The National Championships

The Cross Country Nationals are in Whistler, B.C. this year along with the Downhill, Nordic Combined, Ski Jumping, Biathlon, and Para-Nordic Nationals.

To cap things off, it’s Easter weekend in one of the most popular ski resorts in the world. It’s a busy place to say the least.

More known for downhill than cross country, Whistler is a skier’s paradise — weather permitting.

Powder days get even the laziest of downhillers up early in the morning. However, I have my fingers crossed we won’t get a powder day. Knee-deep snow is fine and dandy if you’re cruising down a mountain on fat skis, not so for racing the trails on our toothpicks. So far, so good.

Racing started under clear blue skies on Saturday, March 23 with the team sprints. Two partners team up and race alternately around a short course, tagging off between each of the three laps they are both required to complete.

A few dozen teams were entered in the event but only 10 got to fight for the medals. Three semi-finals were held to determine who would qualify.

The Yukon not only put two out of three teams into the finals, but it filled two spots on the podium. David Greer and I placed second while Colin Abbott and Graham Nishikawa placed third. I couldn’t think of a better way to start off the championships.

The racing continued the next day with a 10 km skate. A hardy bowl of oats for breakfast and I was feeling top-of-the-day. It was an interval race, meaning racers started half-a-minute apart.

Sometimes it’s hard to know how your race is going without seeing other racers around you. Coaches scramble to give us splits (intermediate results) throughout the race.

“You’re in 5th place, 10 seconds from the lead,” a coach yells.

You can never be sure whether that means 5th place out of the racers ahead of you, 5th place on the previous lap, 5th place in your category, 5th place over all, or if your coach completely made it up to motivate you.

Ultimately you don’t know until everyone is finished and the results are calculated. However, when I caught racers starting 30 seconds and a minute in front of me I knew I was having a good day.

With two good races checked off the trip, I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.

On the days that I’m not killing myself on the trails I’m having fun making a mess in the kitchen, playing ping-pong, photographing birds and relaxing in our hot tub.

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