During the month of June, the Canadian National Ski Team (CNST) tackled the usual Haig glacier ‘Yo-Yo’ Camp. Featuring 23 days of skiing, intervals, distance workouts and traveling from high to low altitudes and back again, the ‘Yo-Yo’ camp has been a fixture on the CNST schedule for the last couple of years.
The training camp has always been a difficult one, due to its length and its strenuous workouts. The 2010 edition featured four cycles of three days on the Haig glacier followed by three days at the lower altitude of Canmore, Alberta. The big volume days could be four or five hours, depending on the level of the athlete.
The skiing conditions in June were excellent. “I’ve never seen the Haig with so much snow,” said first-year CNST member Graeme Killick in a recent e-mail to FasterSkier. “Conditions were prime, with good grooming and even some awesome crust skiing.
There was actually too much snow. Traditionally, the athletes run up to the glacier, while their equipment is flown in via helicopter. However, with deeper snow depths, a lengthy snowshoe was required, and for the second high-altitude cycle, the location was moved to Jasper, Alberta, a short drive from Canmore, but also at altitude.
While on the glacier or at altitude, the schedule was for two high-volume days, with an easier day in between. On returning to Canmore, the Canadians had a rest day, followed by 7×7 minute intervals to force the extra blood volume through the athletes’ bodies.
For Killick, the toughest workout came on the last day of the first cycle on the Haig glacier. “The weather was just so spazzy, snowing on-and-off during the ski, and then turning into a cold rain on our snowshoe/run out,” he said. “By the time we got to the cars and finally had everyone organized, Devon [Kershaw, CNST member] and I were seriously ready to book tickets to Maui and finish the rest of the ‘yo-yo’ on Haleakala [a volcano on the Hawaiian island].”
In such a lengthy camp, exhaustion, fatigue and a lack of motivation can often drag down athletes. However, for the Canadians, the cure was the board game Monopoly. “I don’t remember a day where we wouldn’t have two or three games in an afternoon,” Killick said. The games, he added, were “all-out”–a “serious addiction.”