, Callum, Jess, Phil, Myself and Allison

After the last day Phillip and myself jumped on a bus and headed up to Lake Louise for the Red Bull NordiX. A cross-country event that’s built on a downhill slope. It’s a sprint to the bottom of the hill but you have to navigate bumps and jumps, some crazy tight corners plus an uphill section. When we arrived both Phil and I were nervous. We both have done a lot of freestyle and park skiing but there were some mean features. Out of the start was a 1.5 meter drop into a quarter pipe and then the jumps had a 20 foot gap to the landing so it wasn’t for the faint hearted. I ended up 10th ish after crashing twice spectacularly in the quarterfinal and Phil ended up 5th after a crash in the semi. Still a fun time and we were really looked after by Red Bull who put us up in a hotel in Banff.

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Looking at the Nordix course. It starts quite high up you can just make out a red and blue arch.
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Checking out Banff

The next day we parted ways, Phil heading back home to Aus and I headed to Canmore to train for a few days before Spring Series. I’m now on route to spring series and really keen to finish the season with a bang. I guess we’ll see.

As always a massive thank you to the Australian team and the waxing and support crew for the few weeks of hard work!

Train hard, rest easy, live for the moment.

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