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The Next Steps

I needed some time to digest the Dresden/Altenberg World Cup. There were a lot of little things throughout the week that I found myself frustrated about. What’s worse is that most of those things were out of my control. So why was I working myself up over those things? There are dozens of reasons why, but the most important is learning how to deal and move on from those frustrations. Part of it stems from the personal frustrations of feeling in decent form but not able to perform in that matter. After just over a week of struggling, I could see the improvements and had my grasp on how I wanted to compete. Too bad I had then run out competitions.

An evening cruise along Plantation - ©Glen Strickey

My plan following Altenberg was to head to PEI for the week. A short visit back to the Island and to take part in my first official event as a member of the 2023 Canada Winter Games Executive Board. I’m thrilled to be a part of bringing the Canada Winter Games back to the Island. It was the legacy of the 1991 Canada Winter Games that provided the opportunity for my brother and me first to try Biathlon. Biathlon was added to the schedule of the Canada Winter Games for the first time in 1991. Though I have never had the opportunity to compete at the Canada Winter Games, they have been a huge factor in the development of my current success. Once I heard that PEI was awarded the Games, I wanted to be a part of that. And then the opportunity arose to do so I leapt towards it. The event I attended was one of the first steps of many along the way to hosting the Games. I left energized, and my excitement doubled as the group prepares for the next three years leading towards the Games. I can’t share much about the Games yet, but I will warn those Cross-country skiers and Biathletes that if you think the courses will be ‘Island’ flat, think again.

I look forward to sharing my experience in a new and exhilarating way over the next three years and beyond.

After a short week in PEI, I nearly went coast to coast and returned to Canmore for a few days. To wrap up the January block of races, I headed northward to Camrose, Alberta, for a set of Calforex Cup races. After a lot of travel and missing some training over the past few weeks, I wasn’t overly pleased with my fitness. Friday afternoon, I did a bit of prep for the following day's race. I can tell you I wasn’t moving anywhere fast. It needed to put in a different focus and goals for these races and work towards those. Saturday was a Sprint, with crazy weather. The morning had a few downpours mixed with heavy flurries, making for a mess for the younger athletes, coaches and volunteers. To much surprise the afternoon, when I was racing, was almost pleasant, no rain or snow, light wind maybe even a few rays of sunshine. With the wet weather and fresh snow, the skiing was by no means fast, but I had a secret weapon. I had brought a ski at the last second that was perfect for those sloppy conditions. I was flying past everyone. To my surprise, I felt great skiing. I had pop, good power and lots of energy. Despite a silly miss, I had a great race, one I believed would have been competitive against the best in the World.

Sunday was a Pursuit, but the weather had done a complete 180. Temperatures fell to -9 overnight, so all that soaking wet snow turned to rock hard ice. The groomers did the best they could and had much of the course in a very skiable shape. A few tricky sections nothing could be done with. All the skiing advantage I had had on Saturday turned to my disadvantage on Sunday. Where I could drive power and kick off my edges the day before I had to be very gentle and avoid going to edge at all. Missing a second pole to guarantee purchase into the ice, the others were much closer (and at times ahead of me). In the different laps, I tried different techniques, trying to find the best possible speed. I was in trouble going into the final bout of shooting, but my endurance and patience were what brought me through. As the others charged a little too hard into the final bout, which led to misses, I cleaned the final bout. I was ahead but stayed there after finally figuring out how I could ski these challenging conditions. The race was a little frustrating, but great lessons to take forward into the meat of the season.

A glance across the Spray Lakes Reservoir.

Now I have arrived at my favourite part of any season. The mid-winter camp, and for the past few years, we have gone to Mount Engadine Lodge. Nestled in the mountains surrounded by some of the greatest skiing the Rockies may have to offer. Usual to the past years, the temperatures were pleasant, not the normal -25 or colder. I like this time of year, where the focus shifts from preparing for the entire season to preparing for very specific races. That’s my happy place. And the skiing locations around there are easily my ‘physical’ happy place. This year’s camp did not disappoint, fabulous skiing conditions, incredible food, not much more I can ask for. I had great workouts that were a blast, and the big workouts almost felt easy. It's important to be in that headspace where the toughest workouts are fun and easy.

I’m inside two weeks before packing up and heading over to Sweden in the final preparations for the Biathlon World Champs. There are still several steps along the way, but I feel I’m right where I want to be at this time. I have never competed in Ostersund before but have watched several competitions, Biathlon and Cross-Country there and look forward to adding the venue to my list.

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