About the author: Macx Davies, 21, made his World Cup debut last January, placing 42nd in the World Cup sprint in Oberhof, Germany. That netted him his first Biathlon Canada national-team nomination. Davies wrote this update on his training season, Canmore’s Frozen Thunder and his preparation for the season.
Opening my eyes, the morning light shines through my window; I take a deep breath as my mind starts to turn. Today I ski. Today I step closer to the season. Today winter starts.
Over the past two months I have been waiting for this day. Dreaming of putting my skis on and feeling the snow run under my feet. We, around Canmore, had a taste of this early September, when the temperatures dropped and snow fell from the sky. Giving the ski community a chance to tour the local golf courses and explore beyond the normal playgrounds that the Canmore Nordic Center provides. With the taste of skiing reignited I began longing for the day they rolled out the frozen beast. Kept under his thick sawdust blanket, waiting to rumble the thunderous roar. Starting the new season.
Fortunately my coaches, Roddy and Matthias, saw fit to keep my longings at bay with copious amounts of training and intensity. With little energy left to think too hard, the month of September seemed to rush by.
In the whirlwind of rollerskiing and shooting, we arrive at the last few days, which means the Canadian Biathlon National Team, along with many elite ski teams from Canmore, make the annual pilgrimage down to Park City. Here we experience the elevation that only Utah or Colorado can provide. With the never-ending mountain passes and the amazing trail systems, all entrenched in the colors of autumn. We raced around the Soldier Hollow track and drove down to Salt Lake City for intensity work. Adding the occasional run and even a mountain bike!
However, living up at 2,000 meters tires out the team quickly. Luckily for us Canadians, we find new energy at the Outlet stores and the fashionably questionable choices they provide, as well as their cheap prices. Though the stores can only provide so much energy, after our first week most of the team is becoming even more tired. Thankfully, I was in the house with an experienced team member, who shared some recovery tricks with us less experienced. He showed us how to use recovery boots and had the foresight to order a Nerf gun to keep everyone on their toes. (Thankfully he only had a three-bullet clip.) Once the two weeks came to a close, I was sad to leave, but happy to get a much needed rest week. And as always, glad to be home in Canmore. Back to the mountains I know so well and the town of my childhood.
Having completed the Park City training camp with less than two weeks left till Frozen Thunder, it was just a few days away. But with the end of a successful camp comes the testing, which they had us start before we even finished our recovery week.
Sustainability, the first test, and our first time back on the wondrously challenging rollerski treadmill. Followed by some high-speed intensity, otherwise know as Max Aerobic Speed or MAS, which involves a lot of pain and two-and-a-half minutes of counting your strides and waiting for the 15-second warning to come. Thankfully, it is a team event, where two people alternate between that and easy spinning on a bike. This means you always have someone cheering you on when the going gets tough. Not to mention that that teammate will be going through the same pain in a couple minutes.
While all this is happening inside the testing facilities in the Bill Warren Training Center there is another sound in the air, the dump trucks making endless trips from snow pile to the ski trails. After a couple days of hearing the commotion around the ~2.2km loop, they bring out the PistenBully to add some extra noises as they flatten the now smaller piles into skiable terrain.
At this point there is a silence that encompasses the whole Nordic Center, as if the snow has absorbed any sound. With this silence, everyone knows that they will be on snow in less than 24 hours. They just need to wait for the sun to rise, for the morning to come and for the ribbon to be cut. The excitement rises with the sight of snow and everybody smiles as they step onto their skis. Finally we are gliding up the hills and coasting down the other side. It has been a long summer but winter is here. It may not yet be cold and the days aren’t short, but as far as skiing is concerned, winter is here.
With the snow rolled out, the skiers flock to Canmore from across Canada and even from the United States. With all the skiers and biathletes on the trail, it can become crowded, but having all these elite athletes in one place doesn’t happen often and is always a great time to catch up with friends. Especially when you have a long ski, catching up with friends is one of the few things that can shorten the long hours on the track. Personally I enjoy simply having all the skiers around. For this reason Frozen Thunder is one of the best training environments we have all season.
“Having all these elite athletes in one place doesn’t happen often and is always a great time to catch up with friends … Frozen Thunder is one of the best training environments we have all season.”
We have only had couple days of skiing and everyone is getting ready for the first race series. Starting on Friday October 24 there are classic sprints and finishing off the unconventional racing “weekend” on Monday with a Freestyle Distance race. For me this is the final wake up call that the season has arrived. It is time to shift into the racing mindset and have all the months of hard training pay off in the new ski season. Finally I am skiing. Finally the season is here. Finally it is winter.
Photos: Cross Country Canada/Ski de Fond Facebook