I left home on December 1.
My teammate, Colin Abbott, and I rolled up to the airport and ran back and forth, hauling our gear from the truck parked just outside.
Thankfully we were faster than the ticket man this time. We approached the Air North desk with no less than six bags to check: wax table, wax box, ski forms, duffle bags, and ski bags.
Before long, we touched down in Kelowna.
Our races were about an hour north of Kelowna, at Sovereign Lake. We stayed in Silver Star, a downhill ski resort minutes away from our racing location. The trails had metres of snow, as usual, but it was much colder than normal. All cross-country ski races have a temperature cut-off of -20°C. Looking at the forecast, I could see it was going to be close.
We had come down a week early to get used to the higher altitude and familiarize ourselves with the trails. Colin picked up a cold on the way down and as a result, my hands were dry and cracked from washing them so much.
I avoided him like the plague in our small apartment (almost rudely) and scolded him if he ever sneezed without washing his hands. I felt like a jerk, but I stayed healthy.
I woke up early for the first race only to sit around for a couple hours, waiting to hear if it would happen. Finally the call was made: we were going to race. The thermometer must have just reached -20°C at the warmest part of the day but it surely was a few degrees colder in the shade and with the wind.
I warmed up with my down parka and stripped down to my spandex race suit at the last second. The race was 15 km, three times around a steep 5 km loop. Cold weather brought slow snow conditions and the race took about 43 minutes. I started conservatively and had a strong finish, placing 9th overall.
The next day for the sprint, we were in the same boat. The temperature hovered around -20°C. Again the race was on.
I had an awesome qualifier, placing 3rd overall. In a sprint, the fastest 30 qualifiers move on to the next round – the quarterfinals. Of the six people in each quarterfinal heat, only the top two make it to the semifinals. From there, only the top three from each of the two semi finals makes it on to the finals.
I made it though my quarter and semifinal. At this point I was guaranteed a top six spot, so it was already a good day.
In the final I came in fourth. It was a great race, but it sure would’ve been nice to snag a medal.
Now I’ve shifted a couple hours southeast to Rossland, B.C. to get set for my next races.