Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hero worship

Mark Arendz
The Guardian

Over the past five weeks, I have kept myself busy training and hunting (for the first snow, of course).

I’m pleased to say that this has been a great season for early snow hunting.

On Oct. 18, I went for my first ski of the year on a man-made loop at the Canmore Nordic Centre. It has been nicknamed the Hamster Loop by the National team skiers.

Sure it was only 700 metres long, but it was really good skiing and in mid-October what else can you say about that!

I made great used of this resource, spending many hours and countless number of loops on it. But with such a short loop doing longer workouts drove you close to insanity, what was needed was a hero.

That hero was Moraine Lake road in Lake Louise.

This is a paved road that ends at the popular Moraine Lake and is a trail head to several great hiking trails. The road was closed on Friday Oct. 30 and by that Sunday afternoon rumours were spreading through Canmore that the road was snow covered, packed and groomed.

On Tuesday, my coach and I decided (after quite solid reports that it was good skiing) to go up there and see. It was a beautiful day, with only a few clouds in the sky and the temperature just below freezing. During the hour long drive from Canmore to Lake Louise, we commented that there wasn’t a lot of snow on the ground, and our worries got deeper and deeper as we got closer to Lake Louise.

Were we ever wrong!

Our plan was to ski for just two hours. We ended up having to cut yourselves off at just over three hours. It was truly amazing skiing up there; I’m even going to use the word epic to describe it.

The weather was just perfect and the ski conditions were from a dream.

But what was the most remarkable thing was that all this was possible with only a couple of centimetres of packed snow because occasionally as you planted your poles they broke through the snow and you heard and felt the distinct scratch of the poles hitting the pavement underneath.

That day was one of those days where you think ‘this is why I love this sport.’ That day was one of the reasons why I train all year round so that I can enjoy conditions like that.

With the snow, comes one thing that is even better then the snow itself, and that’s the beginning of the competition season.

My first competition is the last weekend in November and it can’t come soon enough. This is the first year where I’m impatience about the start of the competition season. I’m really excited to get out there and, as a figure of speech, ‘flex my muscles.’

But there are still two weeks left and the key is to focus on training and preparations in that time so that when the 28th of November comes I’m ready to start what I think will be a quite memorable season.

I hope that the weatherman in your area is forced to say those three magical words, ‘snow storm warning!’

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