Racing team updates

Georgian Nordic racing team report January 15, 2015

Back to school after the holidays, right? That did not happen. 2 snow days at home and the team was off to participate in the second of four Ontario cup in the series. This one was a much anticipated one, due to its duration and variety of racing. One classic interval start, followed by a classic sprint. Then a rest day followed by an interval start skate race on a homologated trail.


Peter, Malcolm, Noah, Graham, Emily, Shaylynn, Katja. in front Liam and NickPeter, Malcolm, Noah, Graham, Emily, Shaylynn, Katja. in front Liam and Nick

The team after. Left to right back: Coach Peter, Malcolm Thompson, Noah Thompson, Graham Ritchie, Emily Beirnes, Shaylynn Loewen, and coach Katja Mathys. Front: Midgets Liam and Nick. Absent Matjaz and Tomaz Cigler.

Day 1. January 7, 2015 Get there and preski. Travel to Duntroon, get used to where the team wax bench is, where to pick up bibs, and where athletes' facilities are. Course maps are discussed, and all skiers go out and pre ski their courses for race day. The skiers focus on how they want to ski  certain sections of the trail during the race.
Day 2 Classic interval start distance race. 5k for the girls, 7.5 for the boys. Cold new snow, great conditions for a race. -15 lightly snowing. Great for classic.

Shaylynn had not raced yet this season, she followed a good pre ski and race preparation routine. It made her race on Thursday. She placed 7th out of 27 skiers from all over province, an impressive result.
Graham only had the Yuletide blast in him so far, a skate race. Up to there, he had never done a classic race at this level. So he comes in 10th out of 30 in this very competitive field of skiers. Both Shaylynn and Graham  raced on skis they had never even skied on, talk about adapting to varied conditions. Skiers learn to deal with this quickly. Shaylynn decided to ski on the team racing skis about 10 minutes before the race. Why? I think she wanted to know what all the fuss is about. Good call!
Matjaz came in 23 out of 32, Emily 11 out of 13, Noah 6th out of 30, and Malcolm decides to win this one and does. 

GrahamGraham  ShaylynnShaylynn

Graham and Shaylynn on team racing skis for the first time

Day 2. Classic sprints  800m and 1100 mOur skiers prepare for this starting about mid July at the Salt Docks. No, not skiing on the salt, although that did cross my mind. No.
Roller skiing sprint starts across the parking lot, yes. Body position, sharp pole tips, pole angle and how quickly the body gets up to speed are all critical elements in getting a good position in a race that may be on soft snow or hard track, you never know what you have to adapt to.

EmilyEmily  TomazTomaz

Emily and Tomaz racing in blizzard conditions

So by now we should be able to handle sprints. It was snowing, then the wind came up, then it started to squall. Our prep tent blew over, much to the amusement of our neighboring teams near the start line. North Bay's fancy new tent with sidewalls and heater collapsed. Ski testing at its best in a squall, what kicks well, what doesn't. Our skiers make it work, whatever we come up with.
 Morning qualifier results: Graham  14/29, Noah 7th, Shaylynn 11/27, Emily 13/14, Matjaz 19/31, Malcolm 2, Tomaz 4/11. The idea now is to ski fast with a strategy to get  into the A-Final or the B-Final. All heats were timed and if you come in 3rd or 4th, you have a chance to advance as lucky loser if you have the fastest time at this ranking.
Shaylynn won her B-Final, that put her in 7th overall. So did Noah. Emily and Mat end up in 13th and 18th respectively. Graham advanced into the B-final as a lucky loser and finishes 12th overall. Tomaz, our only Midget skier on the racing team, almost gets on the podium, he makes it into the final guys twice the size, ends up in 4th regardless. Malcolm leads every heat into the final, in which again he fights for the lead after 50m, takes it and holds it. A great strategy on a foot of loose snow. He ends up winning the juvenile classic sprint.  Folks, picture this. Sprinting in a blizzard, no firm base, no track to ski in, .. to race in. Amazing. Fun to watch.

Malcolm 62Malcolm 62 

Malcolm leading the entire heat.

Day 3 Rest day. No racing for us today,  but a chance to put in an easy recovery ski and plan for tomorrow. Pre skiing was not possible as the course for the next day was occupied. Watching the elite skiers trying to qualify for World Juniors. 2 Ontario skiers training in Thunder Bay make it to Almaty, Kazakhstan. Julian Smith (GB Nordic) and Scott Hill (Hardwood).
Day 4 January 11, 2015 - Interval skate distance. 5k, 10k, 15k
Georgian gets 4 skiers in the top 10 today.
EmilyEmily  NoahNoah
Emily and Noah flying on skate skis
Graham figured today was his day, skating he knows, finishing 9 out of 29 skiers. Konrad races in the open men category with national level competition to skate the 15k into 47/64. Tomaz faces stiff competition and a hilly course but comes in 6/23 nonetheless. Emily skies into a respectable 16/22, Malcolm remains on the podium with a 3rd place. This was Noah's day, he ends up less than a minute behind the leader finishing second place. Shaylynn wipes on a big hill, but comes back to "bring it" into 15 out of 32. Matjaz sat this one out, a precaution as there were strong indications he was getting sick. We do not race sick. Not an easy decision to make and not a popular one.
Thanks go to Ron Beirnes for the constantly filled thermos of coffee, tech fuel.

Dave Thompson endless hours in the wax room, taking ridiculous orders from you know who.

Dave RitchieDave Ritchie

Dave Ritchie learning the ropes in waxing.

Katja Mathys sitting in on meetings and holding our team meetings, testing kick and glide, but also nurturing the athletes through a difficult event like this. Joe Cigler being the excellent skier he is for his skills in testing and narrowing down the list of waxes to be applied. Shaylynn, Sandra your baking is second to none. Kristine deserves a special mention. She was the team cook who makes it all worthwhile. Its such a bonus not having to go out after a long day and eat quality healthy nutritious food in great company.
We relax and eat well, ski well and have a lot of laughs.

115 Photos on flickr


Next up is the Team Sprint event in Huntsville this weekend. Followed by the Muskoka Loppet. Then another major event, the Canadian Eastern Championships in Gatineau, Quebec at the end of the month. Wish us good luck and good snow.


Meet the team 2014/15

Left to right: Emily Beirnes, Graham Ritchie, Tomaz Cigler, Noah Thompson, Malcolm Thompson, Matjaz Cigler, Kate Beirnes, Shaylynn Loewen, and Lindsay Raymond. Absent is Lauren Nawroth, who is recovering from a basketball injury. 

Emily, Graham, Tomaz, Noah, Malcolm, Matjaz, Kate, Shaylynn, LindsayEmily, Graham, Tomaz, Noah, Malcolm, Matjaz, Kate, Shaylynn, Lindsay

 From skiing on frozen grass to a couple inches of snow in early November, followed by 2' of pow a week later to skiing on icy, rutty trails in early December, our skiers will appreciate the first track set. May be this weekend. We shall celebrate!

All skiers set goals for the entire season, only to be changed on the fly as life's changes are imminent. 

We have skiers Kate competing at High school races and Emily, Graham, and Shaylynn also attending some Ontario Cups. 4 boys have set targets for all Ontario Cups and  this year's Nationals in Thunder Bay later in March 2015, these are Tomaz, Noah, Malcolm, and Matjaz. Tomaz is the youngest, and he will compete in the Midget category this year, his top event will be joining the Rabbits with Ghislain at the Midget Championship held again in Temiskaming. Matjaz, Malcolm, and Noah will aim to qualify for either the Ontario Talent Squad or in Noah's case, Team Ontario. Noah has set ambitious goals this year, its the kind of ambition that is required to meet his commitment to reach his long term goal to become an Olympic champion some day. This includes doing one more thing every time, you basically never stop doing more than anyone else at your age. Wow. Noah is itching to get that first real on snow race in to see where he is at. He is lucky to have so much support from his team, he will need to draw on it. He learned a lot last year, cracking into the top 10 nationally.

All our team members maintain a 6 day week of training. One day a week its rest, no matter what. Our skiers work hard for close to 8 months before they compete on snow. That period is broken into several phases including some running and roller ski competitions. Each session has an objective, and as coach, one gets a lot of feedback what is working and what is a waste of time. Logs are kept daily, and monitored regularly. Put me on a pair of skis anytime with these skiers, they are an absolut blast to ski with.

We have been on skis now for about 7 weeks, from absolut crappy conditions to not quite so crappy conditions. Not complaining here, this is the real thing our skiers  learn to be ready for that. I am always amazed they keep coming back to practices like that. Wow! This way no single session is like the one before. Perfect, as apparently according to the latest sport science, random structured practices are the highest level of training. Another challenge is to get the level of intensity into a session, intensity required to make a faster skier, faster than before. So our skiers all do incredible sprint starts now, Tomaz can break a pole on command!

Speed is done in gears up to 6, which cover the range of recovery pace to all out. These ain't gears on a bike, no cable to shift gears in skiing. These are perceived gears that are a mix of strength, endurance and cadence. The combination of all that strength training and building a big engine over the summer to reach never before speed and endurance is on the agenda right now. The technical skills adaptation has to be maintained right through. In skiing the demand is high to think dynamically what your arms and legs are doing together to get to the finish line faster. All limbs are initiated or for a lack of a better word, fired directly from our skiers core. So that is why core is the most important strength factor for a skier.

Lauren doing pull ups. 


Some events throw every possible variable at the entire team and service staff. These variables include dealing with poor gliding and kicking skis. Our skiers prep their own skis at school races and SOD events. Ontario cups require the absolut best in testing and prepping. Pa Dave Thompson is in the game of doing most of the work, thank you! In any case, bring it on, our skiers shall be ready. You can follow results on  All dates are posted on our calendar

A group of 4 skiers, photo: left to right: Tomaz, Malcolm, Matjaz, and Noah will be skipping the high school race to prepare and train, and travel to Thunder Bay in preparation for the first Ontario Cup at Lappe Nordic  december 18 to 20. The plan is to drive straight through with a 1 hour stop in Wawa for some skiing at the Wawa airport. Get a good nights rest and pre-ski the courses for 2 days of races following that day. Dates are December 19 to 21.

The boys The boys

"Life is crazy" no kidding. Lindsay had to find out the hard way. She got injured during a training session at the club and will be out for the season. She has the support of the entire team to recover properly. Lauren, who has been dealing with a basketball injury. She wants to be a sport psychologist some day or build bridges as an engineer. Wow, she is doing all of that right now. These two are close friends and they will get beyond this much better together. Big shout from the team! Hoping to have you back next season. And be sure to talk to Rebecca, our physio specialist with a good take on skiing. 

In January we will have a near full team at the World Junior Trials in Duntroon. This is a 5 day North American Cup, Noram for short, that includes classic sprints and distance events in both styles.  January 7 to 11. Classic sprints are one of the most demanding events. Afer an initial qualifier, as short as it is, 400m up to 1.2 k, depending on age category. If you make the top 30 you could be going another 3 times finishing with 5 others in the A or B final. A huge challenge physically, but a near breaking point mentally if you are not mentally prepared to deal with all kinds of issues.

Classic sprints,  technically there are 2 options.  You need great kicking skis (option 1) or if you decide to double pole the bloody thing (option2), you use skate skis and long poles. Hammer it. Its risky but if it works its a blast. Try it some time, double pole the Lynx trail, no herring bone please. These kids do, and they love it.

So what are speeds in km/hr during these? We ran a test some years ago with a radar gun, this was done in skating style. 15km/hr? 20,25,30km? What do you think? Top speed was 33km/hr on a flat trail. Think skiing next time you reach that speed on your bike, eh! On downhills the elite reached 76km/hr in Sochi last year, and that is on these skinny skis. Phew!

So if you see us on the home trails, we may be doing some odd stuff or just standing around chatting. Trust me, all this stuff mentioned is on these kids minds. Lets help them reach high and have fun. Fun is nummero Uno, always.

A big thank you to all the parents who help out at events and get their kids to practice. 

It takes a village to raise an athlete.




This is our small town team that trains year round with only 30 days off in April. ‘Off’ to us means active recovery, just being active without a structured plan. And we did ski until late April, and yes, it was ridiculous.

Official summer training started April 28 this year, with some physical tests to set individual benchmarks. The main focus early on is to rebuild aerobic capacity lost in the racing season, which remains 80 to 90% of overall training. Our young skiers go through a rigorous intensity program in the heat of the summer that involves many aspects of speed and strength and progressively longer LSD (long slow distance) sessions. Our skiers constantly come up with fun stuff to make the coaching more interesting.

 Matjaz, Shayna, Malcolm, Emily, Jason, Lindsay. On the ground Emily, Tomaz, and ShaylynnMatjaz, Shayna, Malcolm, Emily, Jason, Lindsay. On the ground Emily, Tomaz, and Shaylynn

Team at Active Living Fair in McKellar for a long, strength, ‘Lappe’ ski walk, and roller ski session on public display.

Our skiers – six girls and five boys – are aged 13 to 16. Three older skiers have left the team for more adventures. Shayna and Claire will continue to ski at the varsity level. Jason has decided to focus on running. New skiers from the Racing Rabbits and a high school skier joined us this year. One high school skier rejoined the team this year.

Welcome all!



Noah and Malcolm helping Lauren to get downhill on single roller skiNoah and Malcolm helping Lauren to get downhill on single roller ski

Someone else had to carry the broken ski. But the boys immediately assisted in getting this skier safely down the hill on the road. Should they have given her one of their skis? That was out of the question for her.

The most interesting part of coaching a team like this is the variety of goals each skier sets. This actually helps team cohesion as respect for each other increases.

Goal setting. Yes, some are quite open about it, but its okay if they remain secretive. We have alpine-oriented skiers who like the physical challenge of nordic skiing. We have outdoor lovers, paddlers and bikers on the team who can go on and on all day long at a good pace. Nordic skiing fits the bill not only during the winter.

Parry Sound is a hockey town. Is this an issue? No, only if parents make one sport a priority. It’s simple. Let the kids decide, and let them do both. Specialization before age 16 is a fun killer.

Let me rephrase the question. Can a hockey player benefit from nordic training?

Yes. An example is when we practice nordic walking. It’s a mixture of skill and hard work and be assured, nordic walking can be just easy as in running zone 1. You can make it much harder if you go low and really engage core and all limbs. Zone 3 is no problem, if done in “Lappe” style. Higher heart rates are targeted in hill work.

Depending on their goals, they can reach the kind of fitness level only found in a year-round program.

In November we are in several phases to prepare for skiing on snow. Racing is just one more thing in all of this preparation. For some, it’s about meeting the medium term goals, for others the entire season is merely a test for bigger things to come.


No poles skiing is part of becoming aware of weight shift and many other “self checks”.

Equipment. Classic and skate – any condition rock skis, - better training skis, - best racing skis. Some have only one pair for each skiing style, or only one pair period. First and second year-on-the-team skiers have full access to a lot of our team equipment. Mainly racing skis. Later our skiers buy their own stuff. Two skiers are sponsored this year with Rossignol and OneWay. No free ride in our sport though, even if it’s a good deal, they still pay quite a bit for their stuff.

Technical clothing for all kinds of weather, we ski in almost anything. Races are only cancelled at -20 and colder. Rain, blowing snow, zero visibility ain’t no reason to call it.

Skiers need a lot of carbs for fuel, water in freeze proof bottles, before, during, and after training and racing. Each skier has a waxing kit they get to know well for training and racing at local races.

These kids will make exceptional coaches some day, if given a chance to lead.

Thanks to our parents, not only for getting our skiers to practice and racing, but also for dealing with most of the logistics required to attend events. Accommodations, registrations, travel, and lots of meetings, help with setting up at events, waxing, and much more. High five, folks!

This team is in its fifth year. Karen and Tim Johnson sponsored our first wax bench. That was an important boost of confidence for the young skiers that first year. We travelled all the way to Whitehorse, Yukon that year. Unforgettable memories.

If all goes well we shall return to those historic trails in 2016, famous for having hosted the famous Canadian Firth sisters many times.

You helped make that happen, Karen, Tim, and many others!

It takes a village to raise these kids, no kidding.

New this year in racing:

The Southern Ontario District Board of Directors are proud to introduce a new racing series for elementary, high school, college and university students. One of the distinguishing features of this racing series is that it is focused on having fun and skiing fast, without relying on fancy high end waxes. That’s why it’s called the SOD Paraffin Series – the only type of wax skiers will use for this racing series are the more basic paraffin waxes. Keeping it simple, and keeping it fun!

The Sounder is part of this, check our calendar.

Any questions? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

All events including Georgian Nordic events, school races, SOD, Ontario Cups,

University races, Masters events are regularly updated on the calendar.

Stay tuned!