Racing team updates

 

Georgian Nordic Racing team report February 15, 2015

 

Noah (far right) and Matjaz at the team sprint start lineNoah (far right) and Matjaz at the team sprint start line

World Snow Day, what was that? A celebration of fun on snow, worldwide. Arrowhead hosted a series of fun races. Well organized and laid out, it met the criteria for fun and speed. So our skiers decided to enter the Team Sprints. Nipissing University registered a team of highly experienced world cup level skiers (Thomsen D'Hont, second from left), backed up by former world cup dude Dave Nighbor and magic waxer Toivo in the wax and cheer group. So a couple of our skiers wanted to see how fast it gets. It gets fast folks. How fast. Real fast. On a 1k trail, each second is an eternity. In a team sprint you ski 1k three times each in a team of 2 skiers. The qualifier is also the semifinal. Heats can contain up to 15 skiers. This final had about 10 racers, I think. Georgian entered three teams of 2 each. Matjaz and Graham, Noah and Malcolm (A-final), Steve Goman and Tomaz (somehow they made it to a very competitive B-final) So the gun goes off and Noah climbs the hill which was in clear view from the stadium, high cadence and making sure not to trip. Once you drop behind chances are slim to stay in the front group. Nipissing took a bit of a lead right away, but not impossible for our skier to stay close to. That was the case in the first lap. Malcolm tries hard to stay with the Jordan Cascagnette after the first exchange, this is when he finds out how much faster it gets. These two never slow down even though Nipissing was way out of reach now. Matjaz and Graham did an amazing job, accelerating to stay in good position throughout this final heat. Oh, did I forget Tomaz? Well, I have no words to describe the Steve Goman-Tomaz sprint team. Wow. Turning heads, who is this kid? "Its a Cigler" I think I heard someone say. Steve never skied so fast in his life trying to match this young gn racer. That just about made our day.

Muskoka Loppet

 A fun tour for all ages, distances from 5 to 30k classic. Probably the only event in which we had Racing Rabbits and the Junior development team present, plus some coaches and parents doing the tour as well.

Audra Shaylynn Nicole good friends good loppetAudra Shaylynn Nicole good friends good loppet

 

 Just try and tell these guys to take it easyJust try and tell these guys to take it easy Malcolm, Graham, and Noah after 15k classicMalcolm, Graham, and Noah after 15k classic

 

 

 Eastern Canadian Championships

 

Emily, Shayna, and Shaylynn in front of the Nakkertok barnEmily, Shayna, and Shaylynn in front of the Nakkertok barn

We arrived at Nakkertok South, just North of Ottawa in Gatineau, Quebec, claiming our spot in the tent for the waxing crew on mid day Thursday, January 29. This was going to be the biggest Easterns ever, 752 skiers registered from across North America, so it was important to set up early and be well organized as things may get quite hectic.

Our skiers met us for a pre ski of the courses later that day. After skiing the prologue we made sure everyone was introduced to this monster Dirk's Dive, for some of our skiers it was their first time on Nakkertok trails. Its a downhill similar to our Swamp Rat, but about 5 times as long and it serves the skier a flying turn near the bottom. Very easy to get airborne and lose control. A slap in the face if you are not prepared.

A couple weeks before Shayna Herr gave us a shout from Ottawa: "Dirks dive has an extra curve now".  We had not heard from Shayna for a while, and this was a bit of a surprise. Good to have a skier on the ground on location prior to getting our team preparing on course for this. Entering University is a big change in a maturing persons life, and skiing has to take a back seat sometimes. Shayna misses it already, she wanted to do at least one race this season, Ottawa University does not have a varsity team. So Georgian included her on the team roster for the 10k classic race. Claire Henry made the cut on Queens varsity team so she had full support with their staff. Katie Madden still races with Hardwood while at University as well. She upped her training last summer and her general state of mind and her technique improved with it. Cool, so that makes 3 girls from our former team still skiing and enjoying competition.

 

In Quebec cross country skiing is a big deal. Home of Alex Harvey, skiing is front and center with the media in Quebec. Alex, besides being an international top 10, is a home town hero north of Quebec city in a small place called Ferreol de Neige. You can feel that in Gatineau. Quebec is second only to the Western Canadian teams in the country, for a reason. Huge school programs fill the clubs from elementary levels on. Huge clubs, Nakkertok has a huge team, 159 of which were competing at this event. Inter provincial programs continue to take skiers to all levels. If you want to compete as a skier in Quebec, the support is second to none. This is why competing at Easterns gives you true Canadian National calibre racing.

 

Day 1 of competition. The 3km prologue race is one of the most difficult races to do, physically.

Too long for a sprint, too short to recover on any downhill sections. So you basically hammer the whole course. Its a test of body and mind. Results are on zone4.ca if you want to see it. Type in prologue. Our skiers are skiing with the best and they are challenging the best in the country, Malcolm was wearing his well deserved Ontario leader bib he earned in previous Ocups, turns out he hangs on to this right through Eastern. Noah establishes his feel for the entire event with this first race, a solid effort. Emily Beirnes and Matjaz Cigler keep making technical improvements, showing true leadership in focus on what is needed most on the team. Graham Ritchie and Shaylynn Loewen, first time at Easterns added to a strong statement “Georgian is here to race”.

 Matjaz just flew by, its all I gotMatjaz just flew by, its all I got

 

Day 2 Distance Skate race, interval start.

This was about not letting this Dirks Dive obstacle on your mind affect the race, and keeping a good form through a lot of climbing very steep long hills. Turns out the “Sneak” as its officially named, was the added corner on this infamous drop Shayna informed us about. Shaylynn was wondering what all the fuss was about. She was here for the first time and she had heard so much about it making her uneasy. It seemed rather easy now with this corner “snuck” in. I think Shaylynn decided right there not to worry about Dirk, the Sneak or whatever, but hammer it and just go with it. Brilliant, as it turned out to be a great decision for race day. A difficult corner can be on your mind at the start line, if you feel its an obstacle. She decided not to make it that.

ShaylynnShaylynn  ShaylynnShaylynn

So here she comes down the Dirks dive during her distance race, around the Sneak. Oh, a berm, oh no. She wipes, rolls her body inside the berm, rolls one more time, skis in the air, sliding a bit on her back, right behind another skier, not breaking poles or skis, only to drop right back up on her skis to continue her race. Last time she wiped, it happened in Duntroon about a month ago, it affected the rest of her race. That was then. A short smile, down she goes the rest of the hill, only to hammer the following hills with total focus on technique and confidence. A huge change. Wow.

MatjazMatjaz

Matjaz Cigler was caught on camera around the corner like no other. Falling down the hill comes natural for him, his skis are merely there to make it go faster for him. Falling to him means finding the closest distance from corner to straight, best way is to fall downhill, not wipe. There is no slowing motion, its more about how fast he can come out of this corner. Its a family thing, no fear here. There are many technical aspects there, very much something we need to teach all our skiers. Its more fun, and they want to.

NoahNoah

Noah came around this corner leading a group of 3, difficult to do as the drafting skiers have the advantage over the leader. As leader you have no idea what is going on behind you. Then there is this slingshot effect, you can fly by the leader anytime, attacking. Mental test? Absolutely. Racing is fun if you want to learn how to deal with this kind of pressure, Noah embraces it.

 MalcolmMalcolm

Malcolm now has a huge racing engine he developed over the last 2 summers. When he asks a question its about wanting more speed, power, strength, control, confidence all the time. He wants higher level competition, he will not hesitate to tell you that. There is so much power and will, its amazing to watch this kid climb hills. Skis are pushed with a snapping motion, side to side, powder is flying, and if you are looking again, chances are you are looking at his bib from behind. Oh, the green thing? Ya, that is the leader bib, you got to earn that. He wore it all of Eastern. Watch him.

 Emily 317Emily 317

Emily had a more relaxed approach about this drop this time around, she felt the Sneak took out the most dangerous aspects. Not much snowplowing any longer. Great to see our skiers are no longer afraid of these hills. This alpine skill is a learned skill. Controlling ones fear is a skill especially difficult to simulate on our home trails.

 GrahamGraham

Graham proved for 2 races in a row, he is a skating expert who delivers. His technical skill have developed right through from Jackrabbit to Racing Rabbit, dryland training, only to be interrupted by his love for hockey. But he joined PSHS for high school racing last year and loved it. This year he joined the racing team in the spring for year round training. He wanted more. Its paying off for him.

 

Day 3 Classic long distance Mass start race.

This course demands great technical skills, a Mass Start race also calls for a strong mind with a great tactical race plan, only to be changed on a moments notice. Graham surprisingly took to classic racing at higher levels extremely well. Just a summer's worth of dryland training redeveloped his skills he learned earlier with the racing rabbits. Graham showed he puts his skills to good use during racing. His double pole kick is fantastic.

 Graham one step double poleGraham one step double pole NoahNoah

Graham's double pole kick. Noah leading a chase group, good falling forward technique.

Top racers want to hold top positions, others want to reach a notch higher all the time. Very different pressures and we can feel our skiers want more.

 

Shaylynn Shaylynn

Shaylynn established a strong presence here at Eastern and continues to improve her race feel, plus what is especially important for her, her technical improvements just keep coming. Priceless. Graham has proven at one of the highest level events in the country, he can do classic, and he can compete with the best. "Quebec, we shall return". Noah and Malcolm are reaching very high now, a big cheer for them, there will be bumps and we shall ride those with them. Emily's classic technique is exemplary, she is a great role model for younger skiers like Shaylynn. Matjaz keeps showing us never before done stuff, our skiers want more of that,  awesome.

 Katja, Joe Cigler, and Dave Thompson, all of us are challenged the most on classic race day. Good skis have to glide well and kick near perfectly. So we got this figured out? Yes, well,..sort of and if you think you want to help us, welcome aboard!

 Our skiers who moved on but still ski, ya, what about them? For Shayna, she proved that she can race classic and crack top 30, like she did in the past. You do not forget skills that quickly. We shall cheer you at paddling and skiing, or whatever. Good luck on your comeback mission. Claire, good luck at school and skiing. Katie, keep skiing. Its ok to continue to do something you love. Fast and female times 3, eh.

For Katja, its off to Canada Winter Games with Ontario's under 23 skiers in Prince George, BC February 21. All the best. She helped us at 2 Ontario Cups and it is greatly appreciated. She is a busy girl.

 

So whats up? Crunch time. Important to stay healthy. A lot of racing drains energy systems. Mental and physical recovery is a hugely important part of training and competitions.

Ofsaa this week. Timmins Ontario Cup#4 end of February, then 5 races at Nationals in Thunder Bay mid March. No girls at Nationals this year, we got to change that for 2016. Help from all is needed if we want that to happen.

 

170 or so Photos on flickr.com

 

Results are on zone4.ca type in cec